the daggers voice
Date: Wednesday 13th July 2016, 7.45pm, at Ship Lane.
About the Match: This was our first first-team pre-season friendly against a strong and decent Thurrock outfit of the Ryman North league. It was, therefore, the first opportunity to see the revolutionised and overhauled Daggers squad after a mass rebuild over Summer, so many were excited for this match on what promised to be a sunny evening.
Journey: It was a very smooth and easy journey to a very local area. I went with Spencer and we left at around 6pm, even having time to go to Burger King before the match, and he had to go to Thurrock anyway enroute to the ground. He had been to the ground, or nearby, on many occasions so knew just where to go, and the rest of the journey was routine, as we arrived around half hour before kick-off.
Stadium: Once we went inside the car park, I noticed that the ground looked very neat and tidy; a proper non-league stadium. The pitch was also looking very pristine, as you'd expect during pre-season. The ground was made up of mostly terracing but also a main stand, which we sat in.
The Match: It was a very competitive and useful runout for the Daggers, with many players impressing. Most of the opening stages were controlled by Dagenham, in the all green strip of 2010-12, and they raced into a two-goal lead before the break, with two Williams crosses being powerfully headed home by Hawkins. Wall replied for Thurrock in the second half, but Leo Donnellan sealed the result, and we eventually ran out 3-1 victors.
My Thoughts: In conclusion, it was a very entertaining night that proved just how much I had missed football in the previous months. The journey was very straightforward and the performance left me feeling very optimistic so, overall, a very productive night for me and the team.
Date: Monday 29th August, 3pm, at Gander Green Lane.
About the Match: This was a 3rd v 4th clash between two sides who had made a blistering start to their first season back in non-league's top tier, with Sutton having been promoted while Daggers were relegated from the FL. Two days earlier John Still's side had defeated Wrexham 3-0 on BT Sport thanks to an Oliver Hawkins hat-trick.
Journey: Me and Mum decided to take the train to this fixture for what was a reasonable, yet exhausting, journey. After stocking up on supplies at a shop, we got on the District Line to Morden, before stopping for a meal and continuing our journey by bus. A very long walk, lasting at least 45 minutes, followed down Gander Green Lane, before we finally arrived at the stadium on what was another very beautiful day.
Stadium: The outside of the stadium had fantastic facilities, with a very welcoming clubhouse and club shop. The inside of the ground, installed with an aesthetically-pleasing artificial surface, also looked stylish, with a mix of terracing and seating coupled with no segregation.
The Match: It was a very disappointing fixture for the Daggers who suffered only their second loss of the season, as a very impressive Sutton side managed a narrow 1-0 victory. Hudson-Odoi got the only goal after eleven minutes for a lead rarely threatened, aside for big chances from Whitely and Hawkins. We ultimately struggled to cope with the surface and the demand of 2 games in 3 days and, despite Sutton being reduced to ten men, we ended up slipping to a frustrating defeat.
My Thoughts: A good day, but a very disappointing performance. A big away crowd turned up but unfortunately their dedication did not get rewarded. I have to give credit to Sutton though, they were resolute and shut us out perfectly.
FOREST GREEN ROVERS
Date: Saturday 29th October, 3pm, at the New Lawn.
About the Match: This would be both teams' biggest game of the season at that point prior to kick-off, as Forest Green sat at the top of the table, with Dagenham directly behind them in the Vanarama National League. The hosts' had not conceded in over a month.
Journey: Me and Mum were taking one of two coaches which would be heading to this crucial fixture. The journey was very exhausting and ended up taking ages and, having negotiated its way up a steep hill, only arrived ten minutes before kick-off. The return journey was even more stressful and took just as long as we managed to get stuck in lots of traffic before eventually getting home much later than expected.
Stadium: There wasn't much on offer in terms of facilities and we had to face a massive queue just to get tickets. We were placed behind one of the goals and most of the ground comprised of terracing with seating making up one side across the length of the pitch.
The Match: We made a very decent start to this match, which was impressive as we had a number of injuries plus, let's not forget, were playing the runaway leaders. However, gradually the hosts began to take control and eventually they took the lead, adding insult to injury as it was ex-Dagger Rhys Murphy who found the net. But, out of nowhere, we managed to salvage a point when Hawkins directed a powerful header past Russell and into the bottom right corner.
My Thoughts: It wasn't the best performance, granted, but none of that mattered because we managed to steal an unlikely point. The journey was not great, but was all worthwhile in the end as the scenes when Hawkins scored were unforgettable.
FOREST GREEN ROVERS
I am Joel Page, Dagenham & Redbridge FC fan. Here I will share some of my experiences.