the daggers voice
After the worst week in the club's history, such is the devastation around the club that it's been hard to keep up with everything that has been going on. As the Dagenham & Redbridge we all adore begins to slowly and helplessly crumble around us, it is likely that we expect the worst with more of our key players departing. Cheek is supposedly next, but nobody leaving will hit us as hard as losing Ling and Ferrier has.
Though the Club Statement issued on 2/2/18 confirmed that player departures were not only necessary but vital in securing the future of the club, I didn't think it would be this soon. After all, if we still had hopes of making the play-offs, these players would be absolutely crucial for us. Obviously that seems completely impossible now, but the fact that we've potentially lost out on these players for even a few extra months is truly gutting. It was far too short.
Yet the fact that Ling has been here for just over a season, and Ferrier only since August, is a testament to how they endeared themselves to the fans. To only be here for such a short space of time but still make an indelible impression on this football club is incredible and will no doubt lend itself well to the clubs profiting from our demise; surrounding our assets like vultures to get themselves a brilliant deal.
However, if this is what it takes to keep the club alive then it's obviously a no-brainer. Ling and Ferrier are tremendous losses but getting them of the wage bill will reduce our debts so it's obviously necessary. However, what was particularly upsetting was how the club went about announcing the sales. They were both announced barely half an hour apart which barely gave the fans time for either to sink in.
Their departures mark the fifth to have left the club in the matter of days which obviously makes it hard to train as you don't know who will be available come matchday. This is especially worrying with an important game against Aldershot on the horizon, which would be an uphill task even with Ling and Ferrier, who I regarded as our two best players. In a pre-match interview, Still said:
It's difficult because the whole thing this last six weeks or so has led to a loss of normality in the club because of our situation. I'm not blaming results on that but it is a contributing factor. Me, the players and the staff have all been aware of the situation and it is unsettling - we are seeing the results of that in the sale of players - but I think that the whole episode is something better out in the open. We just need to focus on getting back to football, obviously we aren't as strong as we were but we still have a decent squad. It's been a difficult time and not playing last week was also a blow because the football is a release, however for some individuals that might've been a relief. We have no injury problems but training has been hard because we've lost players so things we wanted to work on have had to be changed. That's still the case today (Friday) and maybe even tomorrow (Saturday midday) so I can't actually say who is going to be available on Saturday.
So there will probably be more departures to come, but as fans we understand that and have probably begrudgingly accepted it. It probably means that we will see out this season (luckily we are pretty safe from relegation) and then start again in the close season with almost an entire rebuild. This isn't necessarily the worst thing because we suffered the same thing after relegation which ironically left us with a squad just as good or even better as the one we've had this campaign.
Over recent weeks it seems as if there has been a lot of frustration directed towards manager John Still but I expect that to dissipate now that we are aware of what's going on. As Still says, the situation could have impacted our performances, which is quite likely. However one other thing he says is that things are better out in the open so maybe that means we will play with more freedom against Aldershot, which we obviously hope for, especially given that the match will be broadcast on BT Sport.
So after we negotiate these last 15 games or so there will be a big Summer ahead, but who better to organise a fresh squad than John Still? He's renowned for plucking players from the obscurities of non-league so I doubt he'll struggle in that department. He's done it with Whitely, Hawkins, Robson and many others since he rejoined the club, so is more than capable of finding more hidden gems.
Obviously he prefers younger, raw players so that there is more value in them once they are sold. Therefore it is disappointing to hear the figures rumoured for White, Ferrier and Ling when all are clearly worth exceedingly more than that. However while we've lost a bit of our future Still can find new talents to replace them, except this time on a stricter budget which is more sustainable in the long run.
While Ling and Ferrier were crucial players for us, they are not irreplaceable. there are plenty of Ling's and Ferrier's in non-league, just as there are plenty of Whitely's, Okenabirhie's, Cheek's and so on. The reality of supporting Dagenham is that we will inevitably sell our best players eventually but have a knack of finding ones just as good. I'd barely even heard of Ferrier when he signed and certainly hadn't heard about Ling or Whitely so we can't pretend these players were superstars.
Morgan Ferrier departs the Daggers for previous club Boreham wood, whom he only joined us from in the Summer of 2017. They broke their transfer record for him and the thought of him and Andrade playing alongside eachother is clearly appetising for their fans, obviously at our expense. Upon his departure, Ferrier stated, “There were obviously a few things going on at Dagenham and the opportunity arose for me to leave. There were a few teams interested, but as soon as I spoke to the gaffer and spoke to Danny, it naturally just made sense to return.''
Not many players have managed to make quite the impression on the fans as Ferrier did. Not only was he loved for his powerful skillful playing style but his passion and determination made him even more adored. I have one memory of Ferrier that really epitomises him, and it came in the FA Cup replay defeat against Orient. After our unlucky defeat at the Matchroom, an apologetic Ferrier was virtually apologising to the fans. His desire to win was infectious and while he may have a petulant streak, he will rightly be remembered as an excellent player who left far too soon. That amazing goal against Ebbsfleet, his first of eight for the club, also spoke volumes about his quality.
So Morgan leaves with eight league goals and seven assists - the trademark all-round striker and truly a unique player at this level. But it's not just a catchy TBS song that Daggers lose out on as Ling was next out the door in a matter of minutes. Ling is a very different kind of player but was valued just the same. Had this been last season then most fans wouldn't have batted an eyelid at his departure but the way that Ling blossomed into a tremendous right-back made him one of the first names on the teamsheet each week.
With a remarkable eye for goal for a defender, matched by an equally impressive tally of assists, means that is also an attacking loss somewhat. When Curtley Williams left I thought I wouldn't see a better crosser of the ball in non-league, until Ling proved his worth this season. The man who was third-choice right-back last season quickly became a fans' favourite and he will be sorely missed.
To lose him to Orient of all teams did hurt, but it makes sense for him to join his Dad there and even the most diehard of Daggers will admit that he is furthering his career. Playing infront of a big crowd every week is what he deserves, what he's earned, and I just hope he has fond memories of his time at Daggers. He took to social media to say goodbye, writing this on Twitter:
''Firstly I'd like to thank all the staff and players at Dagenham for giving me the chance to play for such a great club and making my time there so enjoyable. Secondly I'd like to thank the fans at Dagenham for showing me such unreal support during my rime, I'll never forget it, I hope everything gets sorted out and wish the club all the best for the future.''
So it's farewell to Morgan and Lingy, but who could be next?
I am Joel Page, Dagenham & Redbridge FC fan. Here I will share some of my experiences.