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Dickie: an amazing journey to return home

Club President can't wait for his club to be back at Plough Lane

19 December 2017

There are few people for whom the return to Plough Lane means as much as it does to former Dons keeper and current club President, Dickie Guy.

In an article in Saturday's match day programme, Dickie summed up his thoughts after the section 106 agreement was signed – paving the way back to Wimbledon's spiritual home.

For those who missed Dickie's write-up, the article is reproduced in full below.

At last, we are on our way home! After what seemed like an endless wait we are finally over the line and the Section 106 agreement has been signed. Whether we have one or two more seasons to go at Kingsmeadow, we will be returning to our spiritual home, Plough Lane. I say that with a tinge of sadness because Kingsmeadow was the place of our rebirth and we've had some great times here, but to go back to Plough Lane, for me, is just wonderful.

I signed for Wimbledon in 1967 after playing for Tooting & Mitcham United against Wimbledon in the Premier Midweek Floodlit League, and I left in 1978. Over 500 first-team games, and I enjoyed every one of them. I loved the place – after 11 years an attachment develops, and I had many happy times there. As for the pitch, maybe at the start of the season it was acceptable, but when you got halfway through the season and after some heavy rain for a day or two, it was more like a ploughed field. But it was the home of Wimbledon FC, my club, and I loved it.

A prime example of the Plough Lane pitch at its worst (though it was a situation that could and should have been avoided) was when we were invited to film an advert for the London Electricity Board. Our manager at the time was Allen Batsford, with whom we had great success, and for me was the man who put the club on the map. He selected ten of us, me included, to play a five-a-side game one midweek evening in the dark without the floodlights on, but with each of us holding a miner's lamp.

Allen couldn't be there, so he put one of our players, my friend Glen Aitken, in charge for the evening. Well, as it turned out, there was heavy rain on the day of filming and the day before too. Now, adverts never seem to be completed in one take, and so we played game after game. It was a very cold, wet and windy evening, and between takes we were given various beverages, some stronger than others, to help keep us warm. As you can imagine, the more takes they did the worse the pitch got, and by the end of the evening it was a muddy quagmire. When Allen saw it on the Thursday night at training, this time with the floodlights on, he went absolutely ballistic and crucified Glen Aitken. The rest of us slipped quietly away as he lambasted Glen for letting the filming go ahead. It was fun at the time, but probably a bit irresponsible on everyone's part. Good times though. Great memories.

Now, it may have not gone unnoticed – and it's nothing to be ashamed about – but I tend to be an emotional person, and never more so than where our great club is concerned. Several years ago, when the club was lodging at Selhurst Park and Plough Lane was boarded up, I drove past the abandoned ground and decided to try and get in to have one last look at the old place. I did manage to get in, and made my way onto the pitch – which by then, of course, was almost knee-high with grass and weeds. There I was, standing in the middle of the pitch, deep in thought, with a lump in my throat as big as an apple, when from behind me I heard a shout: "Excuse me, sir, you're not allowed in here." It was a security guard. "OK, mate," I mumbled. I was so emotional I couldn't say any more than that. I turned and walked off the pitch for the very last time, very sad, and not knowing what would become of our great club.

But then fast forward a few years. Our club was hijacked 80-odd miles up the motorway – and that's not something I want to talk about. But then, through the dedication and determination of our fans, we were reborn as AFC Wimbledon. It's an amazing story and an amazing journey that's now taking us back to our home, Plough Lane. I can't wait to see us playing in our new stadium, where we will continue to go from strength to strength.


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