Dagenham & Redbridge defeated fellow promotion rivals Forest Green 2-1 in a fiercely contested battle on Saturday – and the good news continued with the announcement that their trusty manager John Still has committed to his future for the next two seasons.
Still put pen to paper at half time in front of the main stand. At first many of the supporters did not notice but once they realised the signing was being made, they greeted it warmly. It capped what has been an important week for the club.
Following a few disappointing performances in the Vanarama National League, things are beginning to look promising once again for the promotion-chasing Daggers. With Still signing on the dotted line, the club are in a healthy position to move forward.
After pledging for two more seasons in charge at the Chigwell Construction Stadium and defeating Forest Green, Still lauded his players’ efforts during what has been a difficult season.
“The group of players have far exceeded what I thought was possible this year. Seriously, they really deserve every credit because they’ve overcome so many obstacles during the course of the season,” Still told Rising East.
“Overcoming unbelievable amount of injuries, disappointment with results, referee decisions, you name it and they’ve bounced back every time – that in itself is a commodity which sometimes you can be short of but we’re not short of it!”
On Saturday, Still’s men endured another eventful ride as they snatched a late winner thanks to the skipper, Scott Doe. The goal was enough to take the club into second place as Forest Green fell to third following the loss.
It was a tough battle but ultimately, Still believes his side were worthy winners: “We’ve had a couple of games at home where we haven’t played particularly well; sometimes our players are out of form but if you’re a good player you get the form back.
“It was a big game today obviously, as both teams are at the top and we’ve just edged it in the end. [Forest Green] are a good side but I think we deserved to win the game overall.”
Over the course of this eventful season, the Daggers hopeful have watched their club fall and rise amid unpredictable fixtures in a highly competitive league. Despite the heartbreak or elation a Saturday may bring, Still doesn’t get too drawn into the emotions, despite another edgy affair on Saturday:
“I’ve done this job for so long I don’t get too high or too low; they’ve scored, ok, let’s keep working and keep playing and if we do enough we’ll get another chance to score and we did.
“It’s football, I’m used to the rollercoaster of highs and lows in football. I get enjoyment from winning and disappointment from losing, excitement from scoring and disappointment from conceding, but I get over it quick.”
For Still, on a personal note, Dagenham is a club where he has spent many years managing. He is currently in his second stint at the club and with a bright future ahead, the boss is delighted to continue being a vital part of club’s progression in the coming seasons.
“This is a club that I hold close to me. We’ve struggled all season in terms of [confirmaion of the ownership] but we now know – that should be ratified soon.
“So, after talks with the club, we thought that this group is growing, speaking to players and staff as well, and in the end, we decided that this would be the right thing for the football club. Is it the right thing for me? If it’s the right thing for the football club, then it’s the right thing for me.”
With the club’s future now in more stable hands, it is now time to focus on the present with the team well within reach of an all-important promotion spot. Still’s words were full of confidence when speaking about the team’s chances,
“Wherever you are in the league, if you can still mathematically do it, then you’ve got a chance.
“This is football, you don’t know what’s going to happen; we can only work as hard as we can and wherever we end up, the best team will win the league, second will finish second and so on. So we’re going to try our hardest to be the best team.”
With 10 vital fixtures left for the Daggers, Saturday’s win could provide a platform for the club to build on as they continue to grow and learn from previous mistakes.
With their experienced manager confidently committing to the cause, the young Daggers will be given the optimal opportunity to develop and perform.
However, the league is still far from over and it’s a formidable challenger up next in the form of Barrow away in Cumbria.