20 September 2012

Farewell to a Dons legend

Terry Brown has been sacked by struggling AFC Wimbledon.

With their Football League place coming under threat for the first time, AFC Wimbledon have sacked manager Terry Brown, the man who got them there in the first place.

As successful as Brown has been at Kingsmeadow, his sacking was not too much of a surprise. Wimbledon hadn't won since the opening day of the League Two season, when they saw off Chesterfield. That was followed by away thrashings to Burton Albion and Bradford City which kick-started a run of seven competitive matches without victory.

Wimbledon are currently 21st in League Two after seven league games, but they are just one point above the relegation zone, and their goals conceded tally is the worst in the division.

But don't let the Dons' current plight hide the good work Brown has done during his five years at the club. The popular Londoner took over from Dave Anderson at the end of the 2006/2007 season, when Wimbledon had just lost in the Isthmian League Premier Division play-offs.

Brown, who had previous managerial experience in the Football League with Aldershot Town, was charged with getting Wimbledon out of the Isthmian League Premier at the third time of asking, and back on track for an FL return. In his first season, the Dons did just that, finishing 3rd in the table before overcoming AFC Hornchurch and Staines Town in the play-offs. Promotion to the Conference South was secured.

In 2008/2009, the Conference South was conquered. Wimbledon scored by far more goals than anyone else in the division and finished three points clear of Hampton & Richmond to move within one step of their holy grail. But, of course, the Conference Premier would be just that little bit tougher to negotiate.

One of Brown's signings from the year before, Danny Kedwell, really came good during the Wombles' first season in the Conference Premier. 21 goals were scored by the Kent-born striker, giving his team some hope of a third successive promotion. As it happened, Wimbledon could only finish 8th, some distance behind the top five.

The 2010/2011 Conference Premier season was all about two teams. If Wimbledon were moving up the leagues at the speed of a Formula One car, then Crawley Town were about to become the Bugatti Veyron of English football. Crawley blitzed through the Conference with an incredible 105 points, but with 90, Wimbledon were the hot favourites to join them in League Two via the play-offs.

Fleetwood Town were easily swatted in the Semi Finals, paving the way for them to meet Luton Town in the Final. That finished goalless, so penalties were required, and during the shoot-out, two Dons wrote themselves into club folklore. Lifelong Dons supporter Seb Brown (no relation to Terry) saved two penalties before captain Kedwell converted the decisive spot-kick, therefore putting the name 'Wimbledon' back on a Football League fixture list. But while Brown would stay faithful to his boyhood team, Kedwell moved onto his hometown club Gillingham before the new season.

AFC's first season in the Football League was one of consolidation, and a 16th-place finish gave them plenty to build upon. But for whatever reason, their upward spiral has not continued this season, and after Tuesday's defeat to Torquay United, Terry Brown bade a tearful farewell to the club's supporters. Less than 24 hours later, he was sacked.

Brown couldn't quite get Wimbledon back up to where they used to be, or even up to the same league as the hated Milton Keynes Dons, but he joined a club in tier 7 of English football and left it in tier 4. Because of that, Dons fans will be eternally grateful for what he has done.

Who's the man to continue where he left off, then? One names that has been mentioned are Andy Scott, who was harshly treated by Rotherham United. He would be capable of keeping Wimbledon back on track.

But the overwhelming favourite is Wimbledon legend Lawrie Sanchez, who scored the winning goal of the 1988 FA Cup Final - the finest hour of the old club. Sanchez has a proven pedigree at Football League level, but seems to have lost a bit of his managerial appetite recently.

Speaking of Wimbledon greats... Vinnie Jones isn't doing much in Hollywood now, is he? Oh.

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