Adult tickets have risen by £1, concession and Under 16 prices by £2 (with the exception of U-16 terrace tickets, which remain frozen at £2).
The club state our prices will be just below League Two average, and from what I have seen of other clubs ticket prices last season that’s just about correct – I will conduct a more thorough analysis later in the summer (i.e. when I’m bored, there really is no news, and a few other clubs have announced their prices). Suffice to say we won’t be getting ripped off (by the standards of British football…).
Without sounding like the clubs unofficial cheerleader, if you’re planning on attending sixteen or more games on the terraces next term, you really are better of buying a season ticket and paying direct debit. In fact with the season ticket record looking like it might go this summer, the Strank and Tempest stands could effectively become season ticket lockouts.
While these prices also apply to the League and FA Cup, the article goes on to say “Prices have yet to be set for the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy and county cups”. Interesting in that it is the first time the club have acknowledged our reserves will be appearing in the county cups next season, great news for those of us who enjoy that kind of thing…
In other news, fresh from being induced into telling Paulo Di Canio what he and everybody else already knew, TB has ended any doubt he might make a move for loan misfit Kirk Hudson… although this story might stop a few of you out there having nightmares. The problem with Hudson is he has the building blocks of being a great player at this level, and will undoubtedly come back to haunt us at some point in the future.
Another Brentford player probably not coming our way is Chris Bush… although he seems to be taking his time signing the deal Brentford have offered. Message board gossip suggests the Dons might also be in for ex-Shrewsbury fullback Dave Raven, with no news forthcoming on Gareth Gwillim’s status at Dagenham.
Finally, news of a recently released player and not that surprising considering he scored ten goals on loan there last year, but Delano Sam-Yorke has been offered a contract at Basingstoke, although he seems to be holding out for a better offer…
The thing about football is it’s quite hard to give credit where its due. This is down to many of the factors that make football the game it is; passion, loyalty, even negative emotions such as hatred can be constructive under select circumstances… hell, mixed with two parts love we built a football club off the back of it. One of the hardest things I find, writing as a blogger dedicated to my club, is accepting that what happened when things haven’t quite gone as planned was anything other than a failure on my teams part, either that or the opposition profited from extreme fortune or morally dubious tactics.
Reading back some older match reports earlier today, I was struck by how, even when I was convinced on publishing I had been completely magnanimous, my text was still littered with backhanded compliments and snide remarks that regular readers might not have noticed, but neutrals and passing opposition supporters definitely did. In that respect I have to initially wonder whether I’d be writing this had I not been personally floating on cloud nine after the Dons promotion – the answer is, without an immediate League Two connection, ‘probably not’. Particularly as the Stevenage FA Cup defeat was incredibly tough to take, I left the ground fuming, the Dons had no luck, the ref was bent, the Stevenage players throwing themselves on the floor to win free kicks… yet when I got home and watched it back on TV I saw none of that, just a well contested cup tie where the better side won it on the day. If I remember rightly, I bit my tongue and got down to writing an accurate account of the day, yet still mocked their otherwise muted supporters consistent use of a drum, and suggested the young Dons side lost as they had frozen on the big day…
Stevenage, a small club whose achievement go way beyond expectations, deserve an enormous amount of credit for the season they had, what they have done is magnificent, and should be an example of what Wimbledon can achieve next season. Lets not forget. St. Evenage (as they were dubbed at the time) spared us our worst nightmare… a game against Them. Who knows how our season would have shaken down had we had to face them? Yet Stevenage aren’t well liked, particularly by Wimbledon supporters (despite the massive favour they granted us)… I’m sitting here writing this thinking in the back of my mind ‘hell, I don’t even like them’…
Check out this little article from Paul Fletcher on the BBC website – ignore the tabloidesque quote-driven writing-by-numbers style of the piece itself, skip down to the comments section. There’s a hell of a lot of vitriol coming from supporters of clubs in that division, some of it down to jealousy, but Stevenage have created a rod for their own back by the style of their success. And as Dons fans, watching our young side claim promotion playing an attractive, high tempo possession based game, its easy to sit back and criticise Stevenage’s style of football. Easy, that is, if you have the memory of a goldfish, and have no idea who we are or where we’ve come from…
Lets not forget these are similar comments to those aimed at a small South West London club who gate crashed the top flight back in the eighties. The thing is, the Stevenage aren’t even playing the sort of up-and-at-em long ball game we saw for eight years or so under Bassett and Gould. They’re more like the well organised, do the simple things right and counter with pace sort of game we played under Joe Kinnear, direct, but incorrectly labelled as long ball by a lazy media eager for a tag to make their job a little easier. Plus the criticism their players spend most of the game rolling on the floor falls down slightly when you consider the amount of fouls Dons players ‘earned’ last term. The Crazy Gang never behaved like that, but it wasn’t part of the game back then, it is now (unfortunately)… and if your side has ever benefited even once, you can’t moan just because someone else does it better than your boys do…
Even the criticism we suffered in the Bassett and Gould days was largely unwarranted, and due to those in the media still active in the game attempting to protect their own interests. And the quote that our success in the 1988, that it set English football back ten years (who was that again?), lets not forget the success of the long ball game was all about exploiting the fact that defences found it difficult to cope with a simple high ball knocked over the top… a fundamental problem in English football most cruelly exposed by the national teams elimination in not just the 1992 European Championship, but the Qualifying competition for the 1994 World Cup by nations adopting this tactic.
Even to this day the stigma exists. Among all the plaudits, more than one here and there from those who have no idea how this current Wimbledon team goes about playing their football decrying the fact another ‘long ball’ team is back in the League. So what if we were? The fact is, we easily could have been. When Dave Anderson left the club in 2007, some of the biggest names in non-league management threw their hat in the ring, and while we’ll never know who actually applied, was interviewed, and how close they came, the fact that Westley was out of work and sniffing about the club at the time (spotted in the stands a couple of times, a few nice quotes seemingly designed to communicate the fact he ‘gets’ us) suggests, under different circumstances, there was a chance Westley could have got the Dons job.
Now Terry Brown ultimately did get the job, and has gone on to show what a great selection that was. And I’ve never been a fan of Graham Westley since the day he pitched up at Kingstonian in the nineties, he looks and sounds like the sort of person who twenty years ago would have turned up on your doorstep selling encyclopedias. I’ve never really had a huge appreciation of Alternate History novels, Nazis goosestepping down The Mall and all that guff… but I get the impression we might well find ourselves exactly where we are right now had Westley been offered the job back in ’07. There’s more than one route to the Football League, after all… and Westley really is that good.
Looking back, relaunching my semi-regular look at all the latest Dons news just after the season finished wasn’t the best of plans… fair enough, seven days ago we had the worlds media – from heavyweight journalists to bedroom bloggers – falling over themselves to publish articles about the Dons. Now, well there are a few post-Eastlands stories still dripping out – Kedwell can’t do a piss, anyone? – but beyond that local reporters up and down the country are having problems filling column inches.
The same reporter spoke to Terry Brown shortly after, trying to find a new angle on the Dons Eastlands triumph by questioning the Dons manager on competing in the same division as Paulo Di Canio next term. I’m kind of imagining this interview took place over the phone, with Brown perhaps mowing the lawn at the same time…
Either way, there’s not too much of a discussion to be had here – Swindon will either challenge Crawley for the title or finish 17th depending on how their rookie manager settles in (and, indeed, who is scouting his players for him…); the Dons will finish upper or lower mid-table depending on how a largely unchanged squad copes with the transition to L2 (and remember upper mid-table in this division equals the verge of the playoffs).
That hasn’t stopped the non-story being leapt on by not only myself, but a Swindon website desperate to fill post-season gaps in service provision (the Swindon guy kind of misses the point a bit as well… although Brown hasn’t managed at L2 level that’s more down to a fluke of history than any lack of talent on his part, he’s managed at most of the grounds in the division, knows most of the players and nearly all his fellow managers…).
This lack of information is a problem across the country. Take our captains name being mentioned in this interview with Andy Hessenthaler… now Kedwell to Gillingham will always be one of those rumours that just won’t go away, and I can see him going there at some point – next summer if he has a storming season and Gillingham get promoted (and we don’t…). Until then, Keds has another year option on his contract, which he has by all accounts committed to. Even if Brown succumbed to an act of compassion and allowed him to talk to his hometown club, he’d be looking for a fee at least in the region that Crawley offered last summer, a sum approaching six figures, and I just don’t think Gillingham are going to want to pay that.
Finally, the club announced on Thursday that next seasons pricing will be announced ‘very soon’, in the mean time season tickets will be available at last years prices until 17th June. From some of the chatter I’ve heard from even non-regular supporters looking to take up a season ticket for next year, I’ll be surprised if we don’t break records again his summer…
Another new league, another divisions worth of clubs for the Anonymous Don to run the rule over, and another series of …Files. As my previous effort in the Conference only reached ‘K’ before the big kick off, any passing Swindon or Torquay supporters might not want to hold their breath, especially as entry into a new division normally features a far greater quantity of the sort of news bloggers can’t resist commenting on.
First up, Accrington Stanley. Not just a historic and famous name in the world of English football, but also one that places them above us in the pre-season table (in other words alphabetical order…), the first time this has happened since Hornchurch in the Ryman Prem…
Now I’m sure we all feel a twinge of embarrassment when the press laud us as trailblazers, when all we effectively did was mirror what Enfield Town had done a couple of years early (i.e. break away and form our own club under the ownership of a supporters trust). Yes, we’ve taken that idea and ran with it, but credit needs to be given where its due. Even the phoenix part has been done before, at Newport, Aldershot, and of course Accrington, the original club that wouldn’t die…
The town of Accrington has a deep and rich football history, thanks to the towns original team, Accrington FC, being one of the original twelve Football League clubs. While the other eleven clubs compete in the League to this day, Accrington FC managed five seasons before growing financial problems coinciding with relegation lead to the club resigning from the League rather than take their place in the new Division Two.
Fortunately for the town, Stanley Villa had formed in 1891 and stepped into the breach when the original club folded, renaming themselves Accrington Stanley. It took until 1921 for the club to gain their League place upon the introduction of the Third Division North. The club was a solid member of the division until the North and South divisions were merged together to form divisions Three and Four in 1958. Two years later the club found itself in the Fourth Division, and less than two years later the town found itself without a League club once again.
The circumstances surrounding Stanley’s resignation from the League were bizarre, and echoed the original clubs departure in that the initial resignation seemed unnecessary, perhaps… hasty, certainly. The involvement of Burnley chairman Bob Lord (he whose forward thinking hatred of the television camera meant generations of Dons fans have only grainy black and white photographs to show for one of the greatest days in our history) encouraged the club to resign, only for the chairman having to write to the League a few days later when offers of financial assistance surfaced.
Sadly for Stanley, the Football League chairman happened to be Alan Hardaker – another visionary, whose bloody mindedness in refusing to ignore the original resignation ultimately cost Stanley any chance of overcoming their financial problems. Outside the League, Stanley limped on for another four seasons in the Lancashire Combination, before finally folding.
Except that wasn’t the end of the story, in fact for the third instalment of football in Accrington, it was just the beginning. Two years later the club reformed, moving to the Crown Ground, and spending the best part of thirty years simply existing in the Lancashire Combination and Cheshire County League, until they merged into the North West Counties League, and eventually Northern Premier League.
Following relegation to the Northern Premier League Division One in 1999, Accrington’s previously slow progress curve spiked sharply. This coincided with the arrival of John Coleman to the club. Coleman, a journeyman non-league striker (albeit a prolific one), joined after two years as player manager at Ashton United. Results were immediate, winning Division One immediately, and since then has improved the clubs league position year on year, winning promotion to the Conference in 2003, and creating worldwide headlines by steering Stanley back to the Football League in 2006.
Surviving in the Football League is itself a massive achievement for a club pulling in the smallest crowds in the division, less than 2,000. The lack of financial clout must make every season a struggle, but Accrington have ended each of their seasons tucked comfortably in mid-table… until last season…
A decent start, going unbeaten until the end of September, saw the club floating around the playoff places in the early months of the season. However a remarkable 7-4 victory at home to Gillingham actually signalled the start of an indifferent spell of form, and the club seemed set for another season in lower mid-table. Form started to turn around mid-season, and a 3-1 defeat in the return game at Gillingham turned out to be the last time in the regular season they dropped points, beating much larger clubs such as Crewe, Port Vale, and hell seeing as they have been mentioned so much in this paragraph, Gillingham.
Accrington bowed out of the playoffs at the semi-final stage, losing both games to eventual promotion winners Stevenage, 0-2 at Broadhall Way and 0-1 at the Crown Ground.
In the absence of vast amounts of supporters, Accrington got creative. Now I have to say I think it looks as lame as anything when you see MLS clubs fans try to ape the Ultra groups in South America, its contrived, and a corporate response to a lack of any native fan culture. Yet the Stanley Ultras are a little different… partly because you don’t really expect such displays of banners and flags at lower division grounds. And it looks a million times better than the similar initiative Palace fans tried to launch a few years back…
The clubs other claim to fame was that milk advert, which makes just about every child of the 80’s reminded of it immediately start squawking ‘Accrington Stanley, oo are de?’ in their worst mock-scouse accents. I’d imagine Stanley fans reminded of this chuckle in much the same way Dons fans do when reminded our town is only famous for the tennis… while mentally filing that person as a ‘massive wanker’.
Beyond that, it appears Stanley don’t offer a matchday carvery, which makes their ongoing Football League survival all the more impressive…
If you can imagine a slightly run down Kingsmeadow, with a few seats bolted on to the front of the KRE and the roof ripped off the Tempest, a trip to the Crown Ground will offer little in the way of surprises…
The Crown Ground pitch was one of the poorest playing surfaces in the division last term, however Stanley are committing £30,000 towards repair work this summer, which will hopefully lead to a better footballing surface just in time for the Barcelona of South West London to roll into town in 11/12.
At the time of writing neither Accrington Stanley or AFC Wimbledon have been able to confirm matchday ticket prices for next season, this article will be updated closer to the season.
This seasons two meeting are the first between the football clubs of Wimbledon and Accrington, including all previous incarnations of either club.
A 41st minute John Mousinho goal was enough to earn last seasons Conference champions back to back promotions and a place in League One for next season. The lineup for next seasons League Two has now therefore been completed;
Dagenham & Redbridge
Cast your eyes over that list, and ask yourself whether you could have seen the Dons taking them on in the League five years ago, hell, five weeks ago….
Kicking off a new feature this summer, there can be only one place to start… a man whose Dons career only came to a close officially mere days ago, but whose arrival was instrumental in kick starting the Dons climb from Ryman League to League Two. In fact, it was apt that when Danny Kedwell blasted home the winning penalty, the first man on the scene was Jon Main…
Its worthwhile remembering that back in November 2007, a year before Kedwell came on the scene, the Dons struggled for goals with a forward line including the likes of Richard Jolley – a striker who has scored for fun at every club he has played at, but didn’t really settle at the Dons – and Danny Webb, the target man that never was… Just hours after Main scored for Tonbridge to kick-start a comeback that saw the hosts overcome a 2-0 Dons lead to take a point, Terry Brown brought him to the club as record signing. I remember seeing the name of this Main guy popping up regularly in the scorers column when I checked the NLP on a Sunday, but the pressure of turning out for the Dons was a different matter altogether.
Just days later, Main made a winning, if not scoring, debut at Hastings, but his first home appearance ended badly, a defeat to Chelmsford that even at that early stage left the Dons facing the playoffs once more. Main found the net for the first time to earn Wimbledon a point at Ramsgate the week before Christmas, and went on to score in his next three games. Yet the Dons never really managed to keep a sustained spell of form going from there until the end of the season, and as Chelmsford strode away with the title the Dons were busying themselves losing at home to the likes of Harlow, Boreham Wood and Horsham. Brown reacted by bringing in proven quality on loan… a risk, but in a way it also took the pressure off Main slightly, who scored the goals that saw off Hornchurch in the semi-final.
I still count his second goal that night as my personal favourite AFC Wimbledon goal, and it pretty much sums up what Main is all about. Check from 0.16 onwards in the video below. After racing into a two goal lead thanks to Cumbers and a Mainy header, the Dons seemed set for the final. Yet Hornchurch scrambled one back during the second half, and as the clock ticked towards ninety minutes were throwing everything at the Dons. In front of a now fever pitch Kingsmeadow crowd, Main picked up a clearance, realised he would have to do it on his own, and simply ran the Hornchurch defence. As he approaches goal John Purdy is doing exactly what you would want your centre half to do, but Main’s change of pace just leaves him for dead… then has the coolness to not simply blast the ball but clip it past the onrushing keeper and wrap up the game.
Upon promotion, Brown had the chance to rebuild his squad, and effectively build a squad around Jon Main. The Dons pacy counter attacking style was ideal for him, and he went on to bag 33 goals as the Dons went up at first attempt. The Dons performance at Newport in the clubs first game at BSS level was a wonderful team performance, capped by a stunning hat trick from the man himself…
However, it wasn’t all plain sailing, and Main made a name for himself scoring late, important goals against the likes of Bognor and Bromley. It seems strange now, but the arrival of Kedwell in September was designed to provide a foil for Main, the target man Brown had been searching for quite some time. True, the man who acknowledges Jon Main as his best friend in football went on to give us so much more, but the partnership these two honorary Kent Wombles struck up went on to fire the Dons to promotion. Of course, this being Wimbledon there had to be a wobble towards the end, as controversy at Eastleigh and Bromley threatened to allow Hampton in.
Plus – and this sounds a little strange for a 33 goal striker – the goals had dried up a little over the last couple of months of the season, and as the Dons travelled to Hampton needing a point in what effectively became the title decider, Main was left on the bench. Of course, this just added to what became a legend… With the Dons 0-1 down and chasing the game, the video below picks up the story from 6.20 onwards. Hussey is stopped by two Hampton defenders, a quick throw, a decent ball into the box… if there was one player you wanted to be on the end of a ball like that, it was Jonny Main. No mistake, he knocked the ball past Lovett, and the Dons were going to the Conference Premier.
At this stage its easy to forget the impact Jon Main had at the start of the Dons maiden Conference campaign. Main grabbed the Dons first goal in the division, his penalty earning a point against Luton, and after a quiet spell grabbed braces against Grays, a memorable away win at Forest Green, at Salisbury and in the home hammering of Hayes. Yet those goals against Hayes proved to be the last Main would score for Wimbledon in the league. The dynamic of the Dons squad had changed, Brown was now building his side around Kedwell, and brought in Nathan Elder in an attempt to take the pressure of his leading scorer. As for Main, fifteen goals was a decent haul, but for a confidence player whose game was based on scoring goals, the writing was on the wall from that point on.
Jon Main was always a great professional, always ran his heart out, always put in a shift for the team, but the start of this season saw him moved to support Kedwell on the left side of a three-pronged attack. I was excited for him in pre-season, I remember commenting on his willingness to track back and help out his full back, I thought this could be a whole new start. But with the power of retrospect, Jon Main’s game was always about hanging off the last man, not stuck out on the left wing. We might have seen a different Jon Main had his penalty on opening day at Southport not been saved, but the odds were always stacked against him in Brown’s preferred formation.
You could probably write a volume about the psychology of goalscorers. Their mental state is so different to any other position on the pitch, perhaps having more in common with the baseball slugger enduring a long hitless streak, or the opening batsmen who try as he might just can’t get out of single figures. Goalscoring is all about timing, when to time your run, whether to shoot early or delay… and there are only two ways to dig yourself out. One is to score goals, which is why news that Mainy had bagged for the reserves, or in the LSC, brought a minor blip of excitement from Dons fans, but the truth was Main was never going to dig himself out of a hole with ten minutes here and fifteen minutes there for the first team. The likes of Christian Jolley and Luke Moore had come in and taken their chance, which left Main with no other alternative but move elsewhere.
Even then, I think a large number of us were hoping he would rip the BSS apart and some back a different player. While he did more than contribute, a goal for Dartford and three for Dover, his return to the club was more for one final swan song, a chance for the fans to sing his name once more. His cameo against Grimsby saw him hang on the final man, coiled like a sprinter just waiting for the right ball to latch onto… in fact the ball only came once, Main was dragged back but no penalty, no chance to sign off with a goal…
What next for Jon Main? Well, now we aren’t in that division anymore, I hope to see him in the BSP next term. If Hayes or Braintree have any sense they’ll snap him up, although I hope he goes to Ebbsfleet, I can see him bagging loads getting on the end of Calum Willock’s flicks. If not, he knows where the goal is in the BSS, a stint at Dover or Woking could see him work his own way back… Either way I hope we see Jon Main back at Kingsmeadow soon, as supporter, if not player. We genuinely wouldn’t be where we are right now without him, and future Dons strikers will have to do a hell of a lot to eclipse his legend status.
I never got the opportunity to really chat to Jon Main (being as I am the sort of person who gives the players their space), so never exchanged more words with him than Good Luck/Thanks… but those people I know that don’t have such hang ups about chatting to the players said he was a smashing guy. The sporting world reacted with awe when Usain Bolt smashed the 100m record then put it down to a meal of fried chicken, but those Dons fans who befriended Main of facebook were always aware of the magical boost of explosive speed a regular dose of Nandos gives a sportsman…
Just harking back to Saturday… Main did play a part in the Dons promotion, and this says an awful lot about Mainy (along with all non-playing squad members) and the team spirit at the club. Main was out warming up on the Eastlands pitch, sampling the atmosphere, cracking a joke here or there, keeping those in the starting XI grounded and calm. There was never any doubt over whether the entire first team squad, rather than just the sixteen men named, would travel to Manchester. And when Kedwells penalty flew in, we celebrated as one. Players, management, fans, Jon Main at the centre of it all, one of us and always will be.
Perhaps understandably, when reporting the outcome of TB’s initial list of released players, one of the Dons forgotten men was, erm, forgotten yesterday…
But Kennedy Adjei’s contribution to the Dons promotion from the BSS should not be underestimated. First coming to Dons fans attention during an episode of the Nuts TV documentary ‘Football Hurts’, Kennedy progressed through Marcus Gayle’s reserve team before stepping up during pre-season following promotion from the Ryman League. To the surprise of some, Kennedy started the first game at Newport, running the midfield in what was a superb team performance.
Kennedy remained a fixture in the side as the Dons swept through the BSS, as Terry Brown’s rebuilt side passed their way to the title. Life in the Conference National was perhaps too much too soon for Kennedy, and the arrival of Steven Gregory ultimately lead to a year-long loan at Sutton United. Kennedy has decided to return to Ghana to join his family business, and will be remembered by Dons fans as an important part in the transition phase of Terry Brown’s master plan to turn the Dons into the classy passing outfit we see today.
The O/S today published the second ‘What’s Happening At Kingsmeadow?’ feature of the summer. The latest in the popular updates didn’t really tell us too much we didn’t know already, work will soon start on the stadium control box above the KRE/Strank Stand exit, as well as improvements to the PA system and the long promised barrier along the front of the JSS. What the update didn’t tell us was whether the improvements to access and stadium management will see any kind of adjustment to KM’s current capacity of 4,720…
The update signed off with a reminder that the fixtures are published in three weeks time – thankfully we no longer have to put up with the non-league blazer brigades pencil and paper technique, which infamously left certain sides with free Saturdays over the last couple of seasons… Current dates for your diary this summer are as follows;
28th & 29th May – Stadium Cleanup Weekend
16th June – Carling Cup 1st Round Draw
17th June – League Fixtures Released
9th July – First PSF
16th July – Leyton Orient (H) PSF… (not sure the club have officially announced this yet – but Leyton Orient have…)
Ignoring the fact three posts within 24 hours is normally newsworthy enough as far as the Anonymous Don is concerned, today has seen Terry Brown announce five players have been released…. and there were a couple of shocks. The trio of strikers were not a surprise, Jon Main’s departure has been an open secret for weeks now, but Yakubu and Harris leaving stunned me a little.
It always seems a little harsh cutting players who have played a huge part in our promotion almost before the champagne corks have hit the floor, but that’s football. Yakubu seems to have been a victim of his injuries, and Harris eventually lost a season long war with Fraser Franks to decide which talented youngster would prevail, but I personally though Brown would give all five centre halves their chance – at least for next season.
Not for the first time, Brown has surprised me, but going on previous experience we should expect to see a couple of exciting replacements coming through the Kingsmeadow door over the next two weeks.
It goes without saying I wish Delano Sam-Yorke, Mark Nwokeji, the legend that is Jon Main, Ed Harris and Ismail Yakubu all the best for the future, and I will be recognising their contribution to the Dons in the coming weeks.
Accrington Stanley. Port Vale. Hereford United. Northampton Town. Gillingham. Cheltenham Town. For most football fans names like these probably bring mental images of grim Tuesday nights in February, but for us Dons fans… at the moment those places are as glamorous as Barcelona or Milan.
And how many of you are looking towards the League Cup, bearing in mind our First Round game will be our second fixture of the season? The draw might be reshuffled slightly due to one, possibly two Championship clubs playing in the Europa League next term (Blackpool and Fulham find out which of them has scooped the Fair Play place on Thursday…), but if previous years are anything to go by, we could find ourselves travelling to West Ham, Palace, Charlton…
And what of the Johnsons Paint Trophy? I have to admit I’m looking forward to our participation in this competition, as it symbolizes our ascent to the Football League – of course, prior to our first game in it I’ll be slagging it off with the rest of you, although if we have to have this sort of competition and on the night format with penalties at the end of ninety minutes is the way to go about it… and a trip to Wembley at the end of the rainbow (Surrey Senior Cup this is not)…
With next season in mind, here’s a brief club-by-club guide to the sides we’ll face next season;
Accrington Stanley – Could be one of the few clubs with a smaller budget than ours next term. Winning a play-off place this term will give TB an idea of what can be achieved…
Aldershot Town – A tasty derby, of sorts. TB will be a big hit with the opposition fans, their manager on the other hand will get a not-so-great reception…
Barnet – Former Southern League rivals meet in the Football League for the first time. One manager with ex-Dons connections has recently taken over from another, as the Mexican relieves caretaker manager Grazioli, a BIG hit at KM…
Bradford City – Saw Peter Jackson at Eastlands on Saturday. Apart from that, what goes around, comes around.
Bristol Rovers – That M4’s gonna be seeing a lot of us Dons fans next season…
Burton Albion – It’s a new ground for us, I suppose…
Cheltenham Town – Another former Southern League rival. Popular ex-Dons striker (and future Dons manager – I had a dream once…) Steve Cotterill is a Cheltenham legend, cutting his managerial teeth and guiding them into the league… which will give us something to talk to them about in the bars before the game…
Crawley Town – Ugh…
Crewe Alexandra – Another manager with Dons links, I wonder how different history would have been had Dario hung around in SW London. Made a donation to the Dons in 2002, so guaranteed a warm welcome next term.
Dagenham & Redbridge – Long overdue another merger of some kind, so let’s make the most of the trip while we can.
Gillingham – Rejected Danny Kedwell as a kid. Big mistake.
Hereford United – Were the visitors when Kingsmeadow first hosted a Conference game, losing to the K’s on the opening day of the 1998/9 season.
Macclesfield Town – Appear alongside the Dons in the ‘Cult Clubs’ section of the Rough Guide book ‘Cult Football’… upon our arrival in the Conference this blog endeared itself to the Altrincham support by inadvertently labelling their ground as ‘Moss Rose’ (home to rivals Macclesfield) with hilarious consequences…
Morecambe – Longest trip of the season. Guaranteed to be a Tuesday in February.
Northampton Town – Don’t like the Buckinghamshire Franchise almost as much as us, due to the strong suspicion a large percentage of their support used to follow the Cobblers. Are therefore alright as far as I’m concerned…
Oxford United – Hope we get to visit on a Saturday this time round.
Plymouth Argyle – I went to University in Plymouth, so our trip down there is absolutely guaranteed to be an evening game.
Port Vale – Big away end, first game please!
Rotherham United – Here’s hoping their temporary stint at Don Valley ends soon, in the mean time it does afford me the chance to visit a ground I wouldn’t have otherwise.
Shrewsbury Town – We all still remember that FA Cup defeat in the early ’90’s
Southend United – In Essex. A county Dons fans just can get enough of…
Swindon Town – John Fashanu from the half way line.
Stevenage/Torquay United – January in Stevenage or August in Torquay?
A fuller guide to L2 will follow over the course of the summer…
Early on Sunday afternoon, at a Tesco Express in Armthorpe, I purchased a copy of the Non-League Paper to read the Dons match report for the last time.
The truth is it still hasn’t sunk in. I witnessed all 120 minutes of football at Eastlands on Saturday, as well as each of the ten penalties that decided the Dons fate, and yet I still frequently feel the need to rewatch footage of the day…
What hasn’t helped me achieve my aim of a coherent description of the days events had been the mother of all colds I developed twenty-four hours after the final whistle. I know the body’s immune system is particularly vulnerable when under stress, we’ve all been subjected to that over the last couple of weeks, be it waiting for tickets, sorting transport or just finding the money to make it to our biggest game in ages… I’d imagine I’m not the only one confined to bed right now, even if the majority of you are nursing sore heads for alcohol related reasons…
Being tucked up in bed with my notebook has given a couple of weeks worth of articles relating to past, present and future, but the words still won’t come to describe the 120 minutes and ten penalties that took us back to the Football League. When I close my eyes, I see a linesman’s flag cutting short celebrations, time standing still as Luton hit the inside of the post, the Dons being the width of an upright away from winning it in extra time. In fact, I was convinced we had blown our chance as we prepared for the shootout, even more so when Mo missed (shoot outs have a habit of swinging back and forth). How appropriate it should be Kedwell stepping up to send the Dons into the Football League.
Of course, I briefly felt sorry for Luton Town. They, like us, have been accused of arrogance by those small-minded Non-League supporters jealous of a club with the sort of size and potential they could only dream of. Luton will go up next season, if there is any justice, but we deserved this… we served nine long, hard years in non-league football, we didn’t deserve one of them. Now we find ourselves heading for League Two, one chapter of the Wimbledon story closed, another just about to begin…