Saturday 17th September 2016 – Dagenham & Redbridge 2 – 0 North Ferriby
National League @ Victoria Road, Dagenham, London
“…oh I’d rather be a sausage than an egg…”
A university reunion coupled with a vow to get to some Ferriby games now they were venturing south, took me to Dagenham’s Victoria Road. It was a grey September day and cold enough for a jacket; a contrast from the heat wave earlier that week, which was ended with torrential rain the day before this match up.
Dagenham, most famous of course for the Ford factory, is found in London’s eastern most reaches. It took around 45 minutes on the Victoria Line (from Victoria) to reach Dagenham East for this one, and the ground itself is around a five-minute walk from the tube station.
The area around the ground is fairly residential so supping options are limited to a pub just past the tube station, the Pipe Major. We didn’t venture in on this occasion; there were plenty milling around outside albeit a majority seemed to be in West Ham shirts, so they probably weren’t all going to the match.
Entering Victoria Road (or the Chigwell Construction Stadium for sponsorship purposes) feels akin to entering a leisure centre, with a car park straight in front, and the relatively low stands meaning it is only the floodlights that indicate the venue is used for football.
We headed to the club bar pre-match. It cost 50p to get in (though no restrictions on away fans) and you have to sign in; it is however a nice sized bar, albeit beer on tap is limited. Seating is in what is best described as a sports hall with a couple of tables dotted around. Sutton’s defeat of Tranmere Rovers was being shown on the big screen which we watched with the locals before heading to the away end.
Away fans are accommodated in the ‘Traditional Builders Stand’ at the far end of the ground. It cost £21 to get in; the half of the stand closest to the entrance is populated with home fans, with the away fans having to walk along the bottom of the stand to the far end. There were no problems however, and given the size of the away following that day (23…) the stand felt a bit cold and, stating the obvious’ empty!
There is a small bar underneath the stand, which seemed only to serve Carling, that both home and away fans use. Other chow and sup can be bought at a small kiosk near the entrance, with reasonable prices (£1.20 for tea or coffee).
To the left of the stand is a small terrace, half of which was closed, but the open half appeared to be full. To the right is a smaller seated stand. Interestingly the teams come out from behind the goal, so I assume more modern changing rooms were installed when the stand was built.
In the context of each club’s respective positions last season, and results and league positions thus far, this seemed very much like David vs Goliath. Dagenham & Redbridge’s team contains a smattering of ex-league players (including the experienced Luke Gutteridge and Paul Benson); having spent nine years playing league football (including a short stint in League 1), presumably the home side are gunning for an immediate return.
This is Ferriby’s first season at this level, with mixed results ranging from a hammering away at Lincoln, and a win at Gateshead mid-week before this one. My hunch however was that the home side would prevail in this one.
The atmosphere at Victoria Road is relatively flat, with the exception of the fans immediately to the left of the away end, who enjoyed frequent exchanges with the three fans in the away end who had some voice (though most of the chants seemed to be food related as opposed to football, hence I guess the ‘Pie Cob Society’ flag).
Ferriby played like they were trying to avoid a loss as opposed to trying to get something from the game. The home side went in one nil up and at half time though it felt like it could be much more. Ferriby had a good crack of it in the second half, but couldn’t build up any meaningful sort of attack.
It was one nil for much of the match, but it never really felt close. The home side doubled their lead shortly before time, wrapping up the three points and securing top spot in the league. This result sent Ferriby into the relegation places. The difference in quality was quite stark; Ferriby constantly giving the ball away and making silly mistakes, which their more experienced equals often capitalised upon.
It might have been because the day was grey, and cold but Victoria Road feels like it has seen better days. Prices are however reasonable and the fans & staff care for the club; the attendance felt low that day (1,119) despite local Premier League behemoths being away at West Brom. The game was however both watchable and enjoyable; Victoria Road is a bit of a trek from Central London for a capital ground tick if truth be told. It feels very much like a non-league ground but with some tweaks to allow for bigger followings that must have come here when they played league football.
Other photos from the day