2003/04 Season Review
by Hardy on 25/04/2004
Another season over and Hardy looks back on a troubled year in the life of Dagenham & Redbridge FC
|Review of 2003/04
|After looking forward to the new term with some optimism after another
near miss in the play off final at the end of 2002/03 it is sad to say that,
to misquote Lizzie, this was a seasonus horribilis.
a period of catching collective breath following Francis Tierney’s golden
goal at Stoke in May, the changes began to be rung in June as Garry Hill
dismantled his squad and began to rebuild. Out went Paul Gothard and Steve
Heffer (right) to Thurrock, Junior McDougald to Canvey, Mark Rooney to
Barnet and Steve Potts who retired. Steve West was subject of a bid from
Hornchurch and moved for Bryco’s 30 pieces of silver, a theme that would
return during the season.
McGrath (left) also returned to Villa at the end of his loan and from there
to Doncaster to disappear without trace and Jason Broom went back to Grays,
then to Thurrock to join Heff and Goth.
Lots of room for big signings then!
came the Piper brothers, Lenny (right) and Chris from Farnborough, Mark
Bentley and Jimmy Jackson from Gravesend, Leon Braithwaite from Margate,
Alex Meechan from Forest Green and Keith Scott from Leigh RMI.
eyebrows were raised that all were from clubs that had finished below us at
the time of the signings, but all were proven at Conference level and
several were their clubs players of the year. The one exception was James
Pullen a keeper brought in from Ipswich on loan to cover Robbo’s injury
|Pre-season came and went in a blur. West Ham brought another stiffs XI
and left with a 1-0 win after a Sven type substitution frenzy by Garry Hill,
the West Country tour saw the first ever defeat in Devon by Tiverton and
after a messy few games at local non-league teams the final friendly a week
before the season opener saw the Daggers thrashed by QPR 4-0.
the first game approached the talk on the forum was of what the best XI was,
and frankly no-one had a clue. Apparently neither did Garry Hill and the
Daggers opened at Leigh with a tame 2-1 defeat. Signs of trouble came early
with Keith Scott (left) shipped off before he had played a competitive game
on loan to Tamworth “to get match fit” never to return.
Stevenage came to the newly renamed Glyn Hopkin Stadium on the first
Tuesday of the season and left with all three points then the following
Saturday things looked much better as the Daggers stuck five past Barnet,
Mark Bentley getting two and Steino a hat-trick, although Paul Terry left
the club to head to Yeovil after that game leaving a gaping hole in the
Daggers midfield. Lee Matthews was visibly struggling for fitness too,
having missed much of pre-season on honeymoon
|Garry and Fitzroy
next three games went lost, won (another five past Forest Green) and lost
before Telford came visiting in early September. A bad tempered 1-1 draw
ensued and after the game there was talk of a spat in the tunnel between
Garry Hill and Telford’s Jamaican international Fitzroy Simpson (right,
copyright Ben Radford/Allsport)
All seemed well as the Daggers won at Northwich the following week, then
came the news that Mark Stein (left) and Mark Smith were refusing to play
for Garry Hill out of solidarity for Simpson, who accused Hill of racial
abuse. Smith left the club immediately and Stein sulked around in the
reserves for a few games before settling his contract and going too.
As chaos reigned in the dressing room Accrington Stanley became the first
of several average or poor teams to come to the Glyn Hopkin Stadium to play
for a point and find themselves head home with all three. A creditable draw
on Sky at Exeter was followed by an abject 2-0 defeat at Tamworth.
Around this time Alan Kimble, ex-Wimbledon and Tony Scully ex-Manchester
City arrived to bolster the ranks.
|Ups and downs
minor upturn in fortunes followed with a good 0-0 draw with eventual
champions Chester followed by a 4-0 win over Margate and Leon Braithwaite’s
first goal for the Daggers at last, typically against his old club. Another
Sky game saw a 1-1 draw at high flyers Hereford and then came a rare
highlight in the LDV with Leyton Orient stuffed 4-1 with Mark Bentley
(right) again the star turn.
Just when it looked like the season was on
the up though, it was another of “those” games, as Burton Albion came for a
point and won comfortably 2-0. This was followed by the worst nightmare, a
PurfleetThurrock in the FA Cup 4th Qualifying
round. With the home team featuring Goth, Heff and Broomy they predictably
dumped their old mates out of the cup and promptly dew Luton Town at home
and a Sky paycheque.
Depression continued with another poor defeat, 3-0 at Halifax and then a
LDV exit 2-1 at Loftus Road against QPR. The club had equalled its worst run
of results, four straight defeats and was out of the FA Cup and the LDV.
Again things turned a little next, with the next few games running won,
drawn, won, won, won, including a win over the pesky Hornchurch in the Essex
of the summer signings, Alex Meechan and Lenny Piper were shipped out on
loan and replaced by players like Robert Gill (left) and Tristram Whitman
who came in on loan and went again without making a mark. Steve Watts was
signed back from Shrewsbury which made much more sense, plus a young man
from Northwood called Chris Moore who made his debut in a promising 10
minutes at Gravesend, then started a five game suspension.
down the roller coaster we went again, defeat at Telford followed by a 2-0
win over an awful Northwich Victoria then a defeat on penalties at East
Thurrock in the ESC. Just when you thought it could get no worse Leigh RMI
came and completed the league double 2-1 in what is best described as a
shambolic Daggers performance, tactically a nightmare with Paul Bruce
(right) playing centre forward for the day with club top scorer Danny Shipp
That midweek Hornchurch came in for club captain Lee Matthews and before
we knew it a great club servant was gone down the road to Bridge Avenue.
|More ups and downs
|Chris Moore returned from suspension for the trip to Stevenage and
optimism was rekindled with a great 2-0 win, Moore opening the scoring and
looking are real live wire.
Christmas/New Year double header was Aldershot Town, flying high in the play
off zone. The Shots won both games narrowly having every ounce of luck that
was available over the two games including an incredible non-penalty
decision early in the home game which on another day would have been a red
card for deliberate handball and a 1-0 advantage from the spot. It was that
kind of season. In came another loan signing, Richard Pacquette (left) from
the play offs now all but out of reach another of the high flying teams,
Shrewsbury, came to town on the following Saturday. At last the Daggers
fired into life and handed out a complete thrashing, 5-0, Moore (right)
scoring two goals to make it 6 in 6 games.
Then it was Trophy time, and the Daggers last real chance of making the
season a memorable one. Crawley Town, who would end the season Doc Martens
champions came and hung out for 0-0. The replay saw the Daggers behind but
pulling back to win 2-1 in extra time, the winner from Mark Bentley. The
draw was a favourable one, Ryman Division One North Arlesey Town at home.
Last 16 here we come!!
|The door keeps spinning
when the Daggers needed to build on a couple of decent results the revolving
door on the changing rooms spun once more. Mark Bentley, the best of the
summer signings, was sold to Southend United, Steve Watts headed out, on his
way to Singapore we thought although this move fell through, and Richard
Pacquette went back to QPR after looking a threat. In came Kirk Jackson
(left) from Yeovil and Matt Rees from Millwall.
Despite all the changes
the next result was a good one, 4-2 at Barnet before another lacklustre 2-0
defeat at home to Exeter City. Then back to the FA Trophy. Arlesey proved a
real handful, twice equalising then leading 3-2 before Kirk Jackson smashed
a memorable goal to grab a second chance.
If the Daggers thought Arlesey could not play so well again they were
wrong. The Daggers were 1-0 up after just three minutes but it was 4-1 to
Arlesey by 48 minutes and despite pulling one back the Daggers were out of
the last real chance of any glory.
Thursday saw a Fans Forum and Garry Hill (right) talked openly about his
mistakes and disappointments. “I’m not a quitter though,” he added. “Look at
my record over five years and give me a chance to put things right.”
Two days later the Daggers headed to Accrington and the old never say die
attitude was back on show with two goals in injury time sealing a 3-2 away
win. At leaders Chester a week later the Daggers were very unlucky to lose
2-1, this time the injury time winner being scored against them after a
close hard fought game.
|An all time low
following Friday a poor season turned to disaster. The Sky cameras arrived
at the Glyn Hopkin Stadium as the Daggers took on Hereford, chasing Chester
all the way for the title. After a decent opening 15 minutes Danny Shipp
lunged for a tackle in the area and brought down David Brown. Penalty, red
card, 1-0. By half time it was 3-0 and by 48 minutes 4-0. In the last 20
minutes, with the Daggers heads going down like never seen before under
Garry Hill the Bulls romped in five more to end the game 9-0 winners.
Shell shocked, the initial reaction was a knee jerk “Garry must go”, but after a more
thoughtful debate the fans just about backed the manager who had brought
them so close to the Football League twice.
|End of an era
next five games saw the Daggers unbeaten, albeit four were draws then after the
fifth, a 0-0 at Scarborough where the Daggers hit the woodwork three times,
Garry Hill (right) announced that he was leaving the club at the end of the
season having “taken the club as far as he could.”
The next game, home to
Gravesend & Northfleet saw a demoralised team thrashed again, 4-0, while the
manager sat limply by and watched. Garry brought forward his departure and
left that night to end his era in charge. It was such a sad way for the
dream to end.
To make things worse, after telling the Daggers fans that idolised him
for so long that he was taking some time out of the game, Garry Hill took
charge of local rivals Hornchurch on the 18th April, just 15 days after
leaving the Daggers. Lets hope it wasn’t for 30 pieces of Bryco silver.
|A new beginning
|The last four games of the season saw the Daggers lose twice more at
home and win away at Forest Green and Burton to end the season in 13th place
in the Conference. The final game of the season saw John Still take charge
of the team once more, ten years after he left the club to manage
has made a lot of his long connection with the club and its forebears and
that his father was a lifelong supporter. The words are good, the attitude
seems right, lets hope that in 2004/05 the Daggers under John Still can
provide more good memories than this season has.
Players and managers come and go, the fans keep on singing.
Come on you Daggers!!
|Season stats Conference 2003/04
Daggers Player with the most:
Shots: Mark Bentley 41 (Steve Guinan, Hereford 103)
Shots on target: Mark Bentley 29 (Steve Guinan, Hereford 64)
Shots off target: Paul Bruce 16 (Luke Rodgers, Shrewsbury 56)
Assists: Paul Bruce 5 (Kevin McIntyre, Chester 16)
Crosses: Tarkan Mustafa 67 (Rory Prendergast, Accrington 176)
Offsides: Leon Braithwaite 28 (Giuliano Grazioli, Barnet 77)
Fouls: Ashley Vickers 73 (Steve Flack, Exeter 92)
Free-kicks won: Leon Braithwaite 42 (David McNiven, Leigh 83)
(Neil Grayson, FGR 83)
Daggers Team stats:
Shots on target: 255 (Hereford United 316)
Shots off target: 143 (Hereford United 251)
Hit woodwork: 11 (Chester City 19)
Corners won: 290 (Woking 286)
Offsides: 120 (Shrewsbury Town 219)
Conference Stats Overall:
462 Games played
Home wins: 208
Away wins: 136
Total Goals scored: 1,343
Average goals per game: 2.9
Most Consecutive Wins: 11 Hereford United
Most Consecutive Draws: 5 Barnet
Most Consecutive Defeats: 10 Halifax Town
Games Without Win: 15 Northwich Victoria
Games Without Draw: 15 Burton Albion
Games Without Defeat: 18 Chester City
Biggest Winning Margin: 9 Hereford United
Biggest Losing Margin: 9 Dagenham & Redbridge
Highest Scoring Game: Dagenham & Redbridge 0 Hereford United 9
Most Goals Scored in Game: 9 Hereford United
Most Goals Conceded Game: 9 Dagenham & Redbridge
Most Failures to Score: 20 Northwich Victoria
Least Failures to Score: 4 Aldershot Town
Most Clean Sheets: 20 Chester City
Least Clean Sheets: 3 Leigh RMI
No of Games Goals Scored (per Team)
Nil 214 (23.16%)
One 322 (34.85%)
Two 232 (25.11%)
Three 98 (10.61%)
Four 37 (4.00%)
Five or More 21 (2.27%)
1-0 80 (17%)
2-0 51 (11%)
2-1 86 (19%)
3-0 16 (3%)
3-1 30 (6%)
3-2 23 (5%)
4-0 13 (3%)
4-1 14 (3%)
4-2 6 (1%)
4-3 4 (1%)
Other Non-Draws 21 (5%)
0-0 23 (5%)
1-1 53 (11%)
2-2 30 (6%)
3-3 12 (3%)
4-4 0 (0%)
|Daggers best and worst 2003/04
|All completely subjective, feel free to debate as you will.
Daggers 5 Shrewsbury Town 0
Daggers 4 Leyton Orient 1
Barnet 2 Daggers 4
Worst performances (spoilt for choice):
Daggers 0 Hereford United 9
Daggers 1 Leigh RMI 2
Daggers 0 Gravesend & Northfleet 4
Chris Moore's second v Shrewsbury Town
Kirk Jackson's second v Arlesey Town
Tony Scully v Leyton Orient
Best: 1,948 v Stevenage Borough
Worst: 984 v Tamworth
Average: 1,442 (2002/03 1,599)
Worst refereeing performances:
K.Woolmer (H v Aldershot Town)
R.Vaughan (A v Farnborough Town)