What happened last season?
Well, of course the predictions of further misery were woefully wide of the mark. 'Down to the 4th' etc from those who had really (and I mean really)hated us being top flight for long never were going to bear fruit, still I'm sure the playa haters got some comfort from our less than spectacular start.
We struggled for goals early on, a new style (that was great fun to take to away games, knowing teams that hadn't played us for years, or indeed the couple we'd played in the Prem were in for a surprise) and far too many new players saw to that. It took ex-Hornet Mark Williams to break the duck, heading home away to PNE. What of Willo? I guess the BSaD readers will be curious, well he won supporters player of the year, scored 6 goals and generally, was received as a hero (none more so than away to Wycombe when he dived into the crowd - on top of me if the truth be told). I spoke to him all season (met him after a Kingstonian friendly where he told me the ins and outs of getting the boot by Graham).
Strangely enough one of our worst performances was away to Watford, so it's likely the Hornets readers will think the Dons were a far worse team last term than they actually were. We played some amazing stuff, blooded some fantastic talent (look out for Lionel Morgan, the boy's ruder than a schoolboy shouting "****" at a harvest festival), and had some superb wins.
Birmingham were taught a lesson home and away, Palarse nearly going down was a delight (I'm certain Steve Bruce will try and please us again next term), and we at last moved on the £7.5m Hartson after his will to even run about just once a week went west. Tranmere away 4-0 after travelling up in limo's was a blast, but to be honest I could list many, many away games that
rocked. I told anyone who would listen that I would not miss the circus the top flight has become, and I meant it. I wish that the 1st division gave the club more money and qualified the top two to Europe, because I don't miss paying Spurs £25 to hear their 'fans' bitch. Still, the club wants promotion, and I won't turn it down next season.
Although we narrowly missed out in the play-offs it was a decent season, and many Dons fans felt another season in the one would benefit the younger players and settle down the new style of play (with the ball on the floor!). A season of settling down and building a platform for the future is the kind of jargon that we could apply her I think.
What's going to happen next season?
In Terry Burton we have a cute coach, a great man manager and a very switched on cat. He's been with us since Don Howe stole him from the Arse back in 88 - and now we may well have found our spiritual leader as well as a man that can get players doing the right thing. All players have been given a summertime schedule to stick to (including diet and fitness) and we
return a week earlier than most teams we face next season. The last remnant of the 'old skool' has gone (Mick Harford joining Kinnear at his longed for huge club Luton - stop laughing at the back). A few players remain that we don't really need (brought in by Burton before he knew that the likes of Damien Francis would shine so brightly) but with an addition or two, and
with Ainsworth and Cunningham likely to start the season (unlike last) we are in a far better position.
Many supporters genuinely believe we could win the bastard, and the play-offs are the worst we'll accept. Bravado? Maybe, but I'm confident that we can push all the way, with the new chairman in place and working closely with Burton it should click. Six points against Palarse would make me smile. Lots.
I won't detract from my preview with 'new ground' talk, suffice to say I'm sure the diligent Watford readers understand how important that is to us down here in South West London (currently in pain in SE25).
Can you recommend a pub for away fans?
Yep. The Thomas Farley. It's where the Dons fans drink. And if you promise to turn up and be trainspotting HTML-obsessed friendly types you'll have a very warm welcome (Dons fans love BSaD). Leave your Herts hoolies at the door, though. Expect to wait hours for a drink - that SE25 brainpower still hasn't worked out that matchdays get very busy. Come out the station (Thornton Heath), walk down the High St, it's on the right halfway down. Karaoke challenge stands again this season as well!
What's the nearest railway station?
Selhurst and Thornton Heath are the same distance, about five or ten minutes. But as mentioned, TH walks you past the Farley for a jar, many kebab/chicken places (and a cracking bakers doing a nice line in Caribbean gear - curry goat, Jamaican pasties etc) - or, after the pub, the bizarrely titled Doneagles (think about it) chippy - last shop before the ground.
Where is the best place to park?
Nowhere - it's a bit congested. Unless you want to get there at 11am and pretend you are going to Sainsbury's! Get the train, it's very quick and then you can try and get as pissed as I did when I did the reverse fixture two seasons ago.
Soundbites (from assorted Census correspondents)
"We're going to rip this division up next season" - Gareth "Wild Thing" Ainsworth
"We need a ground of our own more than anything. Gladly sell the entire first team and
reserves if it meant I could watch a home game."
"We will beat you at Karaoke again like we did this season."
"Tu pac once attened a wimbledon match"
"Marcus Gayle is possibly the worst player ever, let alone Wimbledon's worst"
"Lionel Morgan will be the greatest ever Don in several years time - just watch this space!"