Thursday, 29 December 2011

An Apology To John Still

When I write blogs and comments I sometimes put a lot of effort and thought into what Im going to say, sometimes I dont do this and write driven by pure emotion and a non rational thought process. The words are forming in my head quicker than I can write them down. However when ever I write something I try do it with as much honesty as I possibly can. Sometimes people agree with me and other times people don't. The key is though that when Im wrong Ill admit it, on this occasion I was naive and totaly, totaly wrong about what I said.

I used to write for London News 24, I nolonger do so, the reason? I resigne its that simple. I felt that they wanted me to be something I wasnt, yes to write with honesty but also to be edited in way that perhaps bought a different meaning to what I was writing. I wrote the 'Open Letter To John Still' because I was frustrated, I was fed up and I wrote it in an emotional non rational rage.

Should the website have edited it or sent it back to me until I had cooled down? Perhaps but then again why should they after all it's their job to get hits on their website and I had just written something that got everyone talking. I had played right into their hands, they had a disgruntled fan who voiced his opinion on their website, job done. They get lots of hits, I'm getting talked about everyone is happy right? Well no I wasn't happy at all.

I defended th article of course I did I wrote it, but I felt more and more uncomfortable with it and I didnt have the power to retract it another lesson learned. Make sure your 100% happy with what you write before you hit the publish button!

The more I thought about it the worse I felt so I emailed the club a letter of apology and asked them to send it onto John Still, they did and the next thing I know he's asking for my phone number so as we can discuss it!. To be honest I was expecting a huge bollocking but it didn't come. What was said will stay private between us but what I can say is that he IS the right man for this club.

The passion in his voice when he talks about he team, the supporters, the club oozes out of him. Others have said we would be mad to get rid of him and I totaly agree, there is no one better for us than him and the day he leaves will be a sad day indeed. I was wrong to write the letter, I was wrong to attack him in the way I did and he was gracious enough to accept my apology, not many would do that let alone discuss it with you.

I've learnt a lesson that was pianful. I was naive even at my age you get things wrong. However I won't make the same mistakes again, sometimes doing what feels right is the right thing to do no matter how much humble pie you have to eat. Even after you write the article that causes you the pain int he first place, sometimes you have to say sorry and admitt you got it wrong. Just like I did today. Come on you Daggers.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Is It The End Of The Road For John Still?

After reading the forum for the last few weeks I think we are all dreading not asking the question because we don't want to. So I'll ask it put my case forward and then you can all vote on the tab on the side, it's annoyonmous so no ones name will get out and I'll publish the vote at the end of the week.

Is this the end of the road for John Still?

There you go I said it, I didn't enjoy it but we need to have this conversation as fans and decide whether we are going to back the man till the end, by that I mean relegation, or are we going to turn on him and force him out of this club and hope and pray that our messiah is awaiting around the corner for us.

I've been interviewed a few times over the weekend by other websites about what has gone wrong this year, I won't bore you with my replies as I'll post the links on the forum when they publish them. I'm no one special by the way, I'm like you lot I care about this club, it's in my blood, why they asked me I dont know but what I do know is that when I spoke about this club of ours I got a real sense of pride at what we've achieved.

I could feel the passion in my voice when I spoke about what we've done, how many players we have progressed and what it means to be a Dagger and then it dawned on me, the problem is that we've forgotten that. Winning at Wembley will live with me forever it was an occasion that brought me to tears of joy BUT if I'd had known where we would be two years later because of that I wouldn't have acceppeted that it was worth the price we have had to pay.

We shouldn't be playing the likes of Sheffield Wednesday and Charlton in the league we should be in the conference playing Ebbsfleet and Forest Green shouldn't we? The reason we aren't is because of John Still and I find it disrespectful of what he has done for this club when people say they want him out.

Look at our history, look at where we've come from, have we forgotten that already after 1 season in League 1?. Yes the team is shite at the moment we know that, but it will change and he deserves the chance too put it right, we owe him that at least because without him we wouldn't have the memories we have, seen the players we've seen and no one would know the name Dagenham and Redbrdige outisde of the conference.

It may get worse before it gets better, so what everything worth having is worth going through the pain barrier for. Don't give up on hi yet, he doesn't deserve that, give him time, I know its hard but we are all far too emotional now let's get a few wins and see what happens from there then we can decide.

Well that's my case for sticking with John Still you can vote on the tab on the right it's free and no one will know its you I promise. Let's get this out in the open and vote on it.


Tuesday, 6 September 2011

The Unsung Hero

It's not been a bad start to the season, we are lacking a striker which has been discussed to death on the forum, but I think people are over looking someone who has made a fantastic start to the season. No Im not talking about digger the dog, a little farther back than that, still no idea? Okay then Chris Lewington. Yes the one in the yellow jersey wearing number 1 on it.

With all the talk of Benson, Green and Vincelot having left us, I'm rather surprised that Chris hasn't got more of a mention. He replaced an absolute legend in Robbo and I for one was a little disappointed for him when we signed James Shea on loan as I thought that he would play and Chris would spend another season on the bench. After all Shea came from Arsenal with a big reputation. I first watched Chris in the semi final of the Essex Cup against Colchester a few years ago, and to be honest he was outstanding that night and I have followed his progress closely ever since.

Since his sending off on the first day of the season, sorry to mention it again, he has been ever present. He has pulled of some superb saves and with the help of the defence we have only conceded four goals. I know we haven't scored many but four goals, two of which were penalties is a great record for a keeper in his first full season as Number 1. It's a huge credit to him that we aren't even talking about the goalkeeping position, no ones even mentioned it. It's like he's always been there and Robbo is a different dream.

Chris Lewington would I'm sure be the first one to thank Robbo for all the help and advice he has been given down the years, but credit too him for making the position his own. Being a goalkeeper is a nightmare position, I know I was one for Portsmouth Youth many years ago, one minute your a hero, the next your the biggest idiot in the world. It's a no win situation and yes you have to be a little mad to play there. So, to our unsung hero, well done, great start, well never forget Robbo, but let's start giving a bit of credit where it is deservedly due.

I just wanted to mention this link that Walesdagger posted on the forum recently, I know sone of you are aware of this very brave little girl, but there are other fans of other clubs who read my blog and don't know who she is. So click the links, and if you want to donate then please feel free, Click here

On another note, this will be my last blog post for 'a view from the sieve', running this blog, plus my own one, is taking up too much of my time and stopping me pursing other writing avenues. I just wanted to say thanks to the 20,000 odd people that have visited, read my inane drivel, commented and let me talk about our club. I will appear somewhere else shortly, writing about the club, but it won't be here sadly. So once again thank you its meant an awful lot to me other the past few seasons. Anthony.

Friday, 29 July 2011

Where Now?


Its been an awful couple of weeks if I'm honest no one likes losing players especially of the calibre of Danny Green, Romain Vincelot and Tony Roberts. Any club would struggle with the loss of some of their best players but that's what being a Dagger is all about. You come here because we will give you a chance and if you do well we let you move on and further your career. Its how we get players of this quality in the first place.

Its not all doom and gloom though, look at the players that are still here, Mark Arber, Danny J Green, Scott Doe, Abu Ogogo, Peter Gain, the returning Josh Scott, Chris Lewington will battle James Shea the Arsenal trainee and England U20 goalkeeper for the number 1 spot, Damien Scanell, the hopefully emerging Alex Osborn, Medy Elito, and Luke Wilkinson and many many more. We are still a solid League 2 side aren't we? Will be flirting with relegation this year? Of course we wont be. We will replace, regroup and start another chapter in our history led by John Still and his backroom team into battle once more.

It wont be easy but its up to us the fans who pay our money each week to get behind the team and support them. I bet they are just as gutted as we are that these guys have gone, perhaps selfishly we forget that sometimes, but I bet the ones still here will be busting a gut for the badge and the club and everything it stands for.

As I write this I have no idea what John Still is up to in the transfer market, rumours are that the 1st of August is going to be a very busy day (ref simmo's hints) and I have no right to know either, that's not my job and I don't appreciate people telling me how to do mine so I certainly wont be telling him how to do his. What I will do though is support him because if anyone has the clubs best interests at heart its him. Anyone that doubts that should hang their heads in shame. He has always done right by us, we may not have seen it at the time but what do we know?.

The summer has almost gone and the new season is just around the corner. I'm getting excited about it, I don't know where it will end, what will happen, who will emerge as the new hero to replace the ones that have gone, but what I do know is that I guarantee it wont be boring because it never is being a Dagger and that's why we care and support the club and the team.

So lose those summer pounds, get that shirt over your head, lubricate the voice box and get ready for Season 2011-12, its going to be an absolute belter.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Tony Roberts........Legend

If you look up the word legend in the Oxford dictionary it says the following "an extremely famous or notorious person, especially in a particular field: the man was a living legend a screen legend" well I would like to add my own definition of legend. In future when people talk about legends I would like the following to be recorded " Tony Roberts goalkeeper for Dagenham and Redbridge".

Of all the blogs Ive written in my time of being a Dagenham and Redbridge fan, the players who have left, the ones who have joined, the joy of Wembley, the tears of relegation, the one I didn't want to write was the one you are reading now. I wanted Tony to go on forever, to still be there when I was old and grey, but unfortunately the time has come for us to say goodbye and good luck for the future.

The announcement by the club today that Tony is moving onto pastures new and retiring from playing football has hit me hard, as I'm sure all of you reading this feel as well, we always knew the day would come but every season we always hoped it wouldn't be this one. Whenever we talk about our team and the line up we would like to see his name is always first, no question, its never ever been in doubt has it?.

Ive watched him from behind the goal, Ive watched him from the family stand, and the way he interacts with supporters of both clubs is a credit to him. He takes huge stick from away supporters with their ' You fat B@@@@@D chant' he will turn and face them lifting his shirt and showing them his muscles with a huge smile on his face. He will run over to the family stand and celebrate with us when we score, he will turn and yell with us at the stand behind the goal when we score at the Marcus James Stand end. You can see in his face how much it means to him as well as too us.

He has had injury's and suffered the pain of relegation, but he has also tasted the joy of winning titles and being on the winning side at Wembley. He has been twice capped by Wales, the country of his birth and is the record appearance holder for the Daggers. He is also the only goalkeeper to score in the FA Cup, when he netted against Basingstoke Town in the fourth qualifying round in 2001. Tony currently trains the Arsenal Youth team goalkeepers, but has now been promoted to first team duties, for which I'm sure we all wish him well.

I have loved watching him play down the years, Ive met him a few times and have always found him polite and courteous and a real pleasure to be around. He is also the only player who has had me in awe when he shook my hand and I mumbled like a small child with a stupid grin on my face. He is my favourite player, as an ex-Portsmouth trainee goalkeeper myself I have always admired the skill and agility that he has shown, and stuck up for him when he has been unfairly criticised by some. He has had me opened mouthed and on my feet with a save one minute, and crying with laughter at his antics the next.

Some say he looks like Sylvester Stallone, others mention his likeness to Beaker from the Muppet's, to me he will always be Tony Roberts the Legendary Dagenham and Redbridge goalkeeper. Good luck Tony, thank you for the eleven years of incredible service, the fun and the laughter, I'm going to have to stop now I'm welling up, just thank you big man there will never be another.

hwyl fawr Tony

You can find Tony Roberts profile on the Dagenham and Recbridge website here.

Friday, 22 July 2011

League 2 Predictions Season 2011-12

With a few weeks to go until kick off with our away trip to Macclesfield to start the new season I thought I would take a look at our opponents in League 2 and give my opinion on where we may finish. I have fed all the data I could find into a super computer (ahem me) and after a lot of thought I have decided to stick my neck out and go with what I think will happen.

It's not easy predicting final positions, after all who would have bet on Steveange getting back to back promotions last year or Chesterfield winning the League?. So for a bit of fun (yes I'm bored again, roll on tomorrow and that bacon burger that has been calling my name for months), here are where I think some of the teams competing with us this year will finish.


Tough one to call but I believe it will be between Crawley and Swindon to be honest. Crawley because they have spent money they probably don't have, and like Notts County before them will continue to throw money at it until they either go broke or that bastard Evans is arrested again, and Swindon because I believe last season was an utter freak. They fell into a bad run of form and couldn't get out of it. Play-off finalists the year before, they then lost two of their best players hit an awful run of form, and before they knew it they were down. They will have had the summer to re-group, confidence will return, and I expect them to bounce back as champions.


The remaining slots for automatic promotion I think will be between Southend, Gillingham and Rotherham. Southend I am reliably informed by my Southend supporting mate, are going to be a force to be reckoned with this year so Tommy mate here's to you having egg all over your face with love Anthony. Now then Gillingham came close last year and I expect them to be too strong for most sides in League 2 next year, having spent the summer without the disappointment of relegation, they will know what to expect from League 2 this year and will be up and running from the start. Rotherham, many expected them to go up last year, but I think the play-off defeat by us (ah the memories) took it's toll last year. They know what needs to be done to be in contention in this league and I expect them to get the job finally done.


Taking into account that there are three automatic promotion slots and I've already named five sides I think will be in contention for the automatic slots that leaves me with two more spaces. AFC Wimbledon I think will be in contention for a play-off spot this year. Having been cheated out of the title by Crwaley and their bastard manager, I think they will be very strong this year and on the back of finally getting their place back in the league, which was rightfully theirs anyway, I'm sure they will be out to shut a lot of people up and get into League 1 as soon as possible. Who have I forgot? Oh yeah us, right then where do I think we will finish? In the play-offs. The loss of Romain Vincelot and Danny Green will hit us hard as that's 22 out of the 52 goals we scored last year gone. However the stage is set for another Daggers hero to emerge with a returning Josh Scott, the emerging Alex Osborn and DJ Green and an unchanged back 5 back I think we will make the play-offs comfortably. Will we go back up? It's all about how you perform on the day as we well know.


There are five teams in this as far as I'm concerned, Barnet, Cheltenham, Macclesfied, Hereford and Plymouth. Barnet have flirted with relegation for what seems like forever and along with Macclesfield and Hereford I think they will finally run out of luck and two of these will drop out of the league. Some of you may be surprised by my inclusion of Plymouth but they are in an utter mess, players not getting paid for months, no money to spend, and with relegation hanging over them from last year I wouldn't be surprised to see them drop out of the League. No club is ever too big to go down and if they do I really fear for them as the conference is a very unforgiving league for teams who think they are bigger than they actually are.

So with less than two weeks to go, the home friendlies starting tomorrow with the full-first team squad, are you getting excited yet?. It's going to be a superb season of heartbreak, ecstasy and tears, let's hope we are on the right side of the tears come the 5th May this season.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Au Revoir Romain


Hands up all those of us that had heard of Romain Vincelot two years ago? Put your hand down at the back because you didn't did you, that's right you there, yes you, there we go no one. He joined us as a defender and ended it as a free scoring centre midfielder who gave his all for us whenever he wore the shirt. For that I thank him and wish him well for the future.

His move to Brighton is a huge step up for him, not only in wages, but when I look at our team he is in that group of players that deserve a chance to show their skills at a higher level. It appears that with the signing of ex-dagger Craig Mckall-Smith and now Romain that Brighton are hoping to outscore everyone else in the championship this season, it certainly won't be boring that's for sure.

Romain has turned into a firm fans favourite in the time he's been here, he doesn't quite reach legend status in my opinion, because I don't think you can be a legend in two seasons, a firm fans favourite yes and fondly remembered as well of course, but I will always look back at the goals he scored and the way he gave everything for us with very fond memories. From standing behind the goal and seeing him leap into the air to head the goal against Leyton Orient, to the awful clash of heads he suffered in the early part of last season.

We will miss his goals that's for certain, but as a club this is what we do isn't it? We give players a chance and don't stand in their way when their talents shine and a bigger club comes in for them. At the end of last season when the dust had settled, I looked at our team and thought that Danny Green, Romain Vincelot, and Scott Doe would possibly not be here with us next season. I also thought that Robbo might not want to carry on either and was worried that we may lose the backbone of our side.

Unfortunately I've been proved correct with Danny Green and Romain Vincelot now leaving us, ( just on the off chance Scott Doe and Robbo read this I will cry if you go as well). Romain joined us from the lower leagues in France, a trailist at first he soon showed what he could do and we took him too our hearts. Time doesn't stand still and I hope that when he looks back at his time here at the Daggers he does so fondly.

I hope that he laughs at the crazy english people who added him on Facebook and tried to understand what he was saying in French ( come on I know some of you did this), I hope he looks back on that beautifully warm day at Wembley with great pride at what he helped us achieve that day, I hope that the memory of last seasons relegation isn't too painful and that he remembers the positives from it rather than the end result ( 1 point, 1 bloody point and no I'm still not over it ),I hope he remembers the fans in the sieve who sang is name, but most of all I hope he remembers how much we loved watching him play for us.

Au Revior Romain well miss you.

Monday, 11 July 2011


As a parent you may know this phrase well "Are we there yet?" You know the one the kids think is funny after you've been in the car for 10 minutes into a three hour journey. Well that's my life at the moment, "Are we there yet?". Except mine isn't about a journey, oh no mine is a lot more important than that, mine means IS THE FOOTBALL SEASON HERE YET!.

My god could I be anymore bored than I am at this moment in time? I mean I don't have a football tournament to watch England fail in, I don't have an Olympics to watch with all the drug cheaters in it, and don't get me started on cricket. I know some of you love it and fair play to you for that, but me? Well unless it involves Australia I'm not going to lie it doesn't interest me. Ive tried women's football (better than I thought), Ive tried Rugby League (boring prefer union), Ive tried Wimbledon ( hard luck Andy again!!!), Ive tried boxing (Haye great cruiser weight but my nan is a better heavyweight and she has been dead for 14 years). So can you see my dilemma?

My Saturdays have been turned into, garden centres, I bloody Kea, walking around people's houses ( no I'm not a stalker, I'm selling my house), cutting the grass, which I would normally get out of by saying I didn't have time because I was going to the football, painting the fence and generally trying desperately to get 5 minutes on my own where I can. I did have a shed for this but woodworm got into it and sadly I had to knock it down, to be replaced by a plastic hut. Not my choice I may add, but that's what happens when you let the wife go shopping when your at football. She liked them so much she bought two of the bloody things. Have you tried sitting in one of those things? Don't trust me it's a nightmare, you have to prop the lid up which isn't great as everyone can see you and you end up looking like a Dalek without the top on it.

Once where the working week revolved around getting the team news, checking the table, working out how a win could propel us to safety, is now to be honest a blind mess of colours that all appear to be grey. Where is the light at the end of the tunnel? Where is the chance to put my hopes into eleven men who may brighten my otherwise dull week with a late winner or a 6-0 win. Waiting patiently in line for a burger, going home and writing my Sky Sports blog still buzzing from a win, or trying to stay positive after a defeat, I didn't realise how much I missed it until it was gone.

The transfer news has been shocking as well, there hasn't been anything of interest for weeks, no I'm not including Danny Green in this bless him we all knew it was going to happen. The annual Fabregas story is boring me now, Chelsea replacing manager after manager is boring me as well. What I need is something to stir the very pit of my soul, a shock stunner of a signing to wet the appetite for the coming season. I'm sure John Still has it somewhere, I just wish he would get on with it so as I could get excited for a bit.

My sanctuary isn't the fun it once was either as the forum has turned into talking about non stories to be honest as everyone is as bored as I am with the close season. As I look back over the past two years, the promotion season, I didn't want to end but at least I had Wembley to keep me ticking over. Last year, well if I'm honest I was glad when it was over, but now?. Hell I would sell one of the kids to see us get three points (I wouldn't honestly they would cost you too much money plus the wife is very attached to them and may not forgive me).

We have pre-season friendlies coming up but I cant get excited about those as to be fair they aren't much kop are they? Its all about the players fitness which is a great idea for them, but me? Nah I want a game that means something, I want to cheer the players onto the pitch, I want to see Robbo dancing, I want to see Josh Scott scoring in his first game, I want a bacon burger, I want the sheer joy I get when we score a goal and take three points. To see familiar faces outside the ground before and after the game, am I the only one that feels this way?
So I'll ask again 'Are we there yet?'

No? Bloody hell how much longer now!

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Goodbye Danny Green and good luck


The worst kept secret is finally out, Danny Green is no longer a Dagger but a Charlton player. Sold for a record fee the club cannot be disappointed with the fee and I'm sure all of us wish him well for the future. Now all I have to do is tell my daughter her favourite player has gone, a job that if any of you wish to accept I'll gladly pass on.

Signed from Bishop Stortford in 2009 I've enjoyed watching Danny play. Like all of you I'm sure you have favourite memories of goals scored and such forth so i would like to share a few of mine with you all.

Chesterfield Away 2010

My first ever away game with the Daggers and worth the journey for the free kick he scored to put us 2-0 up. Taken from the right hand side in front of the home support he placed the ball, looked at the keeper and unleashed a screamer into top left hand side of the net. I stood there jaw open turning to the bloke standing next to me and saying 'What a goal that was' then going nuts. Unfortunately we couldn't hold on and win the game eventually drawing 2-2 but like I said it was worth the trip for the goal.

Port Vale Home 2009

This one stands out because firstly my Dad didn't come to this game as he wasn't well so I stood on the terrace behind the goal, a rare treat for me, and watched Danny take the left back too absolute pieces that afternoon. Danny tormented him, pushing the ball through his legs and beating him for pace, knocking it past him, giving him a five yard start and still beating him. The one I remember the most though was standing directly behind the full back on the terraces, watching as Danny ran towards him with a smile on his face and then knocking it through the defenders legs once again. That is how football should be played, with skill and more importantly a smile.

Wembley 2010

For no other reason than he was on fire this day, the size of the pitch suited him, the occasion suited him and he scored at Wembley just when we needed it the most. He was, in my opinion unplayable that day. He had his chance and took it and deserved it for his efforts throughout the season. How many players can say they have scored at Wembley, let alone played there?

Meeting the man himself.

It was a real privilege to spend some time with the players after the game against Burton in our promotion season. I sat in the bar a little awe struck if I'm honest I hadn't met players I watched every week since I was a kid. My youngest son wandered over to Tony Roberts and asked who he was (the little git), to be fair to Tony Roberts he laughed it off and posed for a photo no problem. My eldest daughter suddenly went all red and I couldn't work out why then I saw Danny had entered the bar and got my answer. His mum saw what had happened and invited us over to say hello, all I can say is what a genuinely nice bloke and I hope he doesn't change the way that he made my daughter feel special that day when he signed her shirt and posed for a photo. That he always makes sure he has time for us fans, wherever he may end up. Having met him briefly I cannot see this changing.

So once again the club sticks to is promise of allowing a player to move on and further his career. I'll miss him, as I'm sure others will, but mostly good luck to him it's a great opportunity for him to further his career and I wish him all the best. Perhaps one day we may see him wear the red and blue of Dagenham and Redbridge, until then good luck, all the best and thank you for the memories.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

The Champions League Is Killing English Football Part 1

The Champions League is killing football in this country. There Ive said it. Someone had to so I guess its going to be me. Before you all start ranting and raving hear me out because at the end of this two part blog you may agree with me. Firstly I will start by telling you why I think its killing football in this country and in the next part I will explain what I think needs to be done to change it before its too late.

The Champions League is seen as the absolute pinnacle of club football. The best teams around Europe compete each season for the title and its damaging football in this country and the FA don't care, the clubs don't care and more importantly the fans don't care anymore. Oh they may make the right noises but deep down they only care about their clubs and then moan about the way the England team perform at major championships every two years.

I was brought up on skill full players as a kid. I loved watching them, in my humble opinion the Brazil team of 1982 was the best team never to win a World Cup, Zico and Falco were the names I used in the playground, before them Ardiles and Villia of Spurs as well as Hoddle. I coached boys teams many years ago when they all wanted to be Zola's and Bergkamps, or Beckhams and Giggs when they first started. 

Where are these type of players now? Where are the next generation of English players coming from? I watched Jack Wilshere today and I could have cried for him. This is an exceptional talent who has to play with players he is far superior too knowing that he faces heartbreak at international level for at least the next ten years.

As a kid I remember my Dad saying it was a shame that Rush, Dalgleish, Giggs, Best, Hughes and Southall were wasted playing for their countries as most of them didn't have a hope in hell of winning a World Cup or European Championship. Do you know what I can see the same thing being said about Jack Wiltshire by other countries in the next few years.

Paul Scholes has just retired this week, the best passer of a ball we've had in years. Respected around the world by some of the greatest players who ever played the game and what did we do with him? Did we build a team around him? No we stuck him on the left wing and were surprised when he retired from International football. Will he be remembered for his passing and his skill? Not in this country he wont be, he will be remembered for not being able to tackle. Says it all really doesn't it.

The problem is the lack of talent being produced in this country, its easier to go and buy cheap imports than it is to take a chance on a young English player who may one day make the grade. There are those of you who will say that the cream will always rise to the top but you show me where that is happening in any of the teams that finished in the top 5 this year?. 

The odd player makes it through but not in the quantity that they do in other countries, young players now  have to leave their parent clubs and go on loan to clubs lower down the Premier League or the Championship to get a game. Yes they may be playing but where are they getting the European experience from? They aren't are they. 

Ask any fan of the top four clubs who is there favourite player and I guarantee that they will say a forgein player. Arsene Wenger is often touted as bringing through young players, this he does do but are they English? No they aren't. Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott (who he bought from Southampton by the way) are the exception here aren't they. After watching the England game today, the first time Ive watched England in a long time, it struck me how different and technically weak we are compared to Spain, Germany and Italy.

We cant pass the ball more than three times, take Rooney out of attack and who is there? No one. Spain have eight first teamers that come from the same club, Barcelona, do their players want to play in this country? No. How many German players that play for their country want to play in the Premier League? Hardly any. The same goes for Italy as well. Then we go further afield. How many Brazilians who play for Brazil do we have in the Premier League? Or Argentina's? Dutch? French? I could go on but I wont.

The reason for this is that we play a style of football that suits a certain player, a physical player, a strong player who will run all day and tackle hard but, and this is the really important bit, if you like to pass the ball about then please don't come here as we don't want you. I hear the Arsenal fans talk about Fabregas, yes he is a talented player but would he play regularly for Barcelona? No. Pique was let go by Manchester Utd because he wasn't suited to the Premier League but has now grown into one of the best centre half's in the world.

The problem is the Premier League generates money, more money than most of the owners in this country could spend or need, and what does the FA do about it? Nothing. The fans of these clubs will take success however it comes, if that means that there club is filled with players who's names they would struggle to spell let alone say then that is the price they are prepared to pay. The effect of this is that the England team is 20 years behind everyone else and will stay there until something is done about it.

You will buy into the fact that we should win every tournament that we enter, that we can compete with the likes of Brazil and Spain and then blame the manager when it all goes wrong or turn on the players. Yet the one thing you wont do is look at YOUR club and see the reason why we fail on a regular basis is because they don't harness and treasure the young gifted players that cant get a game in this country.

The game is run by managers who put physical stature above skill, who put technique below the fact a player can run for 90 minutes non stop. Who buy gifted cheap imports instead of developing the talent they have within their own grounds. So how do we change this? What needs to be done? Its not going to be easy and it will be painful but oh the rewards will be enormous, why may even get a team that could win the odd tournament one day.

Ill reveal my blue print of how I think the game needs to be changed in the next part of this blog in a few days time. Thank you for reading and please don't pass judgement until you have heard what I have to say. You never know you may even agree with me. Yes Ricky B that includes you as well.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Smiling Through The Tears

I wasn't there today, our biggest game ( we seem to say that every season now don't we ) in our history and I wasn't there. Its not that I didn't want to be believe me, it was because of my urgent need to sell my house and move before my daughter starts secondary school in the summer, so forgive me.

A thousand Daggers made the trip to Peterborough whilst I spent the day looking at houses and having people look at mine. I made sure though there was no one looking at my house between 3pm and 5pm and with my fags and drink I settled down to Jeff Sterling and the boys, on my own, whilst my wife and her Mum sat in the garden catching the last of the afternoon sun.

To be honest I was glad of the earlier distraction as it meant I had something else to think about. Being a football fan is something you cant explain, believe me Ive tried. It takes you to the highest highs and can also bring you to the lowest of lows. The width of a post, the wave of a flag, the blow of a whistle, all of these things can give you an unbelievable buzz or leave you pulling your hair out with frustration.

The game started and I was mildly optimistic that we would do it, Id read all the comments from Mark Arber on Twitter all week saying that we would do it and to believe, and I did I really did. It wasn't to be though was it?. It wasn't anyone's fault it was just one of those things. A bridge too far if you will pardon the pun. We can go over the season and look at the games we lost, the games we drew, the games we should have won but didn't but it wont change anything will it? Its pointless to do such things because it makes us look for someone or something to blame when there isn't anyone to take the blame.

The effort that all at the club put into this for us, the fans, will live with me and others for the rest of our lives. We may bounce back next season we may not, it will depend on who moves on in the summer to be honest. There seems no doubt that Vincelot and Green are favourites to go. Perhaps Scott Doe and Abu Ogogo will go as well but this isn't the time to think about this now. This is a time to reflect on how proud we are of what we achieved. We came within one point, one bloody point of staying in this league, the smallest of margins and that makes me proud of the players, John Still and everyone involved in the club.

My door bell rang at 4.30 this afternoon and my wife opened the door to a couple who had come to look at my house.They apologised for being earlier than expected and asked if it was okay to come in. My wife as she always does smiled and said it was fine. She started to show them around as I sat there on the settee, tears streaming down my face as the goals flowed in. A strange mixture of pride and pain as the realisation of what this defeat meant began to sink in. My wife showed them into the front room and I wiped my eyes, the woman looked at me and asked if  I was okay, I couldn't answer and my wife came over and gave me a cuddle then explained that my team had been relegated.

The woman smiled and her husband asked if he could sit and watch the final few minutes with me, I nodded and me and this stranger sat there as the fourth and fifth went in. My wife and the woman went into the kitchen for coffee and left us there. When it was over and the final result was known he shook my hand, wished me well and told me he was a West Ham fan and knew what I was going through. 

That is what football does to you, it doesn't need a spoken word from those that follow it, they know what it means to you, they know how it feels to win against the odds, they know what its like to lose. I am unbelievably proud of what my team achieved this season, I'm proud to wear my shirt and scarf, I'm proud to call myself a fan of this club. The tears and pain will fade over the next few days and weeks and then I shall be looking forward to the start of the season once again. One thing that will never fade though is that this club is now in my blood, it runs through my veins and whilst I may not have been there today, whilst I have breath in my body I will always be a Dagenham and Redbridge supporter and proud of it.

Monday, 2 May 2011

The Biggest Game In Our History

Every season we seem to have the biggest game in our history dont we? We are quite spoilt when you consider how other supporters fair with their teams. From winning the conference title, to staying in League 2 the following season, then just missing the play-offs the next season to the win at Wembley last year, it isn't boring being a Daggers fan that is for sure.

Come Saturday at 5pm we will know where we will be next year, whether we are playing both the Sheffield clubs, Charlton, Preston North End or whether we will be traveling and hosting Southend, Cheltenham and Rotherham. Whatever happens we will still be a league club wont we.

Its been an amazing season when I look back at it, it has gone far quicker than I expected as well. Since we kicked of in August away to Sheffield Wednesday the time has absolutely flown past. Ill admit at the start of the season I thought we would survive comfortably, then Paul Benson was sold in the last few hours of the transfer window and we struggled. For a club that was spoilt with a natural goal scorer for the past few seasons we then found ourselves wanting and we struggled.

In adversity heroes of the highest unlikeliness spring forward and so it was with us. Romain Vincelot suddenly hit a vein of form with his head that took us all by surprise if we are honest and survival looked on. At this point I would once again just like to congratulate Romain on his Player of the Year award. Having signed for us as a right back what a center midfield player he has turned into. Another of those John Still gems we manage to unearth year in and year out. As we got to Christmas 2010 we were struggling we had only won 1 game in nearly two months and I for one thought we would be cut adrift at the beginning of April with only our pride to play for. Humiliated and the pundits right that we were a joke and that we should take a our little club and go back to League 2. Yes I'm looking at you Steve Claridge and Manish Patel.

I was wrong and a new hero stepped forward for us with a burst of goals that no one thought he had in him. Step forward Johnny Nurse and a take a bow son. Wembley hero and perhaps savior of our season we hit a bit of form where we lost twice in the next 7 games, picked up valuable wins against Yeovil, Hartlepool and Brentford and we were off and running again creeping out of the bottom four for the first time this season. Belief ran through me once again and I will be honest it hasn't left me yet.

We go into the final game of the season still fighting, still alive in this league, something that the majority of us didn't think would be real. We have all had a go about something or other the club has done this season, whether those of us have questioned John Stills tactics, his staff, Danny Green, Femi, McCory or the frozen burger bun I was subjected to by our own catering staff back in January (I still haven't forgiven them yet either).

Forget Wembley as special as that day was and it will remain one of the best days of my life, this club of ours, these players led by our captain Mark Arber and the legend that is John  Still go into the game on Saturday knowing that THIS is the biggest game of their careers so far. They know as we do that winning and achieving the impossible will be the biggest day in this clubs short history. To compete again in League 1 next year means we have been spoilt far beyond what any of us could have dreamed off.

John Still was quoted at the weekend as saying "These players will die for this club" how many fans are lucky to have that? Look at Swindon relegated to League 2 weeks ago, Sheffield Wednesday and Charlton stuck in mid table and us little old Dagenham and Redbridge having a chance to do this wonderful League all over again. Who would you rather support?

A win may not be enough Saturday, then again a draw could be, its going to one of the most nervous and agonizing days of my life but when its all over, when that whistle goes, I will know that every player on that pitch gave everything they could to make sure we stayed in this division and I will never forget that. More importantly neither should you, just remember who we are, were we have come from and look back on this season with pride at what 'the pub team from Essex' achieved against all the odds once again.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Im Forever Blowing Bubbles

What a mess. What a pure and unadulterated mess, made even worse by the fact it is totally of their own making. What ion earth is going on at West Ham?. Should I be gloating? No not really to be honest as a football fan I don't like to see any club in a mess. There is something about West Ham though that (unless you support Milwall I suppose) that makes you feel apart of the club even if you don't support them. Like the way Newcastle gets a lot of support from neutral fans, some of us feel this way about West Ham.

I'm not a West Ham fan but all my family are. Brought up on the trio of World Cup stars to the players that they had down the years. Brooking, Devonshire (What a tash that was!), Parks, Peters, Dicks, Mad Dog Martin, Bonds, Lampard Snr not forgetting Mr West Ham Booby Moore. These were the players my Dad and later on when he started to take me to football that I grew up watching. Ill admit I fell for another mistress in London drawn in by Villa, Ardiles and Hoddle but I never, ever forgot those players.

The next generation that came through Ferdinand, Cole, Lampard Jnr, Carrick. People talk about the youth from Man Utd but West Ham had just as good as group of players and its a real shame they weren't kept together. West Ham is known as the academy but where are these players nowadays? Where are the legends for the next generation of West Ham fans to look up to? Nowhere that's where. You see the problem was in my opinion that West Ham, through bad management and a lack of vision as well as unfair expectations have lost their way.

The way they have treated season ticket fans this year is appalling. How can you charge people upfront £800 as some of my family have spent, only to then offer tickets at a discounted rate weeks in advance yet offer them no refund?. That's appalling business practise. Yes people will say write to the club. Really and get a standard reply that says they don't care we have your money!. No thanks Ill save the ink. Then there is the manager. Not every ones cup of tea Ill give you that, but they cannot say they didn't know what they were getting when they signed him. I believe the reason they signed him is because he's cheap. Yes Zola was cheap but Grant had more experience and was probably wanting the same sort of package. If this was the case then why are they after 'bigger names' now. Why didnt they do it in the summer?

They have proceeded over the past few weeks to cut his feet from underneath him every chance they have got. This is a results business I get that, the team may also not be performing as well as it should be and some of that blame has to fall at the managers feet I get that as well, but the board must take some of the blame as well. They haven't exactly supported him in the transfer market have they?. They also haven't stopped all the sniping about him, they have allowed this to continue with name after name being touted around about his job. How has he reacted to this?. With dignity. Something that perhaps the board at West Ham need to have a look in the mirror and see if they can regain it. Lets be honest as well he is one game away from Wembley and also two games away from Europe. What fun that will be if he wins the League Cup Id love to be a fly on the wall at THAT boardroom meeting.

So whats the solution then? There isn't one its that simple. Not now, not at this moment in time the season is too far gone. The only thing they an do is back him in the transfer market and see what happens. If they go down so be it, it'll be painful but in the long run it may be the best thing that happens to the club. It will allow them to shift some of the stupid money of the books and get players that want to play, perhaps even blood some youngsters that will be the future of West Ham. and let the Phoenix grow from the ashes of whats there now. The other thing though is stop chasing the Olympic Stadium, how on earth are you going to fill it when you cant even fill the stadium you have? Crazy.

Take whatever is coming on the chin and then rebuild the club from the ground up. West Ham used to be a family club now in my opinion its a fractured club, losing its way with perhaps the worst PR people in the business. You have the most loyal fans in the country, they have put up with all types of crap down the years. They deserve better. Get a grip or as my favourite manager Keith Burkinshaw said about Spurs as he walked away for the last time 'There used to be a football club there'.

The Return Of The Messiah

Ive seen this so many times down the years. A player or manager returns to a club where they once had huge success and nine times out of ten it doesn't work. They cant quite reach the levels they had before. Of course John Still at our club is probably an exception, but it doesn't always work out. The latest to return is Kenny Dalgleish. I used to love watching him as a young lad and remember the haggard face when he quit Liverpool all those years ago. It seems a shame to me that he has gone back. I'm sure he is doing it for the right reasons but I'm not convinced it will work.

Dalgleish was part of an era long gone at Anfield. A club that dominated English football for decades that all the best players wanted to play for. Those day are gone. What they have now is a club, a former shadow of itself and the fans and the people at the club need to realise that before its too late. Its hard for anyone to accept that they aren't at the level they once were. We see it so many times with different sportsmen in all sports. There comes a time when you get over taken and this has happened to Liverpool. Until they accept this they will never move forward.

I grew up watching Liverpool in the late 70's and 80's. They not only dominated the domestic game they conquered Europe almost at will. They did this on foundations set by Bill Shankly and the way that he set the club up. The famous boot room. Shanks, Paisley, Fagan all sitting around and discussing the way the game should be played. Stuff of legend. You went to Liverpool not expecting to go straight into the first team but to play in the reserves for the first year, to earn your place in the first team. It wasn't a given and all the players signed knew this and were prepared to do it. I know the finacle rewards are far higher nowadays and players expect to play every week, but would they better for this experience rather than what they get now? I think they would.

Don't get me wrong there are players that deserve to go straight into the first team as they would improve it, but what about youngsters from the lower leagues? My guess is that most of them aren't interested in that. Is this me being unrealistic about the modern player? Perhaps but it worked at Liverpool and it worked for many years. The reason? The club was bigger than the player simple as that. I believe in the modern game manager's aren't given enough time. It takes time to turn a club around, to lay foundations that will lead to bigger and better things but in this 'we must have it and have it now' society we live in this isn't going to happen anymore.

So it begins, the constant changing of managers, the pay-offs and such forth and for what? The unrealistic expectations of supporters on their manager. I hope Kenny Dalgleish is a success at Liverpool I really do. I hope that they allow him to rebuild a broken club. To bring back that famous boot room where managers of the future are helped and bred and brought up to believe in what Liverpool FC stands for. Only then will they begin to regain their position in the game and satisfy the fans needs for what they have been spoilt with. The odds unfortunately are against him. As I said at the start it doesn't always work out and taints supporters memory's of what great players and servants these guys were for their clubs. Good luck Kenny, I believe you are going to need it.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Its A Thankless Task Being A Referee

Whats the hardest job in sport? The Manager? Nope, The Chairman? Nope, The centre forward? Nope, The goalkeeper got to be the goalkeeper? Nope. No more guesses? Shall I tell you? The Referee. Yes that man who wears black and has his parenthood called into question every week, and then gets told he doesn't know what he is doing. Ah the life of a referee isn't a very popular one is it?.

To be honest though as much as Ive shouted at one as much as the next person, there is no way I would be one thanks very much. Does that make me a hypocrite? Perhaps it does. The thing is though there is so much pressure on them to get it right first time that they have an absolutely thankless task. They have to make a split second decision in the heat of a game and not only that we expect them to get it right every single time. How many of us do our jobs and never make a mistake? None of us I bet. Yes sometimes they do get it horrifically wrong, England at the World Cup would be one of many examples but is it fair?

Are we expecting them to be superhuman and never get anything wrong? I think we are. There are some real shockers out there that struggle to follow the basic rules of the game but there are some excellent ones as well.  That gets forgotten doesn't it? How many times is the referee talked about after a game and its mentioned what a good game he had? Hardly ever. What does get forgotten though is that every time a referee gets surrounded by players in professional football whatever league its in this is then copied and repeated in football parks across the land by kids and adults. I have seen and heard some shocking things said to referee's in parks football. Then the managers complain that they cant get a get a referee to manager their games and you end up with a parent doing it and all the problems that brings.

I know Ive been there. Sunday morning football and having to referee a game and getting dogs abuse from both sets of parents and for what? £20 or £30? Is it worth it? We wonder why there is a lack of referees coming into the game and this is the reason why. There is always talk of ex-players doing the courses. Yeah right can you see Rooney or Terry being a referee? No me neither. I was always taught to respect the referee by the best Head teacher I ever had. His name was Ken Ashton. Those of a certain age will know who he is but those that don't here is a little history for you. He is the man that invented the Red and Yellow cards and was one of the most respected referees in the world.

As kids at school if any of us and I mean no matter how good a player you were talked back to the referee he would haul us off and that would be it. A bit extreme perhaps but it worked, we never talked back to the ref no matter how useless and incompetent he was. We were taught you just didn't do it. That's what is missing from today's game at all levels. Forget all the talk about technology and extra linesman the only way to sort this out and encourage more refs to enter the game is to show them respect. I know we had the respect campaign but it was an utter disaster, it worked for about oh 2 weeks, then it was forgotten about.

Personally I would like to see a mixture of what they have in rugby plus a little added extra. So if you argue with the ref over a decision you lose 10 yards at a free-kick. If you continue you are then sin-binned for 5 minutes. That would stop the crowding of refs by players trying to intimidate them. I would however allow the captain and the captain only to talk to the ref. If he makes an utter howler then when its reviewed after the game he will then be suspended for 2 games. That way its fair on everyone.

I am not a believer in a referee losing teams league titles and getting teams relegated. The players and the managers do that, not the referee, yes they will not give your team a penalty or a goal every now and then, but they will also do the same for YOU at some stage in a season. You have to remember that. It works out just about even over a season. So how about we give him a break every now and then? Its the one job in football that we could all do if we applied ourselves to it isn't, but its also the one job we wouldn't want to do as well.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

The Sack Race

Half way through the season and the sackings have begun. The rumours have begun about who's going next and the bookies are making a fortune with people betting on it. Yes ladies and gentleman welcome to the sack race. Don't get me wrong there are clearly clubs where managers aren't doing what they are paid to do but lets be honest shouldn't other people take some of the blame as well?

It takes a lot to surprise me in football nowadays because I think Ive seen it all. The court cases, the players falling out of clubs drunk, the scandals with prostitutes, even sleeping with your teammates wife/girlfriend but some things still surprise me. The sacking of managers for no apparent reason. If you are in relegation trouble and you have had a shed load of money to spend and you screw it up, well sorry mate its your fault for bad buys and not getting it right. However there are two exceptions to this and I feel so sorry for them both.

Firstly Big Sam, lauded as a future England manager a few years ago, his sacking at Blackburn was ridiculous and there is no way Steve Kean didn't have anything to do with it. How that man can look himself in the mirror is beyond me. It goes some way to showing how badly the other managers think he has been treated when Steve Bruce comes out after beating Blackburn at the weekend and says 'That was for Big Sam'. The owners, who by the way obviously don't have a clue then release a press statement saying that they are going to buy Rolandinho. What? You having a laugh guys? AC Milan to Blackburn to play for a manager he has never heard of? Hold on my sides hurt. One word? Idiots. End of.

That leads me nicely onto that other idiot owner Mile Ashley. He treated Houghton like dirt. However if he was going to replace him with a 'Big Name' then perhaps I could understand it, slightly. So there we all are awaiting for the so called 'Big Name'  to be announced and its.........Alan Pardew on a 5 1/2 YEAR CONTRACT. This is the guy that has failed at West Ham, failed at Charlton and Southampton and you think he is going to push you onto bigger and better things. Hold on I haven't got a lot of ribs left after Blackburn. Once again? Idiot. End of.

There have been others as well, Burley at Crystal Palace, Ferguson at Preston to name a few and there will be more to come as well. Hodgson at Liverpool is apparently struggling, lets be honest Rafa didn't get them Champions League last year did he? He spent a load of money on average players and its a massive rebuilding job there before they can even consider getting into the top four again, and Houlier at Villa hasn't exactly covered himself with glory has he?. I'm all for changing a manager if it is clearly not working but I feel the expectations of fans and owners are a little unrealistic sometimes. Let me explain.

Just because you played in a higher League for a season doesn't mean you deserve to be there. You may have had an excellent run of results at the right time and with a little luck you got there. That doesn't mean you have reached your natural level, you may have over achieved. Managers need time to get things right, they cant all get it right first time and its unfair to expect them to. If your chairman gives them money and they screw up then its your right to have a go. If your players are not pulling their weight then feel free to have your say. However don't expect a miracle when there is no money to do so. You are in the position you are in because that is where you deserve to be. Its that simple really. Painful? perhaps but the truth hurts doesn't it?

Only a few teams can get promoted or win a league, and yes a few teams will be relegated as well. If your club spends money it doesn't have that is the fault of the owner, not the manager. Personally I would like people to start to get a little realistic and allow managers to build teams around home grown talent. The way the game is now that doesn't happen very often and it affects the game at all levels. Instant success is the order of the day. Except at one club I know. You may have heard of them? Dagenham and Redbridge. We don't spend money we don't have, we give young players a chance, and we have a legend of a manager who does what he does because he has been backed all the way. He also knows that we will support him whatever happens this season. He may frustrate us but no one and I mean no one can doubt the commitment and the belief that he has in our players. I guarantee as well that he will leave this club WHEN HE WANTS TO. So all you fans calling for his head or be moved to a director of football role, you don't know what you are talking about and you don't GET OUR CLUB. If we go down he stays. Its that simple. Have a look at some of the other clubs in the league and thank your lucky stars we aren't one of them. We\ are who we are and be proud of it, as the saying goes 'be careful what you wish for'.

Im porud of my club and the way its run. Can you honestly say that, that is what happens at your club?