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Dagenham & Redbridge: Traveller’s Tales

Posted by Rob Brown
Posted on Sun 25 Feb 2024
Posted in News

It was crispy under foot with the overnight frost and the sun was already beaming down, slowly melting the ice on the windscreen. We’ve reached the point of the season where we can set off in daylight and it’s not dark when we leave the ground. Everyone seemed to have an extra spring in their step at we met up ready for our 220-mile journey south. Without us really noticing, we’re suddenly down to the last few grand days out of the season, the time of the year for real football excitement.

Driving down the A1 it was clear that some parts of the country have had different challenges over recent weeks and months. The river Trent is still in flood, it’s subsided a little since our visit to Southend in January, but many of the fields nearby are still under water. It was the same around Huntingdon with the Great Ouse. We passed through areas of fog and mist along the way, noting that currently the weather really is a lottery, and the impact on football can be significant.

After a healthy breakfast and stop-start traffic in the East End of London, we located our usual parking spot not far from the ground. One of Tesco Pete’s famous stickers marks the spot, it’s stuck about seven feet up a metal lamppost, faded now, what with the sunlight and winter weather doing their best to remove it. It’s now either considered an artwork of local civic pride, or none of the thousands of football fans and residents who have walked past it over the years have ever looked up and noticed it. We’ve no idea who put it there in the first place, but it’s rare to locate one that has stood the test of time for so long.

Dagenham and Redbridge must really like us, for the second time in recent seasons they have held their annual Equality Day for our fixture. The local community was invited to the ground to experience the fun and excitement. The car park was full of stalls, games, and the opportunity to speak to the local police, army, and fire brigade. You could even have a trip up a telescopic fire engine ladder in a rescue pod. It looked far more exiting than any fairground ride, around 64 metres in the air, the equivalent of 20 floors of a building, all unsupported. If we had known about it earlier, we’d have certainly sent someone up it, the queues were just too long.

With advanced admission a very generous £9.99 for adults and £4.99 for senior citizens, the travelling Shaymen were given the final block of seating in the steep all-seater stand behind the goal. The usual space for away fans was reduced to accommodate the locals who could stand on the covered terrace down the side of the pitch or watch from the open end at the far end, for just £2.50. There were also bargain seats to be had in the main stand down the other side of the pitch. In the end, just short of 3,000 fans attended, double the usual attendance.

Dagenham started the first half well and attacked our end of the ground. The pitch was perfect, not a grain of sand in sight, with West Ham’s women and under 19’s playing at the ground too, they have helped maintain the surface. There were a few close calls early on with shots either blocked by the Shaymen or the ball was blasted wide. The Shaymen settled into the game as the half wore on, nothing spectacular, just an even half with neither team really making any decent chances.

The second half started with the Shaymen possessed. In complete contrast to the first half, they came out all guns blazing. The football for the first 10 or 15 minutes was some of the best of the season, and the 103 travelling Shaymen were loving it. It was capped off with a tremendous goal from outside of the box high into the net, the keeper never moved, Whirlwind Jim was down the steps celebrating at the pitch fence with the players faster than anyone. The home side put everything into forcing an equaliser, and Johnson made numerous decent saves. In the end, the Shaymen hung on for a good three points, and were cheered off the pitch by the travelling faithful.

Driving back and the Clayton Shayman was adding another team to his list of unbeaten days out, he’s now up to eleven. The team have now notched up a creditable four wins in a row and 28 points already on the road. No wonder everyone has a spring in their step.

Next up we’re back down South with a visit to Bromley, can’t wait. C’mon Shaymen

Miles on the road 5486, goals on the road 21

Read more posts by Rob Brown

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