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Brett: team spirit was key

12 June 2015

Former defender on the recipe for success

Brett Johnson said that Terry Brown created a team spirit that made AFC Wimbledon’s players feel that they were unbeatable during the promotion run-in four years ago.

However, it was a defeat in March that Brett says was the catalyst for promotion as Terry’s squad set their sights on play-off glory.

As part of our series counting down to fixture release day on 17 June, we spoke to Brett about the 2010/11 season and at the age of 29 he has just experienced another promotion with Margate, thanks to the guidance of Dons hero Terry.

Below Brett (pictured third from left in above picture) selects his two key games from the promotion season – and that magical day in Manchester just had to be one of them!

Crawley Town (a) on 18 March, 2011 (lost 3-1)

Brett gave the Dons a lifeline with a goal just before the break after Crawley goals from Matt Tubbs and Kyle McFadzean, but James Dance sealed victory and the title race was effectively over. However, Brett believes it was a turning point for the Dons as it allowed them to focus on glory through the play-offs.

“We had to win that game to stand any chance in the title race,” Brett recalled. “But we lost that and we knew there was no chance of winning the league. We knew then that we had to focus on getting into the play-offs as we had been on a bad run. We had to do something and the next game against Rushden & Diamonds was our worst performance of the season, but we dug in and won 1-0. We never lost a game after that and we were completely focused on getting to the play-offs and winning it.”

Luton Town on 21 May, 2011 (drew 0-0, but the Dons won 4-3 on penalties)

For the record, Brett was seventh on the list of penalty takers, but thankfully Danny Kedwell made no mistake and he wasn’t needed.

It is great for any team that gets promotion, but to be part of a club that did it in such a short space of time after starting again meant a lot. It may have been different for the fans, but I did not contemplate us losing on that day. There was never any doubt for me that we would win. “I have been promoted again this season, but this was the best one for me.

“Terry had the same approach with Margate this season as once we knew we would be in the play-offs we practiced every scenario in training, including penalties. We were as prepared as we could be. Terry has got a good eye for a player, but his big strength is his ability to make a team gel. He makes everyone pull together and work hard for each other, rather than just being individuals. That’s why Terry has been so good at getting teams promoted.

“I have said to friends and family since that the team spirit that we had during that promotion season was the best that I have been a part of since I started playing as a kid.”

Since leaving full-time football three years ago, Brett is now studying “the knowledge” and is now in the third year of studying to be a taxi driver. He combines that with playing football for Margate and the Kent club are now preparing for next season in Conference South.

“I knew that full-time football might still be an option when I left Wimbledon,” Brett added. “But I needed to think about something else. I am now in my third year and hopefully in six months I will pass. It is mentally draining at the moment as I am riding around the streets of London on a scooter doing a job as a courier.

“It was great to get promotion with Margate and everyone is happy. I signed a one-year contract on Tuesday and the next step for the club is the Conference. It was good to be back at Kingsmeadow last season with Margate when we drew 3-3 with Kingstonian. I managed to score a goal and I knew there were a few Dons fans watching. Wimbledon fans like to remember their former players and you don’t get that as much at other clubs.”

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