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Behind the scenes at WDON

6 January 2014

Rob Cornell's blog on the glory of Adams Park

It was a day when the frustrations of recent away trips were quickly forgotten as our WDON commentary team cranked up the decibels in the Adams Park press box on Saturday.

Broadcasting to the homes of Wimbledon fans that couldn’t make it with news of a rare away goal blitz at Wycombe, our correspondents Rob Cornell and Mikey T (pictured with Alan Bennett at Brentford earlier this season) were in top form.

Even being stuck at Berrylands station at 9.00pm due to a broken down train failed to dampen Rob’s spirits and he provided us with a behind-the-scenes blog of a much more satisfying away day than the botched trip to Newport when the supporters’ coach got as far as Leigh Delamere services.

The Radio WDON team’s pre-match preparations involve researching the opposition, setting up and testing our broadcast equipment, and finding out any useful snippets of information from within the first-team camp. On this occasion, it had been very useful to meet Charlie Wyke the day before when I conducted an interview with our new on-loan striker in the boardroom at Tooting & Mitcham FC. Neal Ardley has had to make alternative plans to switch first-team training to the 4G pitches at Mitcham and we’ve had to improvise too with staff at the Tooting & Mitcham Community Sports Club kindly allowing us to use the boardroom for interviews.

Having prepared background material for Saturday’s broadcast on the supporters’ coach, it therefore came as a massive relief when we arrived at Adams Park and the pitch appeared to be perfectly playable. This time out, I have to confess, we had been better prepared for the possibility of another postponement after the Newport disappointment. “So far, so good and just waiting” was the text message coming through on my old Nokia mobile from Dons captain and ex-Wycombe defender Alan Bennett, as I started out on the journey. Alan has been a knowledgeable addition to the WDON team, having joined us three times already this season when ruled out due to injury, and offering technical insight into what’s happening out on the pitch.

after being recommended by Wimbledon’s skipper. I recently joked with ‘Benno’ that his position as occasional guest summariser could be under threat from his team-mate Rhys Weston, who made a popular debut with the listeners for the home game against Plymouth,

We were welcomed at Adams Park by a rather plush press room, including - it has to be said - the best pies on offer so far this season, at half-time.

Before kick-off, AFC Wimbledon Operations Director, David Charles, took an instant shine to the facility and mentioned how we could shuffle our own adequate, but slightly cramped, space around at The Cherry Red Records Stadium, to accommodate such a room. That, though, will have to wait for another place and time. Maybe one day back at Plough Lane. For now, we have to be content with the “Laurence Lounge”, our press box affectionately named by Mikey T after the one and only Mr Lowne!

There was time for a quick “Good Luck” message for Neal from BBC London commentator Alan Seabrook, who could certainly be heard in full voice when Wimbledon’s goals went in later. (back at the scene of masterminding a previous away win and looking to check out the latest sports news on the flat screen). Word quickly spread that the Wycombe press room was the place to be for a quick pre-match cuppa and it attracted a brief visit from the gaffer (as Neal made himself a tea) and Bass

It was a brief respite from yet another busy day for Wimbledon’s management team, who I know from experience, are far more meticulous with their preparations for each game than your broadcasters can be.

I sensed during a Dons Player interview with Sammy Moore after the New Year’s Day defeat at Dagenham and Redbridge that the players were determined to put on a performance that showed what this talented squad is truly capable of.

Following a steady first half, we were delighted to capture the moment when Middlesbrough loanee Charlie Wyke scored on his debut, a moment that sent our magnificent travelling support into delirium in the Dreams Stand. Cue “Dreamland” puns a-plenty on the airwaves.

A goal on his debut was certainly reward for Charlie’s six-hour drive down from Middlesbrough on Thursday and it was fitting that Sammy put his frustrations post-Dagenham behind him with the crucial second. The AFC Wimbledon press team were just as delighted for Jack Midson. He’s a player we so often turned to for a big match preview or summary over the past couple of seasons. Always a true professional when fulfilling such requests, it was pleasing to see Jack put the seal on victory from the penalty spot.

With Neal having words of praise afterwards for Luke Moore, who is so often an unsung hero, it feels right to add what a tremendous help he can also be behind the scenes. Always prepared for an interview whenever and wherever, he’s also useful for locating and rounding-up team mates for interviews and even suggests filming angles and locations!

 I think, as a loyal club man, Luke understands what we try to achieve. Possibly - although he may not realise it just yet - an editorial or production role could beckon somewhere in life after a distinguished Dons career!

Not even a train journey home halted at Berrylands could dampen this commentator’s spirits with ‘Benno’ reminding me of a memorable day. It was a simple, but straightforward message that summed it all up. “Enjoy it!” was the captain’s message and I’ve no doubt plenty of Wimbledon supporters enjoyed a drink or two on Saturday night after the Dons won for the first time in 2014.


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