Thursday 31 May 2012
Magic moments: from wedding planning to North Greenford
A high number of responses to the official website's request for your magic moments focus on the early years of AFC Wimbledon. Many supporters refer to the first seasons in the Combined Counties Premier League and a lot of them are sure to remember the storming 6-2 win at North Greenford. But for Ian Walker, a Wimbledon fan since the Leyton Orient FA Cup match in 1983, the match had special significance. Ian had written off attending the game as he was planning a wedding with his bride-to-be, but he just made it to watch Kevin Cooper and Gavin Bolger strike hat-tricks for a rampant AFC Wimbledon on 22 March, 2003.
Ian, now aged 42, recalled: "I wasn't expecting to see the game - I spent the morning in the Harrow area with my fiancée, looking at wedding invitations. She is British Asian and she wanted a design that reflected her Indian heritage. After finding something that we both liked at the second appointment, she turned to me and asked, 'So, now we're up here, do you want to see the game?' Too right I did. We got back in the car, looked up Berkeley Field in the A-Z (I was a late SatNav convert!), made our way through the suburban West London traffic, and found a parking spot a few streets away."
It was certainly worth it for Ian as AFC Wimbledon turned on the style in the second-half, in front of a crowd of 943 spectators.
Ian added: "North Greenford's was a typical CCL ground, not especially well appointed, but manned by friendly volunteers who had made an extra effort for Wimbledon's visit. Greenford's players were not about to roll out the red carpet, though. They started stronger (I can remember being impressed by their striker, Bobby Watson, and the goalkeeper, Gary Jallow). They opened the scoring, nearly added a second a minute later, and must have been frustrated at conceding an equaliser just before half time.
"In the second half, we ran riot as Bolger added a second and Kevin Cooper scored three, before giving up penalty duties so that Bolger could complete his own hat-trick. Wimbledon fans lined up to cheer both sets of players from the pitch after the final whistle. The future Mrs Walker and I made our way to Slough (via Southall for some Indian sweets) to catch up with friends for an impromptu dinner. A good day all round, commemorated now in the form of a nice enamel badge (from Tel & Tav) pinned to my son's school book bag."
In his report from the time, Matthew Breach (Chalfont Don) recalled the many trips "into the depths of the Home Counties" with North Greenford United having followed away matches at the likes of Feltham, Cobham and Bedfont. Matthew also makes reference to a fine clearance off the line from Matt Everard to stop the hosts getting back into it and our current first-team coach Simon Bassey managing to avoid a yellow card for 150 minutes! To read a full report from the official website of the North Greenford match, click here.