Wally Downes may have left the club at the start of this season, but his heart remains very much with Wimbledon.
And for that reason he is giving his full support to the Plough Lane Bond, encouraging everyone to sign up.
The Bond, which is administered and offered by the Dons Trust, is looking to raise £5m to help cover the remaining costs of the move back to Plough Lane. At 5.00pm today, the amount raised stood at over £3.6 million.
Wally, who made 207 appearances for the club from 1979 to 1988, scoring 15 goals, said: “It’s amazing to see from afar how much as a group you keep giving to the club you love. Having created something, it’s so vital to keep involved with it. We are absolutely unique in the Football League as fan owned and the way we were created.
“Supporters by the very nature of the word ‘support’ their club, paying admission, buying programmes, cheering and encouraging – and that’s terrific – but it’s nothing like our lot do. It’s beyond that. We don’t only support – we sustain, look after and nurture, because we re-birthed the Club against all odds.
“Having been part of both entities, I’ve seen how the love and passion has continued with fans from Plough Lane to the new generation of equally loyal and committed fans who are looking forward to going back there and creating their own history.
“That’s not to forget the Kingsmeadow chapter and all those grounds in between. Some will be able to include all three grounds in their memories, but now it’s within touching distance. I know it’s asking again, but the reason you are being asked is so that you can sit next to somebody, on a seat that you have provided for them, and they have provided for you, to watch the team you love together – not provided by some benefactor who has allowed you to come and sit there. So do what you’ve always done, and give what you can again, because you are paying it forward.
“We paid it forward last year at Shrewsbury by helping to pay for the supporters' coaches, and we were repaid a thousand-fold thereafter. If everybody just does what they can, and above if you can, then we can carry on the relentless wonderful homecoming. Back the Bond and stay in charge of our own destiny.”
Wally was one of four former managers who contacted the club to offer their support to the Plough Lane Bond.
Neal Ardley, AFC Wimbledon’s longest-serving manager, has also offered his full support to the Bond. Neal managed us from 2012 to 2018, memorably leading The Dons to a last-day survival in the Football League and play-off success at Wembley. Neal played 245 times for Wimbledon, scoring 18 times.
Neal said: “The Wimbledon story is a remarkable one and it's one I've been very privileged and proud to have been part of. The story of fans starting up and owning their football club throughout adversity is incredible and it needs to go back home under that same ownership and continue the story. Please support the bond and help make this happen.”
Dave ‘Harry’ Bassett, manager of the club from 1981 to 1987 and a player and captain before that, also spoke about his time with the Dons.
“I was here as a player for four years, during which time we enjoyed a lot of success," said Dave. "We ended up getting into the Football League and I became Assistant manager. In 1981 Dario Gradi and Ron Noades went to Crystal Palace and I was appointed manager and we got promoted immediately. A year later we were relegated and we learned things are different, but the side was young and rebuilt and rejuvenated and so we then found ourselves going through the leagues and then actually getting into the top division against all expectations.
“We ended up being top of the league for about three weeks and we ended the season sixth and getting to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup. But then I moved on. The club moved on. Things changed. They found themselves finally out of the league and starting again. The rest is history. I still support Wimbledon. I am pleased that Wally Downes and now Glyn Hodges, two of my ex-players, have managed the club. Please consider supporting the Plough Lane Bond, because the sooner Wimbledon get back to Plough Lane the better.”
Dave Anderson led the club from 2004 to 2007 and he still has a great affinity to the Dons.
He said: “I love the club. I loved my time there. The fans are unique. They have such passion. It was always the dream to get back to Plough Lane. But being fans-owned is simply part of their DNA. No compromise. There's a story that should appeal to football fans everywhere. The Bond gives them the chance to make that dream a reality and stay fans owned. If you love football, the Bond is a no-brainer.”
Terry Burton, who managed the club in the final days of our Premier League days, has already provided a message of support.
The Plough Land Bond offers annual returns of up to 4%. Minimum investment starts from £1k with loans running for five, ten and twenty-year terms. Your capital is at risk. Please see the website www.ploughlanebond.com for full terms and conditions and risk factors.