Archie Procter had waited the best part of a decade to make his full Dons debut – and he said there was no time to get nervous after his late call-up for the game at Oxford.
Captain Will Nightingale’s unavailability thrust 19-year-old Archie in at the deep end, but the Dons academy product took it all his stride and he emerged with credit from Interim Manager Mark Robinson for his performance.
Speaking after the game, Archie said: “I found out I would be in the starting line-up at 1.30 pm. All the lads did the match prep in the training session, and I was set to be on the bench, but Robbo called me and said Will’s partner had gone into labour, so I was thrown in at the deep end. There was no time to be nervous. I had waited for this opportunity for all the time that I have been at the club. I have always been ready and I knew that anytime I was called upon I would be ready.
“It was nice to make my debut, but we lost the game. Things have still got to improve. It’s a nice achievement for myself, but we know what we’ve got to work on, and we have to keep pushing on from here. We’ve all spoken in the changing room about what we need to do better.
“I am very proud to be a part of the greatest story in English football. All the lads are aware of it, especially the academy lads as it has been drilled into us to know exactly what this badge represents. I think you saw with all the lads that came out and made their debuts that we didn’t give up. When the score was 3-0 people would say that the game was gone, but we went and got a goal and we could have got another one in the 89th minute. All of us lads know what it means and you can see that we are all going to fight for our places, we all want to take the shirt.”
In the dug-out at the Kassam Stadium were Mark Robinson, Rob Tuvey, and James Oliver-Pearce – all coaches that had helped Archie progress through the ranks – and he added that their guidance has played a big part in his development.
“It (the academy) has shaped everything about me. It’s everything I’ve ever known. They’ve nurtured me into the man I am today and I’m thankful to all the coaching staff. It was weird playing in the first-team with Robbo and Rob (Tuvey) on the sidelines. When I first came here Rob was the Under-10s coach and it’s crazy how the fairytale works out, and how it all comes to this point. It was nice for them to be there as well.
“You have that little taste of first-team football and I’m not stopping there, I want more and more. That’s my target every day, to keep getting better, and to keep working. Hopefully my work will pay off and I can reap the rewards.
“I think I have a lot to work on. I am only 19 and I don’t think anything is ever set, you can always improve in every area. I will watch the game back and look at myself in every area. There is not one specific thing, I can improve on everything.”