Tony calls it a day after a glittering decade
AFC Wimbledon Under-16s manager Tony Wilson has decided to step down from coaching duties after a hugely successful 10 years with the club.
With 11 players from his squad having now earned scholarships at AFC Wimbledon, Tony felt the time was right to call it a day in terms of his coaching at the club. The majority of Tony’s talented crop progressed through the Wimbledon system together since Under-7s and since then they have won 27 trophies.
Their most notable achievement came three years ago when AFC Wimbledon Under-13s, representing Surrey, were crowned Tesco Cup National Champions at Derby County’s Pride Park.
According to AFC Wimbledon Academy Manager, Mark Robinson, Tony has been integral to this success and the man himself is proud to have played a part in the rise of a talented group.
“The team becoming English Champions was great, but I think the fact that 11 of the squad have now gained scholarships is an even bigger achievement,” said Tony. “It feels like the right time for me to step down now that this has happened. I have been coaching for 25 years now and my wife says it is going to kill me not going training with the boys. But I have renewed my coaching license in case I want to come back.”
Mark Robinson says that Tony’s coaching guidance has been pivotal for his own career and those players looking to progress towards the Wimbledon first-team.
“Tony has been an inspiration to the Under-16s boys and to me personally,” Mark said. “He has been with some of our current Under-16s squad from the very beginning. His professionalism, dedication and attention to detail, in my opinion, are second to none.
“Fortunately for me, I bumped into Tony nine years ago and he brought me into the club as a coach. We worked together with our current Under-16s age group for five years before I went full-time with the club when it took over the Under-18s and youth set up.”
Tony has given up his time mostly on a voluntary basis and worked tirelessly to juggle the demands of coaching with his job as a director at a construction company. But watching the progress of his young players has made it all worthwhile and he believes several have the ability to go all the way into the professional ranks.
A lot of them have been pursued by clubs such as Chelsea and Reading, but they have not thought twice about leaving because they are home-grown. That is rare in today’s game and it is great that they all want to stay with Wimbledon.” “When we first started off it was a case of putting jumpers down for goalposts at Wimbledon Common, but so much has changed with the academy set-up and the club becoming professional,” Tony added. “Both the quality of the coaching and our players coming through has improved immensely. I am sure that quite a few of the Under-16s will progress into the first-team squad in the future.
He may be leaving his coaching behind, but it is unlikely we have seen the last of Tony Wilson as he will do scouting for the club and his son Callum is one of those 11 rising Under-16s to earn scholarships at Wimbledon.