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Dons heroes on their fresh challenge

Interviews with Sammy and Jack on iFollow

2 June 2017

By Rob Cornell

Newly-appointed Leatherhead player-manager Sammy Moore took words of encouragement from the man who brought him to AFC Wimbledon seven years ago before taking his first steps into management at Fetcham Grove.

At the age of just 29, the former Dons midfielder knows that he can call upon Terry Brown as well as Neal Ardley, having taken over the position just under a fortnight ago.

"Before I got the Leatherhead job, I spoke to Terry (Brown) and asked him for his advice," said Sammy. "He said it's the best job in the world and also the hardest. He gave me some great tips. Once I got appointed as manager, he called me up and wished me all the best. Terry said that if I ever need anything to give him a call."

Sammy made Dons hero Jack Midson his first signing after being appointed on a two-year deal and both of them gave an extensive interview to us this week. Subscribers can watch the video by visiting our iFollow channel. 

Sammy and Jack are pictured above with a Dons shirt that they signed for a fan's leaving present.

"I've spoken to Neal as well because I think it's important that we have a good link with AFC Wimbledon. Being there for five years, I played my best football at Wimbledon. It was my happiest time and I think that Jack would say exactly the same. It's a family club and that's what I want to create at Leatherhead. It would be great to see Dons fans come down and watch when AFC Wimbledon are away or they haven't got a game. That link between us is going to be key and with loan players as well, it could be a great opportunity for both clubs to work together."

There's certainly a "buzz" around the Surrey club as Sammy, who made over 150 league appearances for the Dons in their rise from non-league to League 2, has started to make his mark. A fourth signing arrived at the club last night in the form of versatile, former AFC Wimbledon midfielder Lee Minshull who, of course, came on as a substitute back in 2011 when the Dons beat Luton on penalties in the Conference play-off Final in Manchester.

"My phone has been going nuts, but I've loved every minute of it and I'm going to give it 100 per-cent – like I did when I was a player," said Sammy enthusiastically as ever. "I'm still going to play, my assistant is going to be important, but I've got good people around me who I know I can trust and I know exactly what I'm going to get from Jack. For me, it's about building the right characters and the right team into a club. Terry Brown has been a big influence, so has Ards (Neal Ardley) and their advice and enthusiasm for being a manager has been key."

"I spoke to Baz (Fuller) about the Leatherhead job as well and he wished me all the best," added Sammy about the Dons skipper, with whom he retains a close bond with as Barry is godfather to Sammy's daughter. "He's back training and ready for pre-season, which is going to be a massive boost. He could probably even play in the Championship, he's like 25 the way he runs around! He's a true pro, a great captain and a great leader and I don't think Wimbledon would get anyone better than Barry Fuller."

Click below to view a five-minute clip on our YouTube channel from the extensive interview.

Jack Midson finished joint League 2 top scorer for Wimbledon in his first season with the Dons five years ago and in his second season he scored the vital penalty that kept Neal Ardley's men in the Football League.

At 33 now, having had spells in the National League with Eastleigh and Braintree, he too is looking forward to a fresh challenge.

"I was looking to enjoy my football," admitted Jack. "Sammy got this opportunity and he contacted me straight away about it. Obviously I still want to play and I can help him behind the scenes as well as on the pitch.

"I think it comes from our Wimbledon days. We travelled in together and when we started up the M&M Football Academy, Sammy got a good hunger for coaching. Probably for both of us, part-time football has come that bit sooner than we committed to or realised, but I think it has come at a good time. Our company is thriving and it allows us to keep in with football and get young talent coming through. Hopefully now I can help Sammy on his coaching journey and, like we've said, we both want to carry on playing. Future plans are to carry on coaching together and moving this club forward, and then who knows where it will take us?"

"We'll try and stay under the radar if we can, keep our heads down, not talk a good game and then don't play it. I always remember what Neal Ardley said, 'you must do the givens', including working hard and getting tight. You do that and you are halfway there - the skill and winning games comes with it naturally."

Sammy was quick to back his star signing and believes he can be a crucial addition for life in the Ryman Premier – what is shaping up to be a competitive level of the game for next season.

"For me, Jack was the main target that I wanted. He's scored goals at every level he's played at and at this level, without putting any pressure on him, I'd like to think he's capable of scoring 25 to 30 goals, and I've got every faith that he will achieve that. He's going to be a massive influence off the pitch as well as on it."

Subscribers to our iFollow premium channel can now enjoy the full, 18-minute interview with Sammy Moore and Jack Midson, as they look back with great fondness on their time with AFC Wimbledon and what has been achieved by the club since.

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