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Looking back: Daggers fan in reflective mood during lockdown

PUBLISHED: 15:30 22 April 2020

Daggers fan Charile Ayris with Elliot Justham

Daggers fan Charile Ayris with Elliot Justham

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Dagenham & Redbridge fan Charlie Ayris contacted the Post sports desk to explain how he was filling his time with the National League suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The programme binders of Daggers fan Charlie AyrisThe programme binders of Daggers fan Charlie Ayris

It begins with a walk down memory lane, thanks to his programme collection, and considers the emotions of football and what the future might hold.

He said: “With all this time off, I decided to get in some programme binders and sort out my Daggers collection.

“My earliest one dates back to 2011, I’m sure we lost 5-2 to Aldershot on my ninth birthday. Ian tells me my first match was Telford before the 2006/07 promotion, though I can’t remember that at all. I remember my first game being around 2008/09, Grimsby at home, 2-0 win, a brace from Benno.

“Plenty of highs and lows here, considering I started wanting to go to every match (and now have done for five years) since the season we got relegated from League One. Most notably, the Everton match which was a massive high of a very bleak season. Forest Green Rovers doing us dirty in the play-offs, our first win against Orient of the decade on Boxing Day was a good feeling.

The programme binders of Daggers fan Charlie AyrisThe programme binders of Daggers fan Charlie Ayris

“The first time I cried at a match was the day we got relegated from League Two. I remember we were 2-0 down against Orient, Curo ran one round the keeper, then a Dikamona half-volley got us level. Orient hit the woodwork about three times before sealing our fate.

“Me and Mollie were the last ones to leave the stadium that day, I was in bits and Molls asking ‘Does that mean we’re relegated then?’ on the despondent trek back to the train station really wasn’t helpful.

“I can’t thank my dad enough for the club he took me to when I was little. Although many things were difficult (on and off the pitch), he kept bringing me and, soon enough, it became our club.

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“I’m so grateful to be brought up in the light of proper football, sportsmanship (the Daggers’ ethos, anyway) and the true meaning of the beautiful game, rather than the dominated-by-rich Premier League.

“You can bet my children will be Red & Blue and there will be a three-generation attendance at Victoria Road every other Saturday.

“Day-in-day-out it was a personal battle when the club was on its knees financially. The thought of this beautiful club no longer existing broke me every day, until the #savethedaggers campaign was over.

“I felt the team we had that year, if we didn’t have to sell our best players in January, would’ve got us back to the promised lands of the Football League. Alas, it just wasn’t meant to be.

“Peter Taylor came in and did what we thought was impossible, keep the Daggers in the National League. It must be said he did get help from instant Daggers legends Freund, Unger and Howard, bringing in the likes of Balanta and Wilkinson, two of the finest players I and most fans would have seen at Victoria Road.

“We’ll always be grateful for Stilly and Taylor’s contributions to the club. Now we begin a new chapter with McMahon, it seems like a match made in heaven and us Daggers can’t wait to see what the next few years have in store.

“The mighty Daggers aren’t a massive club, we’re barely known nationally, but what matters is no matter what, we’ll stick by our team through the good times and bad.

“For all those last-minute goals conceded, the season-on-season relegation battles, there will be attacking, entertaining football and promotion parties not far ahead in the future.

“We continue to stand by whoever puts on the red and blue on a Saturday afternoon, from first minute to last. Come on you Daggers!”


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