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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Ex-QPR's Tony Roberts Still Hoping to Play League Football

Barking and Dagenham Post - Tony’s confident of happy ending
18 July 2007

ONGOING negotiations over the repayment of a reported £150,000 insurance pay-out preventing Dagenham & Redbridge goalkeeper Tony Roberts from playing league football should be resolved in the next fortnight, with the Welshman insisting he is confident of joining his team-mates in League Two next season, writes NEIL TRAINIS.

It remains unclear whether the unidentified insurance company, which paid the fee to the 37-year-old upon his retirement from the Football League nine years ago after he sustained a broken finger while playing for Millwall, are prepared to accept a proportion of the sum or are holding out for the entire amount.

If the latter is the case, it could pose Roberts, and more pertinently Daggers manager John Still, with a problem since the club are said to be unwilling to meet such demands, and when Roberts was asked if he would hand over all of the money, he replied bluntly: "No, but it's not going to come to that."


Any impasse would leave Roberts, who was unable to stop West Ham beating Daggers 2-0 in his testimonial at the weekend, without a club when the season starts in 24 days time and it would mean Still would be without a recognised goalkeeper by the time they begin their debut Football League campaign at Stockport County, having just allowed Nicky Eyre to join St Albans City.

Time is running out for a compromise to be found but Roberts is optimistic that it is a matter of when, not if, a resolution can be found.

"I'm confident I'm going to play at Dagenham and I've been given a second chance to play league football. I'm looking forward to it. I can't wait. I've spoken to John (Still) and he said it'll all be done in a couple of weeks," said Roberts, who is believed to have left a new two-year contract unsigned while Daggers and the insurance company search for a solution.

Roberts did not want to contemplate any stalemate in discussions stopping him renewing his Football League acquaintances and was much more vocal about the prospect of playing professional football for the first time in almost a decade.

"When you lose the play-off final and get done in the Boston thing you think you're not going to win it but now we're here it's unbelievable," he said.

Roberts believes Daggers can hold their own in League Two, and maybe even spring a few surprises on the way, with a play-off place not an unreasonable goal.

"We dealt with Oxford, our little budget against a big one, and we did it over 40-odd games. I think we'll do all right," he said. "The boys are raring to go. Looking at Accrington and Hereford, we can survive. My goal is the play-offs and that would be cracking."

He does not expect a gulf in class between the Blue Square Premier and League Two but suggested that the Daggers players will notice a step-up in terms of experience and technique, something they will have to adapt to.

"The boys will need to be a little fitter, stronger, more organised and have an extra bit more effort against teams with more skill," Roberts insisted.

He suggested that a direct, high tempo style of play that prevailed spectacularly during last season's Conference title-winning campaign should not be shelved.


"We're suited to this kind of league," he said. "We play fast, aggressive football and we'll be okay. We need to stamp our mark on games. We don't throw the ball out to our full-backs or take chances in our third.

"Mistakes lead to goals. I mean you're never going to turn Anny (Anwar Uddin) into a 70-yard passer out of defence but he wins his tackles and headers."
Barking and Dagenham Post

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