Tag Archives: Combined Counties Premier Challenge Cup

The General Specific (Thursday 25th June ’09)

So I’ve witnessed the Miracle On Grass and realised that South Africa have a couple of players whose names sound like Counting Crows lyrics. But what else have I learned from watching the Confederations Cup? I have learned that Jonathan Pearce is actually a better commentator while watching the action on a screen in Shepherds Bush than actually being there (come on BBC, what do we pay our licence fee for? Get your commentators to the game!). And I’ve also learned that I really, really miss proper football.

By proper football I mean watching our beloved AFC Wimbledon, and the next best thing to seeing them play is knowing they are back in training. Which is this weekend! Woohoo! One player who may not be there is Ricky Wellard. I am now christening this as The Ricky Wellard Affair after the Kingston Informer (I do read other papers) likened it to The Carlos Tevez Saga. This only weeks after I had compared it to the Ronaldo transfer… catch up Informer! In fact I’m not sure why I’m being so nice to them by mentioning their reporting when they threw My Old Mum on the scrapheap a couple of months ago, making her redundant! C***s! Boycott The Informer I say!

Family bias aside, it was nice to read Terry Brown say even he is getting fed up with transfer talks which lets not forget began several years before Wellard was even born. Well it feels like it. What is weird is Wellard is one of the largest tags on the tag bubble thing down there on the right, which means I’ve written by now thousands of words on a player I have admitted to never having seen play, and may never play for our club!

By the weekend we will know whether we have landed our ‘number one signing’, although by now I doubt if any of use really cares, as very shortly a number of Football League players will be out of contract, and the number of Conference clubs lining up to sign them will be down after the Setanta Debacle (see previous posting). In fact we have been ‘in talks with a League Two defender’, not mentioned of course as he is still CCCOOOUURHYSDAYGGGHHH under contract.

WHEELER!Next, who remembers that crazy CCL Cup game at Walton Casuals, part football match, part music festival/piss up? You know, the one that went to penalties and we all got to call Danny Wheeler a wanker at the end? To be honest I prefered the second game better, the one when it was bastard cold and that guy scored the comical own goal, and me and my mates gained entry to the warm Casuals bar just by approaching the elderly Walton steward and saying ‘Alright mate’ like we knew him (I still can’t believe that worked – one of said mates once gained free entry to a Portsmouth-Man United game by pulling the same trick…).  

Well we can relive those happy times several times over next season as the Reserves will be playing there next year. How any of us non-drivers are going to make it there I’m not sure… it is after all in the middle of nowhere. As well as this we are being charged admission! Preposterous! Except we are not, as most of us will have season tickets and the rest of you can get in free merely by approaching the man on the gate and saying ‘Alright mate’!

Finally, and to attempt to gain some cheap hits from people searching for news on the Other Wimbledon, Andy Murray won through to the third round at The Championship today. Well done, sir. And for all us red blooded males, Ana Ivanovic is still in the tournament too!

http://www.anaivanovic.com/

Hurray!

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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 http://www.donsonline.co.uk/videos/20040430/action12.mpg).

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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