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Pell's "rollercoaster" year

16 January 2014

Midfielder aims to make up for lost time

Harry Pell missed Saturday’s Torquay United match due to illness and judging by his recent programme interview he will be champing at the bit to be back involved against Scunthorpe United on Saturday.

The towering midfielder (pictured above) talked about making up for lost time this season, his ambitions at AFC Wimbledon, and the experiences that moulded his career during the interview. For those supporters that may have missed it, this is reproduced below.

Harry Pell’s career so far shows that he’s certainly not one of those footballers who is content to pick up his wages when he’s out of the team. The Dons midfielder says he was “devastated” at being unable to play at all during December. In a career that began at Charlton and has taken in Hastings, Hereford and Bristol Rovers, that’s the longest he’s even been out injured.

Harry returned with a bang against Wycombe Wanderers with his first start since 30 November helping the Dons bounce back to form after a run of poor form. His month on the sidelines due to a knee injury was the longest he has ever had to spend as an unwilling spectator.

“I’ve never really been injured before, so a month was a long time for me,” said Harry. “It was a frustrating month for me, watching the boys go out to training with smiles on their faces while I was just stuck in the gym doing my rehabilitation. I was devastated, but my family were really good and they made my home life as good as possible. It’s the worst feeling on a Saturday when the rest of the boys are going out to play and you’re not involved.

“I have to thank Stuart Douglas and his medical team for all their help. I was back quicker than expected because my return was meant to be the match against Torquay.”

Harry, who was with Charlton Athletic from the age of seven, turned down a contract at Bristol Rovers after being named their Young Player of the Year because he felt that joining Hereford United would offer more regular opportunities. Harry’s burning desire to improve as a player has meant that he’s never happy sitting in the stands when he could be out on the pitch. The midfielder signed for Wimbledon during the last January transfer window after spells at Hereford United and Bristol Rovers.

their battle to stay in the Football League in 2012, but his reaction showed his determination to play regularly and achieve things in football. He describes his year at AFC Wimbledon as a “rollercoaster”, but he definitely feels his career is on an upward curve now. That was certainly not the case when he was left out of the Bulls side by former Dons Gary Peters, then Director of Football at Hereford, during

Harry asked for a loan move, and a subsequent spell at Cambridge United reignited his career.

“I wasn’t even in the Hereford squad – I was stuck in the stands every game. It was horrible for me because I’m not a player who is going to sit around if I’m not playing. Being frozen out at Hereford was the lowest point of my career. I asked to go out on loan to Cambridge, I scored a couple of goals there, and then I was recalled.

“Back when I was at Bristol Rovers I was trying my hardest to be the best player I could, but they were in League 1 and I was not getting the opportunities. I therefore asked to go out on loan and I went to Hereford. After a few games there Bristol called me back and I played about 15 games for them and ended up with the Young Player of the Year. They offered me a long-term contract, but I did not want to be in a situation when I wasn’t playing so I left to join Hereford permanently.”

Though Harry suffered the pain of relegation with the Bulls – he scored in a 3-2 win against Torquay on the final day of 2011/12, but it wasn’t enough to keep them up – he also has good memories of his time at Edgar Street.

“You can’t stop thinking about relegation and no player wants to go down to the Conference because you want to progress in your career. And when you break for the summer you have a lot more time to yourself and you think about the reality of it.

“I made really good friends at Hereford though. Nick Nenadich (a Hereford United director) invited me around for dinner one Boxing Day and I still keep in touch with the manager Martin Foyle. He is a really good man-manager and I was lucky because he kept me informed when clubs were interested in me. He told me when clubs had made a bid for me, but Hereford had turned the offers down. Some managers would not do that I hold Martin in the highest regard.”

Harry regards signing for AFC Wimbledon as the highlight of his career so far, but he has high hopes that there is so much more to come and the Dons can make progress during the rest of 2013/14. That would also set Harry up for a much happier summer than two years ago as his partner Abby is 15 weeks pregnant, and he will become a father during the close season.

“The highest point of my career so far was signing for Wimbledon. I can remember the day that I signed and then making my debut against Burton. I can recall thinking that I really had stepped up another level because of the atmosphere and playing in front of so many fans each week. I remember the away support at one of my first games against Dagenham. The fans really do help and I don’t think they quite understand how much of a difference that they make.

“I am very happy with the way everything has worked out here. It has been a bit of a rollercoaster with really big highs and a few lows. I don’t think I’ve ever been happier that when we stayed up on the final day of last season, especially because I’d been through it all before. We started this season on fire and we have had a couple of bad spells since then. Hopefully, we have come through that now and we can put a run together. I am really looking forward to the Torquay game because I think we go into it with a bit of momentum and hopefully we can pick up another three points.

“I aim to try and help Wimbledon push forward. I really want to be a part of the club trying to climb the table and you never know what could happen in the future. It is good positive vibes around the place and that goes for everyone from the manager and his staff down to the players. I feel for the first-team staff a bit because I reckon they’ve been pulling their hair out trying to work us out this season. When we’ve been in hot form, we’ve been very good, and that was shown by beating top teams at the start of the season. But we’ve not been consistent enough and hopefully we can change that in the second half of the season.”

Harry says there’s a great team spirit at AFC Wimbledon, but he’s been on the receiving end of plenty of ribbing from his team-mates for an article about him that appeared in the Daily Star in November. Under the headline “Mr Motivator!” appeared Harry’s story about putting up motivational slogans around his house in Essex to inspire him on a daily basis.

“The gaffer talked at the end of last season about it being ‘In the Script’ that we would stay up and that worked so I decided to put stuff up on my wall about achieving things. It meant that every time I came down the stairs it would be there before I headed off to training. All I have had from the lads since is stick about it, but I’ve not taken down the slogans!”

It’s an approach that just about worked for Wimbledon’s players during the tense final months of last season, and if there’s a successful outcome to 2013/14, then Harry can certainly have the last laugh.


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