Still celebrates eight years in charge at Dagenham & Redbridge
And the Football League’s longest serving boss has no plans to retire yet
John Still celebrates eight years in the Daggers hot-seat today and insists his appetite for the game is as strong as ever.
The Football League’s longest-serving manager oversaw his 407th game in charge at Aldershot on Saturday, where a 1-1 draw moved Daggers to within a point of League Two safety.
Despite admitting this season has been among the most difficult during his tenure, retirement is certainly not on the agenda and Still revealed the continuing challenges are what spurs him on to remain at the helm.
“The highs and the lows of it are the drug,” said the 61-year-old.
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“That’s why I always say I never get too high with success and never get too low with failure.
“I treat them exactly the same, because if you do the job as long as I’ve done there’s going to be highs and lows, so you cannot be affected by it.
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“Every season has been tough. The first year I came here, where I was trying to get everything in place, and the second year were two tough years.
“When I think of the problems we’ve had this season, this is a massive achievement.
“If we clinch this and stay in the league with the amount of injuries that we’ve had, I think it’s a fantastic testament to the players and the staff here.
“No other club of our size, I believe, could have dealt with it. We’ve been decimated.
“It’s been tough and it still will be to the end of the season, but that makes the credit even greater.”
After succeeding Garry Hill on April 19, 2004, Still set about rebuilding the club and, following two seasons of consolidation in the Conference, Daggers reached the promised land of the Football League in 2007 for the first time in their history.
With a team including Scott Griffiths, Ben Strevens, Sam Saunders and Paul Benson – who all moved on to teams higher up the English football ladder – Daggers racked up 95 points, with Oxford and Exeter among those trailing in their wake.
What followed was something of a fairytale for the supporters as Daggers have established their place in the Football League, seen unknown non-league players depart as Football League stars and even reached League One after an incredible League Two play-off final win at Wembley Stadium in 2010.
The constant in their dream journey has been Still – flanked by assistant Terry Harris – and the veteran boss believes the club’s achievements of the last eight years will be difficult for anyone else to match.
“On the day the Wembley final was fantastic. But getting Dagenham into the Football League was unbelievable,” he said.
“For this club it was unbelievable with our resources and I don’t think a club of our size will ever do it again.
“The achievement this year has been made by a group of players that have had so many knocks in terms of changes in the team.
“Forget the coaching and the training, the mental strength within the team is what has pulled us through.”