Our Daggers blogger gives his reaction to the club’s fans forum
- Credit: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo
Our Dagenham & Redbridge blogger Keane Handley gave us his views on the clubs’ fans forum late last week.
It was nice to see familiar faces on my return to Victoria Road – a new socially distanced ground - for the first time since the Fylde encounter back in March.
It was the Season Ticket Holder’s Fans’ Forum and the Season Ticket Holders had a lot of questions they wanted answered.
But they were perhaps cleared up, the ones for Managing Director Steve Thompson anyway, as he lectured his way through the first 60 minutes.
The key insights from Thompson, who also sits on the National League board, included the fact that fans will be allowed in October 3, albeit socially distanced and it’ll be nothing like before.
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We are looking at about 1,500 fans allowed to return to the Chigwell Construction Stadium – which isn’t an alien figure anyway when it comes to attendances.
These supporters will be spread across the ground using ‘every bit of space possible’ as each ground is to be assessed individually from the depth and width of the terraces and seating, to the measurements of the gangways.
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With early measurements being done, they have some confidence in that 1500 figure which could rise to 1800.
Away travel was brought up in questioning and Thompson is pushing, within the hierarchy of the National League to have an EFL-style approach where it’ll be up to the home club to allow away supporters and how many.
His reasoning for this was if the away allocation is only 25% filled; that could have been used for home supporters and he doesn’t want away fans getting priority as a result of that.
The players are hoping to get back training around August, 24, with £6,000+ spent on getting players back to training with testing (which was optional but the Daggers opted in) and additional equipment to test fitness.
The players will have a phased return as they are classed under Government Guidelines as ‘Elite players’ meaning they will begin socially distanced training and gradually come together as a group.
There will be pre-season friendlies but they will be behind-closed-doors and not publicised until after the match with reports and team sheets then being released.
The word on season tickets is that they’ll be on sale next week at normal price. Although, you won’t be guaranteed your usual seats due to social distancing, as the seating arrangements will be in a sort of ‘chequered’ formation.
There will be a new ticketing process next season where it will be cashless and there will be season cards – linked to a phone app – and all other tickets will have to be purchased in advance as E-Tickets.
Manny Onariase was a big player for us in the last two campaigns and he has been sold to Scunthorpe with a sell-on-clause attached, though the same isn’t true for Liam Gordon who was sold to Bolton- with no sell-on clause attached. I believe that Liam could go far so worry about how much we could be missing out on but that all remains to be seen.
Focusing more on the playing side of things, Daryl McMahon was taking questions and he seemed a lot more relaxed and open than Peter Taylor in previous forums.
Though that pressure was soon put on him by Steve Thompson who interrupted saying ‘We’ll be there or thereabouts next season’. After yet another interruption – a round of applause to Daryl and Thompson as the supporters showed their appreciation for the recruitment so far this summer – McMahon managed to begin to answer some questions.
I’ve picked out what I believe were the most interesting points from the Dagenham & Redbridge manager and one I thought was interesting was his high praise for Myles Weston.
Myles played for Ebsfleet when Daryl was at the helm and the Irishman recalled he was Player of The Season after 6 months at the Fleet and tipped him to be a Fans’ favourite at the Daggers as he was across the Thames.
There was also high praise for Sam Deering whom he claimed was a ‘character in every sense of the word’ and someone he thought highly of on the pitch. The question of who he’d pick – Balanta or Deering – was an interesting one as Daryl claimed Deering could be played out wide as was the case at Ebbsfleet and the back end of the season just gone. Determined to fit both Balanta and Deering in, McMahon added that the playing style will be his: high intensity; pacey; making use of the wings and above all being on the front foot.
That’s his recipe for success and he is recruiting the players to attain that success as leadership can be seen on the pitch everywhere you look with four former club captains all playing for the Daggers alongside Kenny Clark who was confirmed as next season’s captain.
Rance and Reynolds are both former skippers and when asked about defending set-pieces Daryl claimed ‘it’s a bug-bear of mine’ though he is hoping that with more leaders on the pitch organisation in those situations should improve.
With five new signings and more on the way, a supporter pointed out the common excuse of the ‘players are just getting to know each other’ in response to slow starts to the season – even 15 games in – and whether that would be an issue.
Smiling, the manager noted that ‘they [the players] have a WhatsApp chat’ but said it really starts when we get back training – the bonding etc.
Asked about formations for the upcoming season – 3 or 4 at the back? McMahon expressed his will to have 2 formations secured going into new season to choose between so that they are flexible and adaptable to injuries and whatever else.
Shaq Coulthirst’s name wasn’t directly mentioned but he was described by a Daggers supporter and Daryl stated that the player in question was not a target but that strikers are a priority in terms of recruitment.
Last season, ‘against Fylde for example, the ball went across goal 5/6 times’ he recalled and ‘Mitch Brundle was the only one with the instinct to get onto it and make the run.’ That’s why he is desperate to add to McCallum up top and he hinted at 2 or 3 players wanting to leave and if I could hazard a guess – I believe Quigley and Grant may be on that list.
So, the ambition and activity is there and there are still players yet to sign on the dotted line with expectations high – it’s sure to be an exciting campaign – a very different one off the pitch and hopefully on it too!