Andy Barcham will never forget the drama of four years ago at Accrington – and he said that the squad believed it was their destiny to reach Wembley.
To describe the events of four years ago as ‘eventful’ hardly does the word justice as Wimbledon pulled off a dramatic comeback to reach Wembley on a night when the floodlights went out in extra-time! The final whistle was the signal for a Dons party on the pitch as goal hero Lyle Taylor and his team-mates were hoisted aloft by our travelling supporters on the pitch.
It was a night that’s difficult to sum-up, and that’s perhaps why Barchy spent the first eight minutes of our ‘catching-up’ interview talking about it!
Asked whether he felt Wimbledon could still come back at 2-0 down, Barchy said: “Everyone felt that we could come back into it and that was just the mentality we had that season. A few of us have said in the past that we always felt we had the edge on them. With the mentality and belief we had in the squad - the whole squad – and our fitness, we always felt we could do it. We knew we were fitter because that was something we worked on throughout the season.
"We knew that we had more to give as the game wore on and they were just doing all they could to stay in it. We always knew we would go again because we had the players on the bench who could change games. The main changes we made regularly involved Bayo and Ade coming off the bench, but we knew we had more strength on the bench with whoever came on. We had players on the bench who could change games and we didn’t feel they had the same options on their bench.
“In that season we were never down and out after falling behind in games. No matter what happened, we had the belief and the team spirit to get out of it. I certainly felt that - even when we went 2-0 down on that night. It was obviously a blow, but we dusted ourselves down and rallied again. We had a saying that the gaffer was big on that season. I remember players looking around and just shouting ‘it’s in the script’ and this was meant to happen. We had a belief that we would go through and reach Wembley, no matter what.
"I felt it was important that we answered back so quickly with our first goal after they had gone 2-0 up. Once we got that, it felt like the momentum had changed. We went on and then Reevesy made the great run for the second goal and Lyle finished it off. We always knew it would change and it did. I felt that the results we had against them that season also gave us an edge. We had that crazy game from earlier in the season when we won 4-3. That was in our minds and we knew it would be in their minds too.”
Barchy, who made 161 appearances for Wimbledon during a four-year spell before leaving last May, added that he still has pictures of the celebrations from that night.
“It was really enjoyable – I can’t believe it’s so long ago! I’ve seen a few of the interviews and the videos from the night and it just brings back those feelings before we went out for the game: the nerves, the excitement, and the atmosphere - the whole night was brilliant.
“It’s just everything from the day that brings back great memories; the atmosphere in the changing rooms afterwards, celebrating with the fans on the pitch. The memories are ones that I will always remember. I still have pictures now of being lifted up by the fans and everyone celebrating together, something that always happens at Wimbledon because of the fans and people at the club. There were people on the pitch that I knew because I spoke to them regularly. It was nice to celebrate as one with everyone together, it’s what we do at Wimbledon. The atmosphere at the home and away games was everything you would want it to be. That’s why it will stick in my memory forever. As a player, you want to play in these games.
“There were quite a few other things going on too, including the lights going off! Just little things too, including when Bayo scored and he slam-dunked the defender. I remember celebrating with him and it was a little thing we had going on throughout the season and something we did at Wembley. It was nice to have a celebration that you know you are going to do, it was something that happened at the Christmas party and it just stuck! It wasn’t even planned, it just came naturally, which made it better to watch!
“The way that Barry put up that ball for the first goal, I still don’t know how he did it! It was like a slide-tackle and he somehow got the cross in at full stretch. As soon as that cross went in, I didn’t care where it ended up, I knew Bayo was coming out of nowhere, and it was going to end up in the back of the net. I think the defender would have known as well! You can’t do anything about it when you put Bayo in that position, which was great.
"After that, it was such a great run from Reevesy, and Lyle was there – as he always was – to finish it off. Reevesy still played his part after his sensational run by wrestling their guy to the floor to allow Lyle to get it! It gave Lyle that extra couple of seconds he needed, it was just little things like that which added to the team spirit. We were all laughing about that and afterwards about the lights going out. It all added to the occasion, and it meant so much that we achieved our goal of getting to Wembley.”
Look out later this week on our official website for an interview with Barchy, who is aiming to get back into football when it restarts again, following a spell out of the game.
We will never tire of watching the highlights from Accrington on that night memorable night and you can watch the best of the action below.