It was unusually quiet on the back seat for the first couple of hours of our long journey south. Suddenly, one of the usual suspects spung into life, ‘I’ve got an announcement,’ he said. There were a few looks around the car as we all wondered what might happen next. ‘So far, since the opening game of the season, I’ve travelled 2207 miles, seen us score five times and earned just one point. This equates to spending 46 hours sat in this car with you lot.” It’s fair to say that whilst he was pleased with his maths, we were less pleased with our new, self-proclaimed lucky charm. Tesco Pete was instantly working out whether it was best to drop him at a railway station or whether the rest of us should just sneak off after breakfast when he went to the loo. It was already a tough fixture after a tough week without his good fortune!
As luck would have it, it was Diversity Day at Dagenham and Redbridge. Adult tickets were less than £10, concessions were just £5 and home fans could stand on the terraces for just £2.50. On top of that, lots of school children were admitted free. We arrived at the ground to be met with a carnival of activities. The local police community team were there with a spot of car park cricket, there was also an inflatable penalty shoot out goal where you had to kick a football through the hole to win a prize. After a few of us had a go at the football and just missed out, Tesco Pete stepped up, missed the goal entirely, almost took the head off a local policeman, and crashed the ball against one of the window frames. To be fair, he said the ball bobbled just before he hit it, but if he had hit it any harder, those police handcuffs would surely have been to put to good use!
Dagenham’s Victoria Ground has a capacity of just over 6000, and the travelling Shaymen were given a great spot in the modern all seater stand behind the goal. This stand is elevated and gives a great view of the pitch and surrounding area. There’s a small, covered terrace down one side, an open end behind the far goal, and some covered seating with a few executive boxes and press area down the other. Everything is painted red, except for the modern floodlight pylons, and they now display West Ham United’s club crest as their women’s team play home games at the ground. It’s good income for the Daggers.
The first half was magnificent. The atmosphere was bouncing from the start with 163 Shaymen making all the noise. The 2-0 lead was well deserved and a real treat to witness with the goals being scored right beneath us. Dagenham were blown away and didn’t come close to matching the skills and enthusiasm of the away side. It was perhaps the best half of any away game all season.
Dagenham came out for the second half determined to get back into the game. They forced lots of corners, but the Shaymen’s defence was top class. Every ball cleared was met by several high fives amongst the players. They were well up for the battle. Dagenham managed a goal back and came close to an equaliser but in the end, the Shaymen held firm and pinched a third at the far end in the last minute. It was a great performance and three points well deserved.
Driving back and there were more calculations coming from the back seat. It was the first win at Dagenham since 2004, the first double of the season and now the 50-point total has been reached, we’ll be unlucky to be relegated. Whilst all this was going on, some of us just happened to be looking in the right direction at the right time to see an amazing meteor fly across the dark Cambridgeshire night sky. It was unusually, blue in colour and seemed to travel just slightly slower than Warburton’s opening goal. It’s not often you see two in one day. How’s your luck?
Next up, we’re off to Meadow Lane for an evening fixture. I guess none of us will be leaving early that night, regardless of the score.
Goals on the road 22, miles 6252, c’mon Shaymen!
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