Darryl Eales talks about unity, education, Wembley and more!Good evening and welcome to everyone, especially fans, players and officials of Dagenham & Redbridge.
Tonight is a quick opportunity to put behind us the disappointment of Saturday's loss against Leyton Orient and rebound with the level of performance that has put us in such a strong position in the league, with just 10 games to go.
It is hard to explain the contrast in results away and at home but I am confident we have the character and resilience across the squad to ensure that our intensity and performance levels are maintained in what is sure to be a nail-biting run-in.
Saturday's game demonstrated just how competitive the division is and how earning the right to play and winning individual battles are essential. Orient played with an intensity that has characterised the majority of our performances this season and, notwithstanding we were denied a fairly clear cut penalty at 0-0, we fell short of the performance standards we have set ourselves this season.
Preparing to win, focusing on our performance levels and our unity have been the bedrock of our success this season and I am sure this totally professional and relentless focus will serve us well over the remainder of the season.
Tonight provides the opportunity to bounce back immediately. We have played Dagenham twice already this season, both away from home, and have come away with two hard-fought victories: 2-0 in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy and 1-0 in the league. For sure, Dagenham will provide a stern test, fighting for their own lives. In John Still, they have a highly experienced manager and, without doubt, they will be well prepared and will concede no quarter.
Looking at the wider picture, while we seek success on the pitch, we are also seeking to achieve this by making a difference in the community.
My own passion is the importance of education. I truly believe education is the silver bullet and is the only thing which can change the destiny of a family within a generation. It provides the basis for lifelong learning, hope and aspiration for families and communities.
I am therefore delighted that the Community Trust is working in conjunction with the Oxford Academy to launch ADVANCE SIXTH FORM.
From next September, there will be a wide range of vocational, B-Tec and A-level courses which will both provide excellent education at the Academy in (optional) combination with sport. Courses will also involve local businesses and support from across the club to enhance students’ learning experiences.
The launch is on this Wednesday, 16th March (tomorrow) at the Oxford Academy from 5pm to 7-30pm. Michael Appleton and players will be there to show their support for ADVANCE SIXTH FORM and the importance of education more generally.
It is now less than three weeks until Wembley!
Ticket sales have been fantastic and we are gearing up for a final push to reach the 35,000 mark, which would be an incredible achievement. New merchandising is arriving every day – I particularly like the polo shirts – and a new stock of shirts is on its way, together with a limited-edition Wembley first-team shirt. Check out the web site and shop when you can.
Project "turn Wembley yellow" is taking shape and this week the JPT trophy will be in Oxfordshire, with Johnstone’s asking fans to Paint Oxford Yellow! Let's get everyone talking about the game and the club and encourage the whole of Oxfordshire to join us on 3rd April.
There is so much to look forward to over the next few weeks - there will be twists and turns but let's all keep the faith, enjoy it and get behind the team with our wonderful support.