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Divided loyalties for hero

10 June 2015

A strange return for a club favourite

Jason Goodliffe said it was tough to stay professional when he returned to AFC Wimbledon last season as part of Stevenage Borough’s coaching staff.

Jason, who enjoyed the ultimate farewell for AFC Wimbledon by captaining the club to Conference South title success in 2009, said that he listened to the Dons faithful singing their songs – and he felt like joining in!

As part of a countdown to fixture release day on 17 June, we have been asking Wimbledon heroes to select key matches from each season since the club was reformed. And Jason certainly had divided loyalties last August when Stevenage won 3-2 at the Cherry Red Records Stadium.

“I said ‘hello’ to a few people, but as I was in opposition I had to stay focused on the game,” Jason told us today. “It was a strange feeling. When Wimbledon fans started singing songs I had to bite my lip so that I didn’t join in! I am pleased to see Wimbledon moving in the right direction as a club.”

Below Jason selects his key matches from the 2008/09 season when Wimbledon sealed a place in the non league’s top-flight just seven years after reforming.

Chelmsford City (h) on 31 January, 2009 (won 3-1)

Jon Main’s double and a strike from Tom Davis gave Wimbledon the upper hand in the title race against their old rivals. It was an occasion that Jason will never forget as a crowd 4,690 packed into the Cherry Red Records Stadium.

“Chelmsford had put us in our place the season before as they went up as Champions and we had to settle for a play-off spot,” recalled Jason. “Beating Chelmsford was the victory that gave us the belief that we could turn it around. Until then it had been neck and neck. It was a sell-out and some fans were locked out. That was unbelievable for a Conference South match. It showed what great support that we had.”

Hampton & Richmond (a) on 18 April, 2009 (drew 1-1)

Very rarely had a draw been so celebrated as players, coaching staff, and supporters toasted success in Wimbledon long into the night after Jon Main’s late equaliser effectively sealed the title.

“The game was tense, but we had experience and we had been through it before when we had to get a result at Staines in the play-off final,” Jason said. “It was a tight game and we went 1-0 down, but we stuck in there and managed to get a late goal. I can remember supporters running onto the pitch in celebration and it was tough to get them off! The celebrations went on late too and they are all great memories.”

St Albans (h) on 25 April, 2009 (won 3-0)

Barring an almost impossible turnaround in the goal difference stakes, the Dons had already won the title ahead of nearest challengers Hampton & Richmond. However, this turned into a memorable championship-winning party as Jason signed off with a rare goal after Kennedy Adjei and Sam Hatton had put Wimbledon 2-0 up.

“It had been a frustrating season for me in some ways due to injuries,” said Jason. “But I was fit for the run-in and I managed to score against St Albans in what turned out to be my last game for the club. I can remember lifting the trophy and my young lad being on the pitch. It was a great feeling, but I remember Luke Garrard spraying Champagne in my face from about a yard away and I couldn’t see for a bit!”

Jason is remembered by Dons supporters as an inspirational captain - and both of his two seasons with the club ended with promotion.

“I had been full-time at Stevenage, but I was looking to see what else might be out there for me and then I got a phone call from Terry Brown,” Jason added. “Terry had been my manager when I was a young lad at Hayes and it was great to link-up with him again.

“I knew all about the history of Wimbledon and winning the cup final. I was aware of the club’s demise and how it all started again. I was proud to help the club to two promotions as captain.”

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