Dagenham & Redbridge
Since winning promotion from the Football Conference at the close of the 2006-7 season, Dagenham and Redbridge have established themselves as a consistent League Two footballing side.
Formation and Early Years
Dagenham and Redbridge came into existence in 1992, following the merge between Dagenham and Redbridge Forest Football Clubs. Despite having a relatively short official history, the club which is now known as Dagenham and Redbridge has roots which can be traced back to 1881, as various amateur teams such as Ilford, Dagenham and Leytonstone, have combined to form the present side.
After their official formation, Dagenham and Redbridge replaced Redbridge Forest in the Conference League. They finished third in their first season. John Still, the previous Redbridge Forest captain, adopted the responsibility of managing the newly formed team.
The club’s first season saw them reach the first round proper of the FA cup, after one of the most exciting matches ever seen at their ground. They also succeeded in reaching the semi-finals of the League Cup, and seven of their players were picked to appear in the England semi-professional side. For such a newly formed side, these were great achievements and they hinted at the impressive potential present at the club.
The club’s second season saw them achieve one of the highest victories in Conference away matches, with an 8-1 victory over Woking. Their success seemed to be faltering, though, and with the departure of John Still and the revelation of a trustee taking half a million pounds of club money, the team failed to live up to expectations. The 1995-6 season saw them struggle to finish 15th in the GM Vauxhall Conference, and they also suffered defeat in the semi-final of the League Cup.
The club’s fortunes appeared to be taking a turn for the worse, and the following year, Dagenham and Redbridge fought to avoid relegation. Sitting 22nd in the League, the club turned to Ted Hardy, one of the greatest semi-professional players, to manage and rescue the side. Hardy failed to achieve his aim and at the end of the season, they dropped into the Isthmian League.
Ted Hardy faced a huge challenge to re-build the side, but he was willing to take on the task, and led his team to the final of the FA Umbro Cup at Wembley. The team put on a brave performance against Woking, especially as they played with only ten men for half the match. Unfortunately, though, extra time saw them beaten 1-0. However, the team managed to finish fourth in the League and reached the first round proper of the FA Cup for the second time.
The 1997-8 season saw Dagenham and Redbridge reach the FA Cup second round proper for the first time in their history. However, they failed to progress after being beaten by Peterborough. The club also achieved their first cup victory since their formation, winning the Essex Senior Cup. However, disappointing performances followed and any dreams of promotion were dashed.
Ted Hardy resigned in 1999 having successfully raised the standard of the club, leaving them in the promising position of third in the Ryman League. He left after a season which saw the team play fourteen games unbeaten. They also set a League record, by playing 1144 minutes of football without conceding a goal.
Garry Hill took over as manager at the end of 1999, with the challenge of securing promotion. Building on Ted Hardy’s success, Hill led the team to a successful season. Indeed, the 1999-2000 season turned out to be the best the club had ever seen. Consistently remaining at the top of the table throughout the season, they emerged League Champions. With a record 97 goals and 101 points, the club triumphantly returned to the Conference League.
The team proved that they had deserved this success as they won the Ryman Charity Shield. They also reached the third round of the FA Cup, where they came very close to beating Premiership Club, Charlton Athletic. With a third place finish in the Conference League giving the team a vital boost at the end of the season, it appeared things were getting back on track for Dagenham and Redbridge.
The 2001-2 season began promisingly, as the team went undefeated in their first eight matches, reaching the top of the leader board for the first time. The season also saw them beat Canvey in the Essex Senior Cup Final, and reach the third round of the FA Cup, where they disappointingly lost to Ipswich. Promotion hopes were also on the horizon as the Conference League came down to a competition between two teams. Yet again, though, the team’s dreams were not realised, as they narrowly missed out on the championship on goal difference.
Further disappointment followed in 2002, as they were beaten to the title by Boston. Allegations later emerged that Boston were making illegal payments to players, but Dagenham and Redbridge failed to successfully challenge Boston’s right to be champions.
2002-3 brought more heartbreak, as the team missed out on promotion once again, after a successful start to the season led to a steady run of defeats. The FA Cup provided the club with a brief opportunity to shine, as they reached the fourth round, where they famously drew against First Division side, Norwich City. This achievement gave them the strength to battle on and they started a winning streak, which saw them rise from 15th to 5th place. This run of form allowed the team to qualify for the promotion play-offs. However, they lost against Doncaster Rovers in the final, after extra time, and were destined to remain in the Conference League for another year.
2003 saw a change in the squad, as Garry Hill introduced new blood to the team. With the departure of eight players, and the introduction of seven new ones, the club strived for promotion. However, the constant team reshuffling did not have the desired effect and the team was unable to perform adequately. Furthermore, allegations were made against Hill concerning racist comments. Although such claims were never substantiated, they added to the instability at the club, and top scorer Mark Stein quit the team.
The team continued to drastically decline, as they failed to qualify for the FA Cup and suffered the biggest defeat in the Conference League, after a 0-9 loss to Hereford at home. This defeat was even more humiliating due to Sky’s live coverage of the game. It was not surprising that Hill’s resignation swiftly followed, leaving the team to finish 13th in the League.
The club’s first manager, John Still, replaced Hill and began to re-build the club. It seemed as if things were starting to improve, as the team qualified for the FA Cup in the last minute of their game against Crawley. The combination of new talent and experienced players appeared to be working, and the team were on the verge of finding a winning formula. They finished the season in 11th position, after a run of seven games undefeated. This was a significant achievement, given that many of the players were only in their early twenties. Still also succeeded in making the whole squad full time by the end of the season.
The 2006-7 season saw Dagenham and Redbridge make club history. After battling with Oxford United for the top table position, the club secured promotion to the Football League on the 7th of April.
Their first match in the Football League saw them defeated by Stockport County. However, it was not long before the club started to perform well, beating Lincoln City at home a few games later. Their first away victory followed soon after at Mansfield Town. Impressively, the club also reached the southern section quarter-finals of the Football League Trophy. All this was achieved despite the departure of key players such as Craig Mackail Smith and Shane Blackett, who was sold to Peterborough United for £250,000, a record for the club.
The club experienced continued success. They beat Aldershot Town in April 2007, in front of a new league record crowd (4,044), to win the Nationwide Conference title with five games left to play. The title secured them promotion to Football League Two, a magnificent achievement for the side.
London Borough of Barking & Dagenham Stadium
Tel: +44(0)208 592 1549
Fax: +44(0)208 593 7227
DaggersLine: 0930 555 840 (UK only)
How to get there
By Road: Take the Dagenham East Exit from the A13. Go over the railway bridge and turn left at the lights onto the A1306 Westbound. When you reach the double set of traffic lights turn right at the second set onto Ballards Road.
Stay on the left and continue until you come to a large roundabout with The Bull pub on the left hand side and an Esso garage opposite. Take the first exit onto Rainham Road South. Continue until you go over a bridge, Dagenham East Tube Station will be on your left, and after about 500m turn left into Victoria Road.
By Train: From Fenchurch Street to Barking Station.
Walk across platform and take Eastbound tube to Dagenham East.
By Tube: Take the District Line to Dagenham East.
Exit left out of the station and Victoria Road will be on your left after about 500m.
Further information on Dagenham and Redbridge Football Club including ticket information and upcoming matches can be found at http://www.daggers.co.uk.