Thursday 17 May 2012
It only took nine years: Jason Goodliffe's inspirational role
Jason Goodliffe may only have been at AFC Wimbledon from 2007 until 2009, but he led the club to successive promotions and his never-say-die attitude made him a favourite with the Dons faithful. The former Wimbledon skipper offers us an insight into how it all came together by selecting the moments that mattered during his all-conquering two-year spell at the club.
Best moment at Wimbledon?
Both promotions were very special, but the moment that particularly stands out is when I scored in the final match against St Albans (3-0 win). We had got promoted to the Conference before that at Hampton, but I had not scored all season so to get one in the final minutes of the final match was great for me. The year before at Staines was a big occasion for the club too. It meant a lot because the club had came close to getting out of the Ryman League during the previous two seasons. As captain, it was important to help the club to promotion and I managed to do that twice.
The one game that really sticks in my memory is the Chelmsford home match. That went a long way to us winning the Blue Square South as Chelmsford had ran away with the Ryman Premier the year before and we had not beaten them. It was a sell-out crowd at our place on the day, there were 300-400 fans locked out, and it was a delayed kick-off. I remember that we beat them 3-1 and that was a big moment for us in our season. We believed that we could win it after that.
How did your move to Wimbledon come about?
I had been full-time for six years at Stevenage and I was deciding what I was going to do next after leaving them. Then I got a phone call from Terry Brown, who had managed me at Hayes, telling me that he had got the job at Wimbledon and to come down for a chat. Before I went I had already made my mind up that I was ready to sign. As soon as the phone call came, my mind was made up. I had heard all about the history of Wimbledon and I wanted to get the club back up to where they belonged. I was fortunate that the timing was right with me coming out of full-time football. I decided to go full-time into facilities management as an operations manager and Wimbledon came along at the right time.
What was the key to AFC Wimbledon's success?
I think what Terry did very well was to identify players that could fit in well with the team and the environment. He got in big characters who had played at a higher level with the likes of Luke Garrard, Rob Quinn, Marcus Gayle and myself. We could all cope with the demands of playing for AFC Wimbledon. The club was crying out for success and some players could falter under the pressure. We had players though who were equipped to deal with it. We also enjoyed each other's company off the pitch and that was also important in our success. We also had players with the potential to play a higher level, including Michael Haswell, Sam Hatton and Chris Hussey.
Why did you have a special rapport with the Dons fans?
I have very fond memories of the two seasons that I had at Wimbledon. I am very grateful to the supporters and whenever I go back to the club I always get a great reception from them. I think it was the way that I played that the fans associated with. Fans could see that I gave my all and the Wimbledon fans appreciate players who put their bodies on the line. I am still in touch with a lot of people at Wimbledon and the club is still trying to progress.
Any regrets about your time at Wimbledon?
None at all as I was very fortunate to play for the club for two seasons and earn promotion in both of them. I would have liked to have carried on, but I was realistic enough to know that I had come from a couple of levels above and the club was going the other way. The club was looking to go full-time. I joined Sutton United and we finished runners-up in the Ryman League, but we were beaten in the play-offs. I carried on for the next season, but after that I retired as I was not playing the way that I wanted to play.
Are you enjoying still being involved in football?
I am assistant manager at Harrow Borough and very fortunate to be learning off someone like Dave Anderson, who has so much experience. He allows me the freedom to express myself like I did as a player. I hope to progress further in management when the time is right. I was assistant at Borehamwood before Harrow and we came 14th in the Blue Square South. You never know what will happen in the future. Wimbledon have progressed to the Football League since I was there. Hopefully one day there may be something at the club for Jason Goodliffe, but that is for the club to decide. If the opportunity came along, then I would look at it, but Terry Brown, Stuart Cash and Simon Bassey are doing a fantastic job now.
What are your views on the current situation at Wimbledon?
If you look at what Terry has done over the past five seasons, he has changed it around every summer. He will have identified how to be successful in the league that he is in. With the team that got us promoted from the Ryman League, he then made eight or nine changes, and he did the same the next time around when we got promoted from Blue Square South. I was one of the changes at the time. There will be expectations from people within the club and Terry will have to match that. Unfortunately, some players have not been good enough or do not fit into the playing budget. The club will want to progress again from last season and it is Terry's job to do that.