Sunday, 19 February 2012

Birthday footy

Saturday 18th February 2012
Football League 2
The London Borough of Barking & Dagenham Stadium

Today is the 35th birthday of the editor / big chief of All Roads Lead Somewhere and this was spent in east London. It had been suggested around Christmas time about going out for the day with my wife (Angela), mum (Christine) and her partner Dave but the question was where? I came up with the idea of dropping Angela and my mum off at the Lakeside Shopping Centre in Thurrock, Essex and me and Dave could go and watch some football nearby. All agreed. Originally I did think about Tilbury FC but then I did wonder where Cheltenham would be playing that day. Well of all the away fixtures they could have it turned out they were playing a mere twenty minutes away @ Dagenham & Redbridge FC. This could not have been planned any better. Following a phone call to good friend Colin Buchanan who lives in Cheltenham to see if he fancied meeting us there and the trip was confirmed. 

The history of Dagenham & Redbridge (D&R) is an interesting one to say the least, with the club that we know today having its roots in four amateur non-league clubs from east London. The four are Ilford (formed in 1881), Leytonstone (1886), Walthamstow Avenue (1900) and Dagenham in 1949. Firstly Ilford and Leytonstone merged in 1979 to become Leytonstone / Ilford. They in turn then absorbed Walthamstow Avenue in 1988 and became Redbridge Forest a year later in 1989. In 1992 Redbridge Forest who were groundsharing at Dagenham at the time merged with their landlords to become D&R.

The clubs first season saw them finish in 3rd place in the Football Conference (now commonly known as the Blue Square Premier) with sixty seven points. This was followed by 6th and 15th place finishes before ending the 1995/96 season bottom of the table and relegation to the Isthmian League. Four season were spent in the Isthmian League with final placings of 4th, 4th, 3rd and then in 2000 were crowned champions and promotion back to the Conference. Promotion to the Football League came in the 2006/07 season but at one stage they were ten points behind favourites Oxford United. The Daggers took over at the summit of the table on December 31st 2006 and it was a position they never relinquished. They were crowned Conference champions on the 7th April 2007 following a 2-1 victory over Aldershot Town. Along with this was promotion to the Football League (FL).

The clubs first game in the FL saw the Daggers lose 1-0 @ Stockport County on August 11th 2007, with the first victory coming three weeks later against Lincoln City. At the seasons end the club finished in 20th place and avoided relegation back to the Conference. Things improved the following season as they just missed out on a place in the play-offs following a last day defeat against Shrewsbury Town. The 2009/10 campaign got even better as the club were promoted to the third tier of English football following a 3-2 victory over Rotherham United in the play-off final at Wembley Stadium. Just one season was spent in League 1 as the Daggers were relegated back to League 2 at the first time of asking. This season the Daggers have struggled and at the time of writing find themselves in the bottom two. They have recorded seven league victories this season, of which five have been at home and have amassed twenty four points. Meanwhile opponents Cheltenham Town are having their best season for a few years and sit at the other end of the table. Currently they sit in second place in the table with fifty six points, though only goal difference seperates the top three.  

Top and bottom three (upto & including Tuesday 14th February)

1Southend United30175856
3Torquay United30168656
22Plymouth Argyle30591124
24Northampton Town29661124

Club Honours & Records:

Football Conference champions: 2006/07
Isthmian League champions: 1999/00
Isthmian League One-to-One Shield winners: 2000/01
Essex Senior Cup winners: 1998, 2001

Record victory: 8-1 v Woking 1993/94
Record defeat: 0-9 v Hereford United 2003/04
Record attendance: 5,949 v Ipswich Town (FA Cup 3rd Round) 05/01/2002

The ground

Victoria Road or The London Borough of Barking & Dagenham Stadium as it is currently known due to sponsorship purposes has a capacity of 6,078. It has been a football ground since 1917 when it was used by the Sterling Works side whose factory was situated along side it. It was not fully enclosed until 1955 when Briggs Sports moved out to Rush Green Road and Dagenham FC moved from the Arena.

The following piece on the ground is taken from

"The stadium has been improved recently with the constuction of the new Traditional Builders Stand (aka Pondfield End) at one end of the ground, which replaced a small open terrace. This new all seated stand which was opened during the 2009/10 season, is a sizeable affair, housing 1,200 spectators. The stand is covered, raised above pitch level and has windshields to either side. Although only eleven rows high, it is free from supporting pillars and is quite steep, meaning that fans are kept close to the playing action. 

On one side is the relatively modern Main Stand, which was opened in 2001. Sponsored by Carling, this 800 capacity stand, is covered and all seated, with the team dugouts situated at the front of it. The stand comprises of six rows of seating and has a small executive area at the back of it. The stand, which is free of supporting pillars, is elevated above pitch level which means that supporters have to climb small sets of steps at the front of it, to gain access. The stand though, only runs for three quarters of the length of the pitch and at one end towards the Traditional Builders Stand, another separate stand exists. This stand which is called the Barking College Family Stand, is a small covered, seated stand. It is smaller in height that the Main Stand and contains around 200 seats, with some supporting pillars running along the front of it. Again it is raised above pitch level and is accessed via a small staircase.

The rest of the ground is terracing, with a small open terrace behind one goal and a covered terrace along one side. The home end, the Bury Road End (aka the Clock End), has a small basic electric scoreboard situated above it. This area also contains the club shop and Police control box. The North Terrace, which runs along one side of the pitch, is known affectionately by the Dagenham fans as 'The Sieve' as apparently at one time it was famed for its leaking roof. This old fashioned looking terrace, is partly covered to the rear and has a number of supporting pillars. It also has a television gantry perched upon its roof. Unusually the teams emerge from not from the main stand, but from a tunnel located in the new Marcus James Stand at one end of the ground. The stadium is completed with a set of four modern looking floodlights."

Having left Leicester at just after 10am the motorways one and twenty five were primarily clear and it was a trouble free journey. The first port of call was the Lakeside to drop off the two female of the species, and as we had enough time before having to make our way to the ground we had a snack and a coffee. It took around twenty minutes to get to the ground and was easy to find. Due to arriving about ninety minutes before kick off we managed to park for free on Victoria Road itself, some forty yards from the ground entrance. Having met Colin outside the club shop we then went to where the away supporters would be housed on the far side of the ground. The stand is the newest part of the ground and had an excellent view of proceedings as well as plenty of leg room. The tea bar, toilets and bar area are found underneath the stand itself. 

This was a game in which the stats and the scoreline do not match up. Cheltenham took their chances Dagenham didn't. Simple. After an even twenty minutes the visitors opening goal was finished in some style as Luke Somefield rifled in a first time shot from the edge of the area. Two minutes later and it became 0-2 when a corner was not cleared properly and Steve Elliott took advantage. The third and killer goal of the afternoon came a few minutes from the end of the half. Daggers keeper Chris Lewington was judged to have handled outside the penalty area and was given a straight red card. Dave Hogan came on from Medy Elito and his first touch of the ball saw him parry Luke Garbutt's free kick into the path of Kaid Mohammed, who duly made it 0-3.

The second half was a pretty much non even with damage limitation the game plan for the home side. Cheltenham added two futher goals which delighted their visiting supporters. Firstly on the hour mark James Spencer took advantage of  a mistake by Oluwafemi Ilesanmi and hit a powerful shot past Hogan. The final goal of the afternoon came with around twenty minutes remaining as a Mohammed cross took a wicked deflection off Michael Spillane  that ended in the back of the net via the woodwork.

This win puts Cheltenham's promotion push back on track while Daggers are in serious danger of a second successive relegation. This was summed up by chants / taunts of "you're going to Forest Green" from the visiting fans.  Following the game we made our way back to the Lakeside and had a meal at one of the restaurants there before the boring driving back up to Leicester, and arrived home at around 9.30pm.

Admission: £19
Attendance: 1,516 (158 away)
Programme: £3
Badge: £3.50
Coffee: £1.20

Websites / sources:

Dagenham & Redbridge FC - official - wikipedia

Some ground photos can be viewed in the slideshow below:
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