May 24 2013 Latest news:
Tuesday, July 31, 2012
The Dons started their rise to the Football League 10 years ago
AFC Wimbledon will celebrate their 10-year anniversary with a pre-season friendly against a West Ham XI on August 4 as well as a testimonial for Simon Bassey, who has been with the club as a player and a coach since the Dons formed.
The 36-year-old joined the old Wimbledon as an eight-year-old before moving to Charlton at 16 before a serious knee injury forced him to retire.
He came out of retirement to play for the newly formed club in 2002 before retiring again in 2004 as the Dons won the Combined Counties League before taking up a role in the club’s coaching staff.
“I think to spend 10 years at any club is a real achievement, but for me to do it at AFC Wimbledon and be a part of our rise to the Football League is extra special,” Bassey said.
“I was with Wimbledon as a kid and then came back when I was 26 when the club was starting off again.
“I had to stop playing at Carshalton with a knee injury, but people told me I could still do it at Combined Counties level and as it was Wimbledon and the club was starting off again, I wanted to be a part of it and play in front of a big crowd.
“I was then lucky enough to be asked by Dave Anderson to help with coaching and when he left, Erik Samuelson (Chief Executive) said he wanted to keep me on to help the next first-team manager when he was appointed.
“I knew Stuart Cash (assistant manager) from my Aldershot days and when Terry Brown got the job they were both happy for me to stay.
“We have had nothing but success since then, apart from the odd blip.
Bassey admitted that he was surprised to see Wimbledon progressing as much as they have, reaching the Football League in 2011 after winning the Blue Square Premier play-off final against Luton Town.
“When the club was formed, people were talking about getting into the Football League in 10 years, but I did not think it was possible,” he added.
“What the club has achieved is miraculous and for me to play a part in that is a real honour as Wimbledon has been a massive part in my life.
“I am aiming to play and it should be a great day.
“It may be the last chance to see some of the old heroes play and even play alongside them.”
AFC Wimbledon heroes including Matt Everard, Keith Ward, Joe Sheerin, Steve Butler, Andy Little and Ryan Gray look set to join Bassey in the testimonial match, which takes place before the game against the Hammers at 12.30pm.
Fans will be paying for the right to take on the Dons legends and will also receive the full kit of their first Football League game against Bristol Rovers.
After the West Ham game, the Wimbledon heroes will attend ‘Kingsmeadow Live’ in the evening and Bassey, who is still a part-time taxi driver, has promised to sing The Jam’s classic hit – A Town Called Malice.