The glory of Manchester according to fans and WDON
This time two years ago the celebrations were still going on after the glory at Manchester and WDON commentator Rob Cornell had delivered the words all Wimbledon supporters had waited for.
, who is pictured above having her shirt signed by Brett Johnson, Ismael Yakubu and Kedwell).Jasmine Bates“We’re in League Two” were the words that followed Danny Kedwell’s winning penalty and it is a day that Dons supporters at the match will never forget (including mascot on the day,
Here’s what Rob Cornell recalled about 21, May, 2011, when he commentated from a particularly packed press box at the Play-Off Final.
“My mind first goes back to a sunny day down on the Sussex coast, back in August of that season - a dramatic 3-2 win at Eastbourne Borough put us top of the Conference for the first time and it also happened to be my debut on Radio WDON. Having passed the audition, set by my now regular matchday colleagues Mike Taliadoros and Geoff Hawley, nine months later I'd played myself onto our broadcast team for the play-off showdown. We were in the privileged position that day to broadcast to Wimbledon fans listening across the globe that couldn't be there. Of course, they were hanging on our every word, but also we took them by the hand as a radio companion and tried to nurse them through all the emotions of the extra-time and in particular the drama of THAT penalty shoot-out!
“In a way, the WDON team that day kind of experienced a build-up perhaps similar to those on the pitch. Our dressing room was a rather plush media suite, where we held our team-talk or rather pre-production chat as to focus individually on what areas in particular we needed to pick up on in commentary. Surroundings were a little different for Terry's line-up and they were for us too because having TV monitors for the key moments was useful. What was also different was that our position in the press area put us right in enemy territory closer to the Hatters supporters!
“The reason I blurted repetitively "they've done it!" after Danny struck the decisive spot-kick past Mark Tyler was my first thought went to our listeners amid all the understandable delirium among our commentary team. The relief and emotion of confirming our situation then went a bit high-pitched as "We're in League Two!’ followed in astonishment.
“In the car afterwards I remember being told AFC Wimbledon were "trending" as a top ten on Twitter. Back at the team hotel I remember Seb stepping off the coach and straight into the arms of loved ones after his double penalty save heroics. A few months later I asked him if he sometimes sits bolt upright in bed, having woken up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night, thinking it was a dream, but it was never in doubt. He was supreme, a man of steel that day and became another Wimbledon goalkeeping legend forever more.”
Dons Trust Secretary, David Hall, attended the match at Manchester and he had extra special reason to celebrate a great occasion.
“It was my 50th birthday and having supported the Dons for around 40 years I decided it was going to be destiny the moment I found out that the Play-Off Final was that day. Originally, I had some grand plans for a party that evening in Wimbledon which I thought would work perfectly for a final at Wembley. But of course it wasn't at Wembley!
“But it didn't take long to decide that win or lose I was going to have a party in Manchester and take the family along and stay overnight. It was a rare trip to a match for my wife - and my son. My brother also came and my cousins (one of whom came over from France) plus friends. I'm pleased to say my son Alexander has now got properly hooked on AFC Wimbledon Although, the Etihad also obviously had an effect as he claims that City are his 'Premiership side' now. He'll grow out of it. As for the game and the evening after it's a bit of a blur. The tension of extra time and the penalties were excruciating - actually I could barely watch the penalties in all honesty. But destiny it was. What a day. What a journey. And it hasn't finished yet. Pity my 60th isn't on a Saturday. But you never know maybe they'll move the 2021 FA Cup Final to a Friday for a change!”
Jerry Bates refers to that day up in Manchester simply as “one of the best days of my life”.
“My nine-year-old daughter, led a nine-year-old team out alongside the winning number nine goalscorer! My daughter Jasmine is pictured having her shirt signed in the changing room before the match. I remember Terry swearing - and then apologising - as we walked in the changing room, the relaxed atmosphere of music blasting and the players all friendly and chilling before the game!
“I have never been so proud as when Jasmine held Danny Kedwell's hand to lead the team out onto the pitch and I stood there with the national anthem playing! She'd never seen Wimbledon lose a match, and she told Danny to go and score the winning goal!
Afterwards there's a photo of my wife, daughter and me physically drained from the emotions of the match, but still smiling! A big thanks to all at AFC who made this a great, great day, with great memories for me and my family!”
Angela Widdup is also pictured in our gallery of photographs with the Play-Off winning trophy and with fellow Dons fans holding a flag in memory of her late husband Ian.
Don Phillimore recalled that he had a memorable day from start to finish – and it all started with meeting a Wimbledon FA Amateur Cup hero from 1963.
“The first highlight was seeing and chatting with the great Roy Law on the train up to Manchester. I know the centre of Manchester fairly well so we had a stroll round the centre and then ambled our way to a pub near the ground, which was full of AFC Wimbledon fans. It was great, a terrific atmosphere and a throwback to the old Wimbledon FC days with all the singing and stories. I thought the game itself could have gone either way. AFC Wimbledon played very well and got stronger and stronger as the game wore on. I will never forget the Luton header that shaved our post at the end of extra-time, such are the fine margins between winning and losing.
“I think I was relatively calm during the penalties, but like everyone else I leapt up and down with joy, hugging perfect strangers when Danny Kedwell scored the winning kick. I can recall fantastic celebrations on and off the pitch, I remember watching Terry Brown kicking imaginary balls on the pitch. The walk back to Manchester Piccadilly Station was terrific, singing and dancing in the street. Hats off to the philosophical Luton town supporters because they had a drink with us at the station and they took their defeat well. The train back was mayhem, full to the rafters with Luton and Wimbledon fans, both, with the common theme of disliking Milton Keynes, particularly when the train stopped at Milton Keynes Central Station. It’s a day I will never forget.”
Henrik Persson and two friends came all the way over from Sweden to watch the match at Manchester. Swedish Supporters Club.They are certainly not the only Dons fans in that part of the world though as they help to run the Swedish Supporters Club for AFC Wimbledon. A photograph of the Swedish national flag is at Manchester is pictured in our gallery and you can take a look at the website by clicking on
Dons fan Carwyn Tywyn travelled from west Wales to attend the match at a particularly emotional time for him.
“Just a week before the match, my Dad had died very suddenly. The play-off final happened to take place in the brief lull between dealing with the immediate aftermath of Dad's death and helping to organise the funeral.
I remember sitting in the sun on the concourse next to the stadium in a bit of a daze really, reflecting on all the personal events of the last few days. I do remember enjoying spotting a lot of "retro" Luton Town tops from their glory days of the 1980s and 1990s. I also had the pleasure of meeting up with an old friend from my school days, a Luton fan called Hedd, from Aberystwyth, who had made a similar trek from west Wales (picture is included in our selection).
For me, the day out and the eventual victory was a day of absolute pleasure and total escape from the unpleasant task of dealing with the business of my Dad. On the way home, the train stopped at Cardiff and became packed out with Leinster rugby fans. They were heading home to Ireland after winning the European Rugby Cup. They spotted my AFC Wimbledon flag and asked me for the result. They went bonkers when I told them the score, and the ride home to west Wales became a double sing-song. Never has an AFC Wimbledon fan sung "Molly Malone" with so much passion!”
We wish to thank all AFC Wimbledon supporters for sending in their memories and photographs. Also included in our gallery is Danny Kedwell wheeling away in delight after his winning penalty, along with Simon Bassey, Terry Brown and Stuart Cash parading the trophy at the Cherry Red Records Stadium a day later.