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Catch-up with Keds

From Kingsmeadow to Priestfield

24 February 2023


Catch-up with Keds

From Kingsmeadow to Priestfield

24 February 2023

“It’s what dreams are made of,” said Danny Kedwell as he looked back on all he has achieved with AFC Wimbledon and Gillingham.

A talismanic number nine during his time in yellow and blue, the 39-year-old is still well involved in the beautiful game, having returned to his boyhood side Chatham Town as assistant manager.

Earlier this week we caught up with our former skipper to discuss his partnership with Jon Main, Manchester promotion memories and his switch from South London to Kent back in 2011.

You enjoyed a prolific spell in non-league at the start of your career, which secured your move to the Dons. How much of a change was it to sign for a club like us?

Playing in front of a bigger crowd at Wimbledon made a big difference. You go to some games in non-league nowadays and there’s only 70 odd people there. I always looked forward to the home and away games because the amount of fans we had made it more enjoyable.

I watched a lot of Wimbledon growing up when they were in the Premier League – it was a no brainer when they came calling. I was going through a bad patch at Grays Athletic, I wasn’t enjoying my football – it came at the perfect time.

Why did your partnership with Jon Main work so well?

I remind him that I set him up a lot! I think it worked more because Mainy understood how I play. We never really spoke about it – he just knew what I was going to do.

When I first arrived I remember telling him that every time I went up for a header I’d head it towards the goal. It was all about timing and more often than not those combinations between us would pay off.

During the 2010/11 season you were by far and away our highest scorer. How did you handle that responsibility along with being captain?

It all came off the back of me signing a new deal with the club. I was at the end of my first contract with the club and Terry (Brown) asked me to come in at the end of the season. I was always going to sign but I made it clear to him that I wanted to be captain.

I felt ready to step into that role and push the boys on. I’d never had that responsibility before, it just felt right. He agreed to my request and it only added to the excitement I had of playing for the club.

What was it like to see your face on those t-shirts?

I remember arriving at that game and wondering where all the yellow t-shirts were coming from. It was my boy that made me realise that it was me on them! I’ve still got one of them now – a fan threw one to me after we beat Crawley.

You couldn’t write the script of it all. They’d had their bid turned down and not long later I got the winner against them.

On the subject of goals. What one sticks out as your favourite?

We worked on a free-kick routine under Browny which only worked once. It was a goal against Tamworth when Sammy Hatton dinked the ball over the wall for me to spin and volley it. It sticks in my mind, I still watch a lot of my goals now.

If it was scored in the Premier League, everyone would be raving about it! When Browny first spoke about doing it I had no idea what he was talking about. We tried it in training and it never worked. I’d hit it too high. Sammy wouldn’t hit the pass properly. And then when the match came I just wanted to get the routine out the way and it worked a treat. Terry takes the credit for that one!

How often have you watched THAT penalty back?

I watch it back a lot! If I went through a drought when I was playing I used to watch all my goals back from my time at Wimbledon on YouTube. It would always bring my confidence up. It always worked.

I would only go two or three games without scoring but that was enough to frustrate me. I wasn’t used to not scoring.

Whenever that penalty comes up, I watch the whole penalty shootout. It’s weird – I always wonder if I’m going to score when I watch it. All the nerves come back. I still get the same buzz and feeling that I had on that day.

Before I had tried to place my penalties. It was Simon Bassey who came to me and said “you’ve got the hardest shot I’ve seen, so just put your foot through it, no keeper will save it!”

Are you still in touch with the class of 2011?

Around Christmas time we try to meet up. It’s great to meet up once a year to relive old times and tell the same stories all over again. Mainy is the one I’m closest to.

Were Gillingham the only club that you would’ve left Wimbledon for?

It was yes. It was a difficult decision. I didn’t want to put in a transfer request but Erik (Samuelson) said the club wasn’t going to actively sell me.

It wasn’t just Gills who came in for me, there was four or five. If Gillingham hadn’t have come in I’d have stayed at Wimbledon.

I used to live 10 minutes from Priestfield when I was a kid. It was the first stadium I went to. I used to go to every home game till I was 14 or 15. Growing up I used to tell people that I’d score there one day. It was the only option which turned my head.

How did it feel to leave after everything you achieved with us?

It was hard. I went through so much with Wimbledon. Putting the transfer request in is what killed me. It made me feel like a bad man, it gutted me more than anything because my hand was forced.

I was on holiday in Florida at the time. It ruined my holiday. I was called up by Erik whilst I was there, so I had to get in touch with my agent in order for the request to go in.

I remember playing Wimbledon in the game that Gills won the league – I told my teammates before the game that a draw would be an ideal result because it would win us the league and give Dons a point towards staying up. It was a mad day because both sets of fans were celebrating at full-time.

I have no regrets about what I’ve done at both clubs. I got Wimbledon back to the Football League and won a league title with my hometown club.

You’re back at Chatham Town where it all started for you. How does that feel?

I went back late last year and got promoted. This year I’ve stepped into being assistant manager and we’re fighting to win the league.

I do still play for them now and again. I don’t play up front anymore though! I’m in central midfield nowadays, dictating the play from deep.

A lot of people aren’t aware that I used to be a midfielder. I think that’s why I was so technically gifted. When I was an under-15 at Chatham I scored 50 odd goals from centre-mid.

It was only when I moved that Herne Bay that my mate told me that he was going to play me up front. I scored a hattrick in pre-season and the rest is history!

PICS: Shutterstock and Pro Sports Images

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