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Dagenham & Redbridge: Traveller’s Tales

Posted by Rob Brown
Posted on Sun 23 Apr 2023
Posted in News

It was chucking it down as we left; the cars in front were only partly visible through the misty spray thrown up from the surface water along the M62. We had 220 miles ahead of us with the usual suspects nattering about the weather forecast and driving conditions. Before long we managed to find a traffic queue for bridge repairs as we joined the A1 south. You can only imagine our excitement at this point. Luckily, the traffic eased through, the rain relented, the day brightened, and everyone’s enthusiasm rose to another level.

Breakfast was unusually good; the Greetland Shayman used his charm and charisma with one of the new waitresses to talk about all things vegan. Extra chips, extra beans, and extra cups of tea were soon arriving at our table, more extras than you could shake a stick at. To be honest, we never thought we’d get him out of there. Poor old Tesco Pete had to empty his wallet of all change too as the Greetland Shayman was insistent that the tip reflected his admiration for the waitresses’ hard work and endeavours. It was probably a good hour or so later he finally stopped talking about her great customer service.

Dagenham and Redbridge’s Victoria Road ground is positioned right in the heart of the community, and its social club is open daily. The volunteers selling programmes and golden goal tickets live and breathe their club. There’s a second-hand memorabilia shop, full of everything that looks great, but you’d never buy, an official club shop and ticket office, and the opportunity to buy a drink in a four-pint pot in the club house. Parking is available on local streets, only a short walk from the ground, or a decent walk if you happen to leave your mobile phone in the car and have to walk back to retrieve it…

Football fans are a funny bunch of people at times, fiercely loyal to their roots, and with the season drawing to a close, the North Korean Leader Kim Jon Un made an unexpected appearance in the away end with a bee in his bonnet. “Where’s the Ripponden Shayman?” he demanded to know with his rubber mask hardly moving. Suddenly, he pulled out of copy of the Calderdale Council Boundaries and Communities document 1974, first edition, from his posh polyester suite. “I’ve been watching him,” he continued, “he lives in Kebroyd, and that’s not part of Ripponden. I’ve lived in Ripponden all my life, I’m the real Ripponden Shayman!”  It was difficult to argue with a man looking so menacing and presenting such compelling evidence. Bemused, we politely accepted his statement and said we’d discuss it on the way home. With that, he continued up the stand to dictate further instructions to other travelling Shaymen. Was he serious, who knows?

The first half had the feel of end of season football.  The Shaymen attacked our end of the ground but neither team really threatened to score.  The home crowd were quiet, the 65 travelling Shaymen had an occasional sing song, but the game seemed to have nil-nil written all over it.

The second half was similar with just the occasional attempt here and there, until the last minute of the game. Johnson made a flying save to push a decent shot away for a corner. That corner resulted in a disputed penalty to Dagenham. The travelling Shaymen made a right racket to try and distract the penalty taker, but without too much fuss, the dependable Johnson casually dived to his left and held the shot on the line. An exciting end to an otherwise much less exciting game. Still a decent outcome and another game unbeaten. We were all happy with that on reflection.

Driving back and we shared the news with the Ripponden Shayman that he had competition for his status.  Within moments he found his council tax bill online, payable to Ripponden Parish Council and the next hour was occupied with all things political. It seemed that there’s not just disputed territory in North Korea but also down Ryburn Valley. Whoever said it was a happy valley?

Next up and we’re back down South with a midweek rescheduled visit to Woking. We won down there last season, let’s see if we can keep this unbeaten run going. C’mon Shaymen!

Miles on the road 9398, Goals on the road 24.

Read more posts by Rob Brown