With the replay against Dagenham and Redbridge looming, the player who has grabbed the spotlight ahead of the game is defender Joe Widdowson.
For a man who is only 27 years of age, Widdowson has had a journeyman career, being on the books at eight different clubs already. He made his switch to Dagenham and Redbridge initially on loan from Bury, impressing at the Chigwell Construction Stadium his move was made permanent in 2015, and has gone on to be a regular in the side.
Widdowson started his career not too far away from where he is now. Being a youth player for arguably the biggest club in East London, West Ham United. The famed Hammers’ academy has produced the likes of Rio Ferdinand and Frank Lampard, both going on to be England internationals and Premier League legends so any player who came through the ranks at West Ham has a stellar hallmark.
Not known for being the most prolific defenders, Widdowson does have a fantastic goal under his belt. Whilst on loan at Grimsby Town from West Ham, the Mariners ran out comfortable 3-0 winners over Rotherham United in 2009. Widdowson, only 19 at the time, drilled an angled shot from 20-yards out which nestled into the bottom corner. The strike was so impressive it was voted 2nd place in Grimsby’s best goal of the season award for that campaign.
Unfortunately for Widdowson he was released from West Ham but was immediately snapped up by Grimsby on a three-year contract. The departure of Tom Newey to Rochdale gave the young full back the chance to be the first choice on the left side of defence and he excelled in this role.
Widdowson ended up following the path that Newey laid out by again being his replacement at Rochdale, going on to become the first choice left back for their first season in League One. After two seasons as a regular with Rochdale, Widdowson filled in at Northampton town for what seemed to be a carbon copy of his career at Rochdale. At Northampton the full back racked up just under 70 appearances, taking his total football league appearances to well over 150 despite being just 25.
After failing to settle anywhere following his departure from Northampton, Dagenham took him in and he played a number of times in League Two up until last season before his side were relegated to the Vanarama National League for this season.
With Dagenham and Redbridge currently 4th in the National League, Widdowson may help his side bounce straight back up to the Football League, where he feels very much at home.
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