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Spirit of 88 in Manchester

16 June 2015

An inspirational trip for Dons youngsters

AFC Wimbledon academy players got inspired by the spirit of 1988 FA Cup Final glory in preparation for games against Manchester City youth teams last weekend.

It was an eventful time for our youngsters as one of the stars beaten on that famous day, ex-Liverpool winger John Barnes, signed autographs, and they also met former Everton goalkeeper Neville Southall and Viv Anderson, who previously starred for Manchester United.

Of course, AFC Wimbledon’s next generation were also learning the game just yards from where the Dons sealed promotion back to the Football League in 2011 at Manchester City’s ground.

A gallery of pictures from the trip is published above.Wimbledon U-9s/U-10s and U-14s got to sample state of the art facilities at Manchester City’s academy as part of matches against the host club, but they also had plenty of other memorable moments off the pitch.

Meeting great players from an era long before they were born was organised by Hotel Football, the venue next to Old Trafford where Dons academy players and coaches stayed. And staff had an extra surprise ready as they showed the Wimbledon versus Liverpool cup final from 27 years ago.

“We had the best preparation possible thanks to Hotel Football and they even put on the Wimbledon v Liverpool game while the boys were having breakfast to inspire the boys,” said Academy Manager Jeremy Sauer. “Hotel Football also arranged for the boys to meet legends of the game who were staying at the venue.It was great for our Under-9s/Under-10s to go on a trip away from home. We held team meetings and went through their roles and responsibilities. There was a lot more detail to it and it included looking at their dietary and rest requirements.

“The trip helped us as coaches too as we learnt more about the character of our players. We paired up younger and older boys in rooms. The older boys were able to take on leadership skills and the younger ones had them to look up to. The facilities at Manchester City were phenomenal, but the club also deserves credit for creating a good learning environment for developing players.”

Jeremy Sauer, Mark Robinson, Michael Hamilton, Tom Hounsell, Joe Roberts and Rob Tuvey were the coaches who travelled up to Manchester with physios Jenna Richards and Tammy Elliott also involved. Though the coaching staff strived for professionalism throughout, one of the U-9s/U-10s team meetings was briefly curtailed when Joe realised that his beloved Wales had scored against Belgium on the screen behind him!

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