Simon Bassey has reflected on a ‘wonderful’ time at AFC Wimbledon after helping the club to rise through the leagues.
We earlier announced that Simon (pictured second from left above joining in the celebrations at Manchester in 2011) is leaving after a very successful spell as first-team coach.
Simon's reflections on his time at the club are published in full below.
As I look forward to a new chapter in my coaching and management career, I’d like to take a moment to write a few words about my time at AFC Wimbledon. I have had 17 wonderful years, progressing from a player to coach and then to a special position as caretaker manager. I love everything this club stands for and I will continue to show my support when we return to Plough Lane. It’s been fantastic to encounter the unwavering support from the most loyal fans, volunteers and staff.
I’m especially grateful to Dave Anderson, who retired me from an injury-ravaged two-year playing career at AFC Wimbledon. I still remember him telling me that I was a natural coach. One of the things that really stuck with me from Dave was him telling me: ‘don’t tell me my opinion, tell me what you really think’. That advice has served me very well so far throughout my 15-year coaching career.
To have the experience of tactically analysing teams set-up by the likes of Mourinho, Rodgers, Pochettino and Pellegrini was a real delight and a privilege. It was so rewarding to see our players come out with credit from these games. Those days and nights will live with me forever, as will the Ryman League play-offs, Conference South title and Conference National play-offs under Terry Brown, someone who taught me about sticking to your principles and the consistency of messages that you give.
The second-half of our League 2 play-off winning season was arguably the best team AFC Wimbledon has had since the club was reformed. Full of team spirit, commitment, and an unbelievable work ethic, those characteristics provided a platform to reach the play-offs. The three play-off games were certainly real highlights for me. It was exciting to scout players such as Kelle Roos, Lyle Taylor, Tom Elliott and Jake Reeves, and mould them into a team alongside senior pros including Paul Robinson, Dannie Bulman, and Darius Charles. I’ve also experienced enormous pride and pleasure seeing players develop, especially those I brought into the club, including Chris Hussey, Steven Gregory, Danny Kedwell, Michael Smith, Matt Tubbs, Joe Pigott, Mitch Pinnock, and Steve Seddon.
I also feel very honoured to have worked under Neal Ardley. His leadership skills had a significant impact on my development as a coach. As I move forward in my coaching management career, I can’t leave without thanking every one of our fans for their brilliant support, it’s been fantastic. Also, the staff behind the scenes too, as their work often goes unnoticed – but not by me! And, of course, without the volunteers we would certainly be in a much worse place. Such support and drive has taken us all on an incredible journey with six promotions and countless cup runs, giving us all fantastic memories. Although the last two years have proven to be tough, we’ve had fantastic runs at the end of both seasons that have proved vital in maintaining our hard-fought League One status.
AFC Wimbledon going back to Plough Lane in the borough of Merton is a truly remarkable achievement by everyone. My thanks as a Wimbledon fan, first and foremost, go to the board of directors, the Dons Trust Board, and especially to Erik Samuelson, a man who always seemed to have the right answer at the right time and whose strength and honesty have been a privilege to witness. My love for this club will never leave me, starting from the day I walked in as a 10-year-old boy – WE ARE WIMBLEDON.