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Neal salutes volunteers

17 March 2014

You Tube interview with manager after Burton away trip

Neal Ardley saluted AFC Wimbledon’s volunteers after Saturday’s Burton match – and he was delighted that his side gave them something to shout about with a last-gasp equaliser.

A total of 100 Dons supporters made the trip as part of the annual volunteers’ away day, generously sponsored by Cherry Red Records, and Neal praised their contributions to the club.

“The volunteers at this club are brilliant and they make this club so great,” Neal said. “The fans were immense and they kept roaring us on. In the second-half we gave them loads to shout about by attacking Burton. The fans kept behind us and they deserved that in the end, especially after we had hit the post just before the goal.”

Neal’s reaction after Burton, including his special words for the club’s volunteers, along with the celebrations that followed the dramatic equaliser, can be viewed by clicking on  Dons You Tube .

Volunteers both young and old were rewarded for all their hard work during the past year with free match tickets, return travel on the coach, and a pre-match meal at the Pirelli Stadium on Saturday.

They included 12-year-old Gabriel Jalloh (pictured above left outside the Pirelli Stadium with his mother Katherine), who has helped to distribute leaflets about the club’s potential move back to Plough Lane.

Gabriel said: “All my friends at school support Premier League clubs, but I started supporting AFC Wimbledon about four years ago and my first match was against Hayes & Yeading. I started helping my Mum to drop off leaflets during the past year. I’m in the Junior Dons and it was great that I got to meet the players on my birthday.”

Katherine said: “I supported Wimbledon in the 1980s and was at the cup final in 1988, but I started coming back about five years ago. You really feel a part of this club. We have volunteered this year in helping to drop off leaflets about the new stadium and Gabriel is now at the age when he can help out. It’s great that the young kids get birthday and Christmas cards signed by the players.”

Many supporters will have got to know 70-year-old Michael Briggs over the years as he’s become known as “the man with the gold hat”. A Dons supporter since the club’s days at Selhurst Park, Michael has been volunteering for eight years at AFC Wimbledon by selling Golden Goals tickets.

“I think we get so many volunteers because we’re a fans club,” said Michael. “The fans can say they are shareholders of the club and they really feel a part of it. I live in Crawley and I know that they have difficulty getting volunteers there on a match day, but we certainly don’t have that problem.”

Chief Executive Erik Samuelson said: “Iain McNay (Club Vice President and Cherry Red Records Chairman) is currently in America and he has asked me to thank all of the club’s volunteers for all their hard work during the past year. When I speak to officials at other clubs they’re always very envious of the number of volunteers that we get and we’re very lucky in that respect.”

    A full two-page feature on the volunteers’ away day will appear in Saturday’s Cheltenham matchday programme.

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