We are delighted to announce that Anthony Hartigan will be staying at the club he joined at the age of 14.
Twenty-year-old midfielder Anthony, who has made 89 first-team appearances already for AFC Wimbledon, signed a new deal, and he is pictured at Plough Lane earlier today. As one of a crop of home-grown first-teamers, Anthony is very excited by the prospect of running out at our new stadium in the future.
“I’m really pleased to stay,” said Chessington-raised Anthony. “Having been here since I was 14, I know that this is a fans-owned club, and I know what it means to play for AFC Wimbledon. We have a group of home-grown boys here now and they all want to play for this club. We know what it means for all the fans to be going back to Plough Lane. It’s something that we’ve all been looking forward to for ages and now it’s finally going to happen. It’s a real buzz for the players that have been here for a number of years.
“We’ve all seen the pictures of the new stadium on social media and there’s a lot of talk about it at the moment. Firstly, we are looking forward to getting back into training and then we will have a brand new stadium to play at. I’ve got good parts to my game, but I want to improve upon everything and to become the best player that I can be.
“I’m happy with the way my career has gone so far, but I want to kick on and progress further. Sorting out the new contract probably took longer than it should have done, but I’m happy to have signed and now I can focus on getting back to training. With last season having been cut short, I want to get back out there and make up for lost time.”
Anthony played local Sunday League football for Chessington & Hook United, before joining us at 14, and he helped our Under-18s to reach the last-16 of the FA Youth Cup, the young Dons bowing out to Preston North End in 2017 after extra-time. Since making his first-team debut at the age of 17 against Brentford, Anthony has played regular first-team football for three different managers. Last season was no different as he made 32 first-team appearances before the season was curtailed due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
In 2018, Anthony won the EFL Apprentice of the Year award for League One, rewarding his progress during his debut season at first-team level.
Assistant Manager Nick Daws praised Anthony’s work ethic on the training pitch and he hopes to help the young midfielder to progress in his career.
“Whether Anthony is in or out of the team, he’s always out there on the training pitch striving to get better, for example with his passing, or other individual work,” said Nick. You actually have to drag him off the training pitch! It should be one of the pre-requisites for every professional footballer, but that’s not always the case. Anthony has certainly got the right work ethic to have a long career in the game. What that level is when he finishes at a ripe old age in his 30s, who knows? There’s a lot to happen between now and then, but he has certainly had a fantastic start to his professional career by playing a high number of games at such a tender age.
“I worked with him for six or seven months before lockdown started and he had fought his way back into the team and kept the shirt, so that’s credit to him. He’s obviously developed by coming through the academy here into the first-team and Glyn is his third manager. He’s worked under different staff and that in itself for a young player is sometimes challenging, but he comes in every day and he’s really diligent.
“Anthony gives his all and he’s really willing to learn in many aspects of the game, but he also understands as a young player that’s he’s got a lot of things to improve on, even though he’s made the best part of 100 appearances. Glyn and myself, plus the other staff, including Mark Robinson, have worked hard with him, as we have with all the players. It’s nice for Anthony to get his future sorted and I’m sure he’s looking forward to starting again soon.”
Nick added that keeping Anthony at the club fits in with AFC Wimbledon’s commitment to nurturing home-grown talent.
“It’s very important to have home-grown players and it’s something we pride ourselves on,” said Nick. “One of the objectives at this football club is to develop our own players, to bring them through, and give them a platform. Going back to when I first started here, that’s what Wally wanted to do, and it certainly fits in with Glyn’s objectives. We’ve got a structure with Mark Robinson, Michael Hamilton, and the academy staff which fits in with those objectives.
“Moving into a new stadium, I’m sure that Anthony, in particular, will be excited at the prospect of that, as will all the boys who have come through from the academy. Moving to Plough Lane is such a focal point of the club’s future, so it’s really nice for those boys to be with us at this point, and to see it come to light.”