the daggers voice
Not only does the arrival of the Easter weekend further reinforce that this exciting Vanarama National League season is hurtling to a rapid conclusion, but the intense schedule of back-to-back games present a fantastic opportunity to gather momentum and earn plenty of points to propel you to your end-of-season goals and aspirations.
This is a weekend that can make or break a season. For teams such as Macclesfield Town, the outcome of these two quick-fire fixtures can go a long way to determine how their season will end, and whether their promotion ambitions will be realised. Equally, for struggling sides such as Solihull Moors, a good set of results over this four-day period could well play a big part in whether they survive or not.
Play-off hopefuls are put to the test with a fitness-draining and difficult few days which, if you can pass the examination of, provide an excellent indication of where your team is at the business end of the campaign. With a league as tight as the National League, every point can make a difference, so the six at stake here could be crucial.
Dagenham, however, find themselves in an unusual position this weekend. Last season we had promotion to fight for, and the 4 points earned against Sutton and Boreham Wood were vital in helping us to the play-offs, where we were 90 minutes from Wembley when devastation struck at the New Lawn. Similarly, in previous League 2 campaigns, we've still had something to play for, usually fighting off the dreaded trapdoor of relegation, which we did eventually, and unfortunately encounter.
Therefore, with nothing but faint and overly-ambitious top seven hopes to play for, these fixtures take on something of an insignificant form. We are stuck in the mediocrity of mid-table, which lies only on the surface of our problems as a club, and these fixtures only serve as an opportunity to bolster our points total ahead of a Summer which promises big changes.
Yet, acknowledging the crushing financial demise consuming the club, we will still get behind the team, as we have done since August. Despite the obvious loss of the talent which in the first month of the season had us dreaming, we still have a skilled set of players able to compete. The players haven't given up by any means and, if anything, have been galvanised, showing immense dedication to the shirt, which as fans evokes such pride and delight, especially in these circumstances.
Furthermore, players who were overlooked have stepped in and seized their chance. Though our squad is overworked and down to bare bones, nobody has shied away and shirked their duties. Players such as Kandi and Bloomfield have performed excellently, and the equally-superb displays from Adams and Pennell make you wonder why they've only been granted the opportunity now. Ben Nunn is another who stepped up admirably, and it's worth mentioning the form of Robson, Sparkes and Okenabirhie, who are all big players.
The increased work-rate and determination of the recent showings have been matched by a good set of results. In the last month we've smashed Torquay and earned a tremendous comeback victory against Chester. The West Ham fundraiser ended up in a reverse but felt like a win, but overall was undisputedly a victory for the club, and we then followed this up with a superb three point haul against free-scoring Fylde, where our attacking prowess was just as impressive as keeping the league's top scorers quiet.
Usually with the Easter fixtures it is customary to play local derbies, just like the Christmas schedule, yet instead the Daggers have a long trip to Gateshead to contend with on Good Friday. Hopefully, spurred on by a recent upturn in spirit, the team can put in another impressive performance. Gateshead are a mid-table outfit, and would probably be described as your typical, average National League side, but they don't have a lack of talent which will look to trouble us. They made the FA Trophy semi-finals.
After the long journey to the North-East, there won't be much time to recover, as we're back in action the very next weekday. Monday afternoon brings the visit of local rivals Maidstone for what should be a well-contested derby. The Stones endured a dreadful start to the year with the losses of key men Hines and Pigott, but they've recently picked their form back up and earned a bug win at home to Sutton, proving the quality they still have.
So these games may not have much importance but you can still expect two dedicated and spirited displays. We may not have much to play for generally, but some players are playing for their futures, and it's all about raising much-needed money to #SaveTheDaggers
I am Joel Page, Dagenham & Redbridge FC fan. Here I will share some of my experiences.