Coach on changing times and the 2011/12 season
Simon Bassey said he knew AFC Wimbledon’s first season back in the Football League would be tough and it was an achievement to ensure the club stayed up.
As part of a countdown to fixture release day on 17 June, our first-team coach Simon Bassey takes us through key games from the 2011/12 season and offers his views from that debut campaign in League 2.
The Dons initially made light of losing key players Danny Kedwell and Steven Gregory, before a particularly long reality check set in as Terry Brown’s men failed to earn a league win during the next three months.
Morecambe (a) on 8 October, 2011 (won 2-1)
AFC Wimbledon thrived in the early months of this season with Terry Brown’s men proving to be the surprise package. A trip to Morecambe summed up the attacking swagger that had clicked into gear with goals from Jack Midson and Christian Jolley helping the Dons to come from behind in style.
“We managed to carry the form we had shown to get promoted into that first season in the Football League and it looked like that would continue,” said Simon. “There was a great atmosphere on the coach on the way back, but whether we took out eye off the ball I don’t know. We never won for three months after that.”
Gillingham (a) on 21 January, 2012 (won 4-3)
Three goals in the last 17 minutes turned a 3-1 deficit into a dramatic victory. A Garry Richards own goal and two from Jack Midson stunned Gills and had over 1,000 travelling Dons celebrating a great win.
“That was a fantastic game,” recalled Simon. “Credit had to go to the players for their powers of recovery. It summed up the team spirit at the time because there were a few games like that. We had good character in the squad. We came from 3-1 down at Crewe to draw 3-3, but our attitude wasn’t right in the first half and a few got told that at half-time. “
A draw at Crawley in April sealed survival for the Dons and it was mission accomplished from that season according to Simon.
“For me that season was all about stabilising the club,” added Simon. “It was important that we did not get promoted and go straight back down again. We would have liked to have finished higher, but people forget that we had to start again from scratch as a club. We were up against clubs like Bristol Rovers with over 100 years of history behind them, a big catchment area, and a youth system developed throughout the years.
“We had to stay up due to finances and things like developing the youth system. Things we are putting in place now for the future of this club would not have been able to happen.”
Of course, Simon has been a coach at Wimbledon since the days of Dave Anderson and he was there right from the start as a player after the rebirth of the club.
His passion for AFC Wimbledon remains as strong as ever and he believes there are good times ahead due to the strength of the coaching team.
“All the coaching staff get on well with each other,” said Simon. “We work with good camaraderie and those friendships can only help. “Everyone knows I love the club and every day is a good day. All the coaching staff have their own input and every day you learn something new. The requirements of coaching have obviously changed over the years.
“In the Ryman League days we were training at night under floodlights run by a generator, but now we have good facilities and have all day to train. We have time to do research now and look at videos and in-depth match reports. It is a million miles away from when we started. I am a far better coach than I was five years ago. I am still learning and hopefully I will be a better coach in eight to 10 years’ time.”