It’s more than about the 90 minutes

When we get together with our mates and reminisce about games we saw many years ago, some of the best memories are of what happened before and after the game. And now, says Dons Trust Board member Luke Mackenzie, there is a new comms platform you can use to help shape your total matchday experience at the new stadium.

I’d like to start by saying hello and welcome to those who are representing Gillingham FC today. One of the duties of Dons Trust Board members is to “host” the away directors. This involves having lunch with them in the hospitality area, and ensuring that they have a good day and that ideas are shared between the clubs.

Last season the club I hosted was Gillingham. It was amazing to discover how much we had in common, and not just in terms of how many players had previously played for both teams (we almost lost count).

Standout player

Of course, the match last year didn’t go as well as we would have hoped. Before the game, the Gills directors asked me who our standout player was, and I told them about the impact Rambo was having on our season. But I’d obviously given our keeper the commentator’s curse as he had one of those games where not much went right. We all knew he would come good, though, and the fact that he is now starting in the Premier League for Bournemouth is something he and we should be very proud of.

Reminiscing is great isn’t it? I recently indulged myself in a trawl through the AFC Wimbledon Heritage website. Did you know that 17 years ago today we played AFC Wallingford away? I loved looking at our team line-up and seeing those names from the past. And then I read the match report – in astonishment. Here’s one paragraph:

“The remainder of ‘The Wallingford Experience’ for the 15-odd Dons supporters and a Wallingford fan known only as ‘Stilez’ has now become a hazy memory. A singsong with the locals was greatly enjoyed by all, but I only have pictorial evidence of what followed for the rest of that night. My Polaroid images raise two questions: 1 Why was AFC Wimbledon’s head of security tied up to a hotel bed by AFC Wimbledon scarves and surrounded by ladies in Dons replica strips? And 2 [We thought we’d better remove this bit! – Ed.] What were they doing? Goodness knows.”

Free rein

And I laughed – for I remembered that experience all too well, but also because this was part of the match report on the official AFC Wimbledon website. It was in the days when the fans produced the reports and were allowed free rein to write about the whole day (and the night), not just the match.

Going to football is about much, much more than just the 90 minutes – as those of us who attend games know. If it were just about the 90 minutes, then very often we are going to be disappointed. But once you add in spending time with family and friends whilst celebrating the highs and sharing the lows, it’s clear that there’s much more to the matchday experience than what happens on the pitch from 3.00 pm.

Some of the best moments of my life have revolved around football, but they were often before or after a game. Sometimes reminiscing about an event is more fun than the event itself.

Plough Lane

It’s no surprise that Plough Lane has been at the forefront of our minds for a long time. A stadium and the community it serves must be about much more than just football. You may have read recently that AFC Wimbledon and the Dons Trust have partnered with inCyyte, who have been working with us on launching a new comms platform which will help us engage with you.

It will have several functions, but first we want to use it to enable you to help shape what the new stadium will be like. Please get involved, please have your say – if there is a question you would like asked, let us know. We may not be aiming to recreate that Wallingford match experience, but I’d like to think that there wouldn’t be too much that is off limits.


(This article originally appeared in the matchday programme for the game against Gillingham played on Saturday 23 November 2019.)