Mark Robinson has delivered a passionate message to our fans after three decades of waiting to watch a league game at Plough Lane.
Robbo said it is an ‘incredible’ honour to be our Head Coach for the match versus Bolton Wanderers – and he fully understands the magnitude of the occasion.
Having been at AFC Wimbledon since 2004 when he first started with our academy, Robbo has reminded young prospects time and time again about our unique club story.
“Saturday is about the fans,” said Robbo. "People have asked me to write things, and I’ve done different interviews, but it’s so hard to put it all into perspective. When I was a real football fan at 16 or 17, your team means absolutely everything to you, and there will be Wimbledon fans who were that age and had their stadium taken away from them. At that age your team is everything, including your social life. Now these guys will be 46 or 47 and they going to be coming through the turnstiles on Saturday.
“There are going to be people there who remember so clearly how it felt to have everything taken away from them. After 30 years of waiting, it’s all about the fans. For us, it’s about being professional, and really putting in a performance for all the fans.
“My Dad is in everything that I do, I lost him, but I don’t want to have too many thoughts about that because I’ve got a job to do. He’s someone who I would have loved to have been there.”
Robbo was quick to acknowledge those people that helped him on his long path to the top coaching job at AFC Wimbledon.
“In terms of the academy, Nigel Higgs gave me the opportunity, he saw something in me when I was pretty much an unqualified coach, so that was huge for me, and Tony Wilson, who I was at Fulham with. He was a coach here, and he gave me the opportunity to coach a young group at Wimbledon. They are two people I am grateful to, but also Wally. Without Wally bringing me closer to the first-team - though it didn’t happen in the circumstances I would have wanted with him and Glyn losing their jobs - I might not have got this incredible opportunity.
“To be the first manager to manage a league game in front of fans at Plough Lane is something no one can ever take away from me, and I’d like to thank Wally for that, and those other people will be at the forefront of my mind before the game.”
Despite the emotions connected with Saturday’s match versus Bolton Wanderers, Robbo wants to reward the remarkable support of our fanbase during the past three decades with a performance to make them proud.
“My job is to be fully focused on our performance for Saturday. I realise that it’s going to be so emotional for everyone, but we want it to be exciting for everyone too. We want it to be a day everyone remembers not just for the fact that we are back at Plough Lane. It would be fantastic if fans can also look back and go, ‘what a game, and what a result’.
“I keep challenging the players to give me a headache, and they’ve done that. I don’t think there was a dip in performance on Tuesday. Even though we made eight changes, you would never have known that. I have got really tough decisions to make, but at the same time they have to realise that it’s a case of ‘we, not me’. We have another game Saturday, another game Tuesday, and then the following Saturday. Whoever is chosen has to do the business, and the attitude of those not selected has to be right. They have to believe their chance will come.”