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Memories of Manchester

21 May 2013

Supporters recall a special day two years on

THAT dramatic day exactly two years ago when AFC Wimbledon clinched a spot in the Football League had Dons supporters of all ages celebrating a unique achievement by the fans-owned club.


got them kitted out in full Wimbledon strips (see the picture in our gallery above) and ready for the club’s date with destiny.Rebecca and Jamie. They may have been too young to join in with the chant of “It only took nine years”, but their parents Florence Howard and RobertPerhaps the youngest Wimbledon fans at the match were three-month old twins


.official website’s request for your memories of that great dayFather Jamie, who is also pictured with the twins in his pram outside Manchester City’s ground, responded to the


Jamie  old twins, Robert and Florence with us. We were wondering if they were the youngest there that day, or at least the youngest twins at a Conference Play-off Final!three-monthsaid: “We have really fond memories of our trip to Manchester, as we took our


“Arriving at the ground was incredible. The atmosphere was electric with the Dons fans singing outside the Etihad. The twins were fine in the pram, but they soon woke up when we got them inside the stadium. There was a wall of noise from the Dons end that I had never heard before from a 25,000-strong contingent, let alone half that number.


“We had to move in the end as it was too noisy for the twins, despite the fact we had perfect pitch-side seats. We moved further up the stadium but there was a cacophony of sound that I will never forget. The Manchester stewards were so kind that day and they asked us if we wanted to sit in one of the boxes. We duly accepted and watched the rest of the game, slap bang in the middle behind the winning penalty shoot-out goal, in luxurious surroundings!


“I left the box so I could be with the Dons fans for the penalty shoot-out and my wife took the twins back to the car. Rebecca said she heard the Dons roar from the car park when Danny Kedwell scored that famous penalty. I will never forget the celebrations within the stands after that penalty (and one of the biggest cheers from the Dons contingent was when the betting mascot fell over on the pitch and couldn't get back up again!). I took a picture of my son Robert after the game with his play-off final ticket. When he talks to the fourth generation of Howard Dons fans, I like to think that Robert can say that he and his sister were the youngest Dons supporters on that glorious day when Wimbledon secured their rightful place in the football league.”


Nick Simon recalled the sporting response of Luton Town fans after their defeat as they congratulated him on Wimbledon’s victory – and even bought him a few pints in a train station bar!


“Too many memories to list, but I remember getting to Manchester pretty early and all the pubs in the city centre were already pretty full with Luton fans getting tanked up,” he said. “Thankfully, most of their fans appeared very friendly, having a 'soft spot' for the Wombles and were only sorry that they were playing us rather than another team. The atmosphere outside the stadium was great with both sets of fans in full voice.


“The match itself was pretty low key and apart from a couple of glaring misses by ‘Mo’ and Luke, and the Luton header right at the death, there wasn't much that stood out. When ‘Keds’ walked up to take the final penalty I was surprisingly calm and had a sense that the outcome was pretty much pre-ordained. When it went in all the anger, frustration and sadness that preceded the formation of AFC Wimbledon seemed to evaporate and I'm not ashamed to admit that tears of joy rolled down my face. I can't remember seeing too many dry-eyed fans in those jubilant moments after the penalty. 


Waiting for the train back to London, Luton fans were all gracious and generous in defeat and I wasn't allowed to put my hand in my pocket in the station bar.All in all it was a great day. Did it top the FA Cup final? Not even close. Was it better than any of the other promotion matches during the previous 10 season? You bet.Roll on next season; the Wimbledon story continues to unfold.”  


Dons supporters all over the world either stopped what they were doing – or stayed up late into the night – as a key chapter in the Wimbledon story unfolded.


Richard Stobbs, who now lives in Wimbledon, was working in Madrid at the time and he recalls spreading news of his beloved club’s promotion to the locals – and a few Cambridge United fans.


And so it came down to penalties. It was a mixture of emotions with Seb saving a couple and ‘Mo’ missing his, but as soon as I saw Danny step up my gut feeling told me he would never miss and, as always, he didn't let us down! I was unable to attend the game since I was living and working in Madrid, Spain, at the time, but I was able to follow the game live via the internet. I was sat tensely on the edge of my sofa in my small apartment, I watched most of the game through my fingers! I thought it was all over for us when Luton's Jason Walker headed towards the top corner, but the ball hit a post and rolled into Seb's hands. He said: “


“I was jumping and running round my apartment and also outside in the main court yard of the apartment block screaming Danny's name and waving my AFC scarf - my neighbour's must have wondered what that crazy British guy was babbling and screaming on about!


“Going out around Madrid for a few celebratory Cervezas, I was excitedly telling everyone and anyone who would listen about what had happened. I remember British guys who were Cambridge Utd supporters (in Madrid for a long weekend) had been following our story since 2002 and they were delighted we had made it back to the Football League and wished us all the best.”


John said: “All I had available in New Zealand was my laptop with score updates. It was very tense during the early hours of the morning, but worth the sleepless night!”Wimbledon supporter John Clark had an anxious night waiting for score updates from the other side of the world.


A Wimbledon supporter from Wales, who refers to himself as “JP” was unable to make the trip to Manchester, but he has a permanent reminder of the day with a tattoo on his arm (see picture in our gallery).


He said: “I'm from a small village in West Wales, but I've been a Wimbledon supporter all my life and an AFC fan since 2002. I was not able to make the trip to Manchester because my wife was pregnant, but but we watched it on the sofa and I will never forget it!! Tears were rolling. We named our daughter Dani after Danny Kedwell. I got this tattoo done shortly after we won and I love explaining to people what it means!! Would mean the world to me if you could show this on the website!


wo main incidents will be in my mind forever! When Jason Walker hit the post my heart stopped, it felt as if I was watching it in slow motion. I honestly thought it was going to be in the net, but I was wrong, to all the relief of Dons supporters. and he recalled: “TChris Thorpe, who lives in Carshalton, attended the match


“Secondly, was the moment that we had all been dreaming of and Danny's penalty. I remember linking arms with my Dad and cousins, and when ‘Keds’ found the back of the net it was euphoria. That match was the first time I had seen my Dad cry in a while. I knew how much it meant to him because he had seen his team taken away from him up to Buckinghamshire, and now we were back! I couldn't hold back my emotions either and I was all over the place!


“To see Terry and the boys lift the trophy was amazing, all their hard work had paid off, and I was so proud of the team and the club as a whole. It was the perfect end to an incredible story with many chapters still to be written. I look back now and I can honestly say that it was one of the greatest moments of my life. To go from playing in the Combined Counties League to the Football League in nine years was simply amazing.”


I was front row, dead centre behind the goal so I had the perfect view for the penalties.  Two main things I remember were Seb saving the first, which made the rest of them seem so much more enjoyable (even our miss) and then knowing that Danny was taking the last one, and that he wouldn’t miss.  When Terry Brown ran up and did his mock-penalty during the celebrations I turned and saw his beaming smile on the big screen behind us and heard my wife gasp.  I asked her what was up and she said “You’re crying!”  Turns out I was.  Once I’d manned-up the sense of unbridled happiness stayed with me for about 48 hours before any kind of normality returned.  I couldn’t stop myself from smiling.”“ Shane said: Wimbledon supporter Shane Bellamy attended the match with his wife Julia (they are pictured in our gallery above).


I remember that weekend, my birthday was on the Sunday!! The best birthday present ever. My memory is one of joy and sadness.  Joy because AFC Wimbledon were finally back in the football league, but sadness that my late husband Ian, who is the reason AFC Wimbledon is part of my life, was not there with me in Manchester.  I was there with Ian's parents, and when Danny Kedwell scored that penalty we just hugged and cried, and I remember saying to them "This was Ian's dream". . Angela recalled: “The victory provided Angela Widdup with an unforgettable early birthday present, though her memories are tinged with sadness


“On return to Kingsmeadow on the Sunday (my birthday) the day just felt extra special.  I was greeted with birthday wishes, but also the whole occasion meant so much and being a part of AFC Wimbledon, superceded the fact that it was my birthday.  It was the birthday of AFC Wimbledon being back in the football league.”


Wimbledon supporter Peter Thistle (pictured in our gallery outside the stadium) made it his mission to get plenty of photographs that captured the club’s historic moments and one of those shows Seb Brown making a crucial penalty save.


Peter said: “After Wembley in 1963 and the glory of 1988, this must rank as the number three best day for the club.”


We wish to thank all supporters who have sent in their memories and we will be publishing more of them later today.






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