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London Borough of Barking & Dagenham Stadium
  Dagenham & Redbridge  v Southend United

League Two
Tuesday, January 28th 2014, 7.45pm

John & Stephen Spooner
(Southend United fans)

1. Why you were looking forward to going to the ground (or not as the case may be):

Not been to this ground before. Southend were in good form. Despite a recent loss in the FA Cup at home to Premier League Club Hull, Southend were unbeaten in the previous seven league outings. We had also won on our last three visits to neighbours Dagenham. Howerver, Dagenham had won 1-0 at Southend earlier in this season and had also beat Southend 5-2 at Roots Hall in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy so a close encounter was expected.

2. How easy was your journey/finding the ground/car parking?

My son and I travel to Southend games from North Wales as exiled fans so it was about 230 miles each way. It took over four hours along M6, M1, M25 and local roads into Dagenham, compared to 30 miles for Southend home fans. We used trusted satnav, but could have done without as the ground is easy to find on the Rainham Road. However, parking is not so easy as all nearby roads have permit parking only. After 5:30 pm it was possible to park on the Rainham Road, but with driving rain and heavy traffic it wasn't easy but we eventually managed it.

3. What you did before the game pub/chippy.... home fans friendly?

We took a nap in the car and ate our usual pre-packed picnic.

4. What you thought on seeing the ground, first impressions of away end then other sides of the ground?

The ground came into sight on our left as we arrived and is small, approached via a small street off Rainham Road. There were some huge deep puddles in the car park and the pouring rain did not help the staff as they attempted to brush the waters away. On entering there is a small food bar that served the usual pies and burgers. The ground is cramped in appearance with a very small home standing area with a clock above visible to away supporters, and a Main Stand running the length of the pitch. Both side stands are not that tall, resulting in at least 6 balls during the game either flying over them or landing on the roof. The best stand, is the away fans end which is very modern. It is amazing that such a stand is given to visiting supporters with a clear view of the pitch from all seats and plenty of leg room, and one which would grace many stadiums of a higher status.

The pitch had been almost unplayable in Dagenham's previous home game at the weekend and the referee had taken the players off during a deluge. The rain had continued until Tuesday night and the ground staff had done a magnificent work to prepare a pitch that played well despite 2 or 3 hours of constant rainfall.

5. Comment on the game itself, atmosphere, stewards, pies, facilities etc..

The game was a tight affair but both teams tried to play a passing game and Southend managed to take the lead during the second half. Dagenham fought back for a deserved draw. Stewards were friendly enough but insisted that everyone sat as indicated on ticket due to the away seating stand being sold out. The Southend fans made up about 50% of the ground attendance which was brilliant considering the horrible weather. The banter between fans was quite good and about 200 Southend fans in the standing end of the Dagenham Main Stand adjacent to the away seated stand were chanting the usual “stand up if you love Southend” to urge the seated fans to stand and then they chanted “sit down if you love Southend” whereupon the 200 or so promptly sat down on the cold wet concrete terracing to everyone’s amusement. This comical moment was made more surreal when the same standing fans chanting “take off a shoe if you love Southend” which they did, enthusiastically waving their shoes above their heads.

The food on offer was varied and not too expensive and I can vouch for the Pukka beef and onion pies at £2.50 which was delicious. The match program of 64 pages was £3 and okay.

6. Comment on getting away from the ground after the game:

The only problem in getting away from the away end was the walking area which was more like a lake due to poor drainage after the constant rain. The rain also made for a difficult drive locally up to the M25 but straightforward 4 hours journey back to North Wales.

7. Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:

The result usually determines our thoughts so a hard earned draw was satisfactory. The local area is densely residential and parking is permit only.

Are you an away or general football fan who has visited Dagenham & Redbridge recently?
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