Daggers legend Goodwin reminisces before testimonial against West Ham

Lee Goodwin looks back on his playing days at Victoria Road before tonight’s game against the side where his career began.

The former defender spent more than 10 years as a player at Victoria Road, following on from his younger days on the terraces supporting them, and was a key member of their journey from the Ryman Leagues to the Football League.

In 2001, Conference side Daggers played then Premier League outfit Charlton Athletic and narrowly lost a replay having conceded in the 86th minute of the first game.

Goodwin feels the tie is most synonymous with his tenure, but says there are many moments which will stay with him forever.

“I’ve got lots of memories, but one of the outstanding ones is the Charlton match,” he said. “Playing in front of 25,000 people and we were four minutes from beating them.

“We played absolutely unbelievably on the day, but I can probably pull a game out from each season.

“We had games against Boston, who at the time were on top of the table, which were big games on Sky.

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“You had the play-off final win at Stoke, as Wembley was being flattened at the time, and I could probably name a dozen games.”

He added: “I’ve been going to Dagenham since I was four or five-years-old.

“I used to watch people like Jason Broom, who I ended up playing with ironically and I’m very much a Dagenham boy at heart.”

Broom is just one of Goodwin’s former team-mates who will make a cameo appearance tonight during his testimonial match against West Ham United, the club where his football career began as an apprentice.

Hammers boss Avram Grant has promised to send a full-strength side for the occasion, barring those players on international duty.

“I can’t ask for any more than that,” said Goodwin.

“The hardcore fans will remember some of the names including Anthony McFarlane, David Partridge and Lee Boylan.

“I’ve spoken to Frank (Lampard) and Rio (Ferdinand) and they’re going to try and get down if commitments permit.

“We’ll also see lots of old Dagenham boys as well who I’m going to introduce for the last five to 10 minutes so they can have a run out and get a clap from the fans.

Ashley Vickers, Junior McDougald, Paul Terry, Lee Matthews, Jason Broom – all big players for the club over the years.”

Goodwin called time on his career in 2008 after a series of knee injuries, but is still a regular at home games and is a partner in an insurance repairs business, located just minutes from the stadium entrance,

“I’ve got a lot of friends, a lot of fans and I generally like to think I’m quite well-regarded in the area in business,” he said.

“They’re all going to be there. I’ve got tons of people coming over as it was a large part of life.

“I’m only 32 now and if you take the 10 or 11 years I was there out of that, I’ve only got the four or five years after I left school of adult life.

“The rest of my adult life has been at Dagenham football club so it’s a massive part of my life and it will be very emotional.”

The game takes place this evening at Victoria Road at 7.45pm. Tickets will be available on the door or visit www.leegoodwin.co.uk for more information.

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