The latest in our series sums up what AFC Wimbledon is all about
This season we’ve started a new series of interviews with our dedicated volunteers and the latest feature involved talking to turnstile operator Traci Sleet about her role.
If you missed this interview, it is well worth a read and the article is reproduced in full below.
She arrives at AFC Wimbledon on a bike carrying Dons colours – and the last 13 years have provided an unforgettable journey for Traci Sleet.
Known affectionately as “Traci Turnstile”, she has combined cheering on her beloved Dons through the leagues with a role as a matchday volunteer since the second season of AFC Wimbledon. Plenty of turnstiles operators have come and gone during that time, but Traci’s love of the club and her desire to put something back into it has made her a regular presence on the gate.
“Our team on a match day changes all the time,” said Traci. “We have students who get paid until half-time, but there are some of us who have been here for years and we just do it for the love of the club. I’ve supported Wimbledon since 1978 and I was at the protests at Selhurst Park.
“When AFC Wimbledon was re-formed I just wanted to give something back to the club – it is our club. I’m known as ‘Traci Turnstile’ and I don’t mind it! It’s even my profile name on Facebook. I’ve made loads of friends here over the years, and hopefully everyone knows me as a friendly face on the turnstiles.”
Traci’s match day starts at around 1.00 pm on a Saturday. However, the hard work really begins at about 2.40 pm, when the queues get much bigger at her usual gate five for the Chemflow Terrace.
“We have a team meeting about half an hour before the turnstiles open at 1.30 pm. We discuss how many tickets are left, making sure we have the right amount, and if there are any major problems we need to be aware of. It gets really hectic about 20 minutes before kick-off. Some fans don’t have their season tickets or money ready, but they expect to sail through! They don’t expect there to be a massive queue.
“I do whatever I can to help fans out, particularly those who haven’t been before. For example, there may be someone who needs to be shown to a seat in the disabled section, and after the game sometimes we stay on and sell tickets if there is a big game coming up.”
One conversation with Traci at a game makes it easy to understand why she has been a volunteer for so long. “I always say that it’s my ‘AFC Wimbledon family’. We’re very professional on a match day, but we are a family club. I can’t remember my first match at Plough Lane, but I was nine years old back in 1978. My house is like a shrine to football – I’ve got plenty of football stuff in there, including Nigel Winterburn’s shorts!
“I loved going to Plough Lane, but I think AFC Wimbledon is more of a family club. My son stands in the Chemflow End, but I don’t get to stand with him and watch the game because it’s so busy. I’ve made so many friends over the years. I ride in on a bike with my flag on it, and when I get here I have a chat with the rest of the turnstile team. For me, it is just a nice Saturday leading up to the football.”
With such enthusiasm for her role and for AFC Wimbledon, Traci is likely to be a friendly face on match days for many years to come.
Watch out for more of our interviews with volunteers in future programmes.