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     On This Day


In 1993,The Daggers drew 2-2 with Cambridge City Away in the FA Cup 4th Qualifying Round


In 1999,The Daggers beat Walton & Hersham 2-0 at Home in the Ryman League Premier 


In 2004,The Daggers lost 1-2 to Farnborough Town Away in the Nationwide Conference 
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In 2010,The Daggers lost 2-3 to Rochdale Away in the NPower League One 


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Lessons to be learnt
by Hardy on 06/01/2002

The ground was full for the Ipswich Town FA Cup game and there are a few lessons to be taken on board. Hardy discusses some personal thoughts on the ground and stewarding.

Lessons to be learnt

Our football club has gone from strength to strength over the last three seasons and is now challenging for a place in the Football League. In that time we have had a number of major games at Victoria Road with full houses in the two FA Cup third round ties against Charlton Athletic a year ago and this week against Ipswich Town.

There have been some significant changes to the ground in the last year as part of the building of the Carling Stand (left) and the addition of the crush barriers and walkways in the terraced areas between the two games, but there were still some major problems this week at the Ipswich game due to overcrowding of parts of the ground and a lack of stewarding.

I am wholly supportive of the club in its efforts to improve the ground, but as a supporter I get to see some of the problems first hand whereas maybe the people running the club do not. Here is a list of gripes and suggestions from one fan that I know are echoed by a lot more.

The Bury Road End

At the Charlton game the corner near the Victoria Road turnstiles became overcrowded by latecomers and the lack of a clear way round to the Sieve from there meant that people could not move to other, less crowded areas of the ground. For that game I was with my son in the Sieve, around the half way line and was very surprised how much space there was. This was, quite simply, because there was no way for people to get around to that side of the ground after the Bury Road terrace filled up.

The problem that occurred in January 2001 has been rectified since then by the addition of the Bury Road turnstiles, a walkway behind the Sieve (right) with entrances into it from the rear, and a walkway that should be kept clear in front of the Bury Road terrace itself.

These changes have indeed solved a lot of the problems, however a situation occurred at the Ipswich game whereby late comers decided that they would not move into the less attractive areas of the ground where the remaining space was, such as the corner of the Bury Road terrace, but would simply stand behind the goal in front of the terrace there. Those of us that had staked our spots early to allow children to get a view from the front of the terrace therefore found themselves behind several hundred people who arrived from the pub just in time and were in no mood to move.

I will get to stewarding in a moment, but the problem is really caused by the walkway being at the front of the terrace and not behind as it is at the Pondfield End of the ground and in the Sieve. The solution is not an easy one, as it involves moving the terracing forward to the wall of the ground. Since the area around the Dagger Shop has obviously been noted as a major bottleneck though, hence the shop being shut on Saturday, something needs to be done there as well. My solution would be to replicate the configuration of the terracing at the Pondfield End of the ground at the Bury Road End and move the Dagger Shop elsewhere, perhaps outside the confines of the ground itself.

The other obvious option and probably much easier to implement in the short term is to provide gates to segregate the Bury Road End from the Sieve, and for major games, to sell tickets separately for the Sieve and Bury Road End. This would be fairly simple to implement with gates 1 to 4 at Victoria Road giving access to the terraces behind the goal, and the Bury Road gates giving access to the Sieve. This would mean the terracing at Bury Road getting only the number of people it can handle.

The Sieve

It was clear from the appeals being made over the tannoy that the areas in the Sieve close to the breaks in the crush barriers and the doors to the rear of the Sieve (left) were becoming congested and people were not moving down to allow latecomers to spread out.

I have to say that when I first saw the barriers (below) going up I was somewhat surprised to see that they were continuous with very occasional breaks for access. Traditional terracing with barriers generally has short runs of crush barrier stepped in rows allowing a zig zag effect along the terrace. Admittedly, the depth of the terrace in the Sieve means that this would be difficult, but it is clear that there is not enough space for people to move freely down the terraces and away from the new doors at the back of the Sieve.

The solution is to change the configuration of the crush barriers to make it easier to move around. I presume, as easy as this sounds, that the safety certificate has been issued based on the current configuration and this will need careful consideration.

An alternative would be to mark the walkways down from the back of the Seive to the front more clearly and to steward these to keep them clear, allowing much simpler movement for people coming in to the area from the back.

This brings me neatly to the major source of irritation at Saturday's game.

Stewarding

There have been a lot of comments made about the stewarding of games at Victoria Road this season on the message boards by regular posters who are long term and genuine supporters of the club. There have been a number of incidents at earlier matches, the worst of which was the Nuneaton Borough coin thrower, where stewards have been slow to react to situations arising.

On Saturday there were a lot of stewards on duty, but sadly it seems, like policemen, there is never one around when you need one. I have described what happened at the Bury Road End (left), yet when people started to stand in the walkway in front of the terrace at around 2:45 there was a single steward in the area. People on the terrace made it clear that there was a problem happening but he did nothing to get some help and in the end, at around 2:55, disappeared altogether. We asked two other lady stewards who passed us shortly after the game had started to get something done, but they stated that there was no chance if the people didn't want to move.

The other incident at the game was the throwing of objects at the linesman in the second half. There are also rumours flying around that a young girl on the Ipswich terraces had her face cut by a coin thrown from the Seive which I haven't seen substantiated, but it would appear the incident with the linesman was the culmination of events, not the first indication of trouble.

These are far more serious incidents, the sort of things that gets grounds shut and reputations ruined. The area of the ground where this occurred is close to where the home support and away support meet in the covered terrace, and was where the trouble makers congregated for the Charlton match last season too. It is clear that these people are nothing to to with our club from the songs and chants they use, but they turn up for the big games and are therefore our responsibility while in the ground.

So if I knew this was where the trouble, should there be any, would come from, why was it not where the stewards and police where most numerous? Where were they? It appeared that the majority of stewards were around the Family Stand (left), and only deployed to the Sieve when the trouble had already occurred.

Come on people, lets use some common sense and head problems off before they occur, not react once an incident has happened.

In conclusion

I am very conscious that some of this column sounds like a rant, which is not how it is intended. There are problems with getting 6,000 people into Victoria Road and everyone getting a view. We know some people will always arrive at the last possible moment in case that extra lager they could have had in the pub gets away, and we also know that there are idiots who come to any football match in the hope of stirring up some trouble.

What needs to happen though is that lessons from the big matches are learnt. We know the club can handle its average crowd of 1,600 to 2,000 with no problem. Next season should the clubs promotion ambition be achieved hopefully we will be doubling those numbers, maybe even running close to capacity for a few league games, and we need to be prepared so that Victoria Road remains a place I can bring my kids to watch football in a friendly atmosphere and with as little hassle as possible.

Over to you Dagenham & Redbridge Football Club.


 

 

 

 

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