John Still: Why I left Dagenham & Redbridge
PUBLISHED: 09:00 02 August 2013
Dave Simpson/TGSPHOTO c/o 27 Plaiters Way, Braintree, Essex, CM7 3LR - Editorial Use ONLY - FA Premier League and Football Leagu
Former Daggers boss John Still explains his exit from Victoria Road.
When John Still left Dagenham & Redbridge for Luton Town it came as a shock to many.
At the time Still decided not to talk about his exit, but with Daggers at Luton for a pre-season friendly at the weekend, the 63-year-old talked to the Post about why he left, with striker Dwight Gayle at the heart of it all.
“I never intended to leave,” said Still. “At the start of the season the club promised me no players would be sold. I worked for this club for nine years and we have always sold players so I don’t have any problems with that.
“That was repeated by me to the players. The Dwight situation happened, we could’ve sold him to someone else but we didn’t. Then we sold him to Peterborough but he was only going to go at the end of the season. They upped their price, he went there on loan, they upped their price and we sold him.
“I found it very difficult to look my players in the eyes after me telling them ‘no-one is leaving’ on numerous occasions. I felt a bit undermined. Do I blame the club for doing it? No I don’t. I have got no problems with the club if they have got to sell, I don’t have a problem.
“But it made my position really difficult. I’d spent nine years at the club, got promotion, produced unbelievable players that we sold on and my heart was and still is with the club as a supporter and it was as a manager. But I hear stories of why I left with the money situation and that’s rubbish.
“I don’t do websites and things like that but people tell me what goes on websites which are unbelievable rubbish, but now that’s the full story.”
Daggers’ managing director Steve Thompson claims it was always a policy to review the club’s finances throughout the season, and when Gayle did so well at Posh, it made the situation extremely difficult.
“The chairman, myself and John had a meeting at my house towards the end of July and decided to increase the budget,” said Thompson
“At the time we were forecasting a financial loss. It’s not unusual to forecast that at the start of the season as you don’t know how the season will pan out and how well you will do in the cup.
“As always we review the situation and that was no different to what we’d done in the past 10 years.
“John made Dave (chairman Dave Andrews) and I aware Peterborough had been in touch and they had a striker crisis at the club and wanted him on loan, and were prepared to pay a substantial fee just to loan him.
“Dave and I both said it is up to you John. More money would be made available for the team and the decision was in his words a deal too good to turn down. There was always a situation that if he did really well, would he want to come back? That was discussed and John said that wouldn’t happen. But the week before Christmas it came to a head. Peterborough wanted to keep him
“Dwight didn’t want to come back and we were faced with a possibility a player would come back and doesn’t want to play for you, though that’s not for certain.
“But the committee sat down with John and we knew had to get the best possible deal for the club. John told us he didn’t like the idea of Dwight leaving but we were faced with the situation we had.
“I do feel a bit disappointed if John felt he was undermined. He certainly never expressed that at the time. If that’s the case he was going against his philosophy.
“In the past nine years we never stood in a player’s way if they wanted to leave. John probably shouldn’t have said that to the players because the position throughout the season can change.”