First-team coach on the four-year anniversary
Simon Bassey said that his emotions almost got the better of him four years ago as AFC Wimbledon stood on the verge of an historic achievement.
Of course, our current first-team coach was there from the very start of the club’s rebirth in 2002 as a player and he knew how important It was that AFC Wimbledon grabbed their opportunity with both hands on 21 May, 2011.
“The thing I most remember is the fear that I felt on the day. I knew that the squad would break up with Steven Gregory and Danny Kedwell set to leave. It was our best chance of going up I thought at the time. I was thinking that if this was not our day then when will we go up? It got to the point when I had to go and have a little moment on my own to get myself focused and in the right frame of mind. The rest of it played out after that and it was just a relief when we did it.
“I have never been someone who celebrates a lot at the time. I always think that when we win that is what we should do. ‘Browny’ would often tell me to stop being so miserable and enjoy it. I remember thinking at Manchester that I needed to take it all in because it was such a great achievement. I stood in the middle of the pitch and just watched the fans and players celebrating.”
Simon recalled the promotion party going on until well into the early hours – and the unexpected surprise of a magnificent homecoming from supporters at the ground.
“I had a drink with friends and family at the team hotel and we went to a nightclub in Manchester later on,” added Simon “It went on quite late and they actually kept the nightclub open for us. When the music stopped we were singing ‘We are going up’ and they left us there for a bit celebrating. I found it hard to get drunk that night and it was the same for a few of the other lads. I think it was the emotion and adrenaline of the day.
“On the coach back the next day a few of the lads were not in the best state and I don’t think ‘Mainy’ could stand up! It is a great memory of the coach coming around the corner at the ground on the Sunday. We had not told the players that there would be a crowd waiting at the ground for us and to see the numbers of supporters that turned out was fantastic.”
The 2010/11 season was AFC Wimbledon’s first campaign as a full-time club and Simon added that the playing budget at the time made it an even bigger achievement. And having now played his part in AFC Wimbledon’s best-ever season he believes the club is in a great position now.
“I was talking to someone at a Conference club yesterday and he told me about the budgets at that level now,” Simon said. “A club at Conference South level has a budget three times greater than what we had back then. That shows what a fantastic achievement it was by everyone.”
“It has been tough since, but I never really expected anything different. I thought we would push on in our second season in the Football League. We have just had our best season, but people are a little bit disappointed with the way it ended.
“We were never looking over our shoulders and that was a first. Overall, I think it was a good season. The club as a whole gave a great account of itself against Liverpool and we beat Milton Keynes for the first time. I think we can do better next season.”