Sunday, 8 May 2011

Proud To Be A Dagger

Akinde doesn't fare well with
one on ones.
Dagenham & Redbridge were relegated back to League Two yesterday after a 5-0 defeat at London Road to a Peterborough United side that are in the play offs. However the goals from the home side didn't really justify the performance and the effort the lads put in, in this blog I'll look back over the season, have a little rant and touch on yesterdays performance. We lost 5-0 yesterday with the Posh goals coming from Mendez-Laing, McCann, Boyd, Mackail Smith and and Ball. You have to bare in mind that the last three of those goals came in the last 10 minutes when it was all but over for the Daggers. Before that however we had numerous great chances to equalise and even take the lead. John Akinde had three great one on ones that he failed to convert, a trait that we've seen a bit too much of recently, as well as that Darren Currie hit the post twice, although I'm sure from being there Akinde hit the post for one, not Currie. Going into the second half and Vincelot had a great volley blocked on the line as well as Nurse missing a great chance by heading wide from 6 yards.

It was somewhat of a sour end to a great season for our team from Essex. The support yesterday was phenomenal, 1005 Daggers descended on Peterborough to create the best away atmosphere I've ever been involved with. From before the game to after it the noise never stopped and it is testament to everyone of our fans that even the final whistle went they kept going, cheering along for the lads, some in floods of tears, that's proper support. I'd go as far to say that our fans are sometimes the most valuable asset to our club, you get the usual 50 or so that go to every game and full credit to them, it's great effort then you get the ones like me that go to any that they can, when they're all together away or at home the atmosphere created is superb. The numbers this season may not have been terrific all the time, I mean we've drifted from 56 to Plymouth on a cold rainy Tuesday night to 1005 at Peterborough in the decider. With John Still holding up the "Proud to be a Dagger" shirt at the end yesterday it hit home even more how proud we should be and how great the lads have done this season.

Losing Benno was a big blow
 Looking back on it, there are numerous reasons why we've gone done, I'm sure we're all going to look back and think, "what if", because I know I will. You can look back to Hartlepool, the 96th minute goal, MK Dons when Robbo let one through or Orient when that penalty should never have been given. These are things we have to learn from, what was our two major problems this year? That's simple. We have conceded far too many late goals for any ones liking and the team know that and it's something I'm sure they've tried to work on, that can boil down to fitness, but effort wise they've given their all. The other major point was up front, we didn't really have a firing striker until January onwards when Jon Nurse stepped up to the plate and Danny Green joined in. We all know that Paul Benson moving to Charlton was possibly the worst thing that could of happened. With him leaving only a day before the transfer window closed we had lost our main attacking threat and it concerned many people, the fact is he was never properly replaced, simply because we couldn't. In January we had agreed two deals with two separate clubs to sign a striker, however the man didn't join because we couldn't agree the wage terms.

That leads on to the next part, the fact that on such a small wage budget we finished where we did. The 5 Live documentary the other week said it all, the fact that our current left back Femi is on £175 a week. That is amazing, he still manages to do a job there, you should all know I'm not a particular fan, but on that wage, he's doing a sterling job for the level he's playing at. That goes for all of the players. They're not on big amount of money, even the likes of Danny Green & Scott Doe who were given new contracts at the end of the season to stop them from leaving, they aren't on much and they play their hearts out every game. We can be proud that we've given more or less every team a game this season. We've played Brighton twice and we've lost by the odd goal twice, we deserved at least a draw from the home game and I wasn't at the away one so I won't comment. We have only been properly beaten twice and they were both away from home to the top clubs, even Peterborough didn't justify the game in honesty.

Swindon ended up bottom
 We may have finished 21st, but we've done things we never could have dreamed of this season. We've played at amazing stadiums such as St Marys, Hillsborough & The Valley. We've even beaten Charlton at home and drawn with them away, if someone would have said that ten years ago, you'd have thought they were mad and rightly so. We have finished above Swindon, a former Premiership club and we've not lost to them this season, another achievement. Look at the table, we missed out on safety by a single point and that is mighty cruel. If you think at other teams that spend vast amounts of money to try and stay up and fail, you have to be proud of our lads. Look at Swindon for example, they spent £100K on Matt Ritchie I believe and he's ended up finishing rock bottom.

We were tipped by more or less everyone to be down by mid April, once again it's testament that we have taken it to the last day of the season. I'd have been happy with that in August, obviously we all wanted to stay up but the lads have done us tremendously proud this year, more or less every performance has been great, we've challenged everyone and that's all you can ask for.

The standouts for me this season have to Romain Vincelot firstly, the Frenchman has worked tirelessly every game, not given up on anything and for me epitomises everything being a Dagger is about. His 12 league goals this season gave us a fighting chance and he has won the hearts of every Daggers fan, if he is not playing at higher level next season it would be a crime, but should he stay, it would make everyone that much happier. Danny Green is the next one, he has been wrongly criticised in my opinion by a lot of fans this season. The reason for that is, he's had a lot if pressure put on him, he is probably our best player and when he does one thing wrong the critics are quick to jump. The fact he's got around 14 assists this season and 12 goals showed what a great season he's had, the sour note is getting sent off last week against Carlisle for a needless challenge, one that really shot a hole in our chances at Peterborough yesterday. Tony Roberts of course, he's kept us in so many games this season, the most memorable of his saves, the one away to Bristol Rovers, see right.

A rising star
 Now we have to look forward to next season and what it may hold. A new crop of youngsters are destined to make their break through for a regular starting place. The likes of Billy Bingham who has been on the fringes for years, Danny J Green who has become a slight impact player towards the end of this season. New young signings such as Brian Woodall from Gresley, Jon Jo Bates from Bedfont and many more we're bound to be linked with before August. Then you look at Chris Lewington who may get his chance to shine if Robbo steps down if that rumour is true, other players that have been on loan such as Alex Osborn & Duran Reynolds. We'll also have Josh Scott back and maybe Gavin Tomlin, he seems to be able to cut it at this level. Now is the time to look up, towards the future, let's bounce back at the first time of asking, we've got a hungry squad and regardless of who inevitably leaves, myself and around 2000 others will be at Victoria Road game after game to cheer whoever is playing on towards the victory that every performance warrants.

My final words, let's try and look up. We have lots of exciting prospects for next season, we face old foes such as Barnet, Crawley, Oxford and of course Rotherham. There's a lot to look forward to, everyone back to Morecambe and maybe if we're lucky a bye in the JPT for a change ?
John Still & co know what their doing and I'm confident that we can make a push for League Two success, this time in a year who knows where we'll be, what I know is I'll always be there to cheer on my beloved Daggers. I'm proud to be a Dagger, and I always will be.

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