Sunday, 21 November 2010

Cider, Pasties and Points on the Road!!

 Saturday 13th of November – Yeovil Town - Away
Words by JerkFromTheCoach

Another weekend, another game of football to report/retort on. The 13th November saw a bright and early start for a trip to the West Country to see us tackle our former non-league colleagues Yeovil Town. First off, I’d like to say that such a small club similar in stature to our own should be commended for not only holding their own in League One (as we are struggling, we know how hard this is) but for also pushing the boundary a couple of seasons back by reaching the play off final and being a game away from becoming a Championship team.

However, currently things aren’t all pastry-wrapped potato snacks and cider for Yeovil Town at present, as they struggle currently at the wrong end of the table with ourselves. This match was a real 6 pointer, had we have come away with yet another away defeat we’d have been in serious trouble. It’s no longer early days, and time is getting on for both clubs. Yeovil went into the game three points ahead of ourselves and around one million and seventeen points ahead of Walsall, whom we seem to be bouncing up and down on in 23rd like a fat man wearing a rubber ring rolling down a hill.

After a brief whipping by the boys in blue (who were horrified to find out I was legal to drive the vehicle of choice to Yeovil) my journey to meet the fellow travellers for the day (Paul, Dave, and Chelsey…or Chelsea….I don’t actually know the correct spelling) began. Around 9:15 we were all in place and ready for the drive which I for some reason thought was going to take longer than it did. To say the journey didn’t have its strange events would be a lie. By around quarter to ten we had reached the bridge at Dartford, and the traffic was for once free flowing. After paying the usual £1.50 at the toll booth and pressing on just as we were almost approaching the national speed limit section (can anyone give me a good reason why it isn’t immediately 70mph after the crossing?) a dog decided it would play a deadly game of chicken (what game do chickens play in the road?) with us. I swerved to avoid at 60mph, and fortunately I can at least say I didn’t drop the scythe upon its life, and I didn’t see in the rear view mirror anybody else strike it either – so fingers crossed his gamble paid off, and he made it to wherever he was going in good time – obviously it was very important, maybe a dog meeting, or some sort of job interview for a biscuit company. Shook up a little, I ploughed on toward Yeovil.

I don’t recall any further incident en route, no traffic jams, no suicidal dogs – nothing. And we made it there by a very healthy 12pm – even before some of the stewards. I had made a gross miscalculation on the time, so I left the others to drink (responsible driver ahoy) and went to visit a friend I have who lives just behind the ground, and managed to persuade him to come along and boost our numbers for the day (cheers Kato!).

As we were bringing a small number, we were informed that the terrace would not be open to us and that we’d have to sit in the Carrot Cruncher Stand with the rednecks. I suppose this helped with the acoustics a little – not that you’d have known we were there when watching back the highlights, as when the goals went in barely a peep could be heard from us. Open terraces are fine too, providing it isn’t raining, and whilst no rain was predicted, the sky did look a bit threatening.

I have to admit to feeling optimistic all day about getting out first away win under our belts, and in the end it transpired that my optimism was well founded. Thankfully, the ominous ‘Gillingham syndrome’ has now been avoided, though sadly the same can also be said for Leyton Orient who also chalked up a win on their travels for the first time this season at Bristol Rovers. We are still putting in the fight, and it was a superb place to get our first win on the road – just what the doctor ordered. What bothers me is that we look a little shaky at the back this season. After taking the lead through Will Antwi (good to see him back in the picture after a lengthy lay off) we managed to hold on until the very end of the first half when our defence was opened up and they got an equaliser through????????????. Mood around the away section of the Carrot Cruncher Stand was a little deflated in the interval, as can be expected. We’d looked a bit like the proverbial dog in the headlights toward the end of the first half leading up to their goal, and clearly Yeovil were experiencing the upper hand. We’d even managed to lose our drum after the drumstick broke, and was turned into a pink gloved homosexual (am I allowed to say that?) sex toy. So off I trotted in seek of the burger talent. I did not find one. Choice seemed limited to Hot Dogs and Pasties. The pasty, I can say at least, was top class.

(FMD - At this point i was sitting indoors with a beer and with only one hand's worth of fingernails left. Giving away an equaliser so close to half time had left me more than a little worried. So i cracked open another beer and listened on, for the next 20 minutes i had the displeasure of  having the Yeovil onslaught on our goal described to me kick by kick, via the Daggers Player.)

Onward to the second half. A fairly even start lead to a bright twenty minutes or so of Yeovil attacking. Good for the home fans – a little tense for us looking on from the far corner. After loanee Medy Elito was brought on however, business picked up, and Yeovil were made to pay for their strikers missing a number of very good chances – though all credit goes to Chris Lewington, who despite playing out of his skin I hear received a rating in the newspaper of ‘5’ which I consider an insult, when he threaded a neat ball through to Abu Ogogo who kept his composure to strike it past the Yeovil stopper, who bizarrely went the wrong way.

(FMD - As this happened I jumped out of my seat, ripped my headphones out of my ear threw them across the room, screaming "f*cking get in you dirty bastard!" (the ball, not Abu) then punched the armchair. needless to say I was happy. then i took this pic)

Beautiful, ain't it!

The Yeovil head’s dropped, a number of their fans left the ground or were leaving when Medy Elito ran through to make it 3-1 close to the end, striking the hammer blow to any chance they had of coming back. A superb debut performance from the lad, he looks to be a talent wasted on Colchester who cannot even recognise (yeah, I know it is early days in his spell here and he could prove me wrong) his obvious skills and ability to run with the ball, and move into space. A very warm welcome to him based on that performance. When the ref blew up, seemingly most Yeovil fans had already gone. I know how they are feeling this season, it can be soul destroying to see your side sat at the bottom – but I hope that both of us manage to avoid the drop and continue to fly the flag for the smaller traditionally non-league clubs in the dizzy heights of League One. 


So we’d done it, a win on the road. Let’s hope we can push on from this and get a few results together in the league now and maybe climb out of the bottom four.



Next - Orient cup replay, a definite game of two halve!

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Orient, Beer and a Damn Good Sandwich!

So the night before the replay, I’ve decided to write up the first match. Sorry for the spoiler there.

Saturday 6th November - Leyton Orient - Fa Cup 1st Round (home)

Now I can’t actually remember what I did between waking up and leaving the front door, which is probably why I should have written this sooner! But I imagine I had a cup of tea as well as the normal early morning bathroom routine that males like myself go through, you know what I mean, a mixture of foul noises, foul smells and bad breath.

So with Daggers shirt on and a nice knew pair of combats (yes, the same combats MrsMetalDagger bought for me when I was watching us play MK dons!) We left to make our way to The Bell, which the landlord had most graciously agreed to open a bit early so we could really get our drinking on before this local derby cup tie. We got on the bus outside ripple cemetery and it whisked us towards Rainham. We got off at Tesco's so I could line my stomach with half of a (very tasty) Tesco own brand Chicken and bacon club sandwich. Which has become my pre pub sandwich of choice. So the Tesco "Chicken & Bacon Club Sandwich" has the FMD seal of approval. And if you are like me and appreciate a good sarnie why not become a fan of it here


So we walked from Tesco to The Bell, munching our T.C.B.C.S, at the pub drinking very much started and we watched spurs getting a bit of a pasting on the telly. The mood in our group was a very tentative one; having beaten the O's last time they came to our gaff the idea of them being able to get a measure of revenge against us wasn't very appealing. Our form had dipped a little since the last meeting and we were coming fresh off of being hammered into the very well kept pitch at St Marys. But on the other hand, if we knocked them out it would be very sweet.

More alcohol was consumed and much merriment was had, but time and team wait for no man so to the bus top we went! The short bus ride from the Bell to Vicky road is just long enough to get ourselves ready with a bit of singing but not so long the driver gets sick of the loud drunks at the back of the bus!

We got off the bus and made our way to the turnstiles, a big turnout was expected and the Bury road turnstiles had been opened to ease getting everyone onto the terraces. Making our way into the ground, I could see already it was pretty packed; we made a beeline for the middle of the sieve and parked up with the familiar smell of fried onions and burgers floating from over my shoulder. A minute later Nikos and Gem showed up and it was time for kickoff. Just as the game started I noticed that there was a group of maybe four Orient fans right next to me in colours and everything. So when a chant of  “ORIENT, WANK WANK WANK, ORIENT, WANK WANK WANK!" went up I was amused by their disapproving faces. If you don’t want to hear our banter, go in your own end, simple!

With the match underway the atmosphere was good, much singing was done and I think the fun attitude from the Southampton game had come back with us. Today the sieve wanted to sing.  Looking at the pitch there had been some changes since we last saw our beloved Daggers Abu Ogogo was back from injury as was "The Biggest Willie in the League" Will Antwi, Johnny Nurse was being given a go up front, Chris Lewington was back inbetween the sticks covering for the Injured Robbo and Liverpool loanee Victor Palsson made his debut.

Lewington was called into action almost immediately when Alex Revell had a shot from the edge of the box which Lewo kept out. Orient came out of the traps looking for a win and Revell had a couple of good shots. Taiwo nearly put us in the brown stuff when his errant back pass had to be cleared out by Lewington, my nerves were starting to shake a little, But slowly Dagenham warmed up, Vincelot had a header saved (Orient are sick of those going in I think) and Danny Green floated in a free kick from the edge of the box that Bas Savage nearly managed to head into goal only for it to flash wide of the far post. A little later a lovely bit of holding plus a well placed high ball from Savage set McCrory free, whose shot skimmed the crossbar as it went over.

Although a scrappy game both sides had had some pretty close chances and bar a couple of hairy moments I was quite happy with 0-0 as it approached half time. So when a deflected ball found Revell in the box, which he deftly put through Lewington's legs to score, 1-0 on 45 minutes! I have to admit my heart sank a little. What didn't help was the Orient fans next to me started cheering and jumping up and down!

Well it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that football is a passionate sport and acting like that in the home end might rub people up the wrong way, and it did. I saw some shirt Pulling, incoherent shouting and people stated pointing for them to be (quite rightly) ejected for being in the wrong end. But then something happened, we were given a free kick within seconds of the restart, everyone stopped looking at the interlopers and instead looked at Danny Green who was now standing over the ball in front of the left corner of the Orient box. He ran in and kicked the ball which curled onto the post hit the goal keeper and went in! 1-1 at 45 (+2) minutes!! And the sieve went nuts!! But in the middle a large circle had formed around the misplaced Orient fans as everyone in the vicinity pointed and screamed "who are ya! Who are ya!" right in their faces. Well this didn’t sit well With one or two of the O's scouting party, who started to kick off a little bit and I’m pretty sure I caught a swing from someone, because I had a sore chin for the rest of the game. The police came in and removed 2 people and we sung them our goodbyes. Left in the sieve was one lone young Orient fan dressed head to toe in O's colours and very much sticking out. It's safe to say I didn’t envy him!

Somewhere in all of that action the half time whistle blew and now we were feeling slightly more confident and the small incident in the sieve had fired us up somewhat. It has to be said, I was enjoying myself!
The teams came out and got in position for the second half, with the whistle blown both teams picked up where they had started off. O's keeper Lee Butcher made a fine save when a ball flicked on by Savage was met By Romains toe. Alex Revell carried on leading the Orient charge as he fired just wide and then got passed a slipping Arber to put in a low ball which Dean Cox couldn't convert into the certain goal it looked to be when somehow Lewo saved it with his foot. The atmosphere was still buzzing in the Sieve and songs were flowing freely as we willed the team onto victory and we thought it had worked when Romain Vincelot tried reproduce his awesome goal against Burton last season firing from twenty yards out only for it to fly over the cross bar by about an inch! Revell again had a chance to finish the game off in the 89th minute when a corner flew over the box too his feet for him to shoot it straight at the post for it then to be cleared away. Before we knew it the Ref blew the final whistle and it was official, 90 minutes wasn't enough to decide this epic battle! So another 90 minutes at Brisbane road is the desert of our football feast!


So all in all not too bad a result and although our away form at the time had me worried about the replay, our result against Yeovil last Saturday (sorry more spoilers) has given me (and many in the Red and Blue army) a little injection of confidence. And with an away tie against non-league Droylsden our prize, it would be great to finish the job at the housing estate Orient call home.




Next - Jerk tells us why he and I have to shave off our beards, its Yeovil away!

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Random Rant - Jerk Vs Armchair fans and Pundits

Words by JerkFromTheCoach - Stupid Pics by FullMetalDagger

As a supporter of a team unlikely ever to grace the summit of our domestic league system, I often wonder quite what the fair-weather fans (don’t read ‘supporter’, as these leeches do not support and have little knowledge of our game and do little to ‘support’ anything) think happens below Premiership level – or if indeed, they believe anything lesser than 30,000+ all seater, £5 for a burger, £40 a ticket even exists at all.

Watching the TV Highlights of the FA Cup First Round games last weekend on ITV, it struck me that the knowledge about lower league teams and non-league teams, even of former players-turned-pundits (Andy Townsend on this occasion) is astoundingly minute. In fact, their eyes appear to ski down their nose to peer upon the likes of us, and they seem amazed that anyone from the second level down can strike a ball.

Commenting from upon an ivory tower?

There is good reason I watch little domestic English football on TV thesedays. The main part of my reasoning is to do with pundits and commentators. I go to pretty much every game that my team plays, both home and away. What I do not need, is to sit down at home and watch an overweight, overpaid, and over-hyped TV ‘personality’ replaying an incident back five or six times to me, informing me that a tackle was bad, or that a ball should have been played here, there, or anywhere else – simply put – I already know. It removes every shred of enjoyment from watching football on TV. Now, to my mind, the blame for having to suffer eavesdropping a load of idiots talking about last nights game, or how ‘they’ won, can be laid squarely at the feet of these moron pundits. Rather than educate people about the game, leaving people to make their own minds up about incidents, having people learn in their own time how the game is played, they elect to tell people that ‘this is how it is done, do not do it any other way’ and leave it at that. Someone just starting to watch the game then ends up knowing a tackle is bad, a ball should have been played here or there – but lacking the knowledge of why. These same people, most of whom never step foot inside ‘their’ teams ground at any point before they perish, then look down their noses at the likes of me for supporting my team, in the same manner as these pundits look down their noses at our club.

it has two meanings!!!!

Wise cracks on TV about “tickets still being available” for an upcoming minor league fixture followed by sniggering on air does none of us any favours at all. Its likely, there are plenty of spaces available for these games, quite why that is humorous however, I don’t understand. These are the types of games where the Premiership superstars of the future should be born – rather than Africa, South America, Eastern Europe and etc. And yet the average fan wonders why our national team is all about mega hype, mega bucks, and very little by the way of end product.

The entertainment value at these smaller clubs, and local leagues as well as the lowest couple of divisions in the football league is unmatched by football at a higher level, its pretty much a given that on four out of five weekends that the top four or five clubs aren’t playing each other they are going to win – and that’s exciting, is it? Give me a last game of the season defeat to Shrewsbury to drop out of the play offs followed by a season culminating in a Wembley play off final win against Rotherham attended by The Chuckle Brothers any day of the week. Furthermore, I’ll forever be able to say that I was there, rather than that I was sat on a sofa watching my teams greatest achievement.

And I don’t even have to listen to Andy Gray.



FMD - i had a spare stupid pic, soooooo enjoy?


Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Football and a Family Reunion

So I finally managed to pull myself away from Football Manager 2011 for a few hours to get this done. I was looking forward to the trip to Southampton not only for one of the biggest away days of the season but also because I was staying with one of my cousins and getting to see some family I hadn't seen since I was about half the size of Matt Ritchie.

I awoke that Sunday with the weight of the disappointment of the Hartlepool game, alcohol and a kebab pizza on my mind and stomach. I had decided to give myself two hours to get to Victoria coach station for the 12:30 coach to Southampton. So I dragged myself up and packed the final bits I needed into my bag and left. Being a Sunday, and Sunday being in a weekend, meant that the tube was playing silly buggers again. So rather than sitting on the District line and taking a nice ride from Upney to Victoria, I had to go a little bit round the houses. First it was 1 stop on the District line from Upney to Barking, Then onto the rather packed c2c from Barking to West Ham then the Jubilee line to Green Park and finally one stop on the Victoria line to Victoria Station. Despite the roundabout route I actually made pretty good time, and once I had walked to Victoria coach station I found myself with just under an hour to kill. After a Spicy Tendercrisp and a little walk around it was time to get on the coach.

Pink eyes of the tired and hungover!

After exhausting my laptop battery using the coaches’ onboard wifi, I put my iPod on, rested my head on my rolled up hoodie and slowly fell asleep to the sounds of Deftones "Around the Fur". I awoke as we pulled into Southampton University and what was quite a packed coach suddenly emptied leaving me and about 10 other people to travel the last 15 minutes to Southampton coach station. I rang everyone back home and rang ahead to my cousins to let them know I was near before I ducked back into the safety of my iPod and watched the scenery go by listening to various loud shouty tunes.


Down at the beach

The coach dropped us off at the surprisingly small coach station, which consisted of a small coach park and a hut with toilets and a ticket office. My uncle picked me up and took me to my Cousin Jessica's flat. Later that night my other cousin James, my uncle and his Girlfriend came over for dinner and we spent the night getting reacquainted and a little bit pissed. The next day we went out to the beach in my uncle’s camper and we walked the dogs and I took in the views of the beach and beyond.

Looking out over the beach from the camper

But you didn't click on any links to read about my family reunion now did ya?

Tuesday 2nd November - Southampton - Away

I woke up on my very comfy double airbed to an empty flat, my cousin being the high-flying executive type had to call me to say she couldn't make our lunch plans. So at a loose end I got down to writing up the diary entry for the Hartlepool game. That done I had time to kill so sat down and watched some of the classic kids TV game show "Knightmare". Later my other Cousin James came over with some beer and we chewed the fat. I had been in contact with Jerk all day and he was headed to where I was staying to park his car. He arrived with a couple of hours to spare before the game. We called a cab and made our way to St Mary's. As soon as we got across the itchin bridge I could see the stadium lit up. We pulled up outside and I have to say it did look like an impressive stadium, the lights outside blinking in the night. After Jerk bought himself a ticket we headed for the turnstiles.



I pulled out my ticket from its home for the past week in my wallet and entered. Inside it wasn't as welcoming inside as out, the concourse was all breezeblock and concrete but that is pretty standard. What was welcoming was the smell of hot food and the thought of beer. Jerk( in his own personal tradition) went for a burger, which was a sorry object, especially when compared to the fine burgers at Vicky road and the three rings of onion squashed into the bun did nothing to help its case. I opted for a hotdog and a lager and then later on the recommendation of Mr Jerk (who like me was counting this culinary treat as dinner) I decided to sample the beef madras pasty and it was very tasty!

a sorry meat biscuit

Fed and watered we headed for the stairs leading up to the away end. Today we had been given a corner in the Northam stand and our mob squeezed into one block quite easily. It started to circulate around the crowd that Robbo had been sidelined with an injury in warm up and Chris Lewington was gonna be between the sticks. Now I am a bit fan of Lewington but I had to feel for him, to get his league debut in an away match to one of the biggest teams in this league must have been nerve wracking!


After a minutes silence the match got underway and it took 11 minutes for the Saints to do what we were all so sure they would, Alex Chamberlain ran down the right wing and crossed in a ball that went straight over Lewington’s head and into the net! 1-0 to the Saints. Despite this our crowd sang our hearts out, it seemed we were never silent. A few minutes after their first goal the young Chamberlain put another ball into the box which was headed only just wide of the mark by Adam Lallana. This bombardment woke up our boys in green somewhat and they knuckled down and tried to push for an attack with Gavin Tomlin coming very close with a shot from the left edge of the box.

For the moment, when we had the ball, it didn't seem there was so much of a gulf between the teams. Sadly whenever Saints had possession they showed they intended to use it to full effect. But after missing a few they certainly could have put in Southampton’s young winger Chamberlain scored with almost a carbon copy of the first goal as he put in a long lob from outside the box and this time I think he meant it. 2-0. Despite the score the Red and Blue (and green and black) army we're singing for all we were worth and showing the relatively quiet saints fans how it was done. Don't get me wrong, when Southampton had a ball in a good position an almighty roar filled the air, but then again it's easy to sing when you're 2-0 to the good! The whistle went for half time and as I headed to get a beer I wasn't as down as I probably should have been, despite the score I was having a good time and really enjoying being part of this small group of loud football fans, who were going down singing!


A beer later we filed back to our seats, which I have to say (with all credit to the stewards) I had not once been told to sit in and had stood happily singing and jumping about all game! The game continued much like it had before, we had little chances and made the most of what we could get, but Saints showed what a big budget team like them in this league can do. Within 10 minutes of the restart Lallana burned down the left skipped past Ifil and passed a low ball for Lee Barnard to tap in. 3-0 to Southampton. But still we sang, good banter was had with the home crowd and a few timed we were applauded, I don’t know if it was genuine respect or sympathy but it was nice to be acknowledged for doing more than sitting there miserably watching us lose.

At some point during all this I had noticed some commotion below me towards the front of the stand as everyone was now pointing at a man in a blue striped top asking "who the fucking hell are you!" very soon it became apparent he was a home fan who had crept into the away end, I don’t know how he was sussed but as soon as he was he crept out again. A minute later he was spotted no more than 20 feet away from where he had been sitting with us, but in the home end, well this didn't sit kindly with us! So after a lengthy chant of "chuck him out!" and some explaining to the nearby stewards we got to cheer and sing our farewells to the double agent as he was lead by stewards from the stand.

 By now I think most of us were keeping only half an eye on the game as the result was now clear the only thing to be decided was the score. The fourth and final goal came at about 70 minutes when once again that man Chamberlain whipped in a ball that was headed into the net by Jose Fonte. 4-0 but we didn't seem to care so much at that point. One thing that we did care about was when Scott Doe went down from a heavy challenge from Lambert and had to be taken off to be replaced by Phil Walsh. But still like the band on the Titanic we were going down playing, well, singing. And as we cheered goals that never happened and kept ourselves amused the game ran its course with the only bright spot being a free kick from Danny Green that came so close we thought we had scored. We left just before the whistle to see if we could get a cab, which turned out to be a useless idea as a bad couldn't get down to St Marys until the police opened the roads again. So outside we chatted with our fellow daggers as they boarded the coaches back home.


With a little time to kill we went and stood by the team coach and chatted with the various staff about and showed our support to the players as they exited the stadium. After we waved the Boys off us ordered our cab home. Once back at my cousins Jerk got back into his car and made for London as I chatted with my cousins and then put myself to bed watching "Mystery Science Theatre 3000" on my laptop.

So overall a pretty shit day? A night to forget? Well that's the weird thing. I actually had a brilliant time! And it's mainly down to my fellow Daggers, the singing, chanting and general good humour honestly made the night one I shall remember. I mean if the Saints chants of "you'll never play here again" are to become true, at least I can say I was part of the crowd that out sung nearly 20,000 Saints fans on the night we went down by four goals. I came away from the Hartlepool game in a much worse mood than this game and we got a point from that! Maybe sometimes going into the unwinnable battle with our heads held high and a song in our heart is the best kind of local pride.

So once again I say "Chin up boys!" and "up the Daggers"

Because we are the Red and Blue army!


P.S - Here's a vid of the Daggers crowd at ST Marys doing us proud. As a bonus Danny Greens near miss is at the end of the vid.

Next - Booze, Goals, the FA Cup, local rivals and a bust up in the sieve!? Orient come to Vicky road!

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Well, At Least we ain’t Bottom!

I woke up hung-over from the night before, well I say the night, I mean the morning before. After going for dinner and drinks to celebrate MrsMetalDagger’s grandmothers 90th birthday, I had found myself wanting to continue the festivities or more importantly the drinking! So as anyone who is my friend on FaceBook can testify, I sat up drinking Jagermeister and coke, listening to loads of awesome music on my laptop whilst talking bollocks to anyone who happened to be up as late as me! So when 9am rolled round, I was a little bit... errr ...shaky! I slid out of bed like some kind of spineless sloth and dragged on some clothes.

Saturday 30th October - Hartlepool - Home

Once downstairs I decided having food now was a bad idea and could only lead to the same said food meeting the deep pile carpet in the front room. So a large bucket of tea would be my breakfast. I switched SoccerAM on, Dave Goreman was on (all of his shows have been awesome, the astrology one not so much) Tea drank, highbrow sports reporting watched, I was ready to leave. Me and the Missus walked up the hill and straight past Upney tube station. Today’s plan was to meet Jerk' and a few others in the pub, so to the bus stop we went. At the bus top my stomach felt decidedly gurgley and I knew I was gonna need some food to settle it. I was half way through that thought when head looked over from the other side of the cemetery wall and said something, it sounded like "I like your shirt" but I thought I’d make sure, The Cemetery man repeated himself "I like your blog!" and the penny dropped it was then I noticed the Daggers badge on his chest. I thanked him and he went about his day. A minute later he came back (this time on the same side of the wall) and asked us if we were going to the stadium now and did we want a lift. I explained we were pubward bound but thanked him anyway. So Chris if you read this, Thank you very much for your kind offers!

Just after Jerk' rang my phone and told us that he was 2 stops further up the route on the other side of the roundabout, and also enquired as to what was taking our bus so long. Another 5 minutes passed, in the distance I could see the 287 peeking over the horizon. We got on the bus and 2 stops later so did Jerk, like naughty school children we sat at the back of the bus and discussed the merits of stringing up monkeys.
We alighted outside Rainham's Tesco and my need for some food kicked in, so I dashed inside and grabbed a chicken and bacon club sarnie which I split with the Missus. Stomach now lined, it was pub time! We stepped into The Bell, a nice little pub with friendly staff and Kronenbourg on tap. Inside with other fellow daggers we chatted about everything from today’s football game, to the upcoming Crowbar and Black Label Society tours. With drinks drunk and time moving fast, we left for the bus stop.

The 103 got us to Vicky Road in good time and we went through the turnstile and headed for the already packed Sieve. The match had already started and looking at the pitch I straight away noticed Solly Taiwo in the midfield and he did seem to be working pretty damn hard. The first half was pretty good, considering we had lost both Danny Green and Peter Gain to suspension. We seemed to be moving the ball about quite well and making chances. Sadly none of them went in. Scannell had a near dead on chance but the keeper tipped it away and Taiwo tried from out side the box only to clip the top corner of the bar as it went over. The first half ended with the scores level, 0-0. The air in the Sieve was optamistic, a pretty good showing in the first half had us upbeat.

The Sieve - Pretty full

The second half started with much promise, just 4 minutes in Phil Ifil put a ball into the box which was deflected past  the Pool's 'keeper by Peter Hartley, The sieve went nuts! 1-0 to the Daggers! From the middle of the sieve it seemed we were making a nice amount of noise and everyone around me was in a singing mood. But the tide on the pitch was starting to turn as Hartlepool started looking for an equaliser and we seemed determined to help them get it! Some unsure defending lead to Robbo being the hero more than once as well as Hartlepool missing a couple of shots by only inches. Gavin Tomlin managed to catch their left back in possession and snatch the ball away, he made a nice looking dash into the box only for the resulting shot to be tipped away by Jake Kean who was doing well to keep our few chances out. Shortly After Andy Monkhouse took a shot from the edge of the box which took a nasty looking deflection beat Robbo but luckily hit the post and bounced out, but this match was far from over yet.


McCrory tried to clear a loose ball over our own bar but sliced it and nearly looped it into our own net but it bounced just wide. For the second time so far a chant of "Hands up, if you thought they scored!" went up as did many hands! just after that a long ball follwed by a cross found a 'Pools attacker who headed the ball accross goal and in an attempt to clear the ball for a corner Mark Arber hit our own crossbar!! Despite all this, with the clock counting down the atmosphere in the home terrace was tense but still upbeat, we just had to hang on Substitute Bas Savage nearly gave us something to cheer when we gained the ball near the corner and charged into the box, but his shot flashed wide.

As the last minute of extra time rolled round, it happened. A long ball found a Pools player in the box who passed it to someone else, who when closed down passed it to Gary Liddle who shot, the ball was low and hard and took a deflection off of Mark Arber, this left Robbo (who had already made a dive) to watch helplessly from the floor as the ball trickled over the line. The sieve went dead silent, not even a groan. I swear I couldn't even hear the Hartlepool fans. I could see them jumping happy to have snatched a point we somehow held onto for so long, but I couldn't hear them.

The terrace empties

As the air of disbelief cleared and reality kicked in, people started to leave, I think I was still in too much shock, I just stood there. "10 more fucking seconds" I thought, I probably said it too. I looked round and Saw Jerk' who's face was a mirror of my own. Somewhere in all of this the final whistle blew and the Sieve was half empty. We headed for the exit and clapped the boys as they came round. I queued up to by my ticket for the Southampton game outside, everyone I caught eyes with did the same thing, wry little smile, shake the head and sigh. I bought my ticket and Jerk' insisted we go to the pub again. I have to say I’m glad we did a few drinks later and I was having fun again and looking forward to leaving for Southampton the next day. The Pub was showing the Man-ure vs Spurs game on the telly and seeing the goal that United put past spurs did make me feel a bit better, at least we didn't concede that goal! (Hmm 2nd time this season I’ve said that!) With more alcohol drunk and a need for some food creeping in we headed for the bus stop, and then went our separate ways. Once home Pizzas were ordered and more drink was drunk.

So yes the mood in camp after that match was not what you could describe as positive. Decisions were questioned and blame was laid. The second half was poor and the Gaffers statement of "we need to hold onto these 1-0's" was never more evident than Saturday! But I feel we're in a time of experimentation. Things are being switched around new loan signings are on the horizon!

As I write this I am sprawled on a giant airbed in my cousins front room in Southampton, I am looking forward to the match but I am not confident, but it's matches like this where we can pull a surprise, so yes doom and gloom is starting to creep into the air, remember it could be a lot worse! We could support Grays! And like the title says “Well, at least we ain't bottom!"

Chin Up Daggers!!



Next - Well I’m already in Southampton, where are all you lot?