Simon Bassey has parted company with AFC Wimbledon by mutual consent after playing a key part in the club’s rise since it was reformed in 2002.
Simon has served as our first-team coach for 14 years, helping Wimbledon into the third tier of English football and to consolidate our League One status, but he was also a player in the early days after the club was reformed.
Our Commercial Director Ivor Heller has known Simon since those early games in the Combined Counties League after Wimbledon started again and he had high praise for his contribution.
“I first met Simon at our friendly against Leatherhead in 2002,” Ivor recalled. “I can remember him making a few comments and thinking to myself that here was a guy that knew what he was talking about. Simon was an integral part of the start of AFC Wimbledon. In many ways he was the glue that held our early squads together. Simon loves Wimbledon, he always has, and always will. I have seen Simon grow in his roles with us. We often talk and laugh about the various and plentiful funny incidents that we have experienced over the years. I am sad that Simon is leaving us, but I look forward to following his career and to see what he achieves. I am sure he will be successful and on behalf of current and all former board members I thank Simon for being such a great Wimbledon man.”
Simon’s connection with the club goes back to when he joined Wimbledon FC’s youth section as a 10-year-old. After leaving to join Charlton Athletic when he was 16, a serious knee injury forced him to give up playing at Carshalton Athletic, and he came out of retirement to play for the newly formed AFC Wimbledon in 2002. Injuries continued to restrict Simon though and his last game for the club was a 2-1 win at North Greenford on 27 April, 2004, a season that saw AFC Wimbledon win the Combined Counties Premier League. However, the end of Simon’s playing days brought about a new beginning for him as then Wimbledon boss Dave Anderson asked him to be reserve team manager. After impressing in that role, Simon was invited to coach the first-team at the end of the 2006/07 season and though Dave left as manager, he was kept on as part of the coaching team by Terry Brown.
Simon was a key part of Terry’s backroom staff, his influence helping AFC Wimbledon to three promotions in four seasons, culminating in that magical day in 2011 at Manchester when The Dons returned to the Football League. In 2012, Simon celebrated his testimonial with AFC Wimbledon in a home match against a West Ham XI.
Following Terry’s departure, Simon served as Interim Manager and won two games out of four, points that would end up proving crucial to Wimbledon’s League 2 survival on the final day of 2012/13. Neal Ardley had taken over as manager by then and Simon was a valued member of Neal’s coaching staff, helping the club to achieve another promotion in 2016. Simon has served as first-team coach ever since and he had another spell as Interim Manager in 2018/19. His four games in charge included guiding The Dons to an important three points against Southend United - a victory that ended up being crucial in helping us to stay up - and an FA Cup victory at Halifax.
Former Wimbledon manager Dave Anderson said: “Simon’s playing days came to an end because of his knee and he was a good player, but he was an even better staff member for me: excellent man-management, excellent coaching, and a superb work ethic. That is backed up by the fact that he worked under four managers at Wimbledon, starting when I asked him to coach the reserves. I cannot speak highly enough of Simon. It’s a struggle to put into words what a benefit he has been to the club and will be to any club.
“I knew that Simon’s heart was in the club, it was his club: he supported Wimbledon as a kid. I gave him the option to go somewhere else and play or to stay here and get involved with coaching the reserves. I knew that would be a short-term thing as he would end up coaching the first-team, which he did. I think he was at Wimbledon so long because the managers that followed me could see the benefit of having him involved. They embraced his knowledge. I wouldn’t rule out Bass being back at the club managing. After gaining all of his experience as a coach, there will be a time when he wants to be a manager and he will be a very good one. At the times when he was Interim Manager I spoke to him and he came across very well. Simon is the best that I ever worked with.”
All at AFC Wimbledon thank Simon for his immense contribution to the club and we wish him every success in his future career.