In-depth interview with first AFC Wimbledon captain Joe Sheerin
Joe Sheerin said that captaining AFC Wimbledon in the club’s first game at Sutton United was an “amazing” experience and he recalled being flabbergasted by how many fans turned up.
A total of 4,657 fans attended AFC Wimbledon's first game at Gander Green Lane 14-and-half-years ago and tomorrow Neal Ardley's men are back there with a fourth round place in the Emirates FA Cup up for grabs.
Ahead of tomorrow’s return to Sutton, Joe (pictured right above) spoke to the official website about a range of subjects to do with the club, including his unique relationship with our fans, why he joined Wimbledon, and the club’s remarkable journey since.
THE START (10 July 2002)
“I had no clue what to expect driving up to the ground. I just remember that was the day it hit home to me how big this was. It was mental seeing all the crowds waiting to watch the game. It was my first non league match and I thought, ‘is it going to be like this every week?’ I wanted more of it. To hear thousands of fans cheering us on, even though they didn’t know any of us, was amazing. We had only had about two or three training sessions before the game. It was so rushed and new. No one knew what we were about to get into. Looking at where the club is now compared to then, it’s amazing.”
“Terry called me the day before to offer me the captaincy. I asked if he was sure because I did not think centre forwards make good captains, but he said I should have it because of my experience and background. I said ‘yes’ straight away and I was honoured to be captain of AFC Wimbledon.
“I picked up an injury at the age of 16 at Chelsea. I tore ligaments in my hip and it was quite an unusual one. I had 16 months out injured, but when I got back I played one first-team game for Chelsea. I left for Bournemouth and played seven or eight games, but I had injuries so I could not nail down a place.
“When I left Bournemouth, I had a year out of the game and then the opportunity came up to join Wimbledon. At first, I wanted to see if my body would hold up. The rest is history. Though I wasn’t able to play as many games in succession as I would have wanted, I had three amazing years at AFC Wimbledon.”
“I have a great relationship with the fans. Whenever I go to games they are brilliant with me. As it’s a long time ago and there are a lot of new fans, I half expect no one to remember me, but fans are always waiting to buy me a drink! That still shocks and surprises me. My daughter Leia, who plays for AFC Wimbledon Under-13s, came to a game last season and she asked me if I was famous!
“AFC Wimbledon has had a mainstay of fans since day one and that’s the great thing about it. When I walk up to the bar, loads of old friends see me and I never end up buying a drink! It was like that when I was playing as the players would always head to the bar straight after the game.
“I went to the Play-Off Final at Wembley in May. I had a great chat with ‘Bass’. We had three or four seasons together and he has always been brilliant with me.”
“I always kind of knew that AFC Wimbledon would grow, but it (progress) still shocks me. I look at the fixtures in League One and you see that we are up against a lot of big teams. It is remarkable to be at that level in such a relatively short space of time. That’s what makes the club so special.”
“I was offered tickets for the game (Saturday), but I am away with the family this weekend. I have a lot of friends going down and I will be keeping an eye on it. I missed the start of the Curzon Ashton game as I had taken my daughter to her game. I turned on the telly and we were 3-0 down so I switched is straight off. It wasn’t until the evening that I saw that we had won 4-3!"