Players and management show appreciation to sponsors
The annual event for kit sponsors was bigger and better than ever this year with a record attendance on Wednesday.
Neal Ardley, his coaching team, and first-team players joined Wimbledon supporters of all ages to recognise the club’s achievement of comfortably surviving in League One this season.
The manager made a speech about the season and took part in a Q & A with supporters, before Lyle Taylor and Jake Reeves – scorers of the goals from a certain memorable victory in March – talked to fans.
With 170 attending the event, a total of £755 was raised for the We Are Wimbledon Fund, thanks to a raffle. Prizes included wines donated by our sponsors UK Agora, a signed match ball, and a match day hospitality voucher.
Speaking at the event, Neal Ardley said: “Following the wonderful experience at the end of last season, to give everyone a four-game head-start and still amass 56 points is huge credit to the boys. Although the last few games have not gone how we all would have wanted, if we had finished in the top-10 you would have all been saying we should get into the play-offs next season. It’s lowered the expectations so we’ve been very clever!
“Events like this are always very good. A lot of the people here have been sponsoring the club for years and they have a reasonable expectation of where we’ve come from. Football is a tough industry and everyone is fighting for something. You can see that people here genuinely care about their club so I would like the players and staff to give everyone here a round of applause.”
After appreciation for the sponsors and conclusion of the speeches, players stayed on to sign home, away, and third kits, with supporters getting plenty of pictures taken on the night. See the gallery of pictures above from the night.
Academy goalkeeper Spike Brits (pictured right above with ‘Bayzo’) attended the event and the young Wimbledon supporter was delighted to meet our goalkeeper coach. Spike and his father Colin sponsor ‘Bayzo’, who was full of appreciation for the backing that kit sponsors provide for the club.
“It is a fantastic turn-out and you can see by the numbers that the backing we receive is getting bigger and bigger,” ‘Bayzo’ said. “Just like the manager said, the people here are all true Wimbledon supporters and it means so much to them to be involved in this way.”
Paul Robinson is the latest in a long line of Dons players sponsored by Simon Bailey during the last 15 years. Since the start of the club, Simon has been a kit sponsor for Steve Gregory, Chris Hussey, Lee Sidwell, Rob Quinn and Neil Robson, but he said that ‘Robbo’ was the best player he had sponsored!
“Events like tonight say everything about this club,” said ‘Robbo’. “We are all grateful for the backing the sponsors provide and they have played a big part in the rise of this club. The sponsors here have helped us get where we are today and without them the club would not be in League One.”
Thirteen-year-old Ollie Wilson attended the event as one of several fans who sponsor Will Nightingale’s kit. His father Alex said: “There are 14 of us who all put money together to sponsor Will. I have supported Wimbledon all my life and Ollie’s first game was King’s Lynn when he was very young. It is great for us to sponsor Will, who has come right through the ranks to play for the first-team. That is what our club has been about for a long time – producing our own players.”