I talk to a Dagenham & Redbridge fan from www.diggerdagger.com ahead of the new season.
Tell us a bit about your season last season firstly. Would you say it was a success or failure? Did you achieve anything throughout the season, and were the fans happy with the end result?
Well, we won the Conference by 14 points at a canter from a team that averages over three times our crowd so I think we can view that as a successful season!
Obviously every close season sees players leave. Who left your club and were you happy with the decision to let those players go by your boss?
We let four players go in close season. Tim Cole was a former club captain and our longest serving player and it was a shame to see him move on. He was a fringe player for the last couple of seasons though and had suffered a series of injuries so it was an understandable one. Jake Leberl left for AFC Wimbledon and Paul Bruce was released, again both squad players for last season. I was a bit surprised to see Jake move on, but I would guess he got a decent offer from the Dons. The last departure was Paulo Vernazza, ex Arsenal and reputed to be Ashley Cole’s best mate who joined Weymouth. No great loss there.
So obviously, with players going out, some have got to come in. Who has come in for you, and do you expect them to do well? Tell us a bit about these lads?
Coming the other way have been a few decent signings. Jon Nurse is a striker from Stevenage Borough who has been mustard in pre-season. Shane Huke signed from Peterborough and Magnus Unpronounceable (actually Okuonghae) came in from Crawley Town. Also in is Richard Graham from Barnet and Ross Smith, a Canadian defender from Gravesend & Northfleet.
The last few days have seen trialists keeper Ed Thompson, who famously ‘scored’ in the Daggers appearance on Soccer AM’s Crossbar Challenge, and left back Marlon Patterson sign for the club. Patterson arrives from Yeading on a non-contract basis.
Who are going to be your star players this season then? Who`s going to get the goals, and who`s going to stop them?
Star players? We don’t really do stars, it is a team game after all. The biggest ‘name’ in the squad is Tony Roberts, ex QPR and Wales goalkeeper. Tony is now reaching the end of his career but is always good value for fans (of both teams).
The goals will come from all over if last season is any guide. Paul Benson ended up Conference top scorer with 27 last season, but the midfield chipped in regularly too. Jon Nurse has scored a few in pre-season while Chris Moore and Ben Strevens also find the net regularly.
At the back Anwar Uddin is immense at centre half and a settled back four all know what they are doing.
Season ticket sales help the club at the beginning of the season to stabilise the place and give it a bit of extra income. How many season tickets have your club shifted these season so far, and what do you expect the average attendance to be throughout the season?
No idea on season tickets I am afraid, but I do know it is a record for a first season in the Football League.
I’d hope we can average over 2,000 this season, but we will see. Maybe 1,800 will be more like it. We are in the heart of London Football land and have a lot of alternative draws for the footballing public close by.
Tell us a bit about your gaffer and his backroom staff. Do the fans like the gaffer, or can you see him being out of a job after a run of bad results?
John Still came in after the very popular Garry Hill moved on. He was not the fans first choice but he is a Dagger through and through having played for three of the four founder clubs in the 70’s and been the first manager of the merged club in 1992. John has a fabulous eye for a player and has built this team on virtually no money. Right now he can do no wrong and will be secure for the season whatever happens.
Coach Terry Harris is another ex-Dagger and a smashing bloke. He and John work terrifically together.
This question is split into two. What do you BELIEVE your club can achieve this season, and what do you HOPE your club can achieve this season?
I believe we can finish in the playoffs if we get a good start and provided the ‘who the hell are Dagenham & Redbridge’ attitude from certain more established clubs continues for a while.
I actually just hope we finish 22nd or higher. If we do and can build some momentum I genuinely believe we can become an established Football League club in a similar way to Yeovil Town have.
Finally, whom do you expect to win the division, who do you think will go up with them and who do you think will be relegated?
To be honest I have no idea who will shine in League Two this season. The obvious candidates are the big names like Bradford City and Notts County. MK Dons have that fabulous new stadium to fill and could do well and Peterborough have bought well. Stockport seem to have a decent side and ought to figure too.
Going down, maybe Accrington Stanley and beyond that who knows. Not Dagenham & Redbridge!