Monday 21 May 2012
The magic of Manchester: Danny Kedwell still misses Wimbledon
Though Danny Kedwell susbequently decided to leave for Gillingham after THAT penalty on 21 May, 2011, the striker's contribution will never be forgotten by Wimbledon fans. In his own reflections a year on from our promotion party, Danny says he misses AFC Wimbledon and still bursts with pride about getting us into the Football League. As part of our series of features on the Dons heroes who made a difference during the past decade, we asked Danny about the highlights of his AFC Wimbledon career exactly a year since he fired us to promotion.
Best moment at Wimbledon?
Obviously, the play-off final. It meant so much to me as I knew what the club had been through. Wimbledon had started at the bottom as a new club and to be the man who got them back into the Football League made me so emotional. We had a party at the hotel in Manchester and all the lads went out to a nightclub, but I just could not get drunk. I think it was because I was still buzzing and was on such a high. I have watched the penalty back on the DVD about five million times I think and it is something I will never forget. I always go back and watch it if I am going through a spell of not scoring goals and it gives me that buzz again.
Probably Luton Town away when I scored the winner in a 2-1 win. Just seeing the fans celebrate was fantastic, they went absolutely mental. It was the first year that we were in the Conference and to go and beat a big club like Luton on their own patch was a great achievement.
How did your move to Wimbledon come about?
I was at Grays Athletic and I went up to the coach in training one day and said that I was not happy. He told me that Wimbledon had been on the phone and that they would take me. I knew the background about Wimbledon. To play in front of a big crowd every week, it was a no-brainer for me. I went up the same day and talked to Wimbledon.
What was the key to AFC Wimbledon's success?
We had a great team spirit and everyone got on well together. When all the players in the squad get on well with each other, you are halfway there. Terry Brown also knows how to put the right squad together and he brought the players in at the right time. I think when you have good team spirit though, it can win you 20 games a season.
Why did you have a special rapport with the Dons fans?
No matter what game it was, I always gave 110 per cent. That is the best thing to do because then you are always given credit. I always wanted to win for the fans and I was not one of those players who just played for the money. The fans pay your wages and I was always determined to give my all for them. They gave me a great reception when I came back and I still looked for Wimbledon's score every week last season. My son Harvey is a Chelsea fan, but he loves Wimbledon still from when I was there.
Any regrets about your time at Wimbledon?
It was massive to help Wimbledon into the Football League. To be honest, I still miss the club. I miss all the lads who played that day, the people behind the scenes, and the fans, who were brilliant with me. I have no regrets about leaving for Gillingham as it is a club that I always wanted to play for since I was a youngster, but I still miss the banter with the fans. I still keep in touch with some of the lads, particularly Luke Moore and Sammy Moore. Jamie Stuart is a good friend too, but I know he has left now.
Are you enjoying your time at Gillingham?
It is great to play every week at a ground where I used to sit and watch the games as a kid. I always wanted to come back and play for Gillingham and it has been a great feeling. I am really enjoying it, but it was disappointing to just miss out on the play-offs. We lost a few soft games that we should have won. If we had won just one of those matches then we would have been in the play-offs. I think we had the quality to have done it. We need to try and go one step further next season.
What are your views on the current situation at Wimbledon?
When we first got in the Blue Square Premier, it gave Terry a taster at that level and he knew what was required for the next season. I am sure he now knows what is needed in the Football League. He is good at recognising players who need to be brought in. The way Wimbledon started off, he may have been thinking that they could have got promotion again, but I think in the end it was all about staying in League 2 in their first season. Terry and his coaching staff are excellent and hopefully Wimbledon will improve next season.