Matt Everard on those dramatic victories
Matt Everard’s only full season with the club made him a hero among AFC Wimbledon supporters and we asked him for his favourite matches of the 2003/04 season as we continue our countdown to fixture release day on 17 June.
as the first in our series of 13 – one for each of AFC Wimbledon’s seasons since its rebirth – and he is pictured above (right) with Matt as the pair lifted the Combined Counties Premier League trophy. There was also glory in the Premier Challenge Cup – and success meant so much to everyone involved after what the club had been through.Joe SheerinYesterday we spoke to
Matt scored 24 goals in 2003/04, which was not bad for a defender! Below he selects his favourite games and tells us a bit about his time at AFC Wimbledon.
Herne Bay (a) on 18/10/03 (won 3-2)
A man of the match display from Matt lifted AFC Wimbledon into the next round of the FA Vase in dramatic fashion. Just seconds remained when Matt popped up with the winner – his second of the game – to signal ecstatic scenes among the travelling Wimbledon support. A total of 1,920 fans packed into the Kent venue and most of those were roaring on the Dons.
“It was 2-2 until the last few seconds of the game and I was in the right place at the right time,” Matt recalled. “It is nearly 12 years ago now, but it still sticks in my memory. We always had a good following away from home because most of the games were only 45 minutes to an hour away for our fans to travel. We would usually get over 1,000 supporters for away games, but we had almost 2,000 there for this game. It was a great atmosphere. I fancied us to go all the way and win the FA Vase, but we got knocked out in the next round by Colne.
“I always got a few goals as a defender, but I probably only averaged about one in four at Ash United. When you are playing for a good side there are obviously going to be more set-pieces and crosses to get on the end of. I therefore got more opportunities and I think any player who was decent at headers would have got goals in that team.”
Chessington & Hook United (a) on 24/4/04 (won 5-3)
A game still revered by supporters who watched the club in Combined Counties League days as Wimbledon came back from 3-1 down in style. Doubles from Kevin Cooper and Ryan Gray turned it around after Paul Quinn had netted Wimbledon’s first.
“I scored an own goal and it was an eventful game as both sides had two men sent off,” said Matt. “We had quite a few games when we were behind, but we often managed to win. When you are a good side there is always that belief that you will win eventually. The club was geared up for a higher level in those days and we had players capable of playing at least in the league above. We were always confident that we could win every game.”
It’s been well documented before that Matt’s signing came about after interacting with fans on a forum called “Weird and Wonderful World” and he added that the opportunity to play for AFC Wimbledon at that time was just too good to turn down.
Matt, who had to retire from playing due to a knee injury the season after winning the Combined Counties League title, said he is proud to have played a part in AFC Wimbledon’s rise.
“I played against Wimbledon for Ash United on August Bank Holiday in the club’s first season and there were over 900 fans there, which was unheard of for that level,” Matt recalled. “AFC Wimbledon would get over 3,000 supporters for home games and I knew that opportunities to play in front of such big crowds would never come along again. I don’t think any player at that level would have turned down such an opportunity. It was the closest you could get to playing in league football.”
Now working as a tiler, Matt attends AFC Wimbledon games when he can and enjoys seeing familiar faces back at the club.
“My in-laws are season ticket holders and I get to games when I can,” added Matt. “It is a bit of a weird scenario when you go back because you don’t expect to see the same faces from all those years ago. A lot of the people on security and the turnstiles are still there from the days when I played and that is really nice. The club has come so far, but there are a lot of people who were there at the start. It is great to get that bit of recognition when I come back.”