Former manager celebrated success at a Wembley pub
Terry Brown has praised Neal Ardley for doing a “fantastic job” after his third full season at AFC Wimbledon ended in promotion and he believes there’s no need to fear going up to League 1.
However, Terry warned that fans will have to be patient at the higher level as Wimbledon will now come up against clubs with much bigger budgets.
We today caught up with the man who led Wimbledon back into the Football League in 2011 as he embarks on a fresh challenge as manager at Basingstoke Town.
Speaking to the official website, Terry relived a magical day on 30 May as he watched Wimbledon beat Plymouth at Wembley with his family, before celebrating with fans in the Green Man pub.
“It was a lovely family occasion at Wembley,” said Terry. “Then Dave Anderson took us to a pub in Wembley full of Wimbledon fans, which was really nice. Jon Main and Danny Kedwell were also there and it was a fantastic night. All of us got a lot of attention, it was a special day for the fans and for all of us too. It is a terrific achievement and every bit as important as anything Dave or I did for the club.
“It was an important step at the right time. Some people had said that Wimbledon don’t need a new stadium, but we had over 20,000 there at Wembley and the atmosphere was fantastic. I don’t think we will have a problem filling 11,000 if we get back to Plough Lane. Hopefully, Dave and I will enjoy the fruits of our labour when we get there!”
Terry, who got in touch with Neal Ardley to wish him good luck before the semi-final against Accrington, was delighted to see him guide Wimbledon to promotion and he believes there is the nucleus of a good team for League 1.
“Neal has done a fantastic job,” added Terry. “As he previously pointed out, the biggest game was keeping us up on the last day of the season. That was massive for the club. I know fans do not want to hear the term ‘consolidation’, but you cannot just keep rising through the leagues. You need to have that financial stability or it can go pear-shaped like it has for other clubs. With Erik Samuelson as Chief Executive that was never going to happen.
“The other directors including Ivor Heller and David Charles also deserve a lot of credit as they work tirelessly for the club. This was an unexpected promotion, a bonus promotion in some ways. A lot of the focus was on consolidating and getting to a new ground. To get the better of Accrington and then beat one of the biggest clubs in League 2 in the final was a great achievement. I remember thinking at the start of the second-half ‘we are going to win this’ and we got better as it went on.
“I think what Neal needs now is for the fans to be patient as we try to consolidate in League 1. It’s a big jump and if we were mid-table in terms of resources for League 2, then we will be further down the pecking order in League 1. Neal has got the spine of a really good side, but his recruitment will be critical. I’m sure we will do well in League 1, but the fans need to stay patient.”