Kick-Off: Mason Bloomfield is back at Dagenham & Redbridge and determined to make his mark
PUBLISHED: 14:00 11 August 2017
©TGS Photo tgsphoto.co.uk +44 1376 553468
At 20-years-old, Dagenham & Redbridge academy graduate Mason Bloomfield is doing quite well in his development.
After a stellar pre-season campaign that saw him net four goals, including a hat-trick at Folkestone Invicta, the forward looks set to be heavily involved with the first team this term.
That, though, does not tell the full story of how Bloomfield went from a 17-year-old making his Daggers debut in September 2014 to being a first-team option.
Following the appearance as a substitute against Northampton Town three years ago, the youngster did not feature again for the first team, before being released in the summer of 2015.
From there, his career started to resemble that of a journeyman despite his young age, taking in spells at Chelmsford City, Billericay Town and Grays Athletic among others.
In December last year, Bloomfield rocked up at Isthmian North club Aveley, where things seemed, almost immediately, to click.
On his debut for the Millers, the young attacker struck the winner in a 1-0 triumph at Soham Town Rangers.
That was the first of six goals in 12 games for Aveley for Bloomfield, and it was that prolific form that alerted his former club once again.
In March of this year, Bloomfield returned to Victoria Road on a permanent deal, though he remained with the Millers on loan until the end of the campaign.
Now firmly back in Daggers’ plans for the upcoming season, Bloomfield is keen to make up for lost time and the young forward says his spell away from the Essex club has helped mould him as a player.
“Playing in divisions like the Isthmian Leagues has helped my game and I recommend any player in an academy to go play men’s football,” said Bloomfield.
“It teaches you how to win and how to be a bit more physical, which has helped me come back here.”
During his prolific spell with Aveley, Bloomfield was managed by Terry Spillane – a name that will be known by many Daggers supporters.
Spillane, father of ex-Dagger Michael, was also the man who recommended Dwight Gayle to the Essex club when in charge of Stansted in 2011.
That link increases the pressure on Bloomfield to impress as he looks to be the latest in a long line of forwards signed by Daggers boss John Still that go on to do well in their careers.
For now, though, the 20-year-old is just happy to be back at his first club, though he admits when his return did materialise, it came as something of a shock.
“I was a little surprised, but I expected it as my manager at the time, Terry, told me Dagenham were looking at me in our games,” he added.
“Terry asked me if I was interested in going back, and I said I was open to it.
“From there, after watching my games over the following two to three weeks, they made the call and it went from there.”
When Bloomfield did return to the Essex club in March, there were few senior attacking options available to boss Still.
Oliver Hawkins was the leading man in attack, with Paul Benson usually on the bench, while Elliott Romain had only just joined from Eastbourne Borough of National League South.
Over the summer, though, that picture has become a little more crowded, even with the departure of Benson, who joined National League rivals Boreham Wood after being released by Daggers in May.
Still has been busy adding firepower to his attack, which still includes Hawkins, who scored 19 goals in all competitions last season.
England C international Morgan Ferrier has arrived on a two-year deal from Boreham Wood for an undisclosed fee after netting 12 goals last term.
And Michael Cheek was another summer arrival, also on a two-year deal, having departed Braintree Town on a free transfer after scoring 19 league goals last season, despite the Iron being relegated.
Romain remains, while Joe White is back with Daggers after a successful loan spell at Wealdstone of the National League South.
All told, it seems the forward positions will be hotly contested throughout the new campaign as the Daggers strikers look set for a season-long battle to start.
But Bloomfield hopes his pre-season form, being Daggers’ top scorer with four, gives Still food for thought in the early weeks of the term.
“I just wanted to come back and give the gaffer something to think about. We have ‘Morgs’ and ‘Cheeky’ who are both good players, so hopefully I can get a chance,” said Bloomfield.
If Still’s pre-season comments are anything to go by, Bloomfield has certainly been doing enough to impress his boss.
But now comes the next step in his development at Daggers — becoming a first-choice forward, even if his path towards regular selection has not been the most straightforward.