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Johnnie’s Walk Through History

The gaffer explores the Greatest Story exhibition

10 October 2022


Johnnie’s Walk Through History

The gaffer explores the Greatest Story exhibition

10 October 2022

It’s been all hands to the pump for our manager since his arrival – so we felt it was high time that he was given an opportunity to see our Club’s wonderful history up close.

On his first visit to WiSH’s museum at our Plough Lane home, Johnnie discussed his memories of watching Wimbledon in the 1980’s, seeking advice from former Dons, how our story inspires him and the impact that the Dons Local Action Group is having in our local community.

It’s an interview which unearths more about the personality behind the man in the dugout and features a few surprises along the way as he tells all.

You can read the transcript of the interview below, whilst it is also available to watch in full on our Official YouTube Channel.


There’s some unbelievable memorabilia here. I haven’t had a chance to come down and see it. To have a chance to come down today to have a look at some medals, old kits and pictures is really fascinating for me.

I was born in the early 80s, my earliest memories of football are the late years of that era. I grew up as an Arsenal fan, I remember them winning the league in 1989. I do remember the FA Cup final, not specifically sitting down to watch it, but the big story of the mighty Liverpool losing to Wimbledon. Dave Beasant’s save was the first one in a final at the time – it’s really iconic.

Vinnie Jones, Beasant, Dennis Wise when he was early in his career, Lawrie Sanchez scoring the winning goal – I’ve got a lot of memories of that time.

It (the playing style) was effective! They made no apologies for the way they played. It got them through the leagues really quickly. It was a real ‘up and at em’ underdog mentality that they took into every game. It worked and it rattled the opposition and it brought them unbelievable success.

There’s elements of it that would still work today. Showing high energy, pressing and getting in people’s faces is something that a lot of sides do really well now. More teams play out from the back now that wasn’t as apparent back then.


It’s a difficult one to answer. I’ve come in with fresh ideas and a new approach. I don’t necessarily have the same attachment to the story. Having a link with the club obviously has major benefits.

There’s pros and cons to it but I do feel there’s a lot of people attached with the club that I have got personal relationships with. Neal Ardley is an ex-teammate of mine, Simon Bassey who coached here for a long time is someone that I know and I worked with Jason Euell who is an ex-Wimbledon player.

Another strange one is my dad who played vets football with Wally Downes. He’s known Wally for a long time. As a kid I used to watch them kick it about together. Wally is someone that I don’t know brilliantly well but I have always been able to pick the phone up if I’ve needed to.

Football being the small world that it is, you’re always going to be around people that have connections to the club. More recently I think of players I’ve worked with like Lyle Taylor and Joe Pigott who had a lot of success here. Lyle was particularly someone that I enjoyed working with, he spoke so highly of Wimbledon when he came to Charlton. It was his performances for Wimbledon against my Charlton team that alerted us to him.


Looking in from the outside it felt like the success came almost from the outset. The club climbed through the leagues so quickly. It’s a story about how the community came together. The never say die attitude was no more apparent when the supporters made sure that the club continued to exist.

That momentum saw us get back into the Football League. Danny Kedwell is someone that I know quite well - his son was in the academy at Charlton - he scored the all important penalty. The way it happened was a fairytale.


We tell them the story about how the club was forced into leaving Plough Lane, and about how we’ve finally got back here. It’s great to have such an amazing stadium to show them. We also tell them about how adamant our supporters were that they would return home one day.

It’s all hands to the pump when you’re involved with AFC Wimbledon and we’re trying to replicate that in the team that we’re putting out. We want the team to represent the football club’s values.


We went down to the hub a couple of weeks ago. I was previously aware of the work that they’d done due to being at award ceremonies where they’d won but to see it first hand was a real eye-opener.

The work they do to get the food and essentials out to the people that really need it is amazing. Football clubs can be important pillars of their local communities.


I find it hard to hold it in. People have often said to me that I look pretty calm but my answer is always that I never feel it! I’m always engrossed in the game and sometimes my emotions can spill over. You try to project calmness to your players but at the same time you need to motivate them.

It’s not always easy to get messages across, especially when our supporters make the racket that they do! I had to scream and shout a lot against Colchester. But if I go home every weekend with a croaky voice and it means we’ve got three points, I’ll always be happy with that!

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