By Rob Cornell
Alan Reeves found the move from Rochdale to Wimbledon 23 years ago was made easier by both clubs sharing a similar mentality.
The former centre-back, now AFC Wimbledon's development coach, looked back on his time with the Dale and the Dons in the build-up to this Saturday's League One meeting.
"We had a good little group that travelled in from Liverpool and we were quite a close-knit squad – similar to Wimbledon – so it was quite an easy transition to go from Rochdale to the Crazy Gang", said Birkenhead-born Alan.
"I still stay in touch with a couple of players I was with at Rochdale. There's Dave Bayliss, who is now the Chief Scout at Swindon and Peter Reid's younger brother Shaun – who was the captain there for the three years I was there – I still speak with him now and again."
The full interview with Alan Reeves is available via a link to our official club YouTube channel below.
"I have positive memories of my time with Rochdale, to be honest. When i first arrived there I'd just been released by Chester City, I'd had a row with the manager there, we didn't see eye-to-eye so I'd got a free transfer.
"It was a case then of 'do you feel sorry for yourself', I was 23, or do you roll your sleeves up and go 'no, come on, let's give it a go'.
"I got given the opportunity with Rochdale and I had three good years there, worked hard at my game, tried to improve it and three years later I was playing for Wimbledon in the Premier League."
Shortly after John Scales left Wimbledon for Liverpool, Alan was recruited by the Dons to slot in as part of the Wimbledon back line at Selhurst Park in 1994.
"The move to Wimbledon came out of the blue. We had a home game at Spotland on the Saturday and I was told Joe Kinnear was there watching me. After the game I was told they'd made a bid.
"On Monday morning I was travelling down to a hotel in Coventry to meet Joe and David Barnard, went down on the Tuesday and signed, trained on my own on the Wednesday, was in with the boys on Thursday and Friday and played against Leicester on Saturday."
What followed was four happy years with Wimbledon. During that time a friendship was forged with Neal Ardley that eventually saw them re-united at The Cherry Red Records Stadium in 2014, when Neal made Alan his under-21s coach.
In his current role, Alan will be at the game tomorrow assisting our first-team management staff and he believes it will be a close battle.
"They'll be high-tempo, Keith Hill (Rochdale's manager) likes to knock the ball about, but I think they'll be in our faces – it's going to be a difficult game for them as well. It's one we need to win and hopefully we will," said Alan.