Tom Elliott has not yet watched back that memorable Wembley final from 2016 during this extended break from football, but he said that his two years at Wimbledon provided the best spell of his career.
“We’ve got Tom Elliott” was the popular chant from the home faithful, as the towering striker overwhelmed League Two and League One defenders on a regular basis. At the age of 29, Tom is aiming to recapture his best form at Salford City, where he has been made to feel at home by Gary Neville, who is co-owner at the League 2 club.
We caught up with Tom for a catch-up about the glory days at Wimbledon and how things are going for him now at Salford. Below is the first part of our Q&A with Tom:
During this break, have you watched back the glory of Wembley in 2016 again?
“I haven’t watched Wembley back again, but I have watched a few goals from my time at Wimbledon! I was talking to Callum Kennedy and Darius Charles recently and they mentioned what Darius said with 10 minutes to go. He said that Plymouth looked scared and they were not on it. Callum and Darius just knew that we were going to win. I was off the pitch by that point, so I was praying that we would win! The boys on the pitch knew that we were going to win.”
Do you still keep in touch with the players from that victorious season?
“We’ve still got a What’s App group including all the boys from Wimbledon that were in that squad. We had a really tight squad back then. It’s always good to have a bit of banter with the lads every now and then. All the boys who were in the squad that got promoted are all in the group.”
Does that sum-up the spirit and togetherness that swept the squad to success?
“That was the best team spirit that I’ve experienced in my career. Those days were the best in my football career, so it’s good to have a catch-up with my old team-mates. I met-up with Dannie (Bulman) and George (Francomb) when we played against Crawley, so it was good to talk to them again. It’s crazy that Dannie is still playing! He’s still running and has so much energy, even though he’s about 63! He was always one of my favourite team-mates because he just made me laugh! He is a great guy.”
How much did you enjoy playing up front with Lyle Taylor?
“In my first season, the manager often rotated me, Bayo, Ade, and Lyle, but I enjoyed playing with them all. In the second season when we were in League One I had my best season. I was up front with Lyle and we mostly played a 4-3-3, so Lyle was playing half as a striker and half as a winger with Barchy on the left doing what he did best. We had a beautiful chemistry up there. I am still good friends with Lyle, we keep in touch, and I think that’s what made us such good strike partners as well. Everyone in the squad got on really well. When we were together on the training pitch we were one big team. I think that team spirit was so important when we achieved promotion. We were friends on and off the pitch and we always had each other’s back.”
Does the rapport you had with our supporters make you really proud and do you miss our Man of the Match presentations with Ivor!?
“It was actually strange when I got Man of the Match at Millwall in one of my first games and I had to go up and receive my award. I imagined someone coming up and asking me to do a speech! Instead I just had to pose for a picture, so I thought ‘this is a bit different!’ I did enjoy the banter at Wimbledon and that interaction with the fans. We are all just normal people at the end of the day and we all wanted Wimbledon to do well. I wanted the fans to have smiles on their faces and I really enjoyed my time at Wimbledon.”
Are you going to come and visit us at Plough Lane?
“I would love to come to the new stadium when it’s built, preferably I’d like to do that as a player, and hopefully that will happen in the future.”
How are things going for you back up north at Salford?
“I’ve had a decent start, but it’s just been about me getting back to playing football because I had been injured all season up until I signed for Salford in January. I am just getting my match fitness back and seeing how much that I can enjoy my football again.
“I scored on my debut for Salford and scored a couple in my first few games, but I’m focusing on my fitness. I was out for half a season and that’s not easy to come back from. Since I joined, I’ve spoken to Gary Neville a lot and around the club the spirits are good, they are good people. They know what they want to do, they have goals and ambitions. They want to achieve their ambitions as quickly as possible. It’s a very ambitious club, which is something I want to be a part of, and the people involved are willing to do what it takes to win and succeed. That’s one of the biggest reasons why I wanted to come here. I like their drive and ambition to achieve things. I want to play as high as I can and if I can help Salford to get higher up the league pyramid then it will be something good to be involved with.”
Keep an eye out on the official website later this week for part two of our interview with Tom, which includes our former striker’s choice of his favourite Wimbledon goals and matches. Take a look below at a video, which features some of Tom's best moments in a Wimbledon shirt.