We speak to a Wimbledon fan who is happy with his team’s progress this season…
Thanks to REP for posing the questions
About the fan…
Rob Aitkenhead tells us about WUP…
“WUP is a small, mostly online collaboration of Wimbledon fans of various ages, located across the UK, most of whom had a long history of supporting Wimbledon FC. Most of whom had some previous association with Dons fanzines of yesteryear, but didn’t necessarily know each other before the inception of AFC Wimbledon. The fanzine comes out on an irregular basis when we’ve got sufficient spare time, but the related guestbook has remained a constant online presence since 2005…”
About the opposition…
How do you expect your team to do this season?
We are already exceeding expectations in terms of league position, and could yet finish top ten if we stay clear of injuries. However, we’re not world beaters and budgets/personnel have their limitations. It’s equally possible that we’ll finish lower than 15th. We’ll probably be satisfied with consolidation, a half decent cup run and further developments in our quest to return home to Merton. A significant number of our fans would probably say that finishing above Bletchley Stealers is also of importance.
What are your thoughts on the manager?
Generally Neal Ardley is well regarded, as you might expect from a decent standard former player. However, like any fanbase we have a fickle element, so it would only take a poor run of form for some to call for his head. Usually he admits his mistakes and learns from them, and says most of the right things at the right times.
Signings? Ryan Clarke in goal wasn’t a success, Poleon up front was. Chris Robertson appears to have filled a gap competently. Dean Parrett and Chris Whelpdale tick the right boxes. The jury is out on Tyrone Barnett, but the reasoning for that signing is understandable.
It’s more a team with work ethic than one with star players – all are capable of a star turn, but on a bad day they can equally be reminiscent of the Ryman League!
Your thoughts on the board?
It’s generally very positive in terms of all they do for the club, certainly in comparison to what can be seen at other supporter-owned clubs; we have stability and are forward-looking. There are concerns for the future however, because most of our key decision makers are of a certain age, and finding replacements of a similar standard who are prepared to give their skills and time for little or no remuneration, will be difficult.
A score prediction?
With the stats in mind and our less than noteworthy last outing considered, a score draw could be on the cards. I would be delighted with any kind of win, and unsurprised with a narrow loss. Attendance could be 4,500ish, but it could be prone to Christmas shopper factor though!
I think it will end 1-1 with Elliott to net for the Dons in the dying seconds of the match after Mbamba puts Vale ahead on 75 mins.
Where do you think Vale will finish this season?
You should maintain your place in the division, without setting the world alight. Arguably for a club of your level of support, you are probably about where you should be.
However, you have some high profile supporters who are good for a few quid, so if they were to assist financially, who knows what could be achieved going forward? Not sure we would swap our ownership model for yours though.
You’ve got a healthy rivalry with Stoke City, that’s always a good distraction.
A guide for Vale fans…
Any quirky facts?
A film is in the making about the rise of AFC Wimbledon. MC Harvey of “So Solid Crew” used to play for AFC Wimbledon. Actor Alun Armstrong of “New Tricks” fame is a regular at Kingsmeadow.
What about a recommended blog or forum?
In terms of forums, our guestbook (cyber-pub style, rather than conventional threaded discussion format) remains the main viewable vehicle out there. Various Facebook groups exist and are popular with the younger fanbase and those who like threads. The commercial forums are largely pointless.
Any recommendations for decent pubs, parking and places to eat?
Park at the ground if you get there very early, otherwise it’s take your chance on street parking and be careful where! The nearest train station is Norbiton, buses from Kingston and Wimbledon stop nearby.
Use Fat Boys Cafe on the approach to the ground for your fry-up requirements, or alternatively the chippy near the corner of Jack Goodchild Way. You might be able to stomach the prices at those outlets.
There’s all the usual bars in Kingston. Sometimes away fans are allowed in to the bar at Kingsmeadow.