The end of the season not only heralds a much needed rest for players after a long, tiresome season, for some it can be the end of their spell at the club as the retained players list is publicised, inevitably leading to some missing the cut for the next season.
Sometimes managers have to put sentiment aside and be ruthless with their decision-making due to budgetary constraints and other factors. This is what John Still has had to do in the Daggers case, releasing a host of players including four from that iconic day at Wembley that capped a meteoric rise to League One.
The first, most significant departure is club captain Mark Arber. Joining Dagenham initially on loan, he has become a stalwart of the team in recent years. His experience initially in the good times through the eventual successful play off campaign was priceless. At the same time, other qualities, particularly the past two seasons where the team has been struggling in the league have been equally as beneficial, especially when you consider the youthful nature and the chopping and changing to the team in the previous campaign. Whilst the reasons for his departure are understandable, a vital cog of experience in the team will no doubt leave a void.
Another fans favourite Jon Nurse also seems to be on his way out of the club for good. The Barbados International has been pivotal in the past few years, playing his way into the team and clearly becoming synonymous with the starting line up when fit. Another dose of experience in a very youthful team whose loss could be detrimental come August. Without doubt the highlight of his tenure at Dagenham was his goal at Wembley to see the Daggers over the line against Rotherham.
Peter Gain, a third source of experience has gone. Showing the spirit that epitomises what the fans want to see, Gain has struggled with a horrendous run of injuries this year, so perhaps his departure is less surprising than Arber and Nurse. Nevertheless his performances have been one of the most consistent for the club since I’ve been an avid spectator.
The fourth player making way and by far the youngest is Damien McCrory. Technically more able than your average League 2 player, I believe he will find no problem in attracting potential suitors of his services at this level of the game. I am disappointed to see him go, but maybe a fresh start is something he needs.
Since the news broke of these players, John Still has said he is ‘not 100% sure’ that all are leaving the club. Make of that what you wish, but until anyone hears otherwise we must assume they are gone for good. Good luck for the future lads.
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