Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughJohn Still going to show value of loyalty - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough John Still going to show value of loyalty - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

John Still going to show value of loyalty

In news that may have gone unnoticed, the 61 year old John Still celebrated eight years in charge of Dagenham and Redbridge of League Two on Wednesday, a stint that has seen Still take the club from the humble surroundings of Conference mid-table obscurity, achieving an 11th and 10th placed finish before gaining promotion to the Football League in Still’s third year of stewardship. From there, the club has gone from scrapping relegation in their debut year in 20th, narrowly missing the play-offs in 8th the following year, before sneaking into the top seven in 2010 where a trip to Wembley saw them beat Rotherham to reach the unprecedented lands of League One.

The fact they only lasted one year in the third tier before finding themselves fighting relegation in the Football League’s basement division once more, a late surge has pulled them up to 19th after spending the majority of the campaign propping up the table, is irrelevant when it is considered the instability he inherited from Gary Hill back in 2004. His first job was to steer the Dagenham ship back onto calmer waters, but nobody could imagine the level of success Still has experienced with the tiny club from Barking in the years following.

The success of his stint however, in which he sees himself as illogical when it is accounted the lack of resources he has had at his disposal over the years played out in front of gates of just over 3,000, is not the most eye-catching fact of his reign. For Still is quite easily, by a margin of three years over Exeter’s five-year serving Paul Tisdale, the longest serving manager in the Football League and the fourth longest-serving boss in the whole domestic league system, with only Sir Alex Ferguson, Arsene Wenger and David Moyes bettering his longitude, whilst Stoke’s Tony Pulis out-does Tisdale by 12 days.

Still has endured a hellish campaign, blighted by injury problems that have decimated an already thin squad, but he admits such turbulence is the drug that keeps drawing him back to the Victoria Road dugout, but more importantly he is allowed to remain there as the fans and board remain appreciative of the seismic job he has done over a period few clubs can even dream of holding a manager for.

Despite the culture of immediacy that Still’s reign survives through and the multiple passages into silly sacking season, to put the longevity of the West Ham born manager’s leadership into context, only six managers other than Ferguson, Wenger, Moyes, Tisdale, Pulis and Still have managed longer than a three year stint. Huddersfield sacked Lee Clark with the club fourth in League One, Gary Megson was withdrawn from his position at Sheffield Wednesday with his team third, whilst Still remained with his team rock bottom of the whole league, but is now showing, with his team on the verge of competing in League Two for another season, common sense entrusted in loyalty usually prevails.

It is a whole different World from Chelsea that the Daggers inhabit, but the eight managers their fellow Londoners have gone through without any hint of remorse from the trigger happy Roman Abramovich, is in complete obscenity when it is contrasted to the solitary one Dagenham have possessed since 2004. Andre Villas Boas was afforded not even the tiniest fragment of the patience Still was given in his early days in East London and was sacked, in a move called an embarrassment by the LMA, in early March with his Chelsea team in the distant universe of fifth position in the Premier League, where it seems any sensible decision making is thrown out the window. In a damning indictment of just how rare Still’s story is in the modern age, there are 46 managers out of the 92 clubs currently employed in the top four divisions in their debut year as manager and 19 of those haven’t passed the 100 day mark.

Even at lower league level, clubs tear through managers like there is no tomorrow, Paolo Di Canio is Swindon’s eighth coach in the duration of Still’s reign, Barnet have been through nine bosses in those eight years, Torquay have been through seven and Shrewsbury five, as clubs know no bounds when it comes to ensuring a quick fix. 20 clubs have seen managerial changes in the four months of 2012 as we approach the end of April while the largely unheralded Still plugged away in the basement of League Two in a year of transition for the Daggers as a fresh nucleus had to be built following relegation from League Two and the departures of top scorer Romain Vincelot and the midfielders Charlie Allen and Danny Green.

John Still will prepare for this weekend’s game with Crawley and the newest manager in the Football League of Craig Brewster, following Steve Evans’ departure to Rotherham which again highlights the slow dissolution of loyalty in the modern game, Sir Alex Ferguson continues to rack up the days past the mark of 25 years, one more than Dario Gradi who lasted 24 years at Crewe between 1983 and 2007 before coming back for two further caretaker spells. The days of men like them and Still only survive through their peerless devotion and it is clear the novelty of the long-serving management stalwart has ceased in a game where everybody seeks immediate reward. Any talk of plaudits or achievement in longevity won’t affect Still however, who will mark the passing of his eight years by focussing on ensuring Dagenham are in League Two, in a healthier league position, for the passing of his ninth and however far in the future he wants to continue at his beloved Dagenham.