Once a Dagger: Matt Ritchie
In this series, ‘Once A Dagger’, I look back at the former Daggers who have gone on to be rather successful since leaving Victoria Road. I will be looking back at their time at the club but also what they have gone on to achieve - the first player is Matt Ritchie!
Matt is now an established Premier League player with 120 top-flight appearances and counting but he has along with other graced the hallowed Victoria Road turf in a Daggers shirt.
Matt joined the Daggers on an initial one month loan deal in the September of 2008 but his debut only consisted of a late substitute appearance against Rotherham.
His first competitive start however didn’t go unnoticed as he contributed a goal in the 2-0 victory over Rochdale - he was off the mark. The winger later made it 2 in 2 as he found the net against rivals Barnet securing another 2-0 victory.
The now Newcastle player also scored in the 6-1 victory over Notts County that season, as well as getting a vital goal in the reverse fixture at Rochdale where the Daggers came out 3-2 winners.
Enjoying life at Victoria Road, the Scot opted to extend his stay with his loan contract now lasting until the end of the campaign. All in all, Ritchie featured 37 times across the 46 league two games chipping in with a respectable 11 goals.
However, unfortunately it wasn’t enough for the Daggers to seal a play-off spot missing out by a solitary point to Shrewsbury town.
As previously mentioned, Matt Ritchie is now a well-known Premier League player and cemented himself in Bournemouth fans’ hearts. Despite making two top flight appearances for Portsmouth, he really burst onto the scene with their rivals Bournemouth.
Matt was part of the Cherries side that topped the Championship and saw the club promoted to the Promised land for the first time in their history! His hot form in that campaign was key to the club’s success with the Scot registering 11 goals and 13 assists during that historic season.
For the following season, he was almost an ever-present in Eddie Howe’s side playing 37 out of 38 Premier League encounters. The winger, now a Scotland international, scored 4 goals in his first Premiership campaign before being lured away from Dean Court.
Matt made the move up north to newly-relegated Newcastle for £12 million and returned to the Championship before securing immediate promotion back to the big time.
In that season, which has proved to be his last outside the Premier League to date, he played 42 out of the 46 league games under Rafa Benitez - scoring 12 goals.
Three seasons later and with anger around ownership coming from fans, along with changes of manager, Ritchie remains in the North East. The ex-Dagger has gone on to make 80 more Premier League appearances since leaving Bournemouth.
The Scotsman has also made 16 appearances for his country since promotion with the Cherries to the top flight back in 2015 - scoring three times.
It’s safe to say he has done all right for himself since leaving Victoria Road after his 37-game stint at the club. Going on to play under the likes of Di Canio (Swindon), Eddie Howe (Bournemouth), Rafa Benitez & Steve Bruce (Newcastle).
Now, as the Saudi takeover of Newcastle looks to be nearing completion, could he be part of bigger things - or does his future lie elsewhere? I believe that it’s likely the latter as he hasn’t been a key player as it is for the Magpies in recent seasons so with bigger and better players coming in - could he realistically stay?
One thing I may perhaps rule out though is a return to the Daggers but you never know!
However, he says his best manager of his career was John Still - not an actual quote - but it could be!
Thanks for reading,