Bobby Ardrey fulfilled his long-held dream of returning to the football club on Saturday.
Bobby, a Wimbledon hero from the 1963 FA Amateur Cup win at Wembley, appeared as guest of honour for the Gillingham game, thanks to a visit arranged through his care home.
The 82-year-old, who currently resides at Surrey-based care home CHD Living The Summers, was a regular in the Wimbledon team from 1956 until 1972.
Since ending his footballing career, Bobby has longed to return to the club and his wish came true thanks to the kindness of AFC Wimbledon and the assistance of his care home.
Bobby said: “I had a brilliant day and loved watching the game. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity. It wouldn’t have taken much for me to get back on the pitch if they’d asked, and I reckon I could be even better today!”
Having recognised that Bobby’s bucket list wish could very much become a reality, it was staff at the care home who set about making his dream come true, liaising with AFC Wimbledon to arrange his attendance at the Gillingham game.
Bobby’s younger brother, Peter Ardrey, made the trip to the Cherry Red Records Stadium, where Bobby was greeted with a team shirt, signed by all the players, that bore his name on the back along with the number 4, his number during his playing days. He then went on to enjoy hospitality as the guest of honour for the day, watching the team run out as 1-0 winners.
Peter Ardrey, speaking on behalf of Bobby’s siblings, including sisters Jackie and Susan, said: “We were delighted to hear that CHD Living had organised a trip to AFC Wimbledon, enabling Bobby to watch a home game. We’re so pleased that he is back enjoying the football fraternity once more. Thank you so much to CHD Living & AFC Wimbledon!”
Photos: Pro Sports Images, Pic PR.
Take a look below at a video including Bobby’s highlights from the day.
Akua Buabeng Home Manager of CHD Living The Summers care home said: “Bobby speaks so fondly of his time playing for the club, and it’s one topic that really invigorates him whenever we discuss it. To see him go back there and to witness his enjoyment was such a special moment. We’re thrilled for him!”
Ian Cooke, a fellow former player who played alongside Bobby in midfield throughout the 1960s, commented on Bobby’s return to the club: “I think it’s fantastic. Because if you take people back to the scenarios in which they lived in, they’re more likely to respond, and trigger the brain to think of the things that happened during that time. I think the care home have come up with a winner in taking people back into their environment, to stimulate the brain and help get them to think about what they used to do and maybe trigger a few memories, which is likely to help them in their day-to-day life. It’s obvious that Bobby enjoyed himself immensely!”
Our Commercial Director Ivor Heller said: “We’re very honoured to have Bobby Ardrey come along. He’s an absolute legend at this club. He played for many, many years, including the FA Amateur Cup Final in 1963, and we’re deeply honoured to have him here and to be able to look after him and the wonderful people around him.”
CHD Living The Summers is part of the wider CHD Living group, which is an award-winning, family owned group of care services that operates throughout Surrey and South London. For more information on CHD Living please visit their website.
Take a look below at a video clip from Ian Cooke’s speech about Bobby on Saturday.