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.

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