Friday 15 June 2012
The magic at Woking: Dave Anderson on his big decision
Since the official website's request for your best AFC Wimbledon moments of the past 10 years, the responses have flooded in. To a number of people, the magic moments of winning cups in our early years meant every bit as much as clinching promotion to the Football League in May, 2011.
We have already featured that glorious night at Staines Town from 2008 and the memories of two fans from that dramatic Ryman Premier play-off final, but now we delve further back into the archives to Tuesday, 3 May, 2005. That was the night when AFC Wimbledon won the Surrey Senior Cup in extra-time with a 2-1 win against Walton and Hersham. In a thriller at Woking's Kingfield, watched by a crowd of 3,809 mostly Dons fans, Shane Smeltz scored a stunning 25-yard volley and AFC Wimbledon eventually won 2-1 after extra-time. But who knows what would have happened if manager Dave Anderson had not put his skipper Steve Butler on at half-time? Steve was stuck in traffic on the M25 and Dave recalled that it was a big decision to throw him into a cup final after such poor preparation, but Wimbledon's captain came on to play a key role in the victory.
For proud AFC Wimbledon fan, Dr Carwyn Tywyn, it was a great way to mark his first match watching the Dons. Carwyn, who now lives in Porth Tywyn, Sir Gaefryddin (Carmarthenshire), South Wales, remembers the match vividly.
"I have supported the Dons from afar since 2005," he said. Unfortunately, I can only get to one or two matches a season, but I follow every game avidly via Twitter or Radio WDON. My magic moment relates to the first match that I saw, the 2005 Surrey Senior Cup Final v Walton and Hersham, at Woking. I was completely transfixed by the size and passion of the Wimbledon support. The icing on the cake was a stunning Shane Smeltz volley from around the edge of the box, which put the Wombles 1-0 up in a game we eventually won 2-1 after extra time."
The victory provided the second part of a double for Dave Anderson in his first season after the Dons had already won the Ryman Division One South. Clinching a double was memorable for Dave in more ways than one, but his key decision to play Steve Butler and Wimbledon's unbelievable support on the night, are the moments that spring to mind first.
"The big memory for me is my captain being stuck on the M25 in traffic for three hours and deciding whether to play him or not when he got there," said Dave. "It was a big decision to make as I had to take off a player (Steve Gibson) who had done nothing wrong. But I felt I had to bring him on and to be fair, it was only because it was Steve Butler and the influence he had on the team.
"I can remember walking out in front of the big stand at Woking and being mobbed by Wimbledon supporters. It was a sea of blue and yellow and there was ticker-tape everywhere. Of course, I remember Shane Smeltz scoring an absolute screamer, but there was also a double-nutmeg from Ryan Gray that ended up on Soccer AM. I have great memories of the celebrations afterwards. I have still got footage of the celebrations that a Wimbledon fan sent me from his phone. They are great memories as it clinched the double for us. But in some ways the semi-final victory at Sutton meant as much. They were two or three divisions above us. We had a few players out injured, but we managed to beat them and I remember that being an unbelievable night too."
It certainly was for Bob Barker, who who has supported Wimbledon since the 1960s, and he rates the match as one of his favourite memories. "It was only the fifth game I’d been able to get to in 30 years," he said. "I found out my old school had been knocked down, but sorting out that lot from the wrong side of the A24 more than compensated for that."
An Antony Howard winner earned a superb 1-0 victory at Sutton United on that particular night, a derby success that was so sweet for the Dons as their opponents were then in the Conference South.
To read a full match report from the Walton and Hersham match, click here.