Dagenham ‘gutted’ after being forced to forfeit league opener

Dagenham and Millwall contest a scrum during their Junior Vase clash (pic: Tim Edwards).

Dagenham and Millwall contest a scrum during their Junior Vase clash (pic: Tim Edwards). - Credit: Archant

Central Park club admit they are likely to not be able to fulfil more matches in the future

Dagenham head coach Mark Collins insists the club will come back stronger after they had to forfeit their opening Essex One fixture of the season at Maldon last weekend because they couldn’t field an adequate team.

The D’s didn’t take the decision lightly and in the end decided it was best to give Maldon the points, rather than give youngsters a baptism of fire that might lead to them giving up the game.

Collins was bitterly disappointed to call the fixture off, but concedes it will probably not be the only match Dagenham can’t fulfil this year with injuries and player availbility a huge problem.

They are set to visit Writtle Wanderers this weekend, but that clash could also be forfeited.

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“Myself and the chairman Gary Knowlden had been talking all week and it was a decision that we didn’t take lightly,” said Collins.

“We had to make a decision that was right for the club. We could have gone to Maldon and taken a beating and allowed our players to get hit after hit, but that isn’t the right thing to do.

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“Our aim is to keep people playing rugby for the long-term, especially with the World Cup on.

“I was a little bit upset on Friday when it should’ve been an exciting time with England playing their first match and the new season starting, but if you haven’t got the stength in depth and enough willing bodies for the cause it is always going to be tough.

“Let’s hope that as a club and a community we can hold it all together and make the best of a bad situation. We are gutted because of what has happened and in all of my career I have never came across something like this.”

Collins is trying to protect the young, up-and-coming talent at the Central Park club, rather than throw them in the deep end.

He would have used some second team players at the weekend, but not enough are willing to help out and it meant they also had to forfeit their match at Westcliff.

Coach Collins added: “Hopefully we can drag something out of the season. It was going to be tough, but it is definitely going to be a long one now.

“We have spoken to the league and we want to try and fulfil some of our fixtures. If we can, we will.

“People need to think as a club, we need to keep together and be a collective and not individuals. If we do that we’ll move together and get out of this.

“We want to help the young lads we have at the club play rugby in the right way and give them a good beginning in the game, not put them in the first team and let them get a beating and never return.”

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