Manager sums up Wembley glory
An elated Neal Ardley said that watching the supporters celebrate success at Wembley meant everything to him after he led AFC Wimbledon into League 1.
Speaking during a post-match interview for Dons Player, Neal Ardley said: “When we got that penalty in the last minute to clinch the game I just stood there and watched the fans bouncing up and down. They knew we had done it after we scored. It made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. It was exhilarating.
“To stand there at the end in front of over 20,000 Wimbledon fans when you know it is your club and you joined at the age of 11, it does not get any better in life than that. People here have ploughed their hearts and souls into this club for 14 years and for me to play a small part in giving them a day like this makes me so proud.”
Neal added that his squad executed the game plan to perfection against Plymouth – and he never doubted they would do it.
“I thought we would win before the game,” said Neal. “I looked at people like Paul Robinson, Darius Charles and Barry Fuller, they had been there, seen it, and done it. Plymouth did not have that in their dressing room. The boys carried out our game plan perfectly on the day.
“No one can tell me that we were not the better team in the majority of our games in the first half of the season, but we were just letting ourselves down with set-pieces and various things in games. We worked harder in the second half of the season and stopped doing silly things, which were causing us to lose games. We knew we were the form team, we knew we had great fitness. We tailored their fitness levels to finish strongly in the last 10 games of the season and we certainly did that.
“It’s never about me or one individual player. Everyone worked hard for each other on and off the pitch. We have no superstars, no blame culture, and everyone fought hard for each other. That has now come to fruition.”
The interview with Neal Ardley is now on Dons Player, along with extended highlights from Wembley. Reaction from first-team players will follow later.