AFC Wimbledon’s Terell Thomas relishing prospect of facing Charlton and Wigan
AFC Wimbledon defender Terell Thomas is looking forward to the 2020-21 Sky Bet League One fixtures being released on Friday and remains hopeful he will get to face two of his old clubs this season.
The centre-back spent eight years at Charlton before leaving in 2017 to join Wigan, where he spent a solitary campaign before signing for the Dons.
Both the Addicks and Latics suffered relegation from the Championship last term, with the latter going down after being handed a 12-point deduction for entering administration.
Ownership problems continue at Charlton and Wigan and their worst fears would be to follow in the footsteps of Bury, who were expelled from the English Football League in August 2019 following the collapse of a proposed takeover, but Thomas is hoping both clubs can get back on track.
“There are always some (fixtures) you look for, the first game and when the derby (against MK Dons) is and that’s something I’ll definitely look out for, when we are playing a couple of my ex-clubs,” Thomas told the PA news agency.
“When Bury were going through their financial difficulties, it was really sad to see a team drop out of the league and have to start again.
“Hopefully for both of them (Charlton and Wigan), they can get things sorted and at the beginning of the season get going. It is not the sort of thing we like to see in football.”
Charlton fans are set to protest against their East Street Investments owners on Saturday at The Valley and the Dons’ faithful know all about taking matters into their own hands.
Back in 2002, AFC Wimbledon were formed by the Dons Trust – a democratic supporters’ organisation – after original club Wimbledon FC relocated to Milton Keynes; two years later they changed their name to MK Dons.
It has been a remarkable journey from step nine of the football pyramid through to League One, with no relegation suffered during that time after they finished a place above the bottom four last season.
Thomas added: “It is the people sitting in the seats that you play in front of on a Saturday who are the backbone behind the club.
“It does give you a bit more of a push and another 10 per cent because these guys are the reason why I am employed. It is a fantastic story and I love it.
“It was 2002 when the club was formed and they have got so far and not once had a relegation. It is something I admire and shows you when a group of people have a love for one thing, what they can do if they come together.”
The next step on AFC Wimbledon’s journey is a return to their spiritual home of Plough Lane, which is set to open later this year.
It has been a long time in the making and their 24-year-old centre-back tracked the progress of the venue during lockdown, when he would cycle to the stadium from his Hampton home.
Wimbledon played at the original Plough Lane until 1991 but were forced to leave after they could not turn it into an all-seater ground.
It was demolished in 2002 but this new stadium has been built only 200 yards away and is due to open in October.
It is something I admire and shows you when a group of people have a love for one thing, what they can do if they come together.
“The first game there hopefully we can have fans in the stadium so it can really feel like a home,” Thomas said.
“Returning back to Plough Lane, everyone is excited. When I arrived at the club two years ago, that was when the construction plans was going through, so it has been nice to see it built up and the excitement around it.
“Through lockdown I was cycling to Plough Lane and back home, I did it a couple of times so it was nice to see it built up.”
Despite only joining in 2018, Thomas, who has one year left on his contract, has established himself as a key player and has goals in mind for the upcoming campaign.
“I’m very confident we can push on and really challenge for something,” said the Londoner, who has featured 54 times for the club in the league.
“I always thought of playing 100 games for a team and it is a milestone I’d love to achieve with Wimbledon and something I have my mind set on.”