By Rob Cornell
Simon Bassey said that new signing Mitch Pinnock deserves another opportunity to prove himself in League football after years of hard graft.
Mitch became Wimbledon’s first addition of the summer when he arrived from National League side Dover Athletic, for a fee to be decided by a tribunal.
“Mitch was working as a ceiling fitter and on partial walls,” explained Simon. “To go and get a job and really dig in, work hard and show a real desire to still play football at the best level you can is a real credit to him.
“He’s got a good background having come through at Arsenal. He had a spell at Southend, but probably the change of manager there at the time didn’t really help him. He dropped into non league and has done a really good job and we’re really pleased to give him a second chance.
“There are some talented boys in non league, especially the way academy systems work now. The fall out rate is quite high and you have to give real credit to these boys.
“When Joe Pigott came in from Maidstone in January, it was hard to implement things with him. We gave him little ‘pointers’, but physically you can’t do too much as the games are coming so thick and fast. Joe went away and has had a good close season of hard work and now Mitch will come in and he’s got six weeks or so to get used to full-time training.
“Character wise we’re really looking forward to working with him and in non league football there’s still some talent out there, as we know from our time of playing at that level.
Mitch has already earned the tag of “versatile” in his relatively short career and that even extends to going in goal if called upon! The 23-year-old midfielder, who can also play left-back, once stepped in for AFC Wimbledon great Seb Brown when the pair were team-mates at Bromley almost four years ago.
“Seb got sent-off in the first-half and I had a spell in goal,” said Mitch, recounting his time between the sticks. “I did well to be fair, I wasn’t too bad! My previous club Dover wanted me to step in as well, so anytime!”
It wasn’t for his exploits as a keeper though that alerted Wimbledon’s scouts to Mitch’s abilities. The former Arsenal youngster studied some of the best in the modern game in order to earn another crack at League football.
“Back in the day I modelled myself on Morten Gamst Pedersen, but nowadays I’d say Gareth Bale, I suppose,” said Mitch. “My strong points are getting the ball and putting in crosses, long shots, but basically putting crosses into the box.
“It was good being at Arsenal from a young age. They teach you the right way and I was there for seven years. When I came out of it I realised I had to go and play ‘proper football’, but it was a great experience.”
The next step of his career took him to Southend United and they’re two dates on the calendar Mitch will be looking out for when the fixtures for the new season are released at 9 am on Thursday.
“I had a chance with Southend when I was a bit younger, but it didn’t really work out for me so I’ll be excited to play against them. Who wouldn’t want to play at the Ricoh Arena (Coventry) and the Stadium of Light (Sunderland)? It’ll be unreal! I’m really looking forward to it.”
Mitch, who has represented England’s C team while playing for Dover, is also looking forward to playing in front of the Dons fan base while reacquainting himself with the surroundings of the Cherry Red Records Stadium.
“I was on loan at Kingstonian and played here, but I haven’t played in front of the Wimbledon fans at the ground and that’ll be a good experience,” he added.