Who Are Yer? - Dagenham & Redbridge
We talk to Dagenham & Redbridge fan Ian about his club and their expectations for Saturday and the rest of the League One season.
1. So, promoted last season - how do you think the Daggers will do in League One?
Most people think we will go down, our own supporters generally fluctuate between fifth from bottom to lower half of the table. The true pessimists think we will go down. It is so hard to say, but I think there are 7 or 8 teams we can finish above on merit, plus the inevitable club(s) finding themselves in financial difficulties who may get points deductions. I will stick my neck out and say 14th, but I don't think our manager would settle for that.
2. Your rise up the football pyramid has been pretty rapid in recent years - what has your success been down to?
John Still. No doubt. He is a local guy who understands the area, the club, the supporters, but most importantly he knows the game inside out - especially at the level we have been playing at. He has a fantastic scouting network which unearths so many unpolished gems. Most of our star players (9) were sold or left at the start of the last season, he got players from Bishops Stortford; Hayes and Yeading; Grays Athletic; Dorchester etc. and produced a team that got into the play-offs, then won promotion. We are a club who live within their means. That is fundamental to our ethos. The players are on wages which reflect the supporter's incomes, our board will never jeapordise our club with big money signings and huge wages, so they deserve a huge pat on the back too.
3. How have you strengthened over the summer, and has anyone left for pastures new?
Well, no Hollywood signings, that's for sure! Possibly our biggest signings have been Gavin Tomlin from Yeovil and Damien Scannell from Southend. We continue to get non league players and youngsters like Luke Wilkinson from Portsmouth. The thing is, this is what we expexct and to some extent what we thrive on. It marks us out from the other clubs in this division. I think we have signed 9 or 10 players this close season, but amazingly none of our gems have gone this time. We feared that the transfer window would devistate our squad. I honestly felt that Danny Green, Paul Benson and Scott Doe could be on their way, but, touch wood, they are all still with us. Had we lost at Wembely against your neighbours Rotherham I am sure they would have been sold.
4. With all respect, Wednesdayites won't know too much about the Daggers, what can we expect from you as a team this season?
A fantastic team spirit. There is a buzz word (or phrase) at the momment - 'Being a Dagger.' These guys are so close. There are no big egos. I think the cliche is expect the unexpected. We will no doubt lose heavily on more than one occasion this year, but I bet we give someone a good pasting too. You may find the fans to be much more friendly than many other places you have visited too. We sit in our clubhouse with the away support without batting an eyelid, my greatest wish is that this will continue now we are league 1.
5. What are your thoughts on playing Wednesday first game, and what do you think the score will be?
Massive excitement. On the final whistle at Wembley the buzz was all about Hillsborough, St Marys and The Valley. Recent Premier League clubs with great traditions. Wednesday away was a dream for us. We could have got Exeter, Yeovil or Hartlepool which wouldn't have been much different to what we have already experienced. It's a bit like our non league days when we drew Charlton (then a Premier League club away in the FA Cup - and conceeded a last minute equaliser). My head tells me we will lose 2-0 but my heart insists a 0-1 upset. I think I will go with my heart. The players will have no fear...
6. Who are the key men to look out for from our point of view?
Gavin Tomlin, our new signing from Yeovil has looked very good in pre-season. Paul Benson has an excellent goal scoring record and is always a threat but has picked up an injury in the pre-season. The real star of the show is young Danny Green. He plays on the right wing and is as tricky as a particularly tricky thing. Our defence is pretty solid and our goalkeeper is the legend Tony Roberts. He is always up for a bit of banter too.
7. How many will you be bringing up to Hillsborough this weekend?
Some are saying 700 but I think that may be a bit optimistic. Our average attendance at home last year was just over 2,000. A different world from your support!
8. What are your predictions for both Wednesday and Dagenham for this season?
If not automatic promotion then I think you should be top 6, but the financial problems that I have read about may hamper you. As I said before, 14th would suit me for the Daggers, but I would take survival then another year of progress. However it goes for us, may I take this opportunity to wish all Wednesdayites the very best for the forthcoming season. We look forward to seeing you at our humble abode.