Daggers finally grasp League Two consistency after season of struggle
PUBLISHED: 16:01 05 March 2008 | UPDATED: 12:29 11 August 2010
Dave Simpson/TGSPHOTO c/o 27 Plaiters Way, Braintree, Essex CM7 3LR.Football League and Conference Football images are subject t
CASUAL observers ignorant of the context of Dagenham & Redbridge s startling League Two rejuvenation may wish to reword a famous old maxim, WRITES NEIL TRAINIS. Jimmy Greaves once uttered that football is a funny old game but those struggling to comprehen
CASUAL observers ignorant of the context of Dagenham & Redbridge's startling League Two rejuvenation may wish to reword a famous old maxim, WRITES NEIL TRAINIS.
Jimmy Greaves once uttered that football is a funny old game but those struggling to comprehend how the Football League newcomers have strung together five successive wins after amassing two from the 12 games before that, would promote absurd ahead of funny.
A side whose relative inexperience at this level seemed, at one time, representative of a heavy anchor relentlessly dragging them down under deep water towards the seabed, have suddenly been resuscitated in their attempt to break free from the shackles.
Dave Andrews, Daggers chairman in name but in the flesh the epitome of everything the modest east London club is and aspires to be, was defiant in his enthusiasm that the team could pull off eight more wins despite having just watched them receive a 4-1 beating at Edgar Street to Hereford United.
Many would have thought the notion romantic in the extreme, one perhaps said in the heat of the moment out of a blind love for the club rather than one based on pragmatism, yet with hindsight, it appears he knew something the doubters did not.
His manager, John Still, has also persistently clung to the belief that the players at his disposal will eventually come good and their mini-revival would have come as no surprise to him either.
Tony Roberts too made the kind of blunt, attention-grabbing suggestion that Daggers are too good to go down following victory over Morecambe at Victoria Road but retrospection determines that no-one can accuse the Welsh goalkeeper of the kind of momentary eccentricity which he is sometimes prone to.
Fortune has been cited as a possibility in the upturn in results but putting Daggers' purple patch solely down to luck would be a disservice to the players who have worked so hard in training and on match days.
Peter Gain is shrugging off the ring-rust and adding maturity to a competitive but naive midfield, Mark Arber is a composed presence at the heart of a defence that had conceded 61 goals in 37 games before his arrival and the tireless Ben Strevens has been rewarded with 17 goals.
Still deserves recognition for overseeing their re-emergence from a team whose attacking vitality appeared to have been suffocated by league opponents who had sussed their playing methods to one used to winning football matches again.
Oh to have been a fly on the wall in the team meeting, now renowned for providing the side with the catalyst to pull off a string of eye-catching results.
Getting things off the chest is a release, and perhaps the players felt frustrated enough to air their criticisms at one another in a bid to decipher why their endeavours had failed to bring wins.
Their recovery, dramatic as it has been to outsiders, has produced mixed reactions amongst the League Two managerial fraternity, with Morecambe chief Sammy McIlroy denouncing Daggers as one-trick ponies and Bradford City counterpart Stuart McCall hailing their battling qualities.
"We were all up for it and ready to go but Dagenham seemed to want it more," the fiery Scot and former Everton midfielder moaned, though his admission that Daggers' hunger for victory was greater than Bradford's was a glowing reference from a man whose playing career was distinguished for his propensity to battle fearlessly.
Still claims never to take notice of the words or results of others and his team has given plenty to occupy him but for the first time there is reason to believe the side can stand toe to toe with anyone in the division.
Even in defeat Still's belief his players can compete at this level has grown but there is no substitute for victories to convince people that a team adjusting to a higher plane can finally attain consistency.