Monthly Archives: May 2010

Casually Corinthian

It’s either a sign of how strong and deep English football is, or that football in this country has gone mad, that Corinthian-Casuals were the highest placed truly amateur club in the country last year… 13th place in one of six level eight regional leagues. Not only that, but the club were considered to have had a pretty good season considering recent history – a string of 20th place finished plus escapes by goal difference, even by earning more points than teams in different divisions…

In a game where even top flight professionals earning tens of thousands of pounds a week can have their head turned by someone waving a tenner in their direction, Corinthian-Casuals are a real breath of fresh air. Yet they are overshadowed at every turn by their semi-pro and professional colleagues. A few years ago they even chose to mark a major anniversary by inviting a local club to play them at Wembley, only to have their day wrecked by the louts from the pro game bringing several times their number of supporters and dicking them 8-1…

So its good to see we are making an effort to repay them by bringing a side to King Georges Field. Yet it makes me look a bit foolish after my confident announcement that Woking were our last opponents to be announced… In fact there is another set up for the Friday night before the Exeter game – announced just days after I booked my Saturday morning train to the South West, this will undoubtedly mean it will be the first leg of a mini tour of Devon. It’s probably only a minor side down there, I probably won’t be missing anything… but perhaps I should have thought more about making a weekend of it! Plus for all I know I could just be paranoid, it may be a game for the reserves against local (to us) opposition…

Salisbury at St(e)ake

Yesterday there were a few unofficial murmurs that something big was going on at Salisbury, and an announcement was going to be made today. Now I didn’t think much of it at the time as the ‘confirmation’ seemed to come from that most reliable of sources, a players Facebook status. Yet this morning, the news was out – Salisbury will play no part in the Conference next season.

Despite their financial problems last season, Salisbury would have finished above the Dons had they not been deducted ten points for entering administration – and their failure to fully satisfy their debtors by the leagues deadline has done for them. It’s hard to have too much sympathy for them in that respect – as far as I remember there was more than one ‘We Need £100K by Thursday or We’re F***ed’ style appeal that took place on their behalf last term.

Now I have no idea how much the debt was that took Salisbury down – if it was in the hundreds of thousands and they were waiting on a knight in shining armour to ride along and save them, but if it was touch and go its strange they didn’t do more to cut their wage bill beforehand… they could have cashed in on Matt Tubbs, who went on to become the leagues joint top scorer, back in January. Plus Danny Webb’s head is useable as a 50 pence piece in every vending machine in the UK…

To be honest I have a great deal more sympathy for Grays plight at the moment. Grays ‘voluntary relegation’ seems to have taken them down to the Essex Senior League thanks to the Ryman League deciding they just didn’t like the look of them… perhaps they had their top button open, shirt tales showing, or even (shock) they weren’t wearing a tie… Either way, that’s not the point. As a part of the pyramid, they are there to take teams whether they like them or not… and I bet they wouldn’t be falling back on obscure rules relating to application dates had it been a tea like Woking in the same position…

Back to the Ryman Premier, we are now a club short, and it seems certain that Forest Green Rovers will be invited back into the division to make the numbers up. Relegation on the last day of the season hurt FGR, although a reprieve will certainly make potential owners sit up and take notice after the “Numerous revenue streams with high growth potential, including conferencing, weddings, a gym and leisure centre and public house… oh, and a Football Club” was recently hawked in the FT.

All of this will certainly make followers of Ebbsfleet sit up and take notice, as although there is only a short time until the AGM, which will effectively lock everyone into position for another year, that’s a long time in football – and especially this particular level of football. Even though most clubs are looking pretty solid at the moment, like Salisbury we c ould be hit by a bombshell at any moment…

NB – Apologies for the title. My wife made me do it…

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You Must Be Woking!

Couldn’t resist it. Sorry.

So as you’ve probably worked out by now, that final pre-season fixture has now been nailed down, and its a trip to everyone’s favourite Wembley alternative, Kingfield Stadium. (Aside – I really loved all those unnamed Dons fans who wanted the London Senior Cup final switched there… we’ve created a wonderful football club here but we ain’t going to pass many geography exams…).

It turns out this isn’t your usual ker-ching game either. Dedicated to ex-Don Phil Ledger, all proceeds are going to the Woking Hospice, which kind of makes me look a wally for suggesting football clubs are out for all they can get when PSF’s are arranged. And for all the childish jibes in the past (I used to watch Kingstonian when the Dons were away as a kid… blame them…), I’m actually pretty pleased we have a reasonably local trip against strong opposition.  As I said yesterday, this seasons pre-season schedule is, with the possible exception of our first season since reformation, the best pre-season I can remember. Yet I bet there are still people moaning about the Kingstonian game they were never going to go to anyway…

So that’s pre-season sorted, now we have the long drawn out chase of picking up the best quality young talent for the lowest price…


Getting the Arse…

So the mystery Premiership club has been named, and it turns out to be Arsenal. Which is probably the ideal outcome for us, considering (i) even their under-12’s play the sort of football that would drag any neutral out of their seat, and (ii) maybe Dons fans might turn out for a PSF in some numbers. Oh, and (iii) as their first team is over in Warsaw, a fair few Arsenal fans might prefer to see some stars of the future rather than watching that game on the internet. All of which adds up to… Ker-ching!

Naturally, we’ll be pretty bored of watching what are essentially training games by that stage, and the final Saturday before the season begins have seen some terrible spectacles played out in front of nobody (well… almost nobody. But the crowd at our Trevor Jones Memorial Trophy game against K’s on 11th August 2007 was so low we have been forced to withhold the actual attendance to this day on the O/S out of embarrassment…). It’ll make a change seeing some people there, having a good time, spending some money, and watching two sides who at least share the same philosophy of trying to play decent football (‘trying’ being the key word for us…). In fact, didn’t someone describe us as ‘The Arsenal of the Conference’ last season – obviously before our late season collapse?

But Arsenal’s second string is only the cherry on the icing of a particularly appealing cake. Our entire pre-season line-up is so decent looking that if you had asked me to pick a dream schedule I probably couldn’t have come up with better. Well, maybe I would have added a tour to somewhere warm and a home game against continental opposition (or just a rematch with the Isle of Man…). But the point is, it finally looks like it hasn’t been put together by someone who opened ‘The Big Book Of Non-League Clubs’, turned to the South-East section and started blindly pointing a needle about (so blindly that one year we found ourselves in Newport…).

Of course, it shouldn’t be ignored that pre-season is primarily aimed at getting the lads fit before the big kick-off. So, good luck to them with that…

I don’t mean to be flippant, but for a change I don’t think I’m going to suffer from pre-season syndrome this time around. Except, maybe… I feel sorry for the Non-League club we are visiting on 24th July, who were probably rubbing their hands in anticipation for the visit of the mighty Womble hoards and their bottomless wallets, only to find most of us will give it a miss in order to win brownie points off the missus save a little money for more important fixtures to come… And of course for Kingstonian, who in return for selling us a promising young player, get a pre-season game where we keep the gate receipts up to an agreed level, when they get paid a share of the money. To be honest, the agreed figure may as well be half a dozen for all the good it will do them – I can’t see there being a huge amount of interest from either fanbase.

The reason being, we host not only Arsenal Reserves/Youth, but also have strong League One sides coming from Millwall and Charlton (in reverse of that order… and as I write there is still a possibility that Millwall could be a Championship side by then). We also have an ultra-rare trip to another League One side in Exeter City. I know we had a trip to Brentford a few years back, but how many other non-league sides have been invited onto League grounds? Especially one that involves a round trip of some 360 miles… I know Yeading went up to Newcastle a while back, but that was exceptional…

I think I take more delight in the smaller steps we take than the bigger ones right now. Yes, we have now turned professional. But now League clubs want to play us, not for benevolent reasons but because it will play an important part in their own preparations. Our Under 13’s are champions of England. People in the game working higher up the divisions are looking at what’s going on at our club and liking what they see. This should be regarded as a huge complement to our management team, in fact to all of us. Because to progress higher than we are at the moment, we are going to need all the help we can get.

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Its Oxford…

Oxford United booked a return to League 2 beating York City 3-1 at Wembley this afternoon.

From a Dons perspective this is probably the better outcome, Oxford are light years ahead of us in terms of budget, and probably will be for years to come regardless of rumours of budget cuts that may or may not have happened had Oxford stayed in the BSP. Although for us the move to professional football is going to require a settling in period which may not make us immediate serious challengers, and we still face the strong challenge of sides like York, Rushden and of course Luton, Oxford’s promotion removes an obstacle that may have halted our progress over the next couple of years, or at very least created an obstacle for a team above that then become our obstacle, like being the second behind a broken down tube train on the hottest day of the year if you see where I’m coming from…

In terms of favourites next year, well I suppose Luton must stand out as favourites, although they won’t have it all their own way next term as I’m sure the other play-off failures Rushden and York will be challenging, along with sides like Cambridge, Mansfield and Wrexham who will be bitterly disappointed with their showing last year. Of course its possible budgeting and funding aspects may play a part, but in terms of promotion contenders I wouldn’t look outside those teams.

In my opinion the Dons will be in a second group, although will improve as the season goes – a contrast with this seasons part-time drop off when we seemed to be in a great position. Whether this will be enough for a play-off place I’m not sure, if the group of teams I mentioned don’t run away with it, or enough of them are off the pace, maybe we can clinch a berth. This is ignoring real wildcards such as Newport or Grimsby – logic suggest they won’t play a part in the promotion race, but you never can tell…

Either way, the full BSP lineup has now been confirmed, and we can now look forward to the publication of the fixtures in June.


News, News, News…

Twenty-two years ago this very day (I wrote this bit on Friday…), a ten-year old Anonymous Don was curled up in his bed, having seen his side win the FA Cup! This was in the days when the FA Cup was THE tournament to win as far as I was concerned, and I remember lying in bed tired yet very much still high on a Pepsi overdose listening while the rest of the family made their way to bed as well. In the pre-student days Kingston was quiet at night, and I remember lying in bed watching the moonlight illuminating my room through the open curtains thinking ‘This is it. This is what life is all about’…

Twenty-two years later and here I am, a couple of feet taller, three times heavier and with slightly more hair on my chin, older but not necessarily more mature – and I’m like scrooge on Christmas Eve. Yes, normally I would go for the underdog on Cup Final day but to be honest I’ve long since stopped caring about the struggles of plucky overspending Portsmouth, and can’t bear to watch Chelsea rack up the first of what may be many more doubles (although thank god for Man City, eh?). So I’m going to the cinema with my wife. Well, it is her birthday.

So we have signed a new player! Former K’s man Christian Jolley has joined and its fair to say for a first new signing of the summer, this one appears to be underwhelming at first glance. Jolley was a cog in the wheel of K’s promotion charge and its fair to say this signing has come as a bit of a surprise. Yet Jolley has apparently been interesting a couple of League 2 clubs, and Terry had to get in quickly at the end of the season to snap him up. 

With the small squad we are running Jolley definitely hasn’t just been signed to make up the numbers, so presumably Terry Brown feels he has the makings of a player who can come straight in and play Conference Premier football. Reading what his former manager Alan Dowson thought of him here that sounds pretty reasonable and he does seem to have made a huge amount of progress at Kingstonian since they plucked him out of the junior game. Apparently Christian was signed for a small fee (I would stick my neck on the line and say around £5,000) plus an agreement to play Kingstonian in a PSF where bizarrely we get to keep most of the proceeds.

Kennedy Adjei has made the reverse journey to the Ryman, signing a years contract extension but finding he will spend it on loan at Sutton. It’s a great deal for Sutton, who my Sutton supporting boss advised me will use him as a replacement for Alan Pouton, and its undoubtedly a pretty good deal for Kennedy too. There hasn’t been too many details of the deal that have leaked yet but I would imagine Sutton are paying most or all of his salary, and presuming the contract is full-time he will be able to train with us a couple of days a week… which would make it a great deal for Wimbledon too…

With a long summer ahead of us, and the management team prepared to play the waiting game to find the right players, there may not be a flood of news until the players prepare to n for pre-season. The news that Terry was not prepared to go ahead with signing a centre half from a top Conference club as we couldn’t match said clubs offer is positive, regardless of who the centre half was (and I don’t want to get into speculation as to who it was). The fact was Mr Centre Half was quite happy to come to the Dons were finances not an issue, which speaks highly of how the club is viewed in the game. Whoever it was, even if it was only for an extra £50 a week, I certainly wouldn’t blame the guy for staying at his current club in the current financial climate, I just hope the club he plays for has enough cash in the coffers to keep paying him for the next year…

More positive news came in the form of pre-season games. Our second PSF will be a Tuesday night game at Maidenhead, not too far for the hardcore among us to travel, but exactly the sort of game we should be playing at that stage of preparations. Much like the TBA game against K’s, the small crowd will allow the management team to try a few things that perhaps they won’t be able to in a showpiece game against Milwall or Charlton, or even the unknown Premiership clubs XI on 7th August.

As that particular team hasn’t yet been announced (and may not for a number of weeks yet…) we can all have a bit of fun guessing who they will be. Most sides will presumably be back from any tours, yet most clubs like to be involved in a showpiece game against top European opposition on that day. Not that this would rule out any particular club that has already arranged a fixture that day, as ‘XI’ normally means ‘Second string and Youth’  anyway.  So we could be looking at literally anyone… although a local side will ensure an element of their support will make the trip. I was desperately trying to remember the side the management team visited this year in case something was arranged then, I’m fairly certain though it was Derby… which is no use to us in this case…

A third League One side has been added to the schedule, in this case we have a trip to St James Park to play Exeter City, and for me it will be the first opportunity to visit having missed the FA Cup game there a few seasons ago. Having said that it is a long way to go for a pre-season game, originally I was planning to take Mrs AD down there to show her my old haunts in Plymouth, but finances are a bit stretched as I prepare to move house again, so that had to be shelved. The only reason I’m still going is that I got a good deal on a return train ticket that day…

Yet unlike the Maidenhead game, which I may give a miss to and represents memories of away games past, Exeter is a side I can see us playing on a regular basis in future. Plus they are also a side we can look up to, having been down in the Conference when we played them in that FA Cup game, yet now brilliantly not only made it up to League One, they stayed their thanks to an 18th place finish. It will be interesting to see how far they (and us) have come, as well as allow ourselves some early season dreams of what might be to come, maybe not next season, but soon…

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Final Promotion Places From The Regional Divisions Decided

Bath City and Fleetwood Town become the 22nd and 23rd sides to confirm their places in next years Conference Nation, after a couple of tight play-off finals in front of huge crowds were decided by a single goal this afternoon.

In the North, big spending Fleetwood overcame Alfreton 2-1 thanks to a goal in the 78th minute in front of 3592 at a packed Highbury (Fleetwood version, not North London posh peoples conversion flats of course…). Dons fans can look forward to packing their buckets and spades as Fleetwood is just a few miles north of Blackpool and a favourable early/late season Saturday fixture could be combined with a weekend at the seaside with a tramride up to Fleetwood in the afternoon to take in the game. Fleetwood Town FC actually have a pretty interesting history, and hopefully I’ll get a chance to touch upon that later in the week.

Bath City overcame Woking in the Southern Final 1-0 in front of over four thousand at Twerton Park, including an apparent 1800 travelling supporters. Sadly our ‘friends’ from further down the South West mainline have at least another season in the BSS to look forward to, reducing their dreams of meeting the mighty AFC Wimbledon in a League fixture still further. Like Fleetwood, Bath will be an enjoyable trip, one we have made twice before, a late Alan Inns goal salvaging a point in a 2-2 draw in August ’08, before a December visit to then-tenants Team Bath saw Wimbledon take the points with a 2-1 victory.

Which means the current lineup for next season is as follows;

AFC Wimbledon



Bath City

Cambridge United

Crawley Town


Eastbourne Borough

Fleetwood Town


Grimsby Town

Hayes and Yeading


Kettering Town

Kidderminster Harriers

Luton Town

Mansfield Town

Newport County

Rushden & Diamonds

Salisbury City




The defeated side in the Conference Play-Off Final between Oxford United and York City.

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New Arrivals

The last day of the League 2 season brings confirmation of two new teams joining us down in the Conference National. While we knew we had a trip to the Darlington Arena lined up for next term, today the final day showdown involving Grimsby and Barnet went the way of the Hertfordshire side – which was written in stone from the moment Grimsby fans invaded the pitch last week at the end of the big showdown between the two, taunting the Barnet fans… presumably those Grimsby fans who pray at the altar of the Football Gods were tearing their hair out.

And sure enough they fell apart at the Pirelli Stadium this afternoon, a 0-3 defeat that its fair to say a small minority of the visiting supporters took with all the good grace of a Luton Town fan that had money on Esther Rantzen making it to Parliament. Much as Grimsby may bring a larger support into the division than Stevenage Borough had, I doubt they will be challenging at the right end of the table next term. With the Dons and even last day survivors Gateshead turning pro for next season, just being professional doesn’t automatically give the advantage it did even a few years ago, and I would imagine the Mariners will look to rebuild next term.

As for Darlington, well their crowds have shrunk to almost BSN levels as the inevitability of demotion has struck, and you have to question the logic of them even remaining full-time while stuck at a white elephant stadium miles out-of-town. After this image was featured over on Pitch Invasion earlier in the week, you wonder about the practicalities of bringing the team back into town, and maybe that will be the Quakers only hope of a return to the Football League with no scope for development at the Arena to bring in extra income.

Another two clubs will be added to the line-up tomorrow, this time coming up rather than going down. Fleetwood and Alfreton face off in the BSN play-off final, while Bath City and Woking are paired off in the South division.

Meanwhile, at Wembley Stadium, Barrow came from behind to defeat Champions Stevenage. Andy Drury put Boro ahead on ten minutes before the holders were reduced to ten men after David Bridges attempted to remove Andy Bond’s genetalia with his studs. Barrow finally made the extra man count with ten minutes left as Lee McEvilly planted a header into the bottom corner to level things up. It looked as though the sides would play out extra time with ten men apiece when Robin Hubbert clumsy attempt to remove Charlie Griffins head was spotted by the keen eyed referee, but unfortunately for Boro, who had used all three subs already, a broken Griffin wasn’t much use for them in the extra period on behalf of being immobile in an ambulance at the time. Finally Jason Walker buried a right foot drive just inside the far post to hand Barrow their second Trophy victory.

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Addicks Lined Up For Pre-Season Cash-In

Ah, the election is over once more… That one day when politics is where it’s at, I stay up until 2.30am watching the early results come in, only to wake up dribbling on the sofa at 6.20 to find its all changed, and yes your worse fears/great hope has come to pass… and those two options aren’t mutually exclusive by the way. Sadly it seems like the end for Scottish Cyclops Gordon Brown, I being one of the few remaining people in the country to have any sympathy for him… I don’t read the papers you see, plus he seems to share my ‘spend it today, cos someone might try to take it off you tomorrow’ budgeting principle.

Hopefully I might have enough copper coinage left to gain entry to the Dons first pre-season game of the season, now it has been announced that top League One/struggling Championship side Charlton Athletic will kick off the pre-season build up on Saturday 10th July, shortly before England kick off their World Cup third-place playoff against the Ivory Coast. This marks a departure from our previous tactic of low-key preparations, and is a step up from Wycombe and Brighton last year, especially as both Charlton and Millwall have promised to bring over a first team squad.

Another positive step is the news that not only are they paying a visit, but each club is being tipped to leave a promising youngster with us for a season. We have been linked with Charlton’s young defender Yado Mambo, and Millwall forward John Marquis, both who enjoyed loan spells in the division below last term. A planned long tem loan agreement will suit all parties, especially the Dons who got their fingers burned last year with some increasingly desperate looking short-term deals, and a year-long arrangement would make sense at a club who on the whole sign players on yearly contracts. Hopefully Terry Brown won’t have to shuffle around looking for last-minute deals like his Prime Minister namesake…

Anyway, no news on any away pre-season games at present, except for some word of mouth gossip that one of them is a bit tasty – and I’ve genuinely heard no more than that, so don’t write in… Naturally whenever there is any official news, I’ll be on hand no more than twenty-four hours later to comment…

Heres what Charlton have to say about the fixture…

…although either they are a bit on the slow side when it comes to our current squad, or they have broken news of some extremely surprising signings…

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Gregory Gets England C Call… And Hatton Is On Standby!

I don’t know why but as soon as I saw this news article on the OS I immediately thought it may be two of the players that were released last month. It seems a very Wimbledon thing to do, to big up an a achievement of someone deemed not good enough for the club… so I was delighted to find out it was Steven Gregory who got the call into Paul Faircloughs 19-man squad for the International Trophy match against the Republic of Ireland in Waterford on 26th May.

The International Challenge Trophy pits Englands C team (basically a Non-League U23 team) against various other nations under 23 sides. Eire select players from their own domestic league, yet other nations field their Olympic sides or full strength selections. The Waterford game kicks off group B, with Estonia waiting in the wings. Games in other groups have already begun, with Italy (A) and Portugal (C) leading the way.

Gregory’s call-up comes off the back of an impressive debut season in a Dons shirt. He seemed to be one of the few young players who learned from their mistakes last term, and proved himself one of the better defensive midfielders in the division. Make no mistake, Steven Gregory really deserves this. Equally satisfying is the news that Sam Hatton was called up to the reserve list, and a huge thumbs up from Fairclough (who undoubtedly would have taken advice from others in the Non-League game before this selection). The squad contains a number of Oxford players, who still need to make it through the Play-Off final at Wembley unscathed, so there is hope for Sam yet to make the full squad.

Well done to the pair of them, and hard luck to Luke Moore who undoubtedly would have made at least the reserve list had his season not been ruined by injury.

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