Seb Brown on his breakthrough season
A meaningless end of season match at Mansfield turned out to be the making of an AFC Wimbledon hero as two penalty saves from Seb Brown offered a taste of what was to come 13 months later.
We have been building up to fixture release day on 17 June by speaking to Wimbledon favourites about each campaign since the club’s rebirth and today Seb relived a 2009/10 season that established him as number one.
Below Seb takes us through key games that launched his career – and led to that magical day at Manchester in May, 2011, when the Dons got promoted.
Cambridge United (h) on 12 September, 2009 (drew 0-0)
Seb’s first senior start ended with a creditable clean sheet, a week after he had made his debut as a half-time substitute against Tamworth. Seb (pictured in action above against Cambridge) had enough about him to convince Terry Brown to refrain from a swoop into the loan market after an injury to then number one James Pullen.
“I had made my debut unexpectedly at half-time against Tamworth after James Pullen got injured, but this was effectively my first senior start as I had only played in a JPT match for Brentford,” Seb recalled. “I remember that one of their players had a shot from kick-off, which was probably because he saw a young kid in goal! I didn’t have much to do, but it was good to get it out of the way and keep a clean sheet.
“I had only been on trial in the summer and was playing on a non-contract basis right up until the last game of pre-season. Terry said that he would see how it went until January as Andy Little was meant to be coming back then. James Pullen was out injured for six to eight weeks, but he came back into the team after that. We got towards the end of the season and I got another chance as Terry was starting to look ahead to the following season.”
Mansfield (a) on 10 April, 2010 (won 1-0)
It was a remarkable conclusion to a game that had nothing riding on it as Seb made two penalty saves with Jake Speight and Kyle Perry both denied. Of course, 13 months later Seb would repeat the feat on a more important stage as he saved twice in the penalty shoot-out at Manchester.
“Just when we thought we were getting close to victory the referee gave a penalty,” said Seb. “I managed to read it right and save it, but then in their next attack another one was awarded and I thought ‘here we go again’. It was a different player this time and he went the other way, but I chose right again. Paul Lorraine and Jay Conroy were congratulating me, but the ball had been scrambled away for a corner and then we had to defend that. It was a relief when the final whistle went because I was exhausted! When I look back it was a funny game. It was chaos at the end and all their players were getting abuse from their own fans.”
Seb, who left AFC Wimbledon at the end of the 2013/14 season after five years at the club, is now with Hampton & Richmond after being impressed by former Kingstonian manager Alan Dowson’s plans. Seb will combine playing with his job doing sales and marketing at a health club in Chiswick.
“I played the last 10 games at Hampton on loan from Bromley and I managed to keep four clean sheets,” Seb added. “The lads are great and Alan Dowson was a big factor in me joining. He is good to work with. We have a good fixture list, including a match against my old club Brentford. It will be good to get going and get back into the swing of things.”
Seb says it will be tough to better his glory days with the Dons even if he does play higher again.
“I could not have asked for more and it is great when I come back to the club and see photos of my penalty saves on the wall,” said Seb. “I just tried to read what way the penalty takers were going to go with their run-ups. I know ‘Bayzo’ has video analysts these days that will provide clips of penalties that the opposition have taken. I didn’t look into that for those penalties. You do need a bit of luck and if the penalty goes right in the corner you are not going to stop it.
“It was the best time of my career and it will be tough to better the promotion season. I could not have asked for more. Hopefully, when the club gets to a new stadium I will get down to as many games as I can.”