the daggers voice
When it was announced in July that Daggers' clash with Wrexham would be televised, I was delighted. During my six years supporting the Daggers, we'd only been shown on television four times: At home to Morecambe in the play-off semi-final in 2010, the play-off final itself against Rotherham, the 2011 away FA Cup replay at Bath, and last season's away FA Cup replay at Whitehawk. We won all of those games.
We'd started life in the National League very strongly and sat second after four wins from five against Southport, Guiseley, Lincoln and, most recently, Woking. During those games we'd clocked up some excellent performances and managed to restore smiles to the fans' faces, which is some feat considering the hardships of last season.
Back to this match, this morning I was very excited for the lunchtime kick-off and woke up early for the clash, getting prepared by writing match previews and write-ups about it. With the match starting at 12.15pm, I left the house at around 09:30 and met Nan at the top of our road. I practically bounced to the train station - buzzing ahead of the match and discussing our fortunes. I just hope we wouldn't be fazed by the cameras, although we most certainly weren't the last time they were at Victoria Road - we won 6-0!!!
I was hoping for a similar performance today as we boarded the train. After the short journey, we got off and eventually arrived at Victoria Road where we were greeted by our fellow fans who clearly had similar ideas to us in getting to the ground early. Then, I bought my programme and chatted to Nan.
With the match kicking off at 12.15pm, that would obviously change my routine massively and, with Wrexham being one of the teams whose autographs I wanted to get, I waited for the coach which would arrive at around 10.45am. After a long wait, finally the coach pulled in, and as it did I realised how much I'd missed the autographs. The thought didn't last long, however - it was the supporters coach! It turned around and the wait continued.
Eventually it did pull into the car park, which by now was starting to fill up. With Nan's customary help, I managed to get all the autographs from the Wrexham players - who were all polite and kind. As we anticipated the ground being packed, we then skipped the clubhouse and instead went into the ground. I entered the turnstiles and felt that unrivalled buzz of excitement that greets me every time I walk inside a football stadium.
I walked into the ground burgerless. This is because, due to relegation, the club had increased the price of food; a burger had risen from £3 to £3.30 and, with local chippies and Chinese's offering more quantity for less price, it wasn't worth it. I did though, get a Diet Coke as, even though it was still only about 11am, the ground was sweltering already.
I scanned the ground for BT Sport cameras, and six were littered around. There was one behind the Bury Road goal, two across the terrace, one on top of the terrace and one by the away end. The BT Sport crew consisting of Matt Smith, Chris Hargreaves, Adam Virgo and Kevin Davies had set up by the player's tunnel, which was a shame as I'd liked to have had a picture with them or got their autograph had they been within reaching distance of the terrace.
There were few people around the ground so I took some pictures - it's not everyday we're on television. I also took some pictures behind the goal and on the terrace to enter for Vanarama's #MatchdaySelfies competition - some of which you can see in the gallery below.
So, as the excitement built and the time neared, I read the programme before spending the rest of pre-match talking to nan and the people around us. There were now only a few minutes until kick-off and the ground was filling up. The tannoy announced the teams, a presentation by the National League for the Bobby Moore fund was observed, and then - finally - the players tunnel was extended. The wait was almost over.
Then the teams came onto the pitch to loud cheering from all ends of the stadium and a heartfelt applause for young mascot Harry Parker came before the match got underway. I knew this would be our toughest game yet and the first eight or so minutes proved so. It was cagey, like both teams were afraid to concede so early.
The crowd were creating a lot of noise and in the tenth minute sheer delight erupted in the stadium as the Daggers scored. Maguire-Drew lofted a delightful ball into Guttridge, who crossed (not a scuffed cross, BT Sport) for Hawkins who tapped home. We all went mad.
The rest of the first-half was exhibition football from the Daggers, or should I say Brazil. We seemed to be spurred on by the opener and from that moment took control. It was certainly a treat for the TV cameras. After a corner was cleared for another, another delivery was whipped in, this time Hawkins got on the end of it, bulleted his header in, all the home end rose in delight. Daggers were in free-scoring form.
There would be one more goal to cheer before the interval. Dagenham were playing some amazing football and Guttridge broke away in the box and was felled by his marker. Having missed our last four penalties, I wasn't expecting much. However, the barren run ended and as I started to record, Hawkins dispatched the penalty to send us into pure delirium.
The half-time whistle went with most of us in disbelief at what we'd seen. Daggers were simply brilliant, as we had been all season. The second half was no different with Wrexham keeper Shwan Jalal in unbeatable form.
Daggers must have had about fifteen shots in the second-half but just couldn't score, thankfully the damage was done. Maguire-Drew was in incredible form and substitute Corey Whitely looks like the new Jodi Jones. At the end of the game, I walked with my head held high out of the stadium (this can be seen on BT Sport) and, while I shared some chips with Nan, we both discussed the spectacle we had seen.
It was live on TV and we showed the true Dagenham spirit. When I got home, I watched most of the coverage later on and recalled the moments - as they happened. It was really an unforgettable day. Daggers are on telly again in October when they face Tranmere, lets hope something similar happens.
We have a chance to continue this incredible form when we travel to Sutton on Monday. Hopefully I will be there too to revel in our impressive form.
We've now won three home games this season (100% record at home without conceding) and last season it took us until April to do that. It's good to have our Dagenham back!
I am Joel Page, Dagenham & Redbridge FC fan. Here I will share some of my experiences.