Monthly Archives: April 2009

The Great Anonymous Don Player Evaluation Of 2009

After nine months of watching them play, we should all have a decent idea of their abilities by now. However the wide range of views relating to ‘certain players’ led me to decide a full squad evaluation is required. I know Terry and Stuart read this, and I know how highly they regard my opinion, so I decided to add a prediction for next season, as well as  appearances and goals in the league only and a basic overall percentage score, carefully worked out on the back of a fag packet.

KENNEDY ADJEI – Fantastic start to the year from the youngster. Made the step up from the reserves with ease. Always looks at home in the team. However tends to give the ball away a little too much for my liking, has a lot to learn in the Conference Premier.

Apps/Goals – 25(3)/2

Rating – 61%

Next season – At Dons, 12 appearances mostly sub

BELAL AITOUAKRIM – Apparently a ‘forward’. Barely registered. Even when he was on the pitch I scarcely noticed. Half hearted when on the field. Just not strong enough physically or mentally.

Apps/Goals – 2(7)/0

Rating – 12%

Next season – At Dulwich, top scorer in Ryman 1 South

ROCKY BAPTISTE – End of season impact player whose only impact was to score the ‘winner’ against Bromley. Thanks for coming along to help though.

Apps/Goals – 0(1)/1

Rating – 59%

Next season – An Indian summer back at Farnborough.

JAY CONROY – If Garrard had stayed fit he wouldn’t be at the club. Calm, assured, he looks part of the furniture already. Has what it takes to stay with the club a long time, but does he want it?

Apps/Goals – 8/0

Rating – 70%

TOM DAVIS – Midfield battler. Does more work than he is given credit for. Lightweight in a tackle, yet makes so many challenges. Should score more goals. Does the simple things well. Sports ‘just back from Gran Canaria’ tan even in mid-February.

Apps/Goals – 38(1)/4

Rating – 65%

Next season – Half a dozen turnouts then gone by Christmas

A DIVOT – Not the most mobile of strikers, he knew exactly the right place to divert Sam Hattons freekick into the net at Thurrock. A wandering soul, he turned up a few weeks later to wreck Andy Sambrooks Dons career before the game even begun, somewhat souring his reputation among the Dons fans.

Apps/Goals – 0(1)/1

Rating – 50%

Next season – Hoping to get a full season under his belt at Hampton.

ANTHONY FINN –  Lazy, yet puts just enough effort in at the right time. Should be a football league player with his talent, Can’t play on the wing as doesn’t seem to understand how to track back. Up there with Ursell in terms of showmanship. A massive waste of ability.

Apps/Goals – 24(15)/3

Rating – 60%

Next season – Three goals in first five outings, back to the Ryman by Xmas.

LUKE GARRARD – Perhaps the most complete footballer in the squad. Can play all 11 positions. Knee injury was a tragedy for him, but has worked so hard to get back for next year. Would have challenged for player of the year if his season wasn’t ended in November. A genuine good guy and future captain.

Apps/Goals – 15/1

Rating – 72%

Next season – 38 appearances and awards aplenty.

NICK GINDRE – Proved an experienced backup following Little’s injury. Deserved his runout and clean sheet on the final day.

Apps/Goals – 1/0

Rating – 60%

Next season – Shock move to Scottish First Division club.

ELLIOTT GODFREY – Quality forward. Never stops working for the team. Had some bad luck and couldn’t quite establish himself early on, but came back even more determined after Xmas. Has earned a place in the squad next season.

Apps/Goals – 29(8)/6

Rating – 70%

Next season – Just behind the front two, 14 goals.

JASON GOODLIFFE – Legendary leader. Influential and experienced defender. Never say die attitude. Brave as anyone. But… Liable to be shown up by pacy defenders. Wondering how long he really has left in him.

Apps/Goals – 18(9)/1

Rating – 73%

Next season – Shock departure of the summer. Next seasons Sutton captain.

MICKY HASWELL – Solid if unspectacular full back. Losing his pace to a 19 year old should mean curtains for his Dons career, as he doesn’t look entirely convincing at centre-half or in midfield.

Apps/Goals – 10(11)/0

Rating – 47%

Next season – Rushden, Dover, Grays, Thurrock.

SAM HATTON – The previous season he looked one season away from being a quality Ryman midfielder, and looked a season away from being a quality BSS midfielder this time around. Has a big future at the club if he keeps on improving, and has shown he has the desire to do so.

Apps/Goals – 39(1)/9

Rating – 73%

Next season – One year away from being a quality Conference midfielder.

CHRIS HUSSEY – Won his place on merit and never looked like losing it. Tailed off badly towards the end of the season. Looked a little lost at times. Occasionally sends hopeful balls into the left channel to nobody when he runs out of ideas. Young enough to keep improving. Must be concerned about losing his place for Wycombe/Hampton games.

Apps/Goals – 32(7)/1

Rating – 71%

Next season – battling for no.3 with a new signing… and winning.

KEZIE IBE – Looked the real deal in his cameo appearances on loan from Ebbsfleet. All pace and power, but perhaps too one dimensional?

Apps/Goals – 3(2)/1

Rating – 61%

Next season – Top scorer for Woking.

ALAN INNS – Would run through brick walls. Loyal as any fan. Rarely beaten in the air. Tends to get a little overexcited from time to time.

Apps/Goals – 23(6)/3

Rating – 76%

Next season – In and out the side challenging for places with new arrivals.

BEN JUDGE – Best defender in the BSS by a mile. Reads the game better than even Goodliffe. It all looked too easy for him at times, Will be a key member of the first team for 2-3 years yet, possibly more.

Apps/Goals – 37(1)

Rating – 88%

Next season – Club captain.

DANNY KEDWELL – Absolute value at £10k. Added a whole new dimension to the team on arrival. Doesn’t understand the meaning of the words ‘lost cause’. Does the jobs Jon Main can’t. Could perhaps be a bit more clinical in front of goal  No, I can’t bear to criticise him. Will be a Dons legend for years to come.

Apps/Goals – 30(4)/14

Rating – 85%

Next season – 16 goals and 16 assists.

JAKE LEBERL – Strong, experienced, willing to put himself on the line – the sign of a good centre half. Forgetting that he’s playing centre half and finding himself waaaaaay out of position – the sign of a defensive midfielder playing out of position. His loyalty should ensure another season of acting as the defensive utility man.

Apps/Goals – 23(11) – 1

Rating –  66%

Next season – More time on the bench…

DWAYNE LEE – Looked too good for the BSS at times. Disappeared into thin air the rest of the time. Held his position and thus did his job, but the ball seemed to bypass him too many times. Also he gave the ball away a lot for a player of his standing. The John Smiths Stand Player (We Love To Hate) Of The Year.

Apps/Goals – 16/1

Rating – 67%

Next season – ‘Maybe tomorrow, I’ll wanna settle down…’

ANDY LITTLE – A nasty knee injury has done his chances of returning to the side no good. A slightly better kicker than Pullen, but his rival beats him hands down in all other departments. Pullen also has the bonus of time on his side.

Apps/Goals – 20/0

Rating – 54%

Next season – Don’t expect to see him in a Dons shirt. Sorry Andy.

JON MAIN – For 3/4 of a season he looked a beast of a striker, simply too good for any defense put in front of him. Then, he went a few games without a goal, then a few more, and just couldn’t get that monkey off his back. Proved his worth with the goal that won the league. No one deadlier when given a split second to get his shot away, his strike rate actualy decreases when given time to think. May have suffered from complacency due to having no real competition for his shirt.

Apps/Goals – 38(3)/33

Rating – 81%

Next season – Finghting for his place and back to his best.

DEAN MASON – Did a fantastic job as an impact substitute at the start of the season. A lack of appearances as Main started flagging suggests Terry has lost a bit of faith in him. Back for the reserves next year, if hes lucky. Perhaps needs to earn more experience away from the club.

Apps/Goals – 0(9)/1

Rating 41%

JAMES PULLEN – Can approach next season with the confidence of knowing he is first choice. I’m absolutely certain his poor kicking is more down to a lack of concentration than anything – we all saw him in the warmups, pinging 50 yard balls to feet across the pitch. Apart from that, he has a chance to resurrect any hopes of a professional career over the next season or two, lets hope he takes it.

Apps/Goals – 21(1)/0

Rating – 70%

Next season – A whole year in the red, green or light blue shirt.

LUKE PIGDEN – By no means did Luke look out of place in his three appearances, but he has to live with the knowledge that Sam Hatton is always going to have a headstart over him. He will find his place to the first team blocked by more experienced men, unless he can get away on loan again – if he’s given a chance of another year at the club.

Apps/Goals – 0(3)/0

Rating – 38%

Next season – At Kingstonian (and possibly on a contract there)

ANDY SAMBROOK – The unluckiest man of the season. Would have finished the season if Divot hadn’t intervened. His final day selection seemed more a ‘thankyou and goodbye’.

Apps/Goals – 7/0

Rating 60%

 Next season – St Albans

ROB SAUNDERS – An enigma really. We didn’t see too much of him during his loan spell, yet Terry has referred to some negotiations taking pace with him over the summer. Seemed like a lightweight Elliott Godfrey. Has gone back to help Farnborough in the playoffs, and good luck to him.

Apps/Goals – 1(3)/0

Rating – 40%

Next season – Having a great year (in the BSS).

JACK STAFFORD – Learning from Marcus Gayle in the reserves, a decent minor cup performance put him in the first team shop wimdow, yet his selection on two occasions probably reflect more on the quality of all the young youth than just himself. Will be lucky to get near the bench next season, and will continue his learning in the second string.

Apps/Goals – 0(2)/0

Rating – 42%

Next season – Suburban League champions medal

CHRIS SULLIVAN – The unfortunate Sullivan just never seemed to get himself fit. What must have been more galling for Tery Brown was we had to go to tribunal for him. Its been a case of ‘out of sight, out of mind’ for Sullivan, who unfortunately looks like he will be continuing his career elsewhere.

Apps/Goals – 0(1)/0

Rating – 21%

Next season – Anywhere but Kingsmeadow (except possibly for K’s)

So there you go – my squad evaluation. Of course all this means –

Anonymous Don Player of the Year – Ben Judge

Young Player of the Year – Sam Hatton

Biggest Waste Of Space – Belal Aitouakrim

Biggest Impact By A Loanee/Short Term Contract – Jay Conroy

Sympathy Award For Failure To Pick Up Any Other Awards Anywhere – James Pullen

Angry that I dissed your favourite player? Need to put me right on a few things? Thats what the comments section is for… especially if I’ve managed to leave out a player or something…

The Anonymous Don – What To Expect During The Summer

After a season of success, the players can rightly put their feet up and enjoy a period of relaxation, as can some of us fans! As you may have spotted due to the large gap in articles around early April, I took my holiday early this year, and I’ll be here in the UK to reflect on the season gone, and look forward to our exciting future in The Blue Square Premier.

First off will be a review of each player used this season, then once the full line up for next seasons Conference is confirmed, a club-by-club guide. There’ll be reaction to latest news of signings, pre-season games, and whatever else happens over the summer.

I will also be concentrating more on my other project, the general football blog Control>Shoot. Keep an eye out there starting with a report of Wednesdays London Senior Cup final at Kingsmeadow, plus the UEFA Under 21 Championship in Sweden from June 15-25th, and the FIFA Confederations Cup in South Africa from 14-28th June. Click the page above for more details.

So if you are going away on holiday, or just taking a well earned rest from football itself, thanks for reading my blog over the past couple of months! I’ve said it before, but your comments really make it worthwhile.


The Anonymous Don

AFC Wimbledon 3 St Albans 0 – A Match Report

img111What a lovely day to finish the season. Bright sunshine, a few fluffy clouds, warm enough to not have to worry about what you were wearing – classic end of season weather that makes you think for a moment that perhaps football was meant to be a summer game… until you feel the desire to go home immediately and flagellate yourself for even contemplating such blasphemy.

On arrival at the stadium I could see people had taken heed of the warnings to arrive early, the stadium being half full by the time I entered at 2.30 and found my place in the John Smiths (because I am old, and I do indeed stink of piss…). Awards were being given out like they were going out of fashion; Jon Main the Junior Dons Player Of The Year, Ben Judge the WDON Player Of The Year, and Chris Hussey collecting The WUP Young Player Of The Year. Plus you know its an ‘occasion’ when PISA are the match sponsors, these days Phillo pronounces it as in the city rather than the ‘pisser’ from days of yore, although to be fair a number of them did appear to be leaning…

The Champions emerge...

The Champions emerge...

The team line up was interesting. There was a first appearance for Argentine goalkeeper Nicky Gindre, and to be honest it will probably be his last. This seemed more a selection on compassionate grounds, to say thank you from helping us out and providing cover for Pullen. Although Andy Little will probably be out until Christmas, I can’t see Gindre remaining on a short term contract to provide cover, he’s worthy of someone’s first team. Andy Sambrook also got the start at right back, again I can’t see Sambrook staying with Garrard coming back to fitness, Conroy looked the more impressive of the two, or there’s always a chance we may bring in someone proven at Conference level in the summer. As well as this there were starts for Kennedy Adjei and Jake Leberl, with a highly impressive bench of Hatton, Godfrey, Pullen, Hussey and Judge.

A sea of colour in The Tempest

A sea of colour in The Tempest

St Albans signalled their intent from the beginning, by giving a team that weren’t yet champions the traditional champions guard of honour. And the celebrations started even earlier than expected, before the game even started with Captain Goodliffe wheeling away with fists clenched after winning the toss in the knowledge they’ll be attacking the Tempest in the second half. Its great to know the players care about that sort of thing but it must be a kick in the teeth for the Kingston Road End regulars, who do make a lot of noise. In fact they out sang the Tempest for a while in the first half, with a cheeky version of ‘Can you hear the Tempest sing?’.

The Dons signalled their intent from the off, with a lightening counter leaving Finn and Kedwell two on two, Finn surged down the left channel but dawdled on it too long and was cleanly tackled in the box. Having too long with the ball and not knowing what to do with it seemed to be an affliction spreading across the front line, as shortly after Jon Main found himself clean through with only the keeper to beat. He let it bounce once, twice, three times steadying himself, then he let it bounce again, then once more for luck, by which time a defender nipped in, not believing his luck.

Kennedy celebrates the first goal

Kennedy celebrates the first goal

He may be top scorer in the BSS this season, and the man who scored the goal that won us promotion, but he approached this chance like a toddler attempting to kick the ball for the first time. I am seriously starting to believe someone has leapt into his body, Quantum Leap style, in the last couple of weeks. His actions were not those of a striker you would expect to take the Conference by storm. Perhaps he was trying to take the piss and it backfired? Either way, shocking miss.

It seemed as though Wimbledon were happy to stroll this one, although great work by Kedwell won a corner on the left after 15, which ended up being half cleared for Taylor to control brilliantly into Tom Davis path, but the tanned midfield maestro could only float the ball just wide of the top left corner, with Saints keeper Bastock appearing to have it covered. The Dons created several chances where they didn’t seem to be on the same wavelength as each other, notably when Taylor and the ever-ponderous Main left the ball to each other on the edge of the box when well placed to shoot.

Kedwell heads across goal and over

Kedwell heads across goal and over

Of course, as far as 4721 people in the stadium were concerned, any goal action was a bonus; they’d only come to see the side crowned champions amid a happy, positive atmosphere. Except Old Grumpy behind me (who actually does stink of piss…), who decided the side just wouldn’t be worthy league winners unless they put St Albans to the sword. He was muted today, partly because with the huge crowd he probably couldn’t see that much (and believe me I took great pleasure in blocking his view as often as possible). The other great moaning ringleader, who I like to call Mr Nooooooooo, didn’t seem to make an appearance today. Probably didn’t get a ticket and is stuck at home right now still going on about it. I wonder what these people find to moan about in the summer?

Moving on… these random forages forward built into what could be described as a spell of pressure around the half hour mark. Finn put Main through to stab wide, but he had moved too soon and the flag went up anyway, then a lovely exchange between Finn and Adjei down the left almost created a chance for Main at the near post, but Bastock did well to smother.

wot no goal action?

wot no goal action?

Then, a moment of comedy. A Finn free kick from near the half way line drifted over a number of Dons players, a defender let the ball bounce which almost did for Bastock. The keeper was forced to scurry back to his line and watch as the ball dropped narrowly over. Simmering resentments came to the boil and Bastock rushed out to confront his colleague, bumping him repeatedly so everyone knew who was at fault.

This served to spark his team mates from their slumber as the game was heading into the break, creating a number of chances all spurned by Bradley Gray. Firstly he could only drag his shot wide when well positioned. Then Wimbledon allowed him too much space 25 yards from goal and his fierce drive just flew wide with Gindre scrambling. Finally Gray flashed a header that Gindre earned his start (and clean sheet) by keeping out brilliantly, before the ball was scrambled away. This was too much for captain Goodliffe, advising his team loudly they were ‘Always fucking second, we’re not good enough’.

Bastock beats Finn to a loose ball

Bastock beats Finn to a loose ball

Half time saw the announcement that Ben Judge had also received WISA Player Of The Year, celebrity Don Alun Armstrong on hand to dish out the awards. Plus another amazing effort in the Square Up competition (I wasn’t concentrating enough to realise who it was – sorry mate) where one of the finalists managed a plus 30 score – something I would have a bit difficulty with using a round ball.

Wimbledon seemed to have taken heed of their captains’ words before half time. Not only were they first to the ball they started playing some excellent football, worthy of champions. They were in control of the ball, keeping it moving then attacking with pacy passing play. It lead to a goal, Davis found himself facing a packed defence, and fed the ball to Finn 30 yards from goal and central. Finn found Adjei on the edge of the box, and some wonderful footwork saw him beat a man before firing low into the bottom left corner. Kennedy Adjei was majestic today. The slightly slower pace of the game suited him, and like Finn he seemed to have the ball fixed to his boot at times. Perhaps if these two players stay on we may see more of them over the winter periods next term, especially when playing on better quality pitches away from home. Shortly after Finn skipped past a defender before floating his shot just wide.

Hatton scores

Hatton scores

Sam Hatton replaced Lewis Taylor, and Jon Main ended the season with 34 goals, replaced by Elliott Godfrey, as the Dons dominance continued. St Albans were tame, their only real effort on goal at the start of the half being a poor effort blasted wide from 30 yards by Hector Mackie when well placed. The Saints were also fortunate that Wimbledon were knocked out of their stride briefly following a number of baffling decisions by referee Ganfield, repeatedly blowing up against Kedwell for what looked like perfectly legal challenges.

Hatton was to grab his twelfth goal of the season midway through the half. He almost met a Kedwell cross which was recovered by Finn, who rounded two St Albans men with ease before delivering the perfect centre for Hatton, still lurking in the six yard box, to power his header past Bastock and into the net. The Dons had the scent of more goals; good set up play by Godfrey saw Davis fire straight at Bastock, his last input for the season before being replaced by Hussey.

The final whistle goes

The final whistle

Hussey made his mark on the game immediately. His ball across fell to Godfrey, who saw his low shot well pushed round the post by Bastock low to his right. The fans who came out in strength for a celebration, were also fortunate enough to be seeing a vintage Dons performance, albeit one against a side who already had their holidays in mind. The Saints did fashion one last chance ten minutes from time, when a corner found Adam Everitt free at the far post, only for him to steer it well over the bar. I think St Albans had read the script beforehand and didn’t seem to want to waste too much energy trying to spoil the party, and the Dons were the only team who looked like scoring. Haswell, Godfrey and Finn combined brilliantly to create a chance for Kedwell at the near post, his effort was blocked by the keeper as Kedwell seemed to be brought down, of course Ganfield was always going to say no but in truth there wasn’t much there.

As thoughts turned to the trophy, and the fans seemed content for time to tick down, there was one last twist. It was apt that when a cross from the by-line was blocked, it was our captain on hand to grab his first of the season in front of the Tempest. Ok it was from two yards, but lets take nothing away from our inspirational leader, a man who will quite happily run through walls if his manager instructed him to, and an experienced old head that has been a fantastic example to the younger players. As Goodliffe sees another season pass him by, I hope despite his age there is still a place for him at the club next year, even if he doesn’t start as many games, he will still useful as a substitute against less pacy teams, and I can’t think of anyone else who deserves to be our club captain more than him.

The skipper shows off the trophy

The skipper shows off the trophy

While Goodliffe deserved to bookend the season, I’m sure he wouldn’t have minded if Anthony Finns late curling effort from the left corner of the box had dropped under the bar instead of bouncing off it. This wonderful right foot effort would have been a contender for goal of the season had it found the net. I had Johan Cruyffs comment to the Barcelona press running through my head that ‘When you are 4-0 ahead with 10 minutes to go, it’s better to hit the post a couple of times so the crowd can go ‘oooh!’ and ‘aaaah!’ Then you get angry as if you hadn’t meant to. I just always loved that sound when the ball hits the post hard…’. Not that I’m comparing Finn with Cruyff… There was still time for Kennedy to make a run unchallenged from his own half into the St Albans box, he could have picked out a team mate but hesitated and Bastock smothered.


Lap of honour

Lap of honour

Then, the final whistle. Another season over, another successful season at that. The player filed off and the supporters waited patiently for their return, in their ‘back2back promotion’ t-shirts, singing along to ‘We Are The Champions’ very badly. The sponsors erected a makeshift podium, leaving the trophy tantalisingly on display. Finally the players emerged once more from the tunnel, one by one (as you can see from the video on yesterdays post), until finally it was time for Goodliffe to stride on and a Dons captain lifted silverware once more. The crowd soaked up one last lap of honour before the players left for the final time.

 I would imagine it got a bit messy in the bars that evening. I didn’t stay. I did linger at the gates as I left, looking at the ground one last time before heading home, despite the overpowering feeling of victory, it quickly dissipates in the knowledge there are new challenges round the corner. I made a vow some time ago that I would join the volunteers at the annual ground cleaning weekend, and Ill stick to my word, partly because I admitted this to a regular volunteer last week and now I don’t want to be seen going back on my word! But it’s going to be a long summer.

 One last time, to all the players, staff, volunteers and fans who made this season so special – Thank You. Like a river flows surely to the sea, darling so it goes, some things are meant to be.

Goodbye for another year...

Goodbye for another year...

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All Over Now



Match report to follow tomorrow…

AFC Wimbledon v St Albans City – A Match Preview


The championship awaits...

The championship awaits...

With the title race all but over, the lack of yellow highlighting and ‘C’ where the ‘1’ should be on the Sky Sports News league table is the only giveaway that Wimbledon haven’t already secured promotion. A shock win for the Saints, coupled with an unlikely win by Hamton at a Maidenhead side eager to finish one of their best ever seasons on a high (although they cannot qualify for the playoffs due to ground issues). I shall be making no appeal for the fans to turn out in force on this occasion – the game sold out on Monday meaning 4600 Dons fans (plus 100 or so from St Albans) will get the chance to watch Jason Goodliffe step up to receive the Blue Square South Championship Trophy (which very much resembles a certain trophy a Wimbledon team picked up 21 years ago…).


With all news reports focusing on the ‘championship’ success at Hampton last week, nothing much has leaked from the home camp in terms of squad selection. I would imagine anyone who can walk will declare themselves fit for Saturdays game, although its fair to say Alan Inns suspension will continue to restrict his participation to cheerleader, joined by long term injury victims Andy Little and Luke Garrard. Rob Saunders returns to Farnborough as they seem set for the playoffs.

I’m sure we will be seeing a couple of our players for the last time on Saturday, and Ill speculate more on those in the coming weeks. Ultimately its down to Terry, and Im sure whatever his decision it will be a hard one (with the possible exception of Belal Aitouakrim…). As Paul Parker said early in the week, AFC Wimbledon will need to strengthen to meet our ambitions next year. ‘Promoted team needs to strengthen to compete at higher level’ shows what insight Parker has as a commentator, whatever next? ‘Strikers should try and shoot wherever possible’? ‘Floodlights should be turned on for night games’?. He really earns his money that Parker does…


st20albans20city20fcWell, we’ve all heard the rumours. Saints have let a couple of players go and will be turning up at Kingsmeadow without a full bench. They also let legendary striker Lee Clarke leave the club recently, so surely they are there for the taking? Yeah, right! I cannot believe a club like St Albans will bring a team to Kingsmeadow that will roll over and die. They let Clarke go because of a knee injury that he just couldn’t seem to shake off, and even if we don’t see an identical team to that which faced us just a few short weeks ago, I doubt we will see a lack of professionalism from this side.

Standout player Paul Hakim has netted seventeen times in the league this term, and goalkeeper Paul Bastock seems to have been around forever at various clubs, yet is approaching 200 for the Saints alone in the twilight of his playing career. Dons fans will remember Jonathan Hunt as unfortunate not to get more first team opportunities in Wimbledon FC’s post relegation team of 2000, yet mainly for his goal against Middlesborough in the FA Cup that year.

This season their problem has been inconsistency. Back in August they destroyed Eastleigh 5-0 (although Eastleigh were rubbish at the time), and more recently won a point at Chelmsford as well as holding us to a point last month. All in there are enough positives to be taken from this season to encorage them for next term, and a victory against the champions will help, but can they really compete with Woking, Dover and their like?


Us – Its a sellout. We’re all pretty excited. There’s champions t-shirts and scarves ready to be sold. Theres a new edition of WUP on sale (at least I presume it will be on sale, unless they set an ultra early deadline for the first pre-season game). Unlike previous sellouts there will hopefully be a relaxed laid back atmosphere, kind of like Raynes Park Vale on the last day of the first CCL season, but probably without the 5-1 scoreline unfortunately.

The Dons fans have a lot to look forward to in the summer. The drip feed of announcements as to pre-season games and summer signings, the fixtures (which I believe are usually released only a week after the Premier/Football League ones – remember when we waited until late July to find out where we were going on the first day?). But before all that, theres a title to celebrate…

Them – Spent time in the Conference very recently, so Saints fans wouldn’t really be football supporters if they didn’t harbour even the slightest jealousy at having to come to Kingsmeadow on the day promotion is assured. On the whole they’ve had the sort of season we should expect next season, never looked like going down, but weren’t troubling the playoff scene either. In other words, mid-table mediocrity.

On the whole there seems to be far worse fans in the world than Saints fans, a couple have been grumbling on guestbooks about our success, and we have to remember the moaning that followed the attendance figure given after our previous meeting at KM, but on the whole they don’t seem a bad bunch. They’ve sold 100 terrace tickets and a handful of seats, so won’t be short of support and may make themselves heard when our lot settle down, sit back and enjoy the occasion.


17/12/05     Home     FA Trophy 1st Round        2-3

10/3/09       Away      Blue Square South               0-0


Theres only two possible results tomorrow as far as I can see – A Dons win (and a big one) as the lads turn on the style as only champions can, or a dreary affair settled by a couple of overcelebrated St Albans goals as the boys look forward to beer, champagne and a post match lap of honour. Also I’m willing to bet at least one lucky lady will be going home with a Blue Square South Champions winners medal when a pissed up player accidentally drops one in when the mug gets passed round at The Peel that evening.


The Herts Advertiser –

Telegraph –


Milton Keynes Citizen –

South London Press (various articles) –

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Sold Out

For those of you not aware, Saturdays final game of the season is now sold out. Another 4000 plus crowd flocking into Kingsmeadow has been an exception during our first six years, but the excitement generated by our arrival in non-league football’s top flight will surely see this close-to-capacity sort of crowd become the norm next term, at least as far as Saturday home games are concerned.

The club are yet to announce ticket prices or season ticket details for next season yet, however Erik has been pretty open about the fact a small rise will follow promotion. Checking current Conference ticket prices, a rise to £12 will keep us as one of the cheapest in the division – a ticket in the all seated away sections at Stevenage and Oxford will set us back £17 for example. The low costs and current popularity of tickets suggests there may be a surge in season tickets overthe summer – its likely we will end up selling over 2000 for the first time.

Plus fans may have to get used to buying in advance, at least for high profile games. The way the St Albans match sold out almost unnoticed suggests Dons fans have got used to this following recent ticketed away trips. This could happen more and more next season, as the more you look for big games, the more appear. True, games against the likes of Eastbourne Borough or Salisbury City may not pull in much more than 3500 for a Saturday game, but visits from the likes of Luton, Oxford, Cambridge, even teams without a league background but a large following like Stevenage could see demand far outstrip supply.

Erik has been consistent to point out that no major development will take place while the club is in the Conference. With a capacity of 4700, would the temptation to erect even a semi-permanent structure prove irresistable if the board find themselves having to turn down requests from a thousand ticketless fans. How much would it cost, for example, to remove the roof over the Kingston Road End, and add a bank of seats raised behind the terrace as at Brightons Withdean Stadium, or several rugby clubs? Would we make our money back in two seasons? One season? The added benefit being you could carve up the Kingston Road End roof and pop it either side of the John Smith Stand, effectively covering those corners.

I suppose a lot would depend on the outcome of the Perimeter Lease, as far as I know talks are still ongoing, and I sincerely hope that Kingston Council are not using it as a ‘ransom strip’. I wonder how much thought has gone into the possibility of a temporary structure, I don’t know if anyone has mentioned this before? The thoroughness of the Stadium Working Group suggests to me it has been thought of and disregarded, perhaps due to costs, or even the possibility it could compromise the current planning permissions we do hold.

I am neither an expert on planning, nor costs of temporary seating (if I was I’d be on the Stadium Working Group!), the above shouldn’t be regarded as anything more than idle speculation. Perhaps it’s for the best if we don’t increase capacity for other reasons. In their first season in Major League Soccer, the Seattle Sounders have managed to sell out pretty much their entire home schedule at the vast Qwest Arena, mainly by restricting capacity to the 22,000 lower bowl in the 60,000 capacity stadium.

With games selling out quickly, the Sounders seem to have realised the marketing potential gained by having the hottest tickets in town, and seem reluctant to open even a few blocks of the Upper Bowl, presumably due to the increased costs of doing so. Could our club benefit from supporters turning up for less glamorous games as they couldn’t get tickets for the big games? While there is a whole world of difference between the way tickets are sold and marketed for a sporting event in the USA and a non-league game in England, have I stumbled onto a major new Dons related conspiracy theory?

No. Even if a marketing intern dreamed that one up, the chances of it actually working outside of this half-baked article are probably pretty slim. English people (Dons fans especially…) are far more likely to say ‘Sod it!’ and go home, than ‘Sod it! We couldn’t get tickets for Oxford, lets get a couple for the Tamworth game instead…’. Plus the board would be forgetting their duty as a fan owned club to make sure as many owners (actual or potential) have the opportunity to be in the stadium come matchday.

Back in reality, we’re all going to have to get used to either having a season ticket (which I haven’t yet done in the AFC era, but naturaly will for next year) or buying our tickets in advance, on the website. Perhaps I’m mistaking a short term ticket spurt caused by the urge to see a winning team, for actual long term growth. Stuck in mid-table (especially if the football doesn’t turn out to be that great…), we could see a couple of spikes when the big boys come to town, while the attendances against ‘normal’ clubs remains pretty much the same. Indeed if we play an Oxford or Cambridge on a wet Thursday night and the game’s on tv, is it even likely to sell out at all?

In these tough financial times, its going to be impossible to know whether and by how much the gates will rise. So if you aren’t a current season ticket holder, and you can afford a season ticket this year, do yourself a favour and buy one. If you can’t afford it, make sure you get your tickets well in advance next season. The only thing we can be completelycertain of next season is our own loyalty.

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AFC Wimbledon Res. 1 Bedfont Res. 0 – A Match Report

img110Its been a fantastic weekend for all Dons fans after the first team dramatically took the title (barring a mathematical miracle) at Hampton yesterday. Today I’m going to take some time to belatedly revisit Thursday nights Suburban League Cup final at Imber Court, which saw Marcus Gayle collect his first honour as a manager, by using a group of talented young players mainly drawn from the Under 18’s and Under 19’s. They won with style and on another night could have won by four or five.

Bedfort were a large, determined side, very well organised by their manager, who seemed dressed as if about to head off to compete in a professional snooker tournament. As has become usual for the Anonymous Don in recent games I had a nightmare, missing the team lineups (although thinking back I was stood right below the press box for the entire first half and could have nipped up and copied the PA guys team sheet. Not sure I really wanted to engage in conversation with him, he had the sound of a man who had just lost ten grand but found a Canadian penny, and kept making cryptic remarks to the officials as the ‘third team’). Sadly I couldn’t recognise any of the Dons players with the exception of Jack Turner in goal and Aaron Snelling, so had to identify them by listening to their calls to each other, and for that lackof respect I apologise to the lads.

The lads line up

The lads line up

The young Dons created all the openings in the first half, with Peter Rapson guilty of missing a couple of great chances, but of course doing well to get on the end of them to start with. The forward play of Rapson, Josh Orlando and (sorry, who was the number 9? Was it Ollie Killick? Will be grateful if someone could confirm this for me!) was a joy to behold at times. Orlando went close with a free kick, and Wimbledons ability to continually create chances was a credit to them as Bedfont frequently kept outfield nine players in their own half, reducing space for the Dons front men to operate.

This continued into the second half with Wimbledon missing a couple of gilt edged chances to take the lead (perhaps aware there were a number of fans used to watching the first team, where this sort of behaviour is expected). Until the tenth minute of the period saw a Dons corner from the right attacked at the far post by Rapson, making no mistake this time to give the young Dons the advantage.

Bedfont, with their gameplan now in tatters, were forced to push forward leaving gaps at the back for Wimbledon to exploit. It was Bedfont who had their best chances however, hitting the post before Turner was forced to make a couple of smart stops to his left and right, before a confident claim at a corner took the pressure off. It was then Wimbledons turn to try and kill the game, Orlando surging down the left channel before being brought down, stepping up himself to see his firm penalty well saved down to his left by the Bedfont keeper.

Young Dons go for it!

Young Dons go for it!

The game was so engrossing it took me 85 minutes to realise the reserves were wearing last years first team kit, and they looked comfortable for the remainder of the game despite missing a few chances to kill of Bedfont. The only item of note left to mention was Rapson was removed near the end to a raptuous applause from the gathered Dons, probably in excess of 200, replaced by Elton Gjoni to ensure the sun didn’t go down on Wimbledons chances.

I think its fair to say I went away a fan of Gayles boys, not having had the chance to watch too much reserve football I had been unaware he had brought this particularly talented group through. As a team they look good, for that reason its hard to see which individuals will have what it takes to step up into the first team, but when Marcus says ‘a few have what it takes to make the grade’ I believe him. When a player with several first team appearances such as Jack Stafford is restricted to a role on the bench, it goes to show the competition for places that exists among our young players.

Dons reserves are back in cup final action in May with the Suburban Shield final against Tonbridge Angels at Three Bridges, if you can make it there I strongly recommend doing so, you won’t be disappointed. Well done Marcus and the lads for ensuring their season finishes with at least one honour under your belts.

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Champions (Or A Few Words About The Game That Will Have To Do Instead Of An Actual Match Report!)

img109Champions! Says it all! One of the greatest days in the AFC era, and probably one of the best as a Wimbledon fan full stop. Sorry for those of you who are tuning in looking for my usual high on detail, trying terribly hard to be unbiased match reports; that was never going to happen today was it?

I took my notepad and pen, and my camera, but there was little chance I was going to use it. I knew it was going to be one of those days, I had a feeling when I woke up at 4.30 this morning and couldn’t get back to sleep. Today was going to be a special day, but boy were we going to get one hell of a fright first! I arrived at the ground at about 2-ish, which was pretty full already (the Wimbledon sections at least…), and had some kind of turn when I heard the lineups. Out went Hussey, Davies and most amazingly, Main, and in came Haswell, Taylor and Goodliffe. The plan seemed to be match hard bastard for even harder bastard, with Leberl stepping up into midfield, Taylor and Hatton heading forward with Lee holding the whole thing together. Todays man-on-a-mission was Elliott Godfrey, playng in the free-role and who lets not forget spent several years of hell at Trumpton before he was finally given the chance to play some football this season down the road at Kingsmeadow.

Up top on his own was Danny Kedwell, which meant a 4-5-1, for perhaps the only time in recent memory (feel free to fill the comments section with other times 4-5-1 has been used… under Dave Anderson?). A bold move, anbd one that worked for the first half at least. Wimbledon had the games first chance when Taylor took the ball round a defender who had a very clear chance of getting a challenge in, but seemed to be focused more on Taylor himself and ended up falling over. Taylor got to the line and pulled back for (I think it was) Hatton to screw over what appeared to be an open goal.

Of course, Hampton had a great chance of their own shortly after, which kept Dons fans getting too hopeful too soon. Wimbledon had the better of the first half without creating too many clear cut chances except one crazy incident where it seemed Wimbledon must score, but Hatton, Kedwell, Lee and Godfrey were all somehow denied by poor finishing and, well, some kind of miracle as far as I could see. It was like an invisible forcefield was somehow keeping the ball at bay.

Wimbledon had a couple of scares just before the break mainly caused by circus ball-launcher McDonald (who I mentioned on my spying missionlast week). McDonald seemed to take no part in actual play, remaining anonymous until Hampton got a throw anywhere near the Wimbledon penaly area, where he appeared to land it on the Dons penalty spot time and again.

Having survived that the Dons went in at half-time goalless, the interval providing entertainment as the stewards (and they were amazingly actual stewards hired for the day to amke sure everything went according to plan…) decided they wanted to stop a group of Dons fans innocently hanging up a flag. Literally dozens of them flocked to the incident, like little moths to a flame. It looked as though the situation could have turned ugly but thanks to the urgent intervention of three proper policemen who pointed out that the Wimbledon fans were completely in their rights to do so, and these apparently trained stewards were just making the situation worse, stop being silly, and piss off back where you came from until something worthy of their intervention occured. Well done, proper policemen! (The Community So-called- Support officers did their ‘bit’ for the community by preventing Dons fans drinking alcohol on the train, forgetting that a) its a party, and b) its not even illegal! Legendary ex-chairman Kris Stewart was outside reminding people this was just a law made up on the day by the CSO’s for reasons best known to themselves – it worried me I may have broken the law buying cans of lager from the buffet on a recent trip to Doncaster! and its worth remembering they completely ignore any drinking by the rugby boys a few miles down the road at Twickenham).

Of course this created quite an atmosphere among the Dons fans, who know heavy handed stewarding when they see it following a miserable decade-and-a-half being treated like second class citizens by the infamous Selhurst Stewards. That didn’t really carry over into the second half though, in usual Wimbledon fashion, and the atmosphere went a little dead. In fact you could even hear the small band of Chelsea Hampton fans behind the far goal (more on them later!).

On the subject of stewarding, one of the reasons the Dons sections seemed a little packed may have had something to do with this; some friends of mine had Hampton end tickets, but managed to get in the away section just by asking! No wonder we were cramped in and the Hampton areas looked empty!

In this atmosphere kicked off the second half (is that bad English?) and no sooner had I time to check my watch than a ball over the top found a Hampton player in the clear. Too far in the clear, as he was obviously offside, yet much to the annoyance of Wimbledon the linesman decided that no, he needed to be more than two yards offside for him to make his mind up. An excellent challenge from a Dons player I can’t remember, but am going to allocate this one to Ben Judge as he was awesome today and I haven’t mentioned him yet, sent the ball out for a corner. As Pullen started to organise his defence Hampton took it quickly, Quarm (he of the heartbreaking late goals) centred and the ball somehow made its way into the Wimbledon goal via several deflections (I later found out it was credited to Ryan Lake, but looked very much like an o.g. from where I was). The silence was deafening.


So far, so recent Dons bad luck. If anything Hampton could have had a second goal. The tireless Lewis Taylor was eventually substituted on the hour on his full Wimbledon debut (second time round…), by far the standout Dons player at that point. Imagine if Taylor hadn’t blown his knee in pre-season, we would surely have won the league well before now. I’m so excited to see him rip into Conference defences next season, and can now understand Horsham’s post-season confusion that Lewis came home to his old club rather than go to a Conference National, or even League side last summer.

Main, Finn and Hussey came on during the half, with Lee and Haswell (back injury) also making way. It started to come together for the Dons at last. A couple of chances were cleared off the line, and as time ticked down to ninety minutes, it looked as though the agony would continue for another week. Yet the buildup of fortune we were overdue from Eastleigh and Bromley finally came. Hussey tried to skip down the line but was prevented from doing so by two Trumpton defenders, who colided with each other and stayed down. With both players well off the pitch, Hussey took a quick throw in, the ball found its way over to Jon Main (who will never be doubted again!) who bundled over the line. How apt that a side so willing to go to ground as Hampton, in a manner designed to fool the referee (ie, cheating) that the wining goal came when at least one of their players (although he probably only got stretchered off to put undue pressure on the referee; this is Hampton after all…) appeared to actually have some form of injury.

Cue pandemonium on all four sides of the ground as Dons fans celebrated what must have been the goal to win us the league. And, after seven minutes of injury time, was. Virtually all 2500 Dons fans ended up on the pitch, although Hampton don’t make it easy for you getting over those fences when you have a genuine reason to do so (although all that weight I put on recently may have had something to do with it… I initially gave up until another fan told me all I had to do was get one leg over, then it wouldn’t matter if I fell the other side – I’ll be there!). I had famously missed the Staines playoff game (well it was quite a famous incident in my family anyway…) so was looking forward to chairing our heros off the pitch at the end. And what an experience it was! Faces contorted with absolute relief and ecstacy cheered the Dons players all the way to the tunnel.



Of course, someone had to try and spoil it. After putting up with intense provocation at recent games at Eastleigh and Bromley without it breaking into violence, the Dons fans were never going to let a dozen or so posh Hampton college boys upset them. These lads, who had obviously been watching too many hooligan movies, decided to wait behind by the tunnel (the obvious destination for Wimbledon fans to celebrate) and the level of goading could have been quite serious if it wasn’t absolutely hilarious. I had great fun chanting ‘little boys’ at you if any of you are reading, by the way…

Which leads me to think what will happen if they do somehow make it through the playoffs? They will have to play certain Northern based teams whos supporters, if offered the same provocation, will have absolutely no qualms whatsoever about taking up the challenge, and kicking you senseless (I’ve seen it happen, its not nice, not nice at all). Dons fans have experience of this, play at a ground where experienced professionals provide security, and supporters who, by and large, know how to avoid it. Hampton on the other hand may think its funny trying it on against a bunch of Dons fans too busy celebrating to notice, but may have a nasty surprise in wait if they ever do that to pissed off Mansfield fans after an unexpected defeat.

I have to say, I really hope Hampton don’t get promoted, this or any other season. Normally you would say the majority of fans are ok, but in Hamptons case, no, they are definitely not. They are typical of the blazer brigade that have tried to hold us back from day one, with a dose of local pikey thrown in (although unlike Bromley, these aren’t your actual pikeys, they’re South-West London mock Chelsea wannabes, like you find in Kingston, Wimbledon or wherever. Typical scum basically.

And the above paragraph represents a departure from the usual Anonymous Don commentary of not being overly offensive towards the opposition, but for today that goes out the window. There are certain clubs, and certain fans for whom this doesn’t apply, they will know who they are as they are the ones who won’t be offended by it. Chelmo, good luck in the playoffs, you are the closest thing we’ve come to normality in the last seven years.

Again there are exceptions. Smaller clubs like Hendon or Merstham, or in the cup Oxhey Jets, teams willing to hold out a hand of friendship, teams that occasionaly beat us, and more than any others, absolutely deserved it.

Then there are the others. Teams that have a phrase for clubs that have ambition, that want to succeed. Thay call us Billy Big Bollocks. Well to be honest, as we are never going to play any of you again (come on Chelmo!), I really don’t care. I don’t care about your Tony Kempsters message board, which seems to be full of people with absolutely no interest in football, more the booklets you pay for when you get there, or the turnstiles, corner flags, whatever. I refuse to believe this messageboard is anything more than a cover for a paedophile ring, which is why they definitely don’t like Dons fans sniffing about!

Then there is that poor excuse for an board the Unofficial Conference South board of whateve they are calling themselves. Never before have I come across a bigger bunch of whingers, liars and generally jealous lowlifes in my life. That some Dons fans seem to walk on egg shells trying not to offend them staggers me. We should, to a man, swamp that board with messages reminding them that we will be leaving them very shortly, and reminding them who exactly the champions are this year.

The Conference South gave us the impression we would be joining ambitious clubs this year. Sadly not. These people are just as bitter as the rest of them. And we will face bitterness again. It must be galling for Woking to know there is a local team coming up thats going to absolutely blow them out of the water. If Grays escape relegation Im sure their very small band of supporters won’t be happy either. But at least we will be with clubs that don’t see trying to get in the Football League as some kind of hate crime. As after all, thats the ultimate reward of the competition.

So for any Conference South supporter reading this, just one final message. Thanks for the memories, but memories are all they will be to us, as we won’t be playing any of you again in the near future.


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The Morning Of The Big Day

It looks as though as few words and some links will have to do as far as match previews go this week. I fell asleep ridiculously early last night after a tiring day. So I find myself here on the morning of the big match, typing away at 5am with the world around me silent except for a few chirpy birds and the occasional early train making its way to or from Kingston station.

Unlike yesterday when I woke up with butterflies, today there are no nerves. While I type I’m planning my day in the back of my head, wondering if it is a sunny day whether to walk the full length of Bushey Park to the ground or take the easy route via train. Bus isn’t an option today, my Oyster card got cancelled and I can’t be bothered to ring Tfl to sort it out. Maybe next week.

The weather looks like staying clear and dry, I’m wondering whether on arrival at the ground I may find a completely different pitch to last weeks visit to the Beveree. When wet, the ball zipped across the surface despite the grass being long in places, a dry pitch will allow Hampton to play a lot more balls over the top into the corners, situations where if the defender wins the race back, would normally only be able to put the ball out for a throw, allowing Hampton to bring their big long throw weapon in full back MacDonald forward to launch one into the six yard box.

Checking my email I find my wife has sent me numerous pictures of Haydon overnight for some reason, which remiinds me of all the other far flung Wombles who will be listening in to WDON, packed into the online stadium or just trying to do as best they can with regards the guestbook. I remember the frustration caused by not being able to access the guestbook in the dying moments of important games. I hope whether good news or bad we can spread the word as quickly as possible today to lessen the agony for them. My inlaws over the Atlantic will know straight away. I promised to ring on the final whistle should we be champions, so even if we cannot hear each other properly a very small town in southern New Hampshire will be one of the first places to hear the news. Of course should the worst happen, thye know the call will not come, which may cause problems if the kick off needs to be delayed!

Finally, should the news today not be good, lets remember how far we have come as a club. Seven years ago we were watching football in the Championship, although at the time perhaps the word ‘watching’ did not best describe the experience. We couldn’t be sure we would even have a club to come back to the following season. That we do have a club at all today is impressive. That we have one that has bounced back so high is a modern day football miracle, one that everyone who counts themselves as a Wimbledon supporter can be very proud of.

Rest assured the players stepping onto the field on your behalf today know this. While initially signing for the club because of the high crowds and stable income we provide, the management team make sure every player who joins is aware of their responsibilities as a Wimbledon player. Those that don’t properly understand this don’t tend to stay with the club that long, we know that from past experience. In such a tight title race this alone could prove to be the difference.

Today, the vast majority in the ground will be behind the visitors. Lets make that advantage count. If you are a yellow ticket holder, wear your colours today, lets turn those 2 1/2 sides of the ground into a sea of yellow and blue. If you are a red ticket holder, don’t give them a chance to turn you away at the gate, hide your colours and make sure you see the game. Perhaps the hundreds of you going into the home areas could arrange to gather under the covered terrace, then when the game starts you can use the acoustics provided by the roof to our further advantage.

Wherever you are today, good luck to everyone. Don’t stop believing.

No Tickets Here…

soldoutIts the hottest ticket in town tomorrow, if you have the money and the inclination you can easily pick up an FA Cup Semi-Final seat for a price… sadly for us Dons the Beveree can only hold 3250. Our 1750 allocation sold out ages ago, and desperate Dons fans have snapped up hundreds of tickets in the Hampton end; but which ever way you look at it, we can’t all physically fit in there, and there are going to be some broken hearts come 3pm.

For those of you who aren’t one of the lucky ones, you’ll be in my thoughts at 2.59pm, once the game kicks off it’ll have my undivided attention. For those of you that have got used to the level of detail in my match reports, I doubt I’ll have much chance to pull the notebook out on Saturday, it may be high on emotion when I get a chance to write it!

My match preview will be posted at about 7.30, in the meantime there is plenty of media out there to whet your appetite… links below

Big Tissue –

SW19s –


Houslow Chronicle (Hampton) –

Local Guardian (Devonport interview) –

Daily Mail –

The Sun (3/4 down) –