My first game of 2018 was a familiar one. Dagenham & Redbridge and Leyton Orient were meeting for the second time over the Christmas period. I’d been at Brisbane Road for the first game and saw Orient come out on top. The Bank Holiday promised to throw up some potential transport disruption, but I decided to brave the London Underground for my trip out East. I was meeting an old friend who also happened to be an Orient fan.
Competition: National League
Star man: Craig Robson
Who are ya, Dagenham & Redbridge?
As the name suggests Dagenham & Redbridge was founded as a merger between Dagenham and Redbridge Forest football clubs. Redbridge Forest was also created due to an amalgamation of some of the area’s most successful amateur clubs. Ilford, Leytonstone and Walthamstow Avenue had won the FA Trophy, FA Amateur Cup and 20 Isthmian League titles before merging to form Redbridge Forest.
The new Dagenham and Redbridge was founded in 1992. They began life in the Football Conference, taking Redbridge Forest’s place. The Daggers were relegated to the Isthmian League in 1996, but recovered and returned to the Conference in 2000. The club was finally promoted into the Football League in 2007, after a few mixed years in the Conference.
The club’s rise continued in 2010 when they won promotion into League One. They won a dramatic playoff final 3-2 against Rotherham United. Sadly, The Daggers were relegated after their first and only season in League One. The returned to the fourth tier of the Football League until 2016 when they were relegated again, and slipped back into non-league football.
- Dagenham & Redbridge had its first win in League One against local rivals Leyton Orient. A 2-0 win at Victoria Road in September 2010.
- The Daggers thought they would be promoted into the League in 2002 after Conference Champions Boston United were found guilty of illegal payments to players. Dagenham & Redbridge, who finished runners-up, were denied as Boston’s points deduction was applied to the following season
- The Daggers and Orient broke the record for the highest scoring penalty shootout in professional football history on 7 September 2011. Dagenham & Redbridge won 14-13. The record was equaled by Liverpool and Middlesbrough in 2014.
This contest came just six days after the first league meeting between the sides, won 2-0 by Leyton Orient. It was also their fourth meeting this season. The sides drew 0-0 at Victoria Road in the FA Trophy earlier in the season, with Orient winning the replay 1-0 at Brisbane Road.
Following the Boxing Day game Dagenham & Redbridge had drawn 1-1 away at Ebbsfleet and Orient had lost 1-0 at home to Bromley. The Daggers were now in seventh place, three points off the playoff places. Orient sat in eighteenth place with a little bit of breathing space between themselves and the bottom clubs.
The Dagenham & Redbridge experience
Train: Dagenham East is the closest station to Victoria Road, and it’s only a five minute walk to the ground. Dagenham East is on the District Line.
Car: From the A13 take the exit for the A1306. Turn left onto Ballards Road (B178) just before the McDonalds and then bear left onto the A1112. Follow that road past Dagenham East Tube Station and Victoria Road is on your left. Parking is available on surrounding streets.
I decided to take the risk and brave public transport on this New Year’s Day, despite the prospect of some disruption. Sure enough I had to spend a few mins waiting at Barking, but that was as bad as the journey got. I arrived at Dagenham East and followed the crowds towards Victoria Road. There were plenty of hints of red scarves and shirts poking out under coats on the walk, but it wasn’t clear if they belonged to home or away fans.
I arrived at the main entrance and headed for the ticket office to pick up my tickets. I was fortunate enough to bump into Peter Taylor in the ticket queue, looking refreshed since his last gig at Gillingham. Tickets were doled out efficiently, and I had a few spare minutes to snoop around the car park like a lost dog. Spirits were high amidst chat about last night’s NYE festivities. Several locals seemed to have enjoyed Nile Rodgers’ performance on BBC One. My companion for the day arrived, so we headed into the Carling Stand. As soon as we entered the ground it was obvious it was going to be full for this local derby.
Victoria Road consists of the seated main Carling Stand which runs down one side of the pitch, a large seated end, a large terrace down the opposite side and the terraced end. It has a cosy intimate feel to it that helps create a good atmosphere. The visiting fans from Orient travelled in great numbers and had the whole of the seated end as well as a little corner section of the side terrace. The standing section was nice and close to the noisier home fans. This made for some lively, but respectful exchanges.
A food bar was positioned somewhere within the stand, and it seemed to be doing a good trade in burgers and cups of hot tea. Sadly, I wasn’t able to sample one for myself as I was determined not to miss a potential key goal in a tight contest. I was assured by some Daggers fans next to me, however, that the burgers were worth the wait.
It was clear from conversations in the main stand that plenty of less vocal Orient fans had infiltrated areas outside of their allocated sections. Comments remained low key, however, and everyone enjoyed the contest. The views from the main stand were great, and in the second half we had a close up view of the Dagenham full back’s range of long throws, that unfortunately failed to bring about a goal.
In the interest of balance I should mention that the ticket price for the Carling Stand was £21. £1 more than I paid to sit in a similar position at Orient. Tickets for £15 are available in the terraced areas for home fans, which are £3 cheaper than Orient’s more affordable option. From these two clubs it seems prices in the division are fairly standard, but for me that still seems slightly too much for non-league.
Stalemate in part two of the double header
In contrast to the game at Brisbane Road on Boxing Day it was Orient that started the stronger. A couple of crosses across the box narrowly avoided the visitor’s forwards. Dagenham took a while to settle but they began to get the ball out wide and threaten further up the field. Brill, in goal for Orient, made a couple of comfortable saves, and The Daggers began to get a foothold in the match.
The game became a tight and nervy contest as both sides had a share of the ball but struggled to find any real quality in the final third. The brightest moments of the first half came in the final few minutes. Firstly Brill tipped over from Bloomfield after he powered a header towards the goal from Ling’s cross. Clay had an attempt well saved by Cousins shortly after as Orient had the final attempt of the half.
The visitors started the second half strongly as they had done a few days earlier in E10. It looked as though they may be able to repeat their match winning exploits from the previous encounter, but they failed to find the finishing touch. Dagenham made a series of substitutions, and they began to push forward more.
The home side had the better of the play towards the end of the game as it appeared that Orient had settled for a point. Ferrier had a couple of openings, but couldn’t win it for The Daggers. The final, and best, chance of the game fell to Okenabirhie just inside the box. Unfortunately he couldn’t keep his shot down, and the points were shared.
Victoria Road was a great ground to visit for this local derby. The ground was full and had a cosy and intimate feel to it with lots of fans packed in. There was a buzz around the ground, despite the game not being the greatest spectacle. The atmosphere was lively but retained a level of respect between both sets of fans. Orient had brought a large following with them which meant nearly half of the people in the ground were supporting the away side.
At half-time there was also a continuation of the walking football penalty competition from the first game. This helped to emphasise the excellent community work of both clubs.