The club’s brilliant reputation for signing rough non-league diamonds and making them better is a huge part in our success, yet also the biggest downfall.
Over the years the likes of Craig Mackail-Smith, Sam Saunders, Paul Benson, Romain Vincelot and Danny Green have all left the Daggers for clubs in the higher echelons of the Football League.
Take last season for example, the clubs highest ever League finish of 21st in League One, one point away from safety. This wouldn’t have been achieved without a squad effort, but yet again it was a couple of the rough diamonds who shined when given the chance to play at a higher level.
Danny Green and Romain Vincelot were pivotal performers in giving us hope of survival against the pundit’s predictions. Scoring 23 goals between them in a side battling against relegation is likely to attract many potential suitors, and it did. From the start of next season they will both be plying their trade in the Championship, Green having been one of the mainstays in a Charlton side that has finished with 101 points in League One. Add to these two the sale of prolific striker Paul Benson (who incidentally this season has done wonders for League 2 winners Swindon) leaves me wondering if Dagenham weren’t a ‘small, selling club’ where it would actually be.
However, and this is the most crucial part-the special nature of the club would not be the same if we had 10,000 supporters through the gates every game like the Swindon’s and Bradford’s of this world. The family atmosphere that a Dagenham and Redbridge home game provides for home supporters and neutrals alike is something I have not come across elsewhere in the Football League. Of course having a relatively small fanbase means the club simply can’t compete on wages even with the so-called bigger clubs in League 2.
So, when players eventually do move on to bigger and better things no one is surprised and no one begrudges them the move. The reality is without a clause written into their contract allowing them to move on if the opportunity arises the fans may not have seen them bring the club established Football League status.
We are Dagenham, and we know that John Still and co. will be working their socks off to find the next group of Dagenham diamonds to develop give the club success on the pitch and then sell on for profit.
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