DAGENHAM AND IAN
This is the twenty third instalment of the ‘DAGENHAM AND ME’ series in which we explore fans’ and former players’ relationship with the club. This will be done over the Christmas period with interesting stories being told daily and debate will no doubt spark over Dagenham’s all-time XI! Behind door number 23 is supporter, IAN, enjoy :)
FULL NAME: Ian Ayris
My favourite player currently is Joan Luque – epitomises the Daggers spirit of old. I used to be a season ticket holder but life does it’s stuff and it is no longer sadly an option. One day, though, one day.
I do go to as many games as I can, work and finances permitting, along with my boy Charlie – a proud season ticket holder. A dozen or so home games a year and a handful of away days.
In terms of where I am situated at the ground, well, as a kid I was always on the grass bank at the Pondfield Road end. Ever since the stand was built, I have been in the Sieve opposite the eighteen yard line.
I first started supporting the Daggers in1977, when I was seven years old. Ah, thems was the days . . .
My first game was the 1977 FA Trophy Final against Scarborough. I remember us winning one-nil, then we let in two in the last ten minutes to throw the game away. It’s great to see times have changed. I cried that day, and I’ve been a Dagger ever since.
My cousin is Lee Matthews – one of the greatest defenders and captains we ever had. I am also an author, and have written three novels (one of which I did a book signing for at the club shop). The main character in the books is obsessed with West Ham (I know), all his terrace experiences based on my time on the Sieve.
My favourite game has to be the Rotherham play-off final. Just unbelievable. To see so many Daggers fans I’d seen at Victoria Road over the years in tears - an experience I will never forget.
I wouldn’t say it was my favourite, but I suppose the most memorable Christmas game was New Years Day 2019, away at Orient. Apart from being an awful game, on the way home after getting on the wrong train, when I reboarded the train at Leyton I managed to ignore the warning of ‘Mind the Gap’ by planting one foot on the train, whilst sending the other plummeting into the darkness.
Ended up tearing my Achilles and rupturing my ankle ligaments. I have been unable to play the violin ever since. If I was asked what hurt the most, mind, there really is no competition. Bloody Orient.
Staying on the Christmas theme and my favourite Christmas song has got to be ‘Do they know it’s Christmas?’ Close seconds being ‘White Christmas’ by Stiff Little Fingers and ‘Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis’ by Tom Waits.
From that first game at Wembley, to sitting on the grass bank behind the goal at the Pondfield Road end as a schoolboy through the eighties, the first game of the merger at Great Wakering Rovers, the Conference relegation, the promotion, the Charlton game, promotion to League Two, League One, relegation again, the almost going bust, the takeover, it’s never been dull.
The biggest change has been the ground. Walking up Victoria Road now is like walking to a football league ground. I do miss the old grass bank, though, and the changing ends at half time at away games. But the Sieve will always be my home. What hasn’t changed are the fans. There are people I’ve seen at the Daggers for years, though on many occasions have never known their names, but now come with their own kids, as I do with mine.
My bugbear is some of the supporters who have only known us from our Football League days, and do not really get our non-league roots – how to be a Dagger is so much more than the result on the pitch. To be a Dagger is to never give up, to support the team to the end - whatever the score or even the performance. To be a Dagger is hard, frustrating, infuriating, and wonderful. COME ON YOU DAGGERS!!!
Best Dagenham manager has to be John Still. His knack of finding raw talent from the lower leagues and bringing them on, is second to none. A true Dagger and a top gent.
Favourite player - Broomy. Even watching him in the charity match, albeit a little rounder than of old, sent shivers down me spine. Never say die, fight to the end, whatever the score – Broomy is the very essence of the Daggers spirit.
Here is my Ultimate Daggers XI:
Goalkeeper: Tony Roberts - Top keeper, legend, lunatic
Left back: Ashley Vickers - The nicest psycho ever there was.
Centre back: Lee Matthews - Class defender, would run through a brick wall for the Daggers.
Centre back: Glyn Creaser - Scary, scary, scary.
Right back: Tim Cole - Another combination of class player and slightly mad. The best Smithfield ever produced.
Left midfield: Jason Broom - Never gave less than a hundred per cent, whatever the score - EVER.
Centre midfield: Ian Richardson - Box to box machine, one of the classiest midfielders we ever had.
Centre midfield: Steve Heffer - Run all day, as fearless as they come.
Right midfield: Craig Mackail-Smith - Had it all - a phenomenal talent.
Centre forward: Paul Benson - Bennooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!
Centre forward: Junior McDougald - Played with his heart on his sleeve, relentless in his desire, and the nicest bloke ever to put on a Daggers shirt.
Thanks for reading,
That was ‘DAGENHAM AND IAN’