Justham pleased to have proved worth to Daggers after tough period
PUBLISHED: 10:00 07 May 2019
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Keeper has been on top of his game for Daggers this term after a difficult period out of starting XI in recent seasons
Elliot Justham believes his most-recent Vanarama National League campaign with Dagenham & Redbridge has helped him to exorcise some demons.
The 28-year-old first arrived at the Essex club in the summer of 2016 following their relegation from Sky Bet League Two.
The former Luton Town stopper was favoured by then-boss John Still between the sticks over Mark Cousins for the opening day of the season and kept hold of his spot for much of the campaign.
A slip in form, however, saw Justham dropped for the final two league games of the term and the play-off semi-final defeat to Forest Green Rovers.
The keeper's second campaign with Daggers was equally galling, starting as backup to Cousins, before being ruled out for the season through injury.
The 28-year-old returned to fitness ahead of the new campaign and has been the Essex club's undisputed number one this term, culminating in him winning Daggers' player of the season award.
And Justham is delighted to have shown what he is capable once again after a frustrating period at Victoria Road.
“I didn't like the way I ended the first season and I finished slow after starting well,” he said.
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“I understood why John brought Mark in and it was the right decision, even if I didn't think that at the time.
“The injury killed me last season and for my own benefit, I had something to prove this season. I'd like to think I proved my worth this year.”
It certainly has been a rollercoaster ride for Justham to get to this point, not least because of the uncertainty regarding Daggers' future last summer.
The Essex club were in severe financial difficulties and saw a number of first-team players leave.
Justham, Ben Nunn, Matt Robinson, Luke Pennell, Chike Kandi, Elliott Romain were the only senior members to stay put and the grouped looked to be brace for a relegation battle.
Thankfully that never fully came to fruition, with new owners Trinity Sports Holdings arriving in September to give Peter Taylor's men a timely boost both on and off the field.
And reflecting on where Daggers were 12 months ago, Justham admits it has been a remarkable upturn in fortunes for the Victoria Road outfit.
“This time last year, we didn't know if there was going to be a club,” added the 28-year-old.
“I had a year left on my contract, but I didn't know if there was going to be a club to play for which led to some thoughts of 'what do we do (if there is no club)?'.
“The gaffer made it clear what he wanted to do and yes, it was very tough at times, like you saw at the start when it wasn't happening for us.
“We needed something else and thankfully the American owners have come in and taken this club to beyond where we thought it would be.”