the daggers voice
The crushing financial demise of the Daggers has been well documented recently yet as the future of the club continues to remain uncertain, there remains hope that we will be saved. Such has been the confusion, tension and overwhelming sadness of the last few weeks that much of what happened still hasn't fully sunk in, but it's obvious that we are in a perilous position.
Though the players have battled hard, the good performances recently have been overshadowed by what's happening off the pitch, which has taken the gloss off a season which seemed so promising, yet has swiftly declined in a manner nobody could've anticipated. This isn't how our 25th anniversary season deserved to transpire, yet despite a quarter-century packed with unforgettable memories, there is a dark cloud over Victoria Road which only seems to grow bigger.
It is for that reason that emotions are understandably running high, with us fans watching our club slowly fade away. This isn't the Dagenham & Redbridge I fell in love with. Last season everything seemed so good and as we mounted an unlikely promotion charge with a squad assembled on a tight budget, there was the sense that we were returning to the 'Pub Team from Essex' mentality which defined us.
Instead, under a year later, we have been left with low crowds, an overworked squad that has been ruthlessly ravaged by other National League vultures and a club that has such a disconnect that it's hard to believe that we're in non-league. There are so many questions that could be asked, but after such a tragic state of affairs I only have one: ''Why?''
Indeed despite the club's rallying call for unity, the Fans' Forum on Thursday 15th March only highlighted the existing divide within a club which is turning rotten. That's through a number of reasons which all combine to form the woeful mess we have today. People have made mistakes, there's no way this would've happened without any, but ultimately we won't be able to change the past.
If we want to dwell on what's happened then we can easily do it next season when there won't be a Dagenham & Redbridge. Alternatively, we can all try and work together for the greater good of the club and show solidarity in a predicament which desperately needs it. While everybody seems to disagree the one thing which all unites us is a mutual love of the Daggers.
That brings us to Thursday's Fans' Forum, which I really didn't expect the club to observe at this stage, so credit to them for that. Usually this kind of event is a fantastic opportunity to gain an insight into the running of the team and it's an important day on the calendar that you can look forward to, yet this time I'd rather have been anywhere other than that clubhouse hall.
A location usually known for it's cheerful pre-match vibe was going to host an evening of extremely inverse proportions in what promised to be a fiery, heated and unpleasant couple of hours. As people argued, accused and blamed, I just remember thinking how everything went wrong. Just the previous August, we had a number of impressive signings all made possible by the fantastic Glyn Hopkin, who it seemed was delivering a bright and secure future to the club.
After an incredible start to the season, things swiftly fell apart - we now know - around the end of October. When Glyn Hopkin, a man who had firmly immersed himself into the running of the Daggers, suddenly stopped being seen at the ground, where he would usually have pre-match drinks with the fans along with a friendly chat, it was apparent something wasn't right.
It has now been publicised that Hopkin announced that he was stepping down due to a culmination of flag disputes and fake emails. The problems then mounted but it wasn't until late January/early February that fans became aware. Now as we desperately search for an investor - any investor - paying the players has presented as much of a challenge as what happens on the pitch.
As John Still explained, this has been incredibly hard for the players, who are playing for their careers. While us fans will always be here, other personnel come and go so if the worst happens and we do cease to exist, then the players will need to find another club. As Still said, therefore the players won't want to get injured but to their credit have given everything in recent weeks.
This is perfectly understandable, however most of what was said at the Forum was disputed or argued against. Fans deserve a say in their club, but nothing really got resolved. So this weekend has shown just how boring it is without a Daggers game, and hopefully that won't become more of a reality next season. We have the West Ham friendly amongst other things to raise much-needed funds so not all is lost.
Like many people I absolutely adore this club, which I have supported for most of my life, so I'd be lost without it. If this situation has taught us anything it's that you should appreciate what you have because it can all be taken away. Those petty losses to teams like Woking don't seem that important all of a sudden.
I am Joel Page, Dagenham & Redbridge FC fan. Here I will share some of my experiences.