WHAT. A. SEASON! - Part One
We have come to the end of yet another rollercoaster of a campaign but this rollercoaster took us to new highs and new lows. Like every season we had our struggles but these struggles saw matters off the pitch dominate conversation at Victoria Road as the club, despite entering the National League for yet another season, were still in desperate need of an owner. Managing to get a manager of high profile, I believe gave many fans hope that there was light at the end of the tunnel as the appointments of Peter Taylor and familiar face Terry Harris brought a smile to many Daggers’ faces. There were however inevitably many new faces at the club with the likes of Will Wright, Harry Donovan, Ben Goodliffe and Lamar Reynolds helping The Daggers in a time of need alongside a few others. The season began away to Boreham Wood where expectations were mixed as many fans had never seen half of this new Daggers outfit kick a ball, though someone they had seen was Angelo Balanta. It was the Columbian’s goal that proved the difference in the otherwise even game where inexperience was shown in the closing minutes as Ben Goodliffe was dismissed late on.
With a decent performance in the opening game despite the eventual result there was belief we could stay up as long as results came alongside these displays. The second game of the season saw many of our players grace the turf of Victoria Road for the very first time but they failed to get their very first win as a team going down 2-1 to Saunders’ Maidstone. After just two games Peter Taylor knew, if he didn’t already, that his side would be in a tussle with relegation unless he was given resources to invest greatly into the squad. As although they weren’t being blown away in games they were never in the driving seat looking to take all three points. Three games in we got up and running battling to a 2-2 draw at Victoria Road as goals from Romain and Mcqueen earned us our first point.
Despite the hope gained from that point The Daggers then slumped to four consecutive 2-1 defeats. These narrow defeats against the likes of Aldershot, Halifax, Hartlepool and lastly Barnet. The final defeat in this losing streak was more bitter than the previous three due to the fact that John Still was sitting in the opposing dug out - with many supporters claming the ex Daggers manager ‘left our side to die’. Regardless of the bad luck and what not dealt to our beloved side over this period the truth was that we were rock bottom, winless in 7 and six points from safety! All was about to change however, as needed The Daggers began to pick up points going the next four games unbeaten, they were creditable points at that.
The first of the four was against big spenders Salford as the Daggers did get some long awaited luck against The Ammies. The ten men of Salford just couldn’t finish in what was otherwise a dominant display from the promotion hopefuls who hadn’t had an ideal start to the campaign themselves. Just three days later on a Tuesday evening Dagenham picked up their first three points of the season in a big victory for Peter Taylor’s men. Chike Kandi held his nerve to slot a late penalty past Ben Killip lifting Dagenham off the bottom of the table to 22nd now just two points from safety. Next up for The Daggers was an adventure up north to Barrow where they began to make late goals a trend under Peter Taylor as they left it even later to steal all three points - this time it was Elliot Romain who had found the net.
Six days later news had broken that brought joy to everyone associated with the club... Dagenham & Redbridge had been saved! An American consortium led by Peter Freund and Craig Unger alongside Tim Howard had took ownership of the club essentially ensuring that Dagenham would be a side for years to come. Not only that, in the short term this gave many of us Daggers a new sense of belief that we could survive the season and secure our National League status. The following day many Dagenham fans watched on at Victoria Road with beaming smiles as the announcer frequently exclaimed down the mic ‘THE DAGGERS HAVE BEEN SAVED!’ also choruses of ‘God bless America’ were ringing round the ground. Despite our side being unable to make it three wins out of three they still earned a point as Dagenham and Redbridge football club entered a new chapter.
The weeks after the announcement saw Dagenham’s form take a turn for the worse as the cameras saw them get a taste of their own medicine. Alex Wynter’s goal in the 89th minute kick started a run of form which saw Dagenham lose the remainder of their games in what was otherwise a good September for The Essex side.
Keep an eye out for part 2 of 3!