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Interviews

The poacher who turned gamekeeper for the Dons

John-Joe O’Toole’s first interview for Wimbledon

4 February 2024

Interviews

The poacher who turned gamekeeper for the Dons

John-Joe O’Toole’s first interview for Wimbledon

4 February 2024

John-Joe O’Toole has certainly caused us many problems over the years, but he’s aiming to bring his vast experience at this level to help with our push for a play-off place.

“It was a late one, but I jumped at the opportunity,” said John-Joe after the dust had settled on our goalless draw at Bradford City. “I got the phone call on Thursday night, and I hadn’t been playing as much as I would have liked at Mansfield, but it’s a chance for me to try and fight my way into the team and play some minutes. 

“We can push up the league. There’s a lot of quality in this group and there was a great work ethic against Bradford. We did what we needed to do on a bad pitch, it was a good point in the end and I’m sure there’s more to come from us.

“The new stadium is amazing and I’m looking forward to playing at Plough Lane for Wimbledon. I want to be on a winning side there.”

You can listen to John-Joe in full below. 

After a whirlwind 48 hours and having beaten the deadline day clock, John-Joe added: “You’ve got all the right ingredients in the dressing room of what you need to progress up this league table and get promoted if you can. 

“You’ve got good experience, pace, and the know-how. I’ll get to know the players a lot more and see what they’re really about, but early impressions are that it’s a really good dressing room.

“I haven’t played as many minutes as I would have liked, and I’m trying to get back to where I need to be with my fitness, but if I can just get some minutes and work harder in training, I’m sure I’ll get there in not too long. 

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He made his fourteenth appearance in opposition against us last weekend, as a substitute for Mansfield in their 2-1 defeat at the Cherry Red Records Stadium. However, before uttering the phrase that ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’, it’s worth remembering that he actually has a very good overall record against us.

We’re second only to Scunthorpe, in terms of the club he has faced the most in his career and John-Joe has ended up on the winning side on five occasions, drawn seven against us and only lost twice to the Dons.

In particular, during the 2015/16 campaign when we ended up promoted from League Two via the play-offs, John-Joe netted in both one-all draws for champions Northampton Town.

When both clubs met in League One in 2018, he was fouled in the build-up to Northampton’s first goal from the penalty spot and went on to contribute two further assists in a 3-1 victory for the Cobblers at Kingsmeadow.

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John-Joe has also come across many of his new teammates on his travels, during a career where he’s made well over 500 senior appearances and also played for Watford, Colchester, Bristol Rovers, and Burton. 

“I’ve played with Lee Brown, who is a great player and a good guy as well,” said John-Joe. “I’ve played against quite a few of them previously - Harry Pell and Alex Pearce to name just two. There’s a lot of quality in that dressing room. 

“I played against Johnnie Jackson over the years. He was a really good player, had a really good career and now he’s doing quite well in management. I’m looking forward to working under him.” 

Photos: Paul Thompson (Pro Sports Images).


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