New Dons Trust Board member Luke Mackenzie talks about his first impressions of the role – and compares it with when he was on the Board in the early years of AFC Wimbledon.
First, I want to offer my thanks to those who voted for me in December’s Dons Trust Board election. The month and a half since I was elected has been a bit of a whirlwind in terms of familiarising myself with everything that goes on behind the scenes.
What has helped greatly is having access to the full minutes of past Dons Trust Board (DTB) meetings, which has enabled me to get up to speed with all the discussions that have been taking place. It really is a credit to the organisation, and its secretariat, that we now have such detailed minutes, and that makes it easier for newcomers to the DTB to see what has been happening. As you would expect, many of the minuted discussions in recent years contain a lot of detail on the new stadium, the challenges that have had to be met and the progress that has been made. It really has been a mountain to climb to get to where we are today.
So, what was the rest of my induction period like? As a new board member, I attended the December DTB meeting in the capacity of an observer. The new members then had a meeting with Mark Davis, the chair of the DTB, who brought us up to date with the things that the DTB have been working on. (I used Skype to attend the meeting – I’m keen to utilise technology where possible to help with being more efficient. For any DTB member, there is a big balancing job to be done between home, work and football.) Following on from that, we attended our first full DTB meeting, at which we looked at priorities and set agendas for the coming year.
This isn’t the first time I’ve been elected to the DTB. After being on the first steering committee, I was lucky to serve on the DTB in the early days of AFC Wimbledon. That was a time of real optimism, but there was also a sense of venturing into the unknown. With no rules to follow, we tried our best to put in place something for the future. Back then, with the club in the Combined Counties League, the journey back to the Football League seemed so long. The journey back to Wimbledon seemed even longer. But here I am, looking forward again.
I’ve been reflecting on the football team’s progression, and the changes in the Dons Trust over the same period, and I can see a lot of similarities. In the earliest years, we could get away with more as a football team and were certainly under less scrutiny. The same could be said for the DTB. We probably made more mistakes in the early years, but it was easier to be forgiven. After all, we were just trying to make things work.
As we moved up the leagues, things have had to become much more professional, both on and off the pitch. Of course, rules and regulations guide us much more now. And with this increased professionalism comes greater challenges. There is now much more scrutiny. There are many more commercially sensitive conversations taking place now than there were back in 2002. Yet despite this, the same challenges remain. How can we, as an organisation, ensure that the fans are at the heart of everything we do? How do we effectively communicate with the membership of the Trust and the wider fanbase? This is something the new DTB will be looking at very carefully in the year ahead.
Having four new board members elected at the same time – that’s nearly half the DTB – can present challenges. But what it can also do is provide fresh impetus and new ideas. I look forward to working with my colleagues on the board and with the fanbase. I am always willing to hear new suggestions or ideas – if you would like to get in touch with me about any issue, then please send me an email, to firstname.lastname@example.org