No.27 - Sat 16th January 2016; Football League Division Two;                                      3pm at the Chigwell Construction Stadium; Victoria Road; Dagenham; Essex; RM10 7XL


Matchday images (39)

Dagenham & Redbridge (0) 1 Northampton Town (0) 2

'Cobblers on the front foot'

'After experiencing several weeks of bad weather and the endless, resultant job of trawling through fixtures, message boards and twitter feeds trying to find a game that’s still on, I have decided today to heed some great advice given to me only a few days ago. With the continuing spell of heavy rain in the air FGIF star snapper and super hopper Gary Spooner contacted me via E-Mail to say that he had ditched plans to travel far in favour of watching a game closer to home. Gary explained that it simply wasn’t worth the hassle in making a long journey only to find his match had fallen victim late on to water-logging, given the dodgy forecast. In his own words he wasn’t prepared to play what he called ‘...The Weather Lottery’.


With more of the wet stuff hanging over Racing HQ this was certainly wise counsel and made sense for me to pick a game that would definitely be on. Although I had few back up games on trusty 3G I decided in the end to pick a Football League match that would be guaranteed (well 99.9%) to be on and opted for the Sky Bet Division Two fixture between Dagenham & Redbridge and promotion chasing Northampton Town, coincidentally Gary’s home club and one close to his heart. In fact a quick check phone call at mid day was met with a touch of incredulity as the chap answering the phone suggested there was no need to worry about the game been postponed as the pitch was in fact perfectly playable. That's just what you like to hear!


This was in fact my third visit to the Victoria Road ground. I had been here many years ago to watch Dagenham take on Cambridge City (3-1) in an FA Trophy game back in 1989 and then for the re-invented Redbridge Forest against Altrincham (0-1) in the Vauxhall Conference fixture just two years later. Even after such a long time my re-vist finally tied up the loose end of watching the side play as a Football League club and tick off one of several outstanding grounds I need to re-complete the 92 since first ‘doing the lot’ way back in 1987.


For the football traveller attending games here by car is pretty straightforward. I had been warned in advance (after checking out Duncan Adams excellent Internet Football Ground Guide) that there would be no parking inside the ground itself but thankfully after a stress free journey and with time on my side I managed to park up several blocks away in a residential area and walk the short distance back to Victoria Road. After paying my admission on the gate (securing entry to the Clock End terrace behind the goal) and buying a glossy match day programme (a rarity these days), I had a stroll back outside to take some photos and buy a woolly beanie hat from the small club shop near the entrance. Having left mine in the car the £6.50 investment was a small price to pay if it meant keeping my ears warm for a couple of hours and become the latest member of the Daggers Supporters Club in the process!! Before kick-off there’s just enough time to partake in a succulent cholesterol packed cheeseburger from the popular and well stocked and Julies Fast Food Bar beyond to the turnstile. Belch!


This is one of few Football League grounds left that still retains that lovely quirky pre-Taylor style (Luton Town FC Kenilworth Road is my favourite ground in this respect). However since my last trip here 25 years ago the club has built an impressive spanking brand new covered all-seated stand. Built in 2009/10 this is situated behind the goal at the Pondfield Road end of the ground and houses 1200 fans. Today it was almost packed to the rafters with the noisy visiting away support (over 800 have made the journey) clad in their yellow and maroon replica shirts, hats and scarves to add plenty of colour and atmosphere to the occasion. I’ll let the album photos serve as a more up to date description.


The game today sees the visit of the high-flying Cobblers to Victoria Road. They have hit a rich vein of form lately and currently sit in third place in the table. Should they win and other results go their way they could go top come five o’clock. In contrast the Daggers have not found the going easy and struggled all season remaining close to the foot of the table (only Yeovil and York sit beneath them). Indeed they have not won a single home game all campaign. In an effort to improve matters on the field former Luton Town boss John Still has been re-installed as manager and this is his first home game in charge. I’m standing at the home end alongside several fans sporting red and blue scarves souvenirs from the Daggers trip up to Merseyside just seven days ago having lost 2-0 to Everton in the FA Cup Third Round. But despite the welcome distraction they all know home form is crucial if they are to avoid the dreaded drop back into non league.


The game turns out to be a real cracker with very little to separate between both sides in a thoroughly entertaining end to end game of football. After seeing a goal cancelled out for offside the Daggers find the back of the net just after the hour mark to open the scoring when Doidge (62) taps in from close range. Northampton hit back just seven minutes later though when John-Joe O’Toole scores from a corner (69) before taking the lead through a brilliant strike from Ricky Holmes (79) who fires home with a sweet volley from the edge of the area giving keeper Cousins no chance. Although the hosts fight back they cannot find the equaliser and the points go to the Cobblers to consolidate their position at the top of the table. The Daggers will feel unlucky not to take anything from the game though I imagine John Still will be heartened by this performance.


As I walk back down Victoria Road towards the Wraymobile I can hear the repeated chorus of ‘We are going up, we are going up’ coming from the far end of the ground. My mind turns to our very own Gary who no doubt has probably already heard the result on Radio 5 Live. How he would have loved to have been here today. It was thanks to him that I had made the journey and avoid that dreaded ‘Weather Lottery’. Cheers mate for making it all possible!


FGIF Match Stats

Scorers: (H) Doidge (62) and (A) O'Toole (69), Holmes (79)   

Attendance: 2379; Admission: £18; Programme: £3; Match rating: 4/5; Ground rating: 4/5.



edited on 17/01/16