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Wednesday 30 May 2012
Another magic moment: the late winner against Cove

It has been virtually glory all the way for AFC Wimbledon since the club was formed in 2002, but for a lot of supporters, nothing beats the early years in the Combined Counties League. That feeling of hope and expectation, indeed a new beginning, of that first 2002/03 campaign, is remembered by many. After an excellent response from readers of the official website for your favourite moments, two supporters selected our landmark victory against Cove on Saturday, 24 August, 2002. The 3-2 victory, thanks to a late Lee Sidwell goal, was the first home league win for AFC Wimbledon and the first of many on a road that would eventually lead to the Football League.

Richard Brazier, a 51-year-old season ticket holder at AFC Wimbledon, has followed the Dons since December, 1976. While he regards THAT Danny Kedwell penalty last May at Manchester as a magical moment, he says the Cove win provided "a more obscure, but equally exciting moment".

After attending the 2002 World Cup in Korea, Richard recalls how he felt in the early days of AFC Wimbledon. "I went from being frankly a bit disinterested in what was going on, to being obsessed with the club before even seeing a game and I think we felt a good start in the new guise was absolutely vital," he said.

A 2-1 win at Sandhurst meant that AFC Wimbledon did make the perfect start, but the Dons, then managed by Terry Eames, lost their first home game against Chipstead. That left the AFC Wimbledon faithful hungry to see their side win for the first time at home and 3,180 packed into Kingsmeadow for the Combined Counties Premier match against Cove. In fact, the demand for the match was so great that the gates were opened at midday and 1,000 fans were already in the stadium at 1.00pm.

Richard has great memories of the match and indeed the magical moment when Lee Sidwell struck the winner two minutes from time.

He recalled: "Much to the frustration of the 3,180 crowd in attendance, including 50-plus Brighton fans, who were brilliant on the day, Cove were 1-0 up at half-time and we found it really difficult to control the game. After Neil Robson made it 2-2, we thought we might snatch a winner, but we almost lost it. I think most had resigned themselves to just a point, but in the 88th minute up popped Lee Sidwell. I was standing right behind him in the stand and his shot went like an arrow into the far corner (my memory is that it was a better shot than it actually was, but who cares). It was probably the most excited I had ever got at a game, up to that point, even after 35 years of watching and we all just leaped on top of people who we had never met before. There was a fantastic sigh of relief at the final whistle and rounded off with a loud chorus of ‘Seagulls, Seagulls’ for the travelling fans. I was on such a high after the game, which made the horrible Ash defeat two days later even more difficult to bear."

Fellow AFC Wimbledon fan, Edd Paul, also chose the winning goal from Lee Sidwell as his moment to cherish. Edd, aged 18, who now lives in Raynes Park, can remember re-enacting the goal on the train home as he was brought up in Lichfield, Staffordshire.

He said: "I remember it was an absolutely mental game, there were about three goals in a matter of minutes at the start of the second-half and we had come from behind twice to level the score at 2-2. Then, in the 89th minute up popped Lee Sidwell to scuff in a winner, it was an amazing feeling, and I remember re-enacting the goal on the four-hour train ride back to the Midlands. The only thing I was equally excited about at that match was getting Carlo Castronovo's autograph!"

To read a full report from the official website of that match, click here.