The Supporters Club have been made aware of an interview that Club Director Dave Bennett has had with Mike Wainwright, which has been published on DiggerDagger.com.
Our attention has been drawn to the section headed “what is all the fuss about flags”.
I feel that as Chairman of the Supporters Club, I need to respond as there are a number of factual errors in Dave’s comments.
Let me start by first explaining the history behind the North Korean Daggers flag. The North Korean Daggers flag came about as a result of a question asked at a Fans Forum.
The question asked was “Why was the Burnett Out banner removed instantly once displayed? Does this not give the impression that our club is becoming like North Korea?”
A couple of supporters laughed and decided they would have a North Korean Daggers flag made, as their feelings were the same as the person who asked the question.
The North Korean Daggers flag was displayed at matches prior to the Everton game. In fact it was picked up by BT Sport at the Whitehawk replay game and its appearance at Everton was featured in The Sun newspaper.
A supporter was also contacted by a local paper in the Everton area with a view to running a story about the flag.
Dave is quite right, in stating that it is obviously a dig at Steve Thompson, as some supporters were and still are of the opinion that he runs the club in a North Korean style.
I think Dave is being a bit harsh on himself to say it was also aimed at him. It was actually aimed at the whole board for allowing the club to be run in this way.
The idea of the Trump’s Daggers flag was discussed by supporters during the journey back from Gateshead last season and it appeared shortly afterwards.
Our understanding is the club received an email complaining about this flag in the day following our first leg play off against Forest Green Rovers.
The Supporters Club became aware of an issue with the Trump’s Daggers flag at the second leg fixture with Forest Green Rovers. I was approached by a couple of supporters who asked me if I knew anything about the complaint the club had received. Obviously my answer was no. I was then informed that Dave Bennett had made an approach to a supporter (who is totally unconnected with the said flag) who he met through train journeys when supporting the Daggers. I was quite concerned at the time that Dave had chosen to contact this supporter rather than contact the Supporters Club direct. I knew from day one who owned the Trump’s Daggers flag as the owner and a friend showed it to me on the first occasion they brought it over to the club. I must admit that in my ignorance, I did laugh at the flag and thought it was quite funny. I believe I said that “ at least it is in the club’s colours!”.
I am of the opinion that if Dave Bennett had contacted the Supporters Club in the first instance about the Trump’s Daggers flag, the matter concerning the flag could have been swiftly resolved.
At the second leg game (FGR) the owner of the Trump’s Daggers flag was on holiday; ironically he was in America. Upon his return the owner contacted me and asked me what all the fuss was about. He was particularly concerned about some of the comments made by Dave Bennett during the original telephone conversation with the other supporter. The owner subsequently emailed Brenda Monaghan (Secretary of the Supporters Club) and asked us, on his behalf to make enquiries with the club. He requested that his identity remained anonymous and Brenda and I did not have any issues with this request. At no time have the Supporters Club received any contact from Dave Bennett regarding this matter. So for Dave to say ‘that he has had no success in obtaining this information’ is incorrect.
The point Dave makes regarding the reimbursement to the owner of the Trump’s Daggers flag is very interesting. He states that he has not been able to make an offer to reimburse the owner so they can make a less controversial flag. My understanding is that, in Dave’s original telephone conversation with the unofficial source, no mention of reimbursement was made, only a question as to how much did the flag cost. So, is Dave right in saying that he has not been able to make an offer to the owner of the flag, so that he can reimburse him?
This is where it gets very confusing as I have a copy of an email sent by Paul Gwinn on the 14th July 2017, which states that ‘as Dave Bennett’s deadline for his offer had passed, Dave’s offer has been withdrawn’. At this point Paul very kindly made the offer to reimburse the owner of the Trump’s Daggers flag personally. I advised Paul Gwinn that I would contact the owner and get back to him. On contacting the owner, I put Paul’s offer to the owner and the offer was declined.
The comments that Dave Bennett makes regarding the banning of the flags is also quite confusing. He implies that Glyn decided to ban the flags after incidents at a number of games this season. Should the fans behaviour and the displaying of the flags be connected? In our opinion it should not be.
This does rather paint Glyn in a bad light which I feel is very unfair on him, as Glyn has gone out of his way to aim to resolve the situation. Also, we would have thought that any banning decision would have been made at Board Level and not rested on the say-so of one person. Glyn has also made himself available to supporters so they can put their views to him. In fact, he sat and spoke to many supporters at Boreham Wood. This is the first time that this has happened since Dave Andrews was Chairman. I know that the majority of supporters are delighted that Glyn is involved with the club and in fact some have already adopted the saying ‘In Glyn we Trust’.
For the record, the confirmation that the Trump’s Daggers flag was banned was contained in Paul’s email of 14th July 2017. This clearly states the flag is banned. Obviously this refers to the Trump’s Daggers flag as the only flag we were discussing at the time.
At the Fans Forum on 3rd August 2017, Paul confirmed in a question from the floor that the Trump’s Daggers flag was banned and that the North Korean Daggers flag was not banned. So to now say that the North Korean Daggers flag is banned means that a decision on the banning of that flag was taken during the period of 4th August 2017 to 17th August 2017. At no time was the Supporters Club advised of this ban.
It had been agreed with Paul Gwinn in July (after confirmation that the Trump’s Daggers flag had been banned) that should any other flags be banned he would let the Supporters Club know so that we could advise the owners accordingly.
Dave Bennett implies in the interview that the offer to meet with the owners is still open and this has always been the case. A meeting with the owners had been agreed between Brenda and Glyn in June 2017, during a long telephone conversation. The offer of this meeting was withdrawn in July 2017 and confirmed withdrawn at the Fans Forum. It was very pleasing to see, that at the end of the Fans Forum, Glyn engaged in conversation with the owners of the flags and agreed to hold the meeting. I am pleased to say that the meeting will be going ahead and that the Supporters Club are awaiting some suggested dates for this to take place.
At no point have the owners of the flags dictated to either the Supporters Club or the Football Club as to who should, and who should not, attend the meeting. The only stipulation was that they could see no point in having a meeting with just Steve Thompson and Dave Bennett. In fact, they would be more than happy to meet all four Directors and in particular Dave Bennett, as they have points to raise with him regarding what was said during his contact with the unofficial supporter.
I would like to state that we appreciate that the Board members are indeed very busy people as stated in Dave’s interview. It should be remembered that the Supporters Club committee is made up of unpaid volunteers who serve on the committee because of their love of the club. They too are busy people. As everybody knows, as Chairman of the Supporters Club, I am registered disabled as I am severely sight impaired/blind. I rely heavily on the support of Brenda. As many people are aware, sadly Brenda lost her husband recently and for obvious reasons has not been around to help me as much as normal. So whilst Dave Bennett is correct is saying that at times the Supporters Club gives short notice, I was a little bit disappointed with the lack of understanding, given that this is a particularly difficult time for Brenda. We always try to give the club as much notice as possible but this is difficult at the moment.
I am fully aware that Safety Officers exchange information regarding upcoming fixtures. I was rather surprised then, on arrival at AFC Fylde last weekend, to be told that Fylde had received an email from our Managing Director, informing them of the behaviour of a small minority of our fans and also that both flags, (Trump’s Daggers and North Korean Daggers) had been banned from our ground. AFC Fylde confirmed that the reason they were banning the North Korean Daggers flag, was because of the email they received. The Trump’s Daggers flag did not travel as the owner was away for the weekend. Dave Bennett implies in his interview the only communication in the email to Fylde was concerning the banning of the flags. This is obviously incorrect.
As no email was sent to Boreham Wood or Eastleigh, the flags were allowed to be displayed.
I was asked by Paul Gwinn to ensure that the flags were not taken on Supporters Club coaches and also to tell the owners of the flags that they should not be taken to matches. I explained to Paul the decision regarding whether or not the flags are taken on the coaches was a decision that the Supporters Club committee would make at its September 2017 meeting. I also pointed out to Paul that I would speak to the owners of the flags to advise them that they should not be taken to matches. At this point I did say to Paul whilst I was talking to the owners, I could not physically stop them taking the flags, irrespective of my views on this matter. I’d just like reiterate that the Supporters Club have received no official notification that the North Korean Daggers flag has been banned.
In conclusion I must say that I am posting this response with great sadness. Everybody at Dagenham and Redbridge should be excited that once the takeover is complete and under the guidance of Glyn, the future looks very bright. Now is the time for everybody at the club to unite and go forward together. I dream of the day that we can say the words of John Still (once a Dagger, always a Dagger) and in Garry Hill (if one of us limps, we all limp) with pride and as a united body.
To end, I would like to just pinch a saying from Paul Gwinn, “Come on you Daggers”.