Walsall Web-Fans track down the opposition for their view ahead of our FA Cup 2nd Round encounter at the weekend. http://thedaggersscale.blogspot.com/. blogger Nick Murphy helps set the scene.
Sadlad 1. Sorry to start off with this question…..The final game of last season was such a vital game for both our clubs.Its history now that Dagenham and Redbridge lost out to Walsall and to be honest Walsall fans could hardly believe the way it panned out. It must have been such a bitter pill to swallow for your fans?
It was a bit of a bitter pill to swallow; but not as bad as you may think. We left ourselves a very tough task for the final day; needing to get something against a team that were free scoring at home and already into the play offs is always going to be difficult. A few things cost us last season, our inability to keep a lead in the final ten minutes of matches, our lack of scoring and our failure to get points off of teams in and around us. However, when you take into consideration that we were predicted to finish rock bottom without a hope or a prayer; ending the season just one point from safety is quite an achievement. Obviously on the final day it was very hard to take because being relegated is a very difficult thing to take; probably more so because it was such fine a margin in it. Myself and my fellow 1000 Daggers who were at that match at Peterborough took a lot of pride seeing our team who were written off from day one give it their all and nearly pull off the shock of the season, but ultimately it was not enough. Luckily enough, Walsall fans are a very good bunch and were good sportsmen in the sense that they congratulated us in our efforts and didn’t gloat in the slightest.
2. Really surprised the way your season has gone so badly in the league, especially the last couple of months. What do your put your finger on why you are struggling this term?
There are a few reasons as to why the season has gone somewhat off track. I didn’t expect us to be challenging towards the top end of the league, but I didn’t expect us to be this far down playing this poorly. One of the main reasons for me has been our disastrous plight of injuries. On the opening day we had around ten players injured and this hasn’t really changed since; whenever one player has come back from the treatment table; another one has managed to get himself injured. Our luck with this has been terrible, I mean take two of the players we brought in during the Summer; Sam Williams & Luke Howell. Sam is facing the rest of the season out after getting injured in our last league victory against Crewe, whilst Luke Howell got himself injured at Hereford United and is currently enduring a lengthy lay off. Luckily now however, players are coming back; the most notable of which is our “star striker” Josh Scott, but then he comes back and our captain (Mark Arber) needs a hernia operation and is out for six weeks. This has meant we’ve had a very unsettled team in the last few months which has also been a contributing factor. It can also be put down to the fact that some players don’t seem to want to play for the club, they’re more than happy to put minimal effort in each week and collect their pay check. Something that has been quite evident recently is our very poor individual defending. Individual mistakes are leading to goals seemingly every time they are made and that’s something that seriously needs to be cut out. Another one of the problems for the fans in particular is the false dawn we are given after a good performance. We have produced sterling displays against Crawley & Southend this season that have given us great hope as they are two of the best sides in the division; but they’ve been followed up by terrible performances to completely dash any hope of an upturn in results. You could also argue that we haven’t replaced the stars that we’ve lost like we seemingly always do. Danny Green & Romain Vincelot have both been a big miss and they haven’t been replaced adequately enough.
3. Are the fans behind manager John Still? Do you think he will steer you away from danger or is it time to start thinking about replacing him?
This is a tricky one. Personally I’m still behind Stilly, because in my opinion, if anyone can turn it around it’s him. He knows the club inside out and has always been able to get the best out of the players. Managers can only pick the players that are available to him at the end of the day and John has had a very limited choice in terms of the players he’s been able to select; I’d wager that we haven’t been able to play our first choice eleven once yet this season. As well as this, I feel he’s earned some extra time to sort it out. He’s rejected numerous clubs that have more money to spend and better facilities than us in the past, most notably Bradford last season; this is the time we repay the loyalty he has shown, by repaying him with some of our own. Some fans however, are beginning to grow increasingly impatient, with some even saying it is time for him to go. They aren’t happy with the current tactics we’re employing and some of the line ups that are being fielded, along with the fact we failed to get in a striker capable of scoring at a good rate over the Summer. Add to this some believe he has lost the motivational factor he once had; however I firmly believe that in January the dross will be cleared out and that is when we’ll really start to see a turn in fortunes. So in answer to the question, I’d say that we’re on a 60-40 split in favour of keeping Stilly.
4.Dagenham and Redbridge have achieved something Walsall have never done in all our history-a day out at Wembley Stadium and of course you had a terrific result against Rotherham United in the Play Off Final. What are you memories of that day?
I can sum that up for you in a few simple words. The best day of my life. From the start until the end it was superb; winning at Wembley is such a surreal and magnificent feeling. I’ll be honest with you, pre match I didn’t think we’d win because we’d never beaten Rotherham before in all of our previous attempts. Walking up Wembley Way I had to pinch myself to realise how far my club had actually come in such a short space of time. You then go on to see your team walk out and you sing the Nation Anthem which gives you an overwhelming sense of pride and emotion, before the referee blows up and you see your team play at the home of football. The game as I’m sure you all know was pulsating, Benson put us 1-0 up before Ryan Taylor nabbed an equaliser just 60 seconds later. It took until the second half to go 2-1 up, Danny Green with a superb strike from outside the box; before five minutes after that Ryan Taylor equalised once more to make it 2-2. Then Jon Nurse scrambled home the third to seal the game and send us up to League One. The elation from 12,000 Daggers was superb, it personified how much of a family club we were and how far we had come. Going from places such as Canvey Island to Charlton Athletic in five years just highlighted what a job John Still had done for this club and nothing comes close to rivalling that day as my number one moment as a Dagger.
5. I enjoyed my visit to your ground with Saddlers last season and also your supporters club. . I have read on your forum that the sportsman’s nights have ceased and it is very under used on non-matchdays. Does the matchday takings do enough to sustain it continuing or is it in danger of going under?
Personally I don’t feel there is any danger of the clubhouse going under or the club for that matter. I read an article in one of our programmes before by our chief executive Steve Thompson, that over the course of a year; our clubhouse bar generates around £300K-400K, which is a fantastic return. The clubhouse is an integral part of the pre match ritual for a number of Daggers and a number of away fans who tend to mingle in there before going round to their stand so I can see no reason why it would be scrapped. I have to stress this isn’t my area of expertise so I could be wrong, but from my experiences the clubhouse is very much safe and I hope you Saddlers fans pop in for a drink pre match on Saturday! We have live Sky TV as well!!
6. So onto Saturday’s game between our clubs. Both are having poor league seasons but of course that is irrelevant in the FA Cup. Any predictions for the result?
It’s a very intriguing game really, both teams are as you say having fairly poor league seasons, but it is the cup meaning anything can happen. We are probably the underdogs going into the match and I would expect Walsall to win considering our current form, having lost our last eight in the league and only picked up two wins in all competitions in sixteen, we are on a dreadful run. In the last round we defeated rock bottom Conference club Bath City in Extra Time in the replay, whilst yourselves defeated Exeter in extra time in the replay; so we’ve both had a similar route in terms of game time. All signs do really point towards a draw, we’ve won just two home games all season, whilst I believe I read somewhere that Walsall have only won one away game so far this campaign. Last season both of our games were very tight and that’s how I expect this one to be. I’ll take a stab at 1-2 Walsall, considering we haven’t had a 0-0 in 89 matches!
7. Any player we need to watch? What style of play is John Still employing this term?
I’m not really sure if there’s anyone you need to watch in all honesty! Our best player this term has been Chris Lewington, our goalkeeper which says a lot; he’s very hard to get past and is probably one of the best shot stoppers in League Two so your strikers better make sure they’re accurate! I’m not to sure what the situation is with our loan players, if Montano or Cunnington can play, they’ll provide good threats for us. Otherwise, Josh Scott looks like he’s in contention to start for the first time in nearly a year, whilst Dominic Green is capable of some good work down the wings if he plays and Peter Gain is a grafter in the middle of the park. If Exodus Geohoghan plays, expect him to launch his long thrown into your box countless times! Brian Woodall has scored two in two in the FA Cup this season as well so be wary of the former Gresley man. The style we generally play is one that is recognised by most teams as “hoofball”, however we look a lot more capable of scoring when we play neat passing moves; unfortunately this doesn’t happen often enough for anyones liking. We are fairly dangerous from set pieces as well with the majority of our goals coming from corners or free kicks.
8. What sort of relationship do your fans have with chairman David Andrews? Is he fans friendly and media friendly?
I’m not generally sure to be honest with you. Dave Andrews is a supporter of the club and has played for the club in a previous guise so obviously he has only the best interests at heart which goes down very well with the fans usually. Some however become impatient with the lack of money we have to spend, especially considering we’ve sold a lot of players in recent years for good money. You never generally see him come out and speak to local or national press, he very much keeps himself to himself which I’m perfectly happy for him to do. Our club spokesperson of sorts is Steve Thompson, our Chief Executive. You’ll see him walking around the ground and talking to fans on every match day trying to get the chants started and things like that; further emphasising how much of a close knit club we are.
9.Who would you class as your rivals ?
As we’ve only been around for nigh on twenty years we don’t really have fierce rivals. I suppose the main ones are Boston United, due to Steve Evans’ reign as manager their (see the football cheats who prospered BBC Article.) That then goes on to Crawley as Evans is now manager there, anyone who employs that cheating scumbag Evans gets what’s coming to them in my own humble opinion. In terms of locality, it’s probably Barnet & Leyton Orient.
10.Dagenham and Redbridge has evolved from really four or five clubs down history but are there any sort of little divides from old Dagenham and Redbridge fans since the merge or are you all ‘as one’ as it were?
Everyone does now accept that we are Dagenham & Redbridge, but I suppose some people still cling on to their former clubs before they became one. People still remember the first club they supported, whether that be Walthamstowe Avenue, Redbridge Forest or Dagenham FC to name but a few; however it’s accepted as to who we are now. I started supporting us in the mid 2000′s so I don’t really have any affection for the clubs who merged to create what we are today, but I can understand those who do and I can understand people who were aggrieved at their club being amalgamated with another, if there are any Daggers out there like that. The current club came about in 1992, when two clubs in Redbridge Forest & Dagenham FC merged, these were previously several different clubs before that as well if you catch my drift. Redbridge Forest had the league position, in the Conference I believe and Dagenham FC had the ground; so it was a good solution for both parties in essence; the name was changed to Dagenham & Redbridge FC and that’s where we are today!
Thanks for reading this and thanks for giving me the opportunity to take part. I hope you take the time out to follow me on Twitter, “@NickDRFCMurphy” and I hope you read my Blog http://thedaggersscale.blogspot.com/.