Player trials a huge success
The newly formed AFC Wimbledon, who will be playing in the Combined Counties League next season, held open player trials last Saturday. With only days remaining before the first pre-season friendly against Sutton United on July 10th, manager Terry Eames is in a hurry to build his 18 man playing squad.
Ex-Dons players Jeff Bryant and Lee Harwood assisted Terry with selecting from the 230 hopefuls who registered on the day. Every player was given the opportunity to demonstrate their potential in fitness, skills and match sessions. For the lucky 60 who were chosen, it will be back to Wimbledon Common on Tuesday evening for Terry and his coaching staff to take a closer look.
Obviously delighted with the talent at his disposal, Terry commented "The standard I have seen today has been exceptional...when I pick the final squad I'll be looking for players with character who will be able to play in front of a big crowd. The response from the players, who all did very well, was superb and the organisational backing given by the fans was fantastic. It was a great day, and I thank everyone involved for their support."
Many high quality players attended, including an ex-professional from Chelsea, another with recent experience of the Finnish first division, several with Premier League academy backgrounds, a graduate of the FA School of excellence and numerous with Nationwide, Conference and Ryman League experience.
Co-founder of AFC Wimbledon, Ivor Heller, was hugely impressed, saying, "A massive thank-you to all of the players for coming down, to Terry and his coaches, to the Dons Trust volunteers who have organised the day and to everyone else who has given support. It's been phenomenal and is another significant step towards realising our dream."
Another high spot was the appearance of ex-Wimbledon manager Terry Burton. He showed his heart was still with the club he served so magnificently when he said, "Today is very exciting ...football clubs in the past were usually formed through one man's enthusiasm and passion, but this is different, here a group of supporters have worked very hard to create this club... I have known some of the people here for fourteen years and it's great to see a smile back on their faces, a part of my heart will always belong to Wimbledon and today I am here as a fan of AFC Wimbledon."
These are sentiments shared by all at AFC Wimbledon and the Dons Trust who are a part of this adventure to return their club to the community from which it originated.