Week 7 of our Chair’s weekly blog for 2024 – a New Start

I’ve explained previously that when I decided to take up the mantle of chairing this charity back in 2012, my work circumstances were changing and I decided not to head back into the corporate world or even work directly for another organisation.

However, I still needed to work and get some income in so became self-employed, largely picking up clients from my previous connections working for 30 years in the local authority and social housing sectors.  Working for yourself has its challenges of course but it also provides opportunities to mix up your time taking on other roles.

The WCA Chair was one of those but that year I also took on another important voluntary role for an organisation that is very dear to my heart.  During that transitional period, I additionally took on the position of Secretary to the Dons Trust (the not for profit society that owns AFC Wimbledon).

As most people who have met me will be aware I am a passionate follower of the local football team having grown up in the area since the age of 8.  Back then in the 1970s they were called Wimbledon FC and were a good ‘non league’ football team playing their home matches at Plough Lane.

As a child, I had the very good fortune to see my local team rise from that relatively lowly position to secure Football League status in 1977, before rising to the old 1st Division (equivalent to the Premier League now) in 1986 and then winning the FA Cup at Wembley two years later.  It’s not something many football mad kids get to experience.  I was very lucky.

The club was moved away by its then owner (Sam Hammam) to share with Crystal Palace a few years later but sustained itself in the top flight for 14 Years.  His reasoning was partly driven by external factors but the constant talk of the club moving further away wasn’t easy to hear as a fan. Eventually that became a sad reality in 2002 when the FA sanctioned the subsequent move to Milton Keynes.

Undaunted a few of our local supporters made the bold decision to start again as AFC Wimbledon, a fans’ owned club, playing initially at a small ground in Kingston at the base of the national football pyramid (level 9).  The vast majority of the old fanbase came along for the ride.  Whilst I was an immediate convert to the idea (and became a founding Dons Trust member) I wasn’t able to put in the same hours that those amazing people did back in 2002 when the club was set up.

Over the years I helped where I could but then in 2012, I was asked if I would be prepared to take on the vacant role of the Trust Secretary.  Anticipating the end of my (brief) time at Capita, I accepted.  It was an important time for the club as we had just been promoted back into the Football League, and discussions were quickly moving on to returning back to our spiritual home in Wimbledon.  An opportunity had emerged to take on the site of the disused dog track just over the Wandle in Plough Lane and work to make it a reality was commencing in earnest.

The Secretary was (and still is) an important role for the Trust and ultimately the club, arranging annual Board elections, helping manage Board meetings and ensuring that the constitution and members rights and queries are dealt with appropriately.  On top of that because of what happened with the old club it was important to ensure that members were properly consulted about the move.

After three and half years in that role I stood down having helped achieve the necessary member consents at the end of 2015, coinciding as it did with approval of the Planning Application. The club for me, is an important part of our heritage and our local community which we should be proud of.  I will develop on that and the strong volunteer ethos which connects so many of us next time.

Wimbledon Community Association Limited
c/o 66 Kings Road
London SW19 8QW

Registered Charity No 1097305
Company Number 03825493

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