He was our chief executive for 12 incredible years, worked with seven managers and over 500 first-team players. He's also one of the key reasons why we now have a wonderful new stadium back at Plough Lane.
History will record that Erik Samuelson was one of our most influential and important servants and now, for the first time, he has told his remarkable story in a new book that is a must-read for every Dons fan.
'All Together Now' lifts the lid like never before and is packed with hilarious and revealing anecdotes we never knew anything about!
And the really great news is that if you buy a copy from our shop or website - rather than Amazon or Waterstones - then revenue from the book will go to our club funds.
Below is a Q&A with Erik to give you a tantalising hint of what you'll uncover in this great book.
1) Why did you want to write this story?
Everyone says it is a great story and having been on the inside from the beginning I felt I was in a unique position to tell it. Also, and very importantly, only a fairly small number of people got the publicity and the credit but many other people made substantial contributions to get us to where we are today. I wanted to make sure that their stories were told.
Finally, about 25 years ago I read ‘Left Foot Forward’ by Garry Nelson. It’s the only book I’ve read that looked behind the day-to-day life of a self-confessed journeyman footballer, far away from the glamour and the megastars; it fascinated me. I thought our fans, and football fans in general, might like to read a behind-the-scenes look at the day-to-day life of a club, especially a unique one like ours.
2) How difficult was it to remember all the details and events? Who helped you with research, and what were the toughest writing challenges?
Lots of people helped. I interviewed 80 people, some several times. In total I had nearly 100 interviews, running to 115 hours, or nearly five days, of recorded material. That was huge fun, especially when talking to people like Dave Anderson – I reckon that in a three hour conversation with Dave there was about 20 minutes of usable material; the rest was just a hugely enjoyable wander down memory lane. Eileen said all she could hear was non-stop laughter.
I read masses of written material, from the Wimbledonheritage.co.uk web site to the non League Paper and South London Press archives, thousands of emails and documents, meeting minutes etc. I’ve got enough material for two long books, so the greatest challenge was to distil it to a manageable length.
3) What do you believe was your greatest contribution during your many years at the club?
Obviously I appear in the story sometimes, but the book isn’t about me; it’s about the club and the people who built it. There are some genuinely fascinating, funny and little-heard stories to be told. There is also a fair amount of material about what was going on behind the scenes before the big games, some of which was news to me (and it’s just as well that I didn’t know at the time!).
4) Who will this book most appeal to, and what are your favourite anecdotes within it?
I hope it will appeal to Dons fans since it’s about our club. But it is also about the day-to-day life of a football club and I hope that would be interesting for any fan. As for my favourite anecdotes, you’ll need to read the book to find out why our star striker was cycling round a hotel lobby in just his pants; the pact between Stuart Douglas and Andy Barcham for the play off final at Wembley (my favourite story); the behind closed doors politicking that got our 18 point penalty reduced to three points; and the Merton councillors and officers who worked quietly in the background to help us to get our stadium. And many more stories that I don’t think have ever been told.
5) What were the hardest challenges you had to tackle, and how did you overcome them?
In some ways I had it easy. It’s much harder (I imagine) to write a novel, where you need to invent the characters, the action and the locations; all of those already existed. But I am easily distracted and found the writing heavy going. I’d start at about 10.00am. By 10.15 I needed a tea break. At 10.30 it was time to check the latest news, at 11.00 the Test Match was starting. And so it went, for several months. But I got there, several hundred mugs of tea and half a dozen Test Matches later…