From the Bristol Rovers programme
In yesterday’s match day programme Chief Executive Erik Samuelson reviewed the past 12 months at AFC Wimbledon – and he said that there are plenty of reasons to celebrate.
For those who may have missed it, the full article is reproduced below:
At this time of year I like to look back on what has happened in the previous 12 months. I’m not going to take things in any particular order, and I’ll start with the Academy, and specifically the U18 team.
Eileen and I went to watch the FA Youth Cup game at Premier League Watford a couple of weeks ago. We managed to get on the wrong train, and arrived to see the boys score an equalising penalty just before half-time. Even more dramatically, they scored a fully deserved second equaliser in injury time and went on to win on penalties. Their reward is an away trip to Newcastle United and, should they win there, a home tie against Manchester United or Chelsea. It’s a tall order, but if they win through to the next round we could see the first U18 home game to sell out the Cherry Red Records Stadium.
Meanwhile, the Ladies First Team dominate their league with 12 wins and a draw in their 13 games so far this season. Not to be outdone, the Ladies Development Team is top of their league with only one defeat in 11 games to date.
Off the pitch, the AFC Wimbledon Foundation obtained funding to provide 600 schoolchildren with free football sessions each week, free football activities for young females aged 14 upwards, and sessions for Down’s syndrome girls on Sunday mornings.
The year saw nearly all our major sponsors – Sports Interactive, Cherry Red Records, Paul Strank Roofing, Your Golf Travel and Chemflow – continue their support, for which we thank them very much. We also saw John Green extend his sponsorship to the north stand, and we have hopes of even closer collaboration with John in the near future.
As the sale of our stadium to Chelsea progressed, the Dons Trust Board carried out an exemplary campaign to achieve an astonishingly high turnout – twice – to pass resolutions allowing the sale to go ahead. This was despite the extremely high percentage of members who were required to vote and the proportion of votes that needed to be in favour.
Back on the pitch, we welcomed Liverpool, our first Premier League opponents since we re-formed, in the third round of the FA Cup. We got a lot out of the game, including the very welcome TV money, but also massive publicity in the national press for keeping ticket prices the same as for league games, with under-18s able to watch for £4. The game went off without a hitch, and the only downside was that we didn’t get the draw our superb, controlled performance at least deserved. And the 2014/15 season ended with our highest Football League position and points total to date.
The first-team matchday squad has been supplemented on a regular basis by Academy graduates, and I’ll single out two in particular. Will Nightingale made a very strong claim for a regular first-team place until his injury, and Ryan Sweeney has been called up regularly for the Republic of Ireland U19 team.
This year we regained a Football League Family Excellence award, having missed out in 2014. It was good to see that our office staff were particularly praised for their helpfulness to the FL’s mystery shopper who called asking for guidance, as also were the matchday stewards. And on that topic, the matchday control room staff and Phil Clark, our Safety Officer, received a commendation for the quality of their work from the police’s matchday commander.
Most recently, the resolution to approve our application for a new stadium in Plough Lane was passed unanimously by Merton Council’s Planning Committee – an astonishing result which reflected the hard work of a substantial number of experts in their respective fields. That is not a bad end to the year, and if I can write as positively next year as I can today, then we will be looking good!
All these things were achieved as a fans-owned club and with a substantial number of volunteers still at the heart of all we do. To those volunteers and to everyone else who has contributed to this being such a good year for AFC Wimbledon, thank you on behalf of the club.
Picture credit: Alan Cozzi/Watford FC