Joe Sheerin on the club's rebirth
With AFC Wimbledon having completed 13 seasons since the club’s rebirth and 13 days left until the 2015/16 league fixtures are announced, we decided that today would be an appropriate time to start a series of features focusing on key games from each campaign.
For the first of our 13 we turn the clock back to the 2002/03 season and the club's first season in the Combined Counties League. As part of this, we asked AFC Wimbledon’s first captain Joe Sheerin to select his favourites and talk about what it meant to be a Don at that time.
Chipstead (h) on 21 August, 2002 (lost 2-1)
Though he missed AFC Wimbledon’s very first competitive game at Sandhurst Town, Joe was available for the first home match. Despite the 2-1 defeat with Kevin Cooper netting for Wimbledon, it was an unforgettable experience as 4,142 packed into Kingsmeadow.
“I got injured two days before the Sandhurst game, but I was fit for Chipstead and that was mental. The kick-off had to be delayed to fit everyone in. There was a buzz around the place and though we got beat, it was great to be a part of the new club. It was a real party atmosphere, but I recall it was like that all season because the fans just loved to have a club again. I had friends who were Wimbledon supporters and a few seasons earlier they had been going to places like Anfield. However, they still had the same enthusiasm for going to Reading Town and it was quite remarkable really.”
Frimley Green (a) on 28 September, 2002 (won 5-0)
time of asking. Joe struck a double with Danny Oakins also netting twice and Neil Robson on target. Having played at a much higher standard for Chelsea and AFC Bournemouth, Joe’s first goal was certainly overdue. But he never looked back after breaking his duck – and he never regretted his decision to join his local club.thAFC Wimbledon handed out a hammering for the first time, but it was a significant game for Joe as he notched his first goal for the club at the 10
“I had gone nine games without scoring from the start of that season and this was my first goal. It was nice to get off the mark and get a good win under our belts. I know people will say it is easy to look back in hindsight, but I always had a feeling that something special would be achieved. People behind the scenes including Ivor Heller, Kris Stewart and Erik Samuelson knew what they were doing and I thought it would take off.
“I had broken a bone in my foot when I was at Bournemouth and that meant I was out for six months. I had friends who were going to the trials and I decided to accompany them. There were about 500 people doing the warm-up! I collared Terry Eames (then manager) and played in a practice match. He was impressed enough to give me a chance.
“I could have played at a higher level, but it meant a lot to me to play for Wimbledon. I loved the club so much. I grew up in Fulham, but I moved to Wimbledon when I was eight and attended matches at Plough Lane. I always get a great reception from Wimbledon fans when I go back and I am so proud to have been the club’s first captain.”
Joe is still involved in football as he coaches kids at his old AFC Wimbledon team-mate Gavin Bolger’s coaching set-up called First Step Football. For his day job, Joe works for an Italian coffee company based in Twickenham, which involves sales and engineering.