Samuelson reflects on 10 years of AFC Wimbledon
AFC Wimbledon celebrate 10 years since their formation this month and chief executive Erik Samuelson is full of pride for their achievements.
Over the past few weeks there have been plenty of different dates to celebrate but Tuesday marks 10 years since the club were officially given the go ahead for formation when the London FA confirmed it was accepting their application to exist as a club – despite the Football Association famously saying it would not be in the wider interests of football.
Since then, there have been highs and lows as the Dons climbed the non-league ladder and, in just nine years, were remarkably back among the big boys in the Football League.
Many have helped in that time and Samuelson, left, who has been there from the start, was in reflective mood.
“It’s a really good time to stop and take stock,” he said.
“I think we can all be proud – everybody who has played a part over the past 10 years.
“We have a core base of 300 volunteers and, if you think of the ones that have gone, you are looking at doubling that for all the volunteers we have had in our short history and all those people who contributed to some extent should be immensely proud.
“One of the things it shows is that if you give a football fan the chance to be involved in their club they will snap your hand off to do it “The club means more to them when they can come down and volunteer and you get great satisfaction because you feel part of it.
“You can be sitting stuffing envelopes in the office and then the manager stops to chat to you for 10 minutes on his way past – you don’t get that at many clubs.
“And we must thank the people that founded it – Kris Stewart, Ivor Heller, Marc Jones and Trevor Williams.
“But for their vision and energy at the lowest time of all, when we heard our club was being pirated up the M1, they made all this possible.”
Throughout the 10 years there have been many moments to look back on, and Samuelson’s personal favourite was the 2-1 Ryman Premier League play-off final win over Staines Town in 2008.
“I particularly remember the Staines game because, with eight minutes to go we were losing 1-0, I turned to a director and said it was all slipping away,” he added.
“Then we won and I was stood in the stand and saw my youngest son out on the pitch jumping up and down and knew my other son was travelling the world and trying to tune it to a radio wherever he was.
“I remember thinking we have all helped in some way with this club and that is what is great, as a family we have all been able to do something.
“That was the most significant day as if we had not been promoted then there was a chance support might have started to drift off and we all had a massive sense of relief.”
And where does Samuelson think he and the club will be in another 10 years?
“I will definitely be retired from this,” he said.
“I will be sat, with my family, in the stand behind the goal in our new stadium with us looking to go into the Championship.”