Promoted Dagenham & Redbridge set themselves a target for the season of
consolidation in the Conference and fair runs in Cup Competitions. What followed
was far beyond anything the Club and it's supporters could have ever dreamt of.
Their first game back in the Nationwide Conference, after an absence of four
seasons, saw them travel to Unibond League Champions Leigh RMI and come away
with a 2-1 victory. Three days later they came back down to earth with a bang
when a 20-month unbeaten home record was ended when they lost 1-2 to
Kingstonian. Only two defeats, both against eventual champions Rushden &
Diamonds, were suffered in their next ten league matches as the Club made steady
progress up the table.
In the FA Cup fourth qualifying round, the Daggers defeated Hendon 3-1 after
five postponements and four days later saw off the challenge of Hayes, 3-1 to
progress through to the second round. League defeats against Southport and
Northwich were not the best way to go into an FA Cup tie away to Lincoln City
but the Daggers finally achieved their first victory over a Football League
side. Having outplayed the Imps for the majority of the game it seemed a replay
would be the outcome until Mark Janney tapped the ball under goalkeeper, Matthew
Ghent's body in the final minute to put the Daggers into the third round for the
first time ever.
Two league victories over Kingstonian and Leigh RMI and a defeat at Dover
Athletic on New Years day took them up to the most important match in their
history at the Valley, home of Premier League Charlton Athletic.
The Daggers were quoted as huge outsiders to get a draw against Charlton but
they had the audacity to take a fully deserved lead just before half time
through Junior McDougald. Time ticked on and only a deflected equaliser four
minutes from time denied them one of the FA Cup's greatest upsets of all time.
Instead they had earned a draw and they turned down the chance of financial
rewards by deciding to play the game at Victoria Road and give themselves every
chance of a victory. Garry Hill was rewarded with the League Managers
Association performance of the week, the first time the award has ever gone
outside the Football League. In the run-up to the replay, the media hit Dagenham
like never before but the constant attention had a disastrous effect when the
Club lost in the third round of the FA Trophy by a 90th minute goal from
visiting, Weymouth. Due to an icy pitch, the FA Cup replay was postponed and was
eventually played on the day of the fourth round. With a home tie against
Tottenham Hotspur awaiting the victors, the Daggers again took the game to their
more illustrious opponents in front of their record attendance of 5,394. They
were finally defeated when Shaun Newton scored in the first minute of extra time
with Tim Cole having an equaliser ruled out for pushing. At the end of the game,
they had deservedly earned the standing ovation they received from both sets of
The first Saturday of February saw the Daggers defeated at Nuneaton Borough
and many thought the Daggers had reached their peak and would now drop down the
table. Instead they went on a nine game winning run which also saw them knock
Yeovil Town off the top of the table with a 3-1 victory at Huish Park. This
superb run finally came to an end at Hayes, one game short of equalling the
conference record but had seen the Club rise to third place. Manager Garry Hill
was named as joint manager of the month for February but, won the honour
outright in March.
Coming into the final week of the season, the Daggers were still in third
place and a 3-2 win at Morecambe confirmed their joint highest ever position.
They finished the season as they began with a victory in Lancashire, this time
over fourth place Southport to round off the most successful season in their
During the season they did add some silverware when they won the Ryman
One-2-One Charity Shield defeating Farnborough Town 2-0. Prior to the start of
the new they faced FA Trophy winners Canvey Island in the Essex Senior Cup
Final, held over due to their opponents fixture congestion. This was the
first competetive match played in front of the new Carling stand and saw the
Daggers take the trophy for the second time, beating the Islanders 5-3 in a