Monthly Archives: May 2009

The Conference Files – Chester City

To lose a Football League place once could be considered unfortunate, but to lose it twice is just plain careless. Well, it was before the days of two-up-two-down. If the number of teams changing places was brought into line with other 24-team divisions (i.e. League 2 four up, or four down from the Conference), clubs will be swapping places regularly.

This would allow progressive non-league clubs the chance to yo-yo until they find their natural level, and larger clubs with a Football League tradition to bounce back faster. Instead we have a division this season featuring some very big clubs (Oxford, Luton), ambitious Conference nearly men like Stevenage, ex-League sides in the process of rebuilding (Wrexham, Mansfield). Plus the wild card that is AFC Wimbledon.

Which makes it all the more difficult for Chester to challenge next season, and it may require a fair few years of consolidation while they get over their financial difficulties before they can even think of bouncing back. In fact their biggest challenge next term will be avoiding the realistic possibility of back-to-back relegation.

The annoying thing for Chester fans is that perhaps if their club had been in the hands of responsible individuals during the two seasons they crashed out of the league, perhaps they might have steered clear of relegation. As it was, the first drop to Conference level came when American Terry Smith had his ‘interesting’ period in charge, last season the club took the drop under Stephen Vaughan (who you should remember from Barrow AFC’s file…). Vaughan’s two sons played for the first team at Chester last year, I’ll let you draw your own conclusions there…

But in a way Chester were quite lucky. They could have come under the ownership of The Worst Football Chairman In History Ever, John Bachelor. This was the man who wanted to rename the club after a soap that stopped running five years ago. Chester are a small side and always have been, but in case anyone hasn’t noticed there are a dozen or so similar sized clubs knocking about in League 2, so you have to feel a great deal of sympathy for the way they have attracted owners so keen to piss away their precious League place, as Blues fans themselves know they could be in for a long wait in regaining it this time.


chesterAs was the case in the late nineteenth century, football fever had taken hold and clubs were springing up everywhere. The clubs that survive to this day were normally the result of mergers, as smaller clubs pooled their resources and members. Chester was no exception, and Chester FC came into being in 1885 when Chester Rovers and Old Kings Scholars joined forces.

It took the new entity five years to join a league, the Combination League, and five further years to land their first silverware, the Cheshire Senior Cup of 1895. Like most of the sides we will encounter from the North-West next season, Chester had their spell in the Lancashire Combination from 1910 onwards before moving to the newly created Cheshire League after the First World War.

They took their place in the Football League in 1931, replacing Nelson who had finished bottom for the second year in succession. It took a second vote to see Chester elected though, and they played their first game in the Third Division North with a 4-0 victory against Wigan Borough, only to see the result struck from the records following their opponents mid season demise. So, fittingly, their first Football League result turned out to be a 1-1 draw against a side that would turn out to be the Blues biggest rivals – Wrexham.

Chester’s proximity to the border meant regular invites into the Welsh Cup, in fact they have the tenth best record in the competitions history. Meetings in this competition with Wrexham further intensified the rivalry. Of course both clubs find themselves in the same division again this coming season…

Back to the history, and Chester were regular challengers from promotion through the thirties, regularly finding their progress thwarted by a promotion system that saw only the champions go up. Following the war, The Blues found themselves consistently also-rans, placed in Division Four following the League reshuffle in the fifties. Chester had never won promotion as a League club right up until 1975, a season they managed to finish fourth as well as reaching the semi-finals of the League Cup, dumping out Leeds and Newcastle on the way before meeting their match in a narrow 4-5 aggregate defeat to Aston Villa.

It was around this point that the Chester youth team produced a gem of a striker by the name of Ian Rush, one of two strikers Chester developed that went on to become one of the greatest goal getters the world has ever seen (the other of course being ‘The Maradona of the Neville Ovenden Combination’ himself, Aiden Newhouse). In 1983 the club changed its name to reflect the status of its home community, becoming Chester City FC.

As mentioned above, Chester were first relegated to the Conference thanks to the amazingly inept period of ownership by American Terry Smith. Smith stated confidently the Blues would be playing Championship football within three years, but after Kevin Ratcliffe left the club claiming interference from Smith, the managerial hot seat was filled by, erm, Smith himself.

By no means the only owner-manager (think Noades at Brentford or Fry at Peterborough), at least those two came from a football background, and had the contacts and knowledge to make it work. Smith however did have a coaching background in football, sadly a different code. Quite what he thought he could bring to the table from his days working with the Manchester Spartans. His managerial career lasted four months and comprised four wins until he hired a proper manager, Ian Atkins.

Its fair to say Atkins had little to work with; a Chester exited the league at the end of the 99/00 season. That they were only out of the league for four seasons was in part due to Vaughan, who pumped enough cash into the club to see them promoted in 2004. Its fair to say progress has halted as far as Chester were concerned since that day, with finishes perilously close to the drop zone commonplace.


Chester dropped out of the league after a disastrous start last year. Bear in mind they were up against Rotherham (starting on -17 points), Bournemouth (-17) and Luton (-30), that they only finished above one of them, as truly awful sides such as Barnet, Macclesfield and Grimsby were saved by their ineptitude.

In a division where several clubs struggled to get over 2000 in for evening games, Chester registered several crowds well under that figure for Saturday games, which perhaps can be put down to the chaotic reign of Vaughan. It had started badly, a 0-6 defeat at Dagenham, but they put things right with a 5-1 win at home to Barnet, and actually went unbeaten through September (albeit only winning one game).

Their inability to won the big games ultimately cost them. During the run in they lost to Barnet, Grimsby, Macclesfield and Bournemouth, sliding into relegation trouble until it was confirmed following a 2-2 draw at Aldershot on the penultimate week.

Perhaps I was harsh on Vaughan’s sons Stephen and James in the preamble, you aren’t going to be a dud if you were on Liverpool’s books as a kid, as Stephen was. But there is a reason why players drop out of youth academies, it’s because they aren’t good enough. And Stephen has been with a few non-league clubs without establishing himself, what makes him good enough to even merit a squad place at Chester?

Plus James made 42 appearances for the club last season, you would hope on merit, but there are always going to be questions of nepotism asked if your dad is the chairman. Chester could have been down well beforehand if it hadn’t been for goals from Kevin Ellison – yet Ellison will be lining up for Rotherham next season, and Chester will be without nearly all their players following administration.


It all went a bit surreal as the season died out, as the financial problems that beset Darlington seemed to have offered Chester a lifeline. There seemed no way the Teeside club could continue, before things went a little strange. Vaughan was reported to have investigated a takeover there. But by this time it was clear that Stephen Vaughan was not the Stephen Vaughan that owned Chester City, the shares had been passed to his son, meaning Stephen Vaughan Junior was actually one of the very few player/owners the game has ever seen towards the end of last season.

As we now know, Darlington pulled through, Chester’s relegation was confirmed, and they entered administration with debts of £4.29m. £4m of those debts are coincidentally owed to Vaughan himself. Meaning if Vaughan was to take back the club, it will be with debts of only £290,000 to arrange. Anybody else looking to take over would have to face agreeing the £4m loan with Vaughan. Of course at the time of writing there is only one offer on the table – see if you can guess who its from.


So stop me if you’ve heard this before. Football club leaves historic old home to ground share in a town miles away, meanwhile said historic old home just sits there gathering cobwebs for years on end… of course its not us, its Chester. It must have been terrible for Chester fans as they took the trip down to Macclesfield every other week knowing Sealand Road was still standing, they could have returned at any time.

(Ground taken from them, owned by an arsehole crook that is taking the piss out of them – Chester are more Wimbledon than we are!)

The boxy-looking Deva Stadium eventually replaced the old place. With seats now added to the away end the capacity is now 5376, with 4100 seats. For some reason I’ve always loved the look of the place, very small capacity stadiums that are actually pretty decent have always appealed to me. I’m looking forward to our visit there. Finally I’m not going to mention the fact that the Chester club offices are in England but the stadium itself is in Wales, because everyone mentions it and it’d be lazy of me, you know, like I just get all my information from Wikipedia or something?


Unlikely to be finalised until a takeover happens, the administrator at Chester has advised supporters to keep hold of their money for now, instead of buying season tickets. Lets not forget there is still an outside chance the Football Conference could take one look at Chester and say ‘no way, we aren’t having you…’ and of them ending up in the Unibond.


AFC Era – None

 All time Wimbledon –



All six fixtures took place in the early days of League football for Wimbledon FC beginning with a 2-3 Division Three home defeat on the 18th August 1979. 

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The General Specific (Saturday 30th May ’09)

It’s been a confusing morning for the Anonymous Don. I was under the impression I had written a brilliant defence for staying at Kingsmeadow for the time being before I went to bed last night, only to find I must have been in the deepest of fevers imaginable. To be fair, the redevelopment I wrote about is technically possible, however its only likely to happen if it turns out the whole world is a figment of my imagination as I lie in a coma somewhere.

The whole article was meant to be a balanced piece, where I spoke about Kingsmeadow and my personal feelings towards the place, then moved on to examine our options around Wimbledon and the surrounding areas. It didn’t quite work out like that, so even though I made it pretty clear from the start that I’m pro-Wimbledon, I thought I better write this ASAP this morning in case word gets around that the Anonymous Don is actually a henchmen of Winkie, designed to gain the trust of the Dons fan base and steer them away from their ultimate destiny of a ground in Wimbledon. Which could ruin my reputation… if of course I had a reputation.

I think most people are in agreement that any new stadium will need to be closer to ‘Wimbledon’ than Kingsmeadow currently is. But people seem to have different ideas as to where that is. I like the idea we should centre our search on Camp Road, on the Common. Other supporters think it should be Plough Lane. So for arbitrary reasons, and to make this article simpler for everyone, I’m going to go with Wimbledon Station. 



The circle is roughly the distance between Kingsmeadow and Wimbledon Station, which makes any potential site within fair game. Leader of the Opposition Councillor Stephen Alambritis recently suggested three sites – Imperial Fields, the Greyhound Stadium, or land around the tennis club. His point was there are plenty of green areas around the borough, so why not build a stadium on or near to existing sporting facilities? This would make sense rather than wait for a Brownfield site to become available

Imperial Fields is probably a no go; we know from recent experience that the locals just don’t want us even when we planned to share the existing 3000 capacity facility. As well as this, I wouldn’t feel comfortable ground sharing again, so we will have to force T&MU out. We all want our own stadium, however it doesn’t need me to say just how controversial that would be. It was interesting to hear Alambritis mention the tennis facilities, however I’m not sure how that will work in practice. Plus it’s one thing for Alambritis to gain favour by mere words, its actions that we need now.

Council leader David Williams has always seemed supportive, even if he has been channelling us towards the Greyhound Stadium. He was quoted earlier in the year as saying ‘I think they know that there’s only one real option and that’s the greyhound stadium.’ Hardly encouraging words, especially as neither us nor the council owns the site, by all means the council could use their powers to squeeze us into any new development, but the current owners seem happy to hold the land, perhaps even until the economy picks up and land becomes a lot more valuable once more.

So if it’s going to happen, we are going to have to take the initiative ourselves. Following the suggestion that green space could be used near existing sports facilities takes us to another football club based in the circle – Colliers Wood United. We wouldn’t even need to force them out of their ground, we could build next to it, or further down on the extension playing fields. This wouldn’t be as easy either, as the only way in and out is from the A3, and it’s a fair old walk from the nearest train station, Raynes Park.

The fact is there’s nothing stopping us building on any of these sites if we fight a brilliant campaign. We only have to look towards Brighton fans, and how they secured their new stadium site on sensitive land. There are thousands of us in and around Merton, and its time we made ourselves heard. Its time the majority was put ahead of a NIMBY minority for a change. Wherever we chose to focus, we need to systematically destroy any selfish arguments, and take a stand against these sorts of people.

Yet, as I said yesterday, we shouldn’t allow a prolonged stay at Kingsmeadow to get in the way of our ambitions. And lets not be afraid to spend serious money on the ground (after all we have already spent millions on it) while still looking for a new facility. Our primary objective as a football club wasn’t to find a ground in Wimbledon (or Merton) as soon as possible, our objective was to rise up the divisions and reclaim what is rightfully ours. So lets not allow some petty squabble to go on all summer long and cause unnecessary divisions among the fan base, we are in this for the long run aren’t we?

Finally it may have escaped the attentions of a few of you, but we signed Steven Gregory from Hayes and Yeading yesterday. The two-goal hero from the Conference South playoff final joins an increasingly young looking midfield, hopefully Terry will get them playing without fear next season. Perhaps we will see a more experienced head join in July when contracts run down and expire, but is it even necessary if the plan is to bring through younger players who can make the step up the League football? 

I have a feeling we are going to shock a few of our own supporters with our performances next term, I’m not saying we are going to go up, in fact mid table safety and a couple of almighty cup runs will suit me down to the ground, but a player like Gregory can only improve over the next season or two. So wherever we finish, we can look forward to a much brighter future on the pitch.

Terry has gone back to Ashford with an improved offer for Ricky Wellard, including a big cut of any future fee we receive for him, meaning the Middlesex club will have a chance to cash in on our first million pound player! Current signs are good the deal will go through, but unlike Gregory the club are unwilling to go to tribunal for him, so if the offer is refused, the deal is dead. Stay tuned for more news next week…

Already from the limited contact (mainly forum and email based) I have had with other supporters in the BSP, I have a feeling we are all going to enjoy being in this division! Being in the BSP for 5/6/7 years won’t kill us, but neither will promotion in two seasons, so lets not fear that either. Accrington are the latest club with a winding up order over their heads, these clubs pulling in sub 2000 or even sub 1000 crowds will get replaced eventually by the likes of Cambridge, Oxford, Stevenage even. But I don’t think we will see a newly promoted BSP club go straight back down for many years yet…

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The General Specific (Friday 29th May ’09)

So the outcome of those newspaper reports was nothing more than starting an Internet based squabble over where precisely our new ground should be. Ignoring of course we still have no preferred site closer to Wimbledon, the Greyhound Stadium owners still won’t talk to us (which is strange and arrogant of them, surely by now they could have responded, even if it was just ‘your barking up the wrong tree, folks’). I’m fairly certain the non-rumour was much more likely to have been spread to the papers by someone close to the council rather than the club.

wimbledonold25So I hope all the good publicity was worth it for them – we now know they will back us to build on a site we don’t own and which may not be released for redevelopment for years (taking the current financial climate into account). By that time the local elections could have decimated our support on the council, unless the stadium issue becomes a hot topic closer at that time.

It’s at this point that I have to come forward and declare an interest, that as someone who has lived in Kingston and its surrounds for most of my life I am naturally going to show a selfish bias towards staying at Kingsmeadow. I take great pride in the fact that my football club currently play in my hometown. I always used to follow Kingstonian when Wimbledon were playing too far for me to travel, so I have been watching football for years here.

The truth is, my love of Kingsmeadow has very little to do with Kingstonian as a club – the ground was just somewhere a group of 15 year olds who supported the likes of Wimbledon, Fulham, Chelsea, Manchester United, Spurs, Palace, etc, could go on a Tuesday night for a Carlsberg Cup game, spend ninety minutes taking the piss out of Sutton players, get served a beer at half time, and generally just enjoy ourselves at football without the fear of club loyalties ruining everything. If it weren’t for Kingsmeadow we wouldn’t have had that. 

Yes I love Wimbledon town very much, perhaps because I have never lived there and yet support the club I even have a rose tinted view of the place even those that are based in the town wouldn’t share. My memories of watching football at Plough Lane were collected almost exclusively before my fourteenth birthday (a dozen or so reserve games don’t count surely? Its a bit too late to try and cover up the fact I normally bunked off school for the afternoon to go, unless my mum is reading in which case – Sorry Mum).

Yet – and this might stagger those of you who feel wanting the club to remain at Kingsmeadow and wanting the club to move back to Wimbledon are two mutually exclusive ideas – if you asked me what camp I’m in right now I’d say I’m pro-Wimbledon. AFC Wimbledon deserve to play in Wimbledon, as a fan base we can move mountains. I really believe that. A move back to Wimbledon might seem impossible right now to some, but we can make it happen, whether it’s in five years, ten years or fifty years. We will achieve our goal.

Until then? The club has become progressively more successful in the last few years and will continue to be regardless of where we play, be it Kingsmeadow or somewhere in Merton. But why should we spend millions doing up Imperial Fields for example, when that isn’t Wimbledon either? Surely once that has been done we will all be fine for a couple of years before another site comes up and we all get itchy feet again?

We may as well stay at Kingsmeadow for all the good we will do ourselves. Get the rebuilding work done, get up to 6000 capacity, and see where we go from there. I hear rumours that Kingston Council may not be as proactive as Merton are, well they certainly will be when we are knocking on the door of the Football League and selling out Kingsmeadow every week. How long will it take until small businesses from Kingston to New Malden are banging on our door to assist our expansion plans? The pressure for homes in Kingston – let alone affordable ones – is through the roof. What ten or fifteen years ago was a town surrounded by waste ground has now been built on every available square inch.

All except two sites. The old power station, due to its proximity to the river, is always going to be a sensitive one. The other is the filter beds. Now at some point in the future, there is going to be a development there. And that development will more that likely bring with it footpath access from Lower Marsh Lane/Berrylands station. With at least an extra two trains an hour arriving within easy reach of the stadium in both directions (and the likely hood of South-West Trains allowing the Waterloo-Woking service and perhaps even the Waterloo-Guildford via Cobham run stopping at Berrylands on match day being quite high – they already do this frequently during high passenger traffic periods) fans could find it easier to get to KM from there than from Norbiton.

So where will all these fans fit into our tiny 4700 arena? Well we know from the beauty of openly available trust reports that the extra turnstiles will push us over the 5000 capacity + 1000 seat limit to allow us at least a three year stay in the Football League. That’s not going to be big enough for us, so I will imagine that developments on the Kingston Road End are completed as per current plans. The safety bonus of having supporters enter and leave from the rear as well as the front will mean we could fit a few more in safely.

That only takes us up to 5,500, so the club implements the John Smith planning permission. Or maybe it doesn’t? Perhaps the club find out it would be more cost effective to join forces with the council owned running track, demolish the old stand there, and build a new one in front of the old one, moving that jump pit inside the track? Or even putting the stand on the other side of the track altogether… it would cost money, but again there would be improved grants available to a Football League club, and as it is improving the athletics facilities too may qualify for a separate grant for that part of the work. All of a sudden there’s 7,000 in the ground, and things are looking a little rosier.

km overhead

Finally the Strank Stand. Seemingly constrained by its own structure, the only alternative would be to demolish and rebuild. The only way we could possibly do this would be to find a ‘development partner’. Again grants would play a part, but if we cosy up to the right sort of investor at the right time, i.e. one who had noticed a lack of conference and banqueting facilities in the Borough.

I know I have banged on about this before, but as someone who once had to plan a Christmas party for a Surbiton based company knows only too well – there aren’t nearly enough of them! Most venues were telling me they are solidly booked throughout the year, let alone Xmas, and we had no chance (we eventually had to make do with a Monday early in December in Strada. Nice, but not what we had in mind…). This was before Ravens Ait fell dormant – the island site later fell into the hands of ‘community squatters’, before sadly they were turfed out last month.

Ok, a reality check now. I know speculators looking to grab a few hundred thousand pounds a year from the business community probably won’t snap up Kingsmeadow. I also know what ever happens to Ravens Ait there are likely to be similar facilities in the new Holiday Inn just down the Pompey Road. But what’s stopping us from making the most of our own site – and scooping the rewards ourselves?

Well, it would take a massive amount of investment and borrowing off our own backs, even if the inflated London construction prices were capped with the largest grants available. But those steps don’t need to be taken straight away, they can happen over the course of ten or twenty years, as a piecemeal development – always keeping our eyes open for a return to the Promised Land. Every new structure from now on – even those basic improvements we have to make to stay in the Conference/be eligible for the league – will need to be debated with the same ferocity as this one has.

Lets not be scared of argument. Ultimately as someone who attended coming on forty Dons games last season, my opinion counts the same as any Wimbledon supporters, whether they be based in Wimbledon, Mitcham, Croydon or Kent, if they attended every first team game or just a handful of home fixtures. As a long time Kingston-based Don I’m fairly certain I know my council. They resisted public criticism to build The Rose, the loss making theatre. They did everything in their power to get the family oriented Rotunda built. So I’m fairly certain if they were offered a Football League club for keeps, they’ll snatch our hands off. Bear in mind ten years ago Kingston Town Centre was a battleground on Friday and Saturday nights caused by pissed up young fools like myself… and fair enough it hasn’t improved a great deal after throwing out time now. But walk around the town centre of a Saturday night, you’ll see a lot more families, theatre-types, or people who only came to Kingston to sample the Jamie Oliver restaurant.

Kingston wants to build more hotels, to make more of its heritage, its closeness to Hampton Court and Kew and the launch pad to several dozen historic places nearby. Kingston wants to see new people, to be a tourist hotspot. For that reason, Kingston will want a football club in the League. And what about other institutions? I remember picking up a prospectus at Kingston Uni ten years ago that advised students ‘Premier League football is a short journey away, as Wimbledon FC play at Selhurst Park’. The message being that cheap football was nearby, and although the student demographic at the Uni has changed considerably over the years, there will still be plenty of students willing to come down, even based on our reputation alone.

Those of you who may have seen my posts on the guest book recently will know I hold no sympathies for Kingstonian FC. The reaped what they sowed and have finally found their level because of it. Kingstonian FC are a famous old non-league name, and that’s all they will ever be. They will have their minor success and their problems here and there, but ultimately it will be achieved in the Ryman Premier, perhaps yo-yoing between the division above during the good times and the division below during the bad. 300-500 people will turn up to watch them do it, and no matter how hard Wimbledon try for new supporters in the Royal Borough it will always be that way. Those words I mentioned yesterday, spoken by a neighbour five years ago, are still ringing in my ears. “Kingstonian blew it. AFC Wimbledon are our club now”

Certain webmasters who are all too keen to fire cheap shots over from the safety of their sofas while they aren’t watching TV 🙂 should bear that in mind. Yes, I’m not an expert on potential sites in Merton, I have never been to a council planning meeting in my life, and I’m talking as a Kingston based Don who has an obvious pride in his town, a pride that extends to the fact that our football club elected to play here to begin with, and therefore Kingston will always somehow be associated with its history.

I’m not sure whether a League club playing down the road will convert supporters on the Cambridge Estate in their droves from the evil empire that is Chelsea. As far as I’m aware the estate is a dumping ground for the unwanted anyway, or they would have got a nice house in Tolworth or Chessington, and the turnover is pretty high. What’s the betting that in ten years time we will see a number of young fans with no previous English allegiances swarming the ‘Meadow on match day, just because we happen to be down the road from where they live. And if they bring their Chelsea supporting dad, so be it, we’ll convert him too! Then all of a sudden we have a thousand or so more fans in K’tun, capable of affecting local planning and council policy.

This has gone beyond a rant now and is in danger of becoming a full on diatribe. I’ve never written a diatribe before, so it’s all very exciting. Obviously the article I was referring to above, Rob Dunford of SW19 fame’s eloquent summing up of recent events, probably makes this effort look like the rambling scribbles of a pre-teen suffering from ADHD locked in a room with only a pen, a crayon and an idea. I do have to say in my defence that Rob probably isn’t suffering from the early stages of full-blown man flu like I am, so I have neither the concentration nor inclination to go back and edit tonight.

So I hope you’ve enjoyed this edition of The General Specific – Unleashed. Some of the points I raised above may seem ludicrous to seasoned experts in their respective fields. Shoot them down in flames if you know different, not because I think you can’t, but because I want to know for myself what the likelihood is of improving the stadium in the manner I suggested.

And please don’t ever suggest that Kingston as a Borough is not suitable for our team. It’s as suitable as any location within a three-mile radius of Wimbledon station. Its suitable because it’s only a steroid fuelled javelin throwers best shot from the very place we first started – Wimbledon Common. I know none of us were born then, but the ghosts of the Old Centrals still kick those heavy leather balls around in the dead of night (I presume, I mean I know nothing of the paranormal. UFO’s and Cryptozooligy on the other hand I’m slightly better on). Perhaps the WUP could spend some money on a plaque sited on our best guess of where our first ever game took place. Because whether it was Wimbledon Common, Raynes Park, New Malden or wherever those Old Centrals also had difficulty finding a home ground. We owe the fact there is an AFC Wimbledon here today for us to support to them.

And whatever happens in future, we must all remember this (and I’m definitely including myself in this…). Whatever is best for the club is best for us all, regardless of where that may be. Although Milton Keynes is stretching it slightly too far…



It has been noticed that I failed to mention the signing of Steven Gregory today, and I will come back with a full introduction tomorrow, unless I am forced to spend the day in bed which will be a real bummer as I’m supposed to be viewing a flat in Surbiton at 10:20. On behalf of the Anonymous Don (which is a really stupid thing to write anyway, as I am the Anonymous Don) can I apologise for this oversight, and welcome you into the bosom of our family, AFC Wimbledon.

Also can I apologise to everyone else for the grammar… 

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The General Specific (Thursday 28th May ’09 Part Deux)

WARNING – This is a Plough Lane free post, Except for that first sentence warning this is a Plough Lane-less post and this one explaining it.

Well. I was going to write earlier about what on earth Paul Lorraine was waiting for in signing on the dotted line. I had read elsewhere that perhaps he might have been waiting on a full-time contract, some even incorrectly suggesting he may have stayed at Woking despite their move to part time football this coming season. Perhaps he was waiting to see whether Woking would get a last minute reprieve from relegation, but even then we were a bigger club than them last season let alone this one even if they did find themselves back in the BSP.

I’m not moaning about this (well, actually I am), but every day that went by seemed more of a slap in the face to us as a club in what has been a news vacuum. I gather from a few recent posts on the guestbook I wasn’t alone in thinking that the delay wasn’t really what you would expect from someone the O/S describes as ‘always been a Dons fan’, especially one who had already had a spell at the club. While we don’t need to be patronised by that kind of see-through PR, Paul is now a Womble again, and therefore I will only remember his fabulous performances two years ago, as well as come up with a few excuses why it took him so long.

Number One – Dave Anderson used to really frighten him. This was the original reason he left, yet now he fears as Dave is such a frequent visitor to the club someone might leave the dressing room door unlocked and he’d sneak back in and start shouting at him in Irish again. He’s only just wiped the spit marks off from last time.

Number Two – Paul was so genuinely overwhelmed by the offer he fainted, hit his head on a coffee table, and when he came to could only remember the last year of his life (this doesn’t seem to tally with the first one, but it does if you could imagine Paul kept fairly comprehensive diaries of the time and spent the last two weeks re-reading them).

Number Three – Paul had the contract and was desperate to sign (once he’d read those old diaries and had therapy to cure him of his Anderson-phobia), but his stock of freebie Ryman pens he got while playing for the club first time round had run out, and he had to wait until the bookie style Blue Square replacements came (he gave previous batches away to children’s charities – because that’s the kind of guy he is.)

Anyway, that’s enough explaining. Now for the salivating thought of Lorraine and Judge/Inns playing together next season, flanked by Garrard/Conroy and Hussey/AN Other. A very decent Conference back four on its own, especially if Hussey comes back all improved, or AN Other turns out to be a diamond fullback. Especially if rumours we are signing a quality keeper prove to be true, and that ‘certain type of midfielder’ Terry has been looking for happens to be the lynchpin that holds together what already is a promising young midfield.

tunnel damageAnd as you may see I’ve shamelessly ripped the picture of Paul and Terry taken today from the O/S gallery (which I’ve also only just found out exists). Of course the club are free to use any of my original photography when aver they feel like it… or maybe we’ll just keep it quiet this one time. Anyway the reason I nicked it in the first place is because it shows some of the damage caused to the tunnel are caused by players and management carelessly walking across it, as well as it being an area that seems to be the centre of some fox gangland style turf war. I was wondering why we don’t just put down some artificial turf there like other clubs do?

Perhaps this is something the WUP could pay for, after their kind donation of the trophy cabinet and goalposts. We could even have the club badge printed on it that would look really cool. The Anonymous Don would pay for it out of blog funds if it wasn’t for (a) we would require sponsorship rights to it and (b) if there was any money in ‘blog funds’ I would have nicked it ages ago to pay for food, wine and other life essentials.

I heard that ex-youth team keeper Jack Turner sometimes trains on Astroturf like this, that’s what I heard anyway; it may just be a rumour. While I’m on the subject of Jack Turner, he was in the news today as well (see what I did there? Seamless…) as he has just signed a new deal. Not just any old deal though, one of the First Team variety which means he’ll be turning up four days a week while Sam Hatton smashes the ball at him from thirty yards. This is another reason why Paul Lorraine is here. We may be a part time club. But essentially that’s in name only. For 38 weeks of the year, or whatever, we will have the majority of the squad in four times a week. And as the O/S says the club can restructure payments to cover a whole year if that’s what the player wants, it won’t necessarily mean more money is paid.

Full time training is what a player like Jack Turner needs, we saw what an improvement an extra days training did for Sam Hatton’s free kicks, or Chris Hussey’s all-round game last season (periods of bad form aside). We won’t see giant strides made by him. But his game will improve gradually and faster than if he only came in twice a week, to the point that if he develops into a first team regular he would be a genuine full time player, as the club slowly evolves to that status.

Turner’s deal makes you wonder what the future has in store for James Pullen, or the currently crocked and ageing Andy Little? If another keeper comes in one of them must be for the chop, surely? In a summer unlike any other transfer-wise, where we sit it out until players contracts run down, be it now or late July, even if we don’t finalise our squad by the time the players report for pre-season, or even the first friendly, we know there will be plenty of quality players floating about and every day their asking price in terms of wages will drop. Plus if there are any gaps come August we still have the option of looking for that certain youngster who could come on loan from a League club. I’m slowly getting used to this, and I’m sure most of you are as well.

In fact its more like the old days in the League where no more than half a dozen new faces will role up every summer, signed over the course of a couple of months. Terry wants to build a young squad that will eventually push for promotion. There will be slips, but there’s always the potential there will be a few awesome displays put in as well.

Put simply I’m not buying this talk that we will struggle next season. We have the potential to push for promotion from the year after next. Lets not worry about going up too early, there’s enough driftwood at the bottom of League 2 that we can consolidate there if we had to. Whenever we are good enough to be promoted we will be good enough to avoid the bottom two places in the league above, even if we are forced to remain ‘part time’. While I am realistic enough to know that probably won’t be next season, or the season after, it will be sooner than some of us think. Stranger things have happened in football, and I have full faith that our Chairman, Board and Manager could cope with whatever the future holds for us.

I’ve noticed recently I’ve been ending posts on a rant. Oh well. Now I wonder what’s going on at the SGM??? 

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STOP PRESS – Quiche Back On Dons Menu

Paul Lorraine has rejoined AFC Wimbledon. More details to follow…


The General Specific (Thursday 28th May ’09)

Well a couple more players have signed (although thats not really the actual reason I was writing today, but I’ll get this out of the way first – no offence meant to those concerned!). Jay Conroy and Elliott Godfrey are onboard for next season, great news as Jay looked like the sort of right back we had badly missed since Luke Garrards injury. As far as Luke himself is concerned, well I think he is still the better right back but we may well see him act as a midfield utility player next season as and when required.

Elliott is a top player as far as I’m concerned, and the news that he has signed again is a relief (although I had the impression he was under contract already…) as a player with his combination of workrate and skill should always have a home at our club, especially as in my mind (and presumably Terry Brows mind too) he has done more than enough to earn his shot at a higher level.

On to more important things, You may remember I mentioned the ‘non-existant ground in Wimbledon’ yesterday. Well judging by news reports this morning in the Daily Mail (, the Mirror ( and more comprehensively in the Evening Standard ( suggests, well, we may be in the verge of a move back to Plough Lane.

Which raises a few questions. Firstly how concrete are these plans? Well the club has spoken openly about attempting to open dialogue with the owners of the site, which has largely fallen down through the lack of response from the current owners. The reports above seem to suggest an agreement of some kind has been made, but of course doesn’t mention who it was with. Its sounds more like educated guesswork as far as I can see, and the more measured responses from the fanbase consider that perhaps an agreement has been reached with the council for a football ground to be included in any planning application for the site.

If so this is unhelpful reporting for a number of reasons. It comes on the eve of an important meeting where Dons Trust members will decide the future direction our club will take ins the form of a Strategy Review, and if members approach the meeting with their heads filled with improbable dreams, will they really be acting in the clubs best interests going into the SGM?

Perhaps the Trust are intending on revealing all before the meeting begins tonight, but perhaps they have been thrown slightly by one of our own mouthing off to the press at the worst possible time. There are ways and means of doing things, for example Marc Jones revealed his wish for the club to return to Wimbledon in the SLP last week, this was enough to spark debate, why did someone feel the need to take it one step further and act, as the articles describe, as a ‘spokesman’ for the trust?

There are a number of issues which I want to cover in greater detail that work commitments mean I don’t have time for right now, however its likely the picture could become clearer in the next 24 hours. This afternoon however, I call on the club to issue a statement so everybody is aware of the facts ahead of time, even if they just advise a further statement will be made at the meeting tonight. That in itself could help calm the speculation, as while they remain unanswered supporters, myself included, find their hopes raised by lazy reporting which may turn out to show we are still as far away to agreeing a move back as we were yesterday.

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The General Specific (Wednesday 27th May ’09)

For the love of God, won’t somebody somewhere sign something! I’m getting sick of rumours, counter-rumours, and educated, uneducated, or just plain dumb guesswork.

Anything will do. Club agrees terms to sign a new lawnmower. Marcus Gayle spotted in the Bentall Centre signing autographs. Danny Kedwell sends his gran a birthday card. Literally anything in terms of hard news will do right now.

Oh, hold on. Someone has signed. It looks like good news for AFC Wimbledon Ladies, as ex-Don Adel Hinder has agreed to take the managerial hotseat to hopefully try and guide the Dons back up the pyramid into the South East Combination and beyond. Adel played for Millwall and the all-conquering Arsenal, as well as having a spell in Sweden, and was on the fringe of the England squad. She cut her coaching teeth at Crystal Palace Centre of Excellence, so hopefully the contacts she has acquired will allow her to attract some decent players to help us progress.

The Ladies setup has been dragging behind where the Trusts objectives originally saw them, so I like that a hungry ex-player has been appointed, rather than for example the men’s sides kitman (although it didn’t do Arsenal any harm…).  There has been precious little commentary on the Ladies team on this particular blog (in fact across most Dons sites), they must be feeling pretty unappreciated, so this particular Don has made a vow to make regular visits next season to update the doubting majority of their progress.

Ok, to be honest I was hoping for some breaking news to come in while I typed this, but no luck so far. There’s only so much guestbook debate I can take over whether we should focus on moving back to a non-existent ground in Wimbledon or stick with Kingsmeadow (which I’m fully confident we can get the council onside to develop into at least an 8k capacity when we are prepared to make those improvements… plus if we created access to Berrylands Station it could be even more).

Anyway… here’s hoping.

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The Conference Files – Cambridge United

You have to feel a little sorry for Cambridge. After being one of the better sides in the Conference they failed in the playoffs again this season, losing 2-0 to Torquay at Wembley. Here is a club desperate to return to the league. You can see it in every aspect of the organisation, even as I listened to the final on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire the commentator moaned ‘Back to Barrow next season…’. Probably not intended as an insult to all at Holker Street, it was more down to Barrow being seen as a typical Conference club that happens to be quite far away rather than a nasty place to visit, but an example of how geared towards a return to League football they are.


Cambridge United were founded back in 1909, alas not the Cambridge United that went on to greater things as is the tangled web of football history. The current United were formed as Abbey United a few years later in 1912. The club only changed its name in 1951, a couple of years after they had turned professional, and they were promoted from the Eastern Counties League to the Southern League in 1958.

When ailing Bradford Park Avenue were spared of their league place in 1970, Cambridge were there to make the step up. The U’s league positions over the next thirty years when plotted onto a graph resembles an Alpine landscape, after an initial climb to the Second division. The Third Division seemed to have no meaning for Cambridge United as they either passed it on the way up or fell through on the way back.

There seems little point reiterating the John Beck years, as all but the youngest Wimbledon supporters will be aware of them, and in simplest terms it would be fair to compare Beck as a slightly less successful version of Harry Bassett. Unlike Bassett, who relied on knowing his players inside out and giving them licence to bond into a unit that could achieve the impossible, Beck had a system, and took its implementation to almost military levels.

Beck took a small town club to the verge of the first ever Premier League season via back-to-back promotions. Cambridge were a successful playoff campaign away from joining the Dons in the inaugural Premier League, but sadly Leicester had other ideas. Beck was reliant on his game plan, and Cambridge were found out on several occasions in their second season in the second tier, before Beck was fired and Cambridge slumped back to the bottom tier of English professional football.

Cambridge found their 35 year Football League history ended in 2005, and followed the familiar tale of clubs dropping out of the League taking a couple of seasons to find themselves. This was set to a background of saving the club from extinction, as the club plunged into administration. They were only saved from extinction, in football terms, deep, deep into stoppage time by the intervention of Sports Minister Richard Caborn (and after all the moaning from Ryman clubs regarding Jim Sturman QC battling our 18 point deduction its nice to see another club with friends in high places!).

As you could gather by back to back playoff finals, the club are back on a firm footing, and after finishing second over the past two seasons could consider themselves unlucky not to be back in the Football League, pipped the season before last to the title by the side Terry Brown built, Aldershot Town.


The U’s must have watched slightly envious as the side that defeated them in the 2008 Conference playoff final, Exeter City, continued their forward momentum by snatching a promotion place and will find themselves in League 1 next season. Cambridge on the other hand, put together an extremely decent season, chasing down long time leaders Burton to the very last day. They needed a 4-0 victory against Altrincham, but in front of a full house at the Abbey Stadium couldn’t break them down.

Taking a huge amount of momentum into the playoffs they defeated Conference nearly men Stevenage after a second leg home comeback, notching the winner seconds from the end of extra time. This time around another Devon club stood in their way, Torquay. Cambridge were to face more Wembley heartache losing 2-0, and find themselves in an intriguing position entering 09/10.


Cambridge United are too big for the Conference. Sadly so are Oxford, Luton, and (dare I say it) AFC Wimbledon. Of course the Dons are unlikely to be serious promotion challengers this coming season, but only one of those clubs can win automatic promotion next season. And as Cambridge know, once you get to the playoffs, anything can happen.

As a club, Cambridge are set for the Football League, no problems. They have the stadium (which lets face it, we don’t have yet… although we are waiting for promotion to the Football League to improve it further), the manager and a decent core of players. Boss Gary Brabin had been linked with a move to Blackpool, and the news he is staying must be a massive boost to the club.

Plus of course they have the supporters. The average of 3.500 has barely changed over the past couple of seasons, and the U’s will be one of a handful of clubs who can match the Dons attendances next term. So with big league rivalries and a blossoming local affair with Histon (albeit one that U’s fans probably feel hugely embarrassed about – remember when our local rivals from the village down the road turned up at our place and did us 4-0? Still, who’s in the Conference now, eh?!), our matches with Cambridge next season will be way down the list of who United fans check for when the fixtures come out in June.

As well as this they have something called Marvin The Moose as their mascot, who according to their website wears ‘oversized antlers and preposterously large boots’ – make sure they bring him to Kingsmeadow then as it sounds as though he could be someone Haydon could actually beat in a penalty shootout!


The Abbey Stadium is the sort of place I’d kind of like to visit for our first game. Like Newport last season we can take a couple of thousand there, wander round the city like we own the place, easily outsing the locals, hopefully catch them on an early season off day and come home with a thumping victory, knowing that we were well and truly back where we belonged.

In reality we’d probably end up there on a cold Tuesday in February with a hardcore few hundred watching a 0-1 defeat. But what a place to go to see us lose! It’s a proper League ground, one that we have been starved of apart from the friendly at Brentford. It’s been probably twenty years since my only visit to the Abbey Stadium for a non-Dons Friday night game that the home team won 4-3 if my memory serves me well. But I know the recently built stand behind the goal at the far end is seated and will be open to Dons fans presuming it’s a Saturday game, if not there’s plenty of space on the adjacent terrace, which apparently holds 1000 away fans.



(Dons home admission in brackets for comparison)

TERRACE – £15 (£12) Conc £11 (£8) U16 £5 (£2)

SEATS – £17/18 (£14/16) Conc £13/12 (£7/8) U16 £9/10 (£3/4)

Higher price tickets for a club that may have hoped to be back in the League by now – however Cambridge have an early bird season ticket price which actually comes in cheaper than the Dons, of which they have apparently shifted nearly 2000 already (more than us!).


AFC Era – None

All time Wimbledon – 




The first meeting between The Dons and The U’s took place back in December 1964 at Plough Lane in the Eastern Professional Floodlight League, and finished with a 5-1 victory for the home team. The sides met regularly in the Southern League during the late sixties, however haven’t met in the league since, Wimbledon FC’s yo-yo years between the Third and Fourth Divisions coincided with a prolonged Cambridge stay in the Second Division.

The last time a Wimbledon team met Cambridge was in the Littlewoods Cup Second Round 1987, which Cambridge won on away goals following a 2-2 draw at Plough Lane.

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The General Specific (Sunday 24th May ’09)

The Anonymous Don is feeling guilty on two fronts this morning – firstly because I let the club down by being unable to attend one of the cleanup days in order to care for my sick wife, and secondly because I have abandoned by sick wife in order to care for today’s edition of the General Specific. At least I have my priorities in order.

Yesterday we received an update from the club in the form of the second instalment of ‘What’s Happening At Kingsmeadow?’ As you may remember I mocked the name, however I now realise its acronym is ‘WHAK!’ I’m going to retract that statement. Not only is it easier for blog writers to remember, it has an onomatopoeic beauty to it (it literally hits you with the news).

However – as the Official mouthpiece of the club it has to tread a careful line between giving us the news, and protecting the confidentiality of ongoing negotiations. I’m wondering whether this week’s edition might have overstepped that mark. After admitting the press are a better (although less reliable) source of information in terms of getting the news out first, the article went on to discuss a number of deals in greater detail than perhaps it should, allowing Dons fans to add the small numbers together.

The article talks of three deals in particular. The first stated ‘We are in detailed negotiations with a defender and expect to hear his response to our offer over the weekend’. Now from this information alone we could be talking about anyone, but as anyone who has followed the gossip trail for the last couple of weeks will know this is highly likely to be Paul Lorraine.

The second may as well have named the player for the level of detail it went into. ‘We have had an offer for a midfielder from a lower division rejected and have just sent a revised final offer for the player. He is on a contract, so if his club rejects this offer then the deal is dead.’ We all know summer target Ricky Wellard signed a contract extension before the end of the season, and we also know, thanks to the Informer, that Ashford rejected our first bid as ‘derisory’.

The final player is more of a mystery. ‘Terry has decided that he wants to sign a particular midfielder. That player is subject to the Bosman rules…’. So if Bosman applies, then it can’t be Matt Pattisson as he’s 25. Hmmmm, WHAK suggested we might sign him next week if all goes well, so keep your eyes on the South London Press, Informer and Surrey Comet for the next few days.

Pre-season friendlies are another mystery, although I’m sure all at the club are concentrating on new players as a priority. FCUM are still the only confirmed opponents as far as our website are concerned, however Farnborough have announced Saturday 1st August as the date we travel to Cherrywood Road, presumably the last Saturday before the league season begins?

As far as rumours go, we still have that 11th July home game as unconfirmed, however the most likely rumour so far has involved Brighton. This has extensively been debated on one of their forums (well, someone mentioned it and that led to a three page argument over the rights and wrongs of franchising…), and although some Dons fans are hoping it may take place at the Withdean, that seems unlikely.

As far as other unconfirmed ‘confirmed’ games, I’m under the impression we still owe Tonbridge a game from the Jon Main deal. I’m also now completely unsure about whether we will be playing K’s this year, I know there was an agreement to play them for ten years, but I thought that would be renegotiated at some stage?

Roaming into pure speculation now, we have a commitment to play a game in Merton Borough, so I would imagine that would be Tooting and Mitcham this season. If that’s not possible I think we should open it up to the Royal Borough, I’m quite keen on us retaining links with Corinthian Casuals after the Wembley experience. Presumably any Wellard deal will involve friendlies, but everything else is up for grabs, although after my first Dons Icons article I would hope we send at least a reserve side to Ash United, a ground I have yet to visit…

Season ticket sales are through the roof. To the point our Commercial Manager has stuck his neck on the line and predicted we will shift over 2,500. I’m not only inclined to agree with him, I think he may be underestimating a bit. The direct debit scheme has opened up season tickets to those who previously would have either waited for the Half Year Christmas version, or not been able to afford it altogether. Plus the likes of myself who previously couldn’t be bothered are scrambling for them, as we know a limited capacity at Kingsmeadow could cause us to miss out on games, and not just away fixtures either.

Anyway, until next time… 

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Dons Icons #1 – We’ve Got Matt Everard

I’ve made a contemporary choice for my first selection as a Dons Icon, although I’m sure it will be a popular choice (the numbers mean nothing by the way, its number one in a series, not ‘Matt Everard is our number one Dons icon’… although if it ever came to a vote he would definitely be in the top ten).

Our first encounter with the giant (although at 6’2″ he’s only an inch taller than me, although he seemed an absolute goliath on the pitch) came in our first encounter with Ash United, the club Matt made his name with. The Dons led 2-0 in one of our first games on the August Bank Holiday 2002, only for an Everard-inspired comeback saw us lose 3-2. The big man certainly made an impression with the Dons fans, and the following February Wimbledon boss Terry Eames made a seven day approach to poach him to Kingsmeadow.

Reportedly he made first contact with the fans on the Weird and Wonderful World guest book – legendary predecessor of the current WUP version – although I have to say I missed his postings myself, and like our club itself despite only a few years passing it has already fallen into the category of those famous almost mythical stories of the early days (in my head I can barely believe my own memories of events like curry night at Southall, or Walton Casuals beer tent with band playing inside).

Although Matt’s arrival wasn’t enough to secure the title for Wimbledon he did bag ten goals in eighteen appearances, a sign of the goalscoring prowess he was to show next season. He debuted in a 3-0 pasting of Chessington and Hook at a cold, muddy Chalky Lane. Hopes of promotion went in his second game, and his home debut against Withdean 2000, a match Wimbledon lost 0-2 after seeing six men go into the book and Sean Daly sent off. Amazingly this was to be the only game Wimbledon lost during his spell as an active player at the club.

Big Matt wasn’t one to give up that first year, and went on to have a storming end to the season. This included memorable moments such as scoring in the 5-3 win over his old side at Kingsmeadow. The Wimbledon side that was to dominate the Combined Counties League the next season was taking shape, and Matt played a huge part in that in more ways than one.

Matt hit sixteen goals in the league to go with the eight he scored in cup competitions that year, which included a few memorable ones. First he scored the winner at Herne Bay in the FA Vase in injury time to send the Dons into the next round, and Dons fans into ecstasy. Then in November he struck twice in stoppage time to turn a 3-4 deficit into a 5-4 victory against a plucky Walton Casuals side, one that proved vitally important come the end of the season.

It wasn’t just Wimbledon supporters who had noticed Matt’s dominant aerial prowess during the course of his first and only season at Kingsmeadow. As transfer deadline day loomed an offer came in from high flying Aldershot – Matt’s hometown team – managed by a certain Terry Brown, always a good judge of a player (either that or he’s always secretly been a Womble fancier!). As Dons fans held their breath, Everard chose to put loyalty above ambition and stick with the Dons. No Wimbledon fan would have begrudged him the chance to step up to Conference level, but in an amazing show of loyalty he chose to stay put and finish the job in hand.

Of course those two goals I mentioned earlier against Walton Casuals may have seemed minor, but without them we wouldn’t have been able to enjoy the spectacle of a Kingfield stadium full of Dons come the end of the season, with Wimbledon winning the Combined Counties Premier Challenge Cup final, and our first Cup victory, after trailing to North Greenford. Matt’s towering header in front of the huge stand behind the goal was one of the memorable moments of that night (well for most people, I was in the gents at that point, emerging just in time to join the celebrations! I have seen it on video many times since though… here for example

All of which was enough to secure him the Player of the Year award, no mean feat considering Kevin Cooper managed to hit sixty goals that season (although to be fair that was pretty much all he did do…). In the close season caretaker manager Nicky English was replaced by Dave Anderson, who had seen enough of the club to know the rocks it was built around, Matt Everard being one of them. Matt started our first season in Ryman One, featuring strongly despite the arrival of two experienced centre halves in Steve Butler and Anthony Howard (himself destined for legend status…), scoring a couple of important goals in the process.

I seem to have overemphasised Matt’s admittedly impressive goalscoring prowess, but there is a reason he was a centre half. Playing his football in divisions where resources demanded more direct football be played, he snuffed out long balls and gobbled up set pieces, allowing us a base to build from. In the Combined Counties League he was immense, yet he was a standout player in the slightly more sophisticated Ryman One as well. We came across many players whose throwback physique could have caused us more problems than it did, Matt however had a footballers brain to go with it, and could easily have played at a much higher level. He could have had the chance to try with Wimbledon had fate not intervened.

An innocuous looking knock in the away match at Bashley in November 2004 ultimately ended Matt’s Wimbledon career. Upon finding out the severity a month later, severe knee ligament damage, Matt was forced to hang up his boots to the dismay of Wimbledon fans everywhere. It was no coincidence that Wimbledon’s next game away at Cray Wanderers saw a 2-0 defeat, and the loss of an unbeaten league record that stretched back almost two years, to that loss at home to Withdean.

Matt is currently the Assistant Manager to Paul Bonner at Ash United, having played a few reserve games for the club in what could be described as a failed attempt at a comeback, but perhaps was more for a laugh, playing the game for fun as he did for all those years with his mates at Ash.

The legacy Matt leaves us is that Dons fans now expect nothing but the best from a centre half, and its the high standards he set that the fans judged the three previous winners of the WISA player of the year against, all coincidentally central defenders. As a club we have been spoiled with our good fortune to acquire strong, committed defenders like Anthony Howard, Jason Goodliffe and Ben Judge. The later, despite an impeccable campaign last season, still has a way to go to dislodge Matt from my all time AFC Wimbledon XI. 


If you have any nominations for a Dons Icon, be it player, manager, supporter, or other, leave a comment. Or if your too shy to leave a comment, see the contacts section – all emails treated in strictest confidence… oh and any emails for Kevin Cooper that turn out to actually have come from Kevin Cooper will result in instant barring of Kevin Cooper from The Dons Icons section (The second Kevin Cooper, obviously the first one is a shoe-in unless he runs away with my wife in the next few weeks… even then I might come round given time)

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