Alan Bennett: Ex-Dons defender excited for club’s climb back to the top

Former Wimbledon centre-back Alan Bennett eyed a glorious future for the club after a move back to Plough Lane was confirmed.

The centre half played for the Dons between 2013-14, and recalled the single-minded vision that drove the team forward while he was there.

And he believes there is more progress to come from the phoenix club afte rrecalling the early days of their recent revival.

He said: “On the first day I arrived, I remember Neal Ardley saying ‘this is the group I’m putting together.’

“Gary Alexander had signed as well from Millwall and there were a couple of other senior pros he had brought in as he said, ‘look we’re going to steady it down, get the results we need’ and then he had a meeting and he just explained this is going to happen, everyone needs to row in behind me and gave a motivational talk.”

Now back in Ireland with his native Cork City, one incident in particular stays with him during his time at Kingsmeadow.

“He said this is how the next four months is going to run, this is how we are going to get out of the situation we are in and it was crystal clear to me what he wanted to do,” he said.

“Everyone was to keep their head down and just crack on.

“So we finished the meeting and the next thing a hand shoots up.  ‘What’s the plan for this week, gaffer?’  And Neal said we are in tomorrow, and we’ll be training Thursday and Friday. Hard. Then this young lad said: ‘I can’t make tomorrow, gaffer.’

Neal was a bit taken aback and said; ‘What’s up?’

“And the young lad said: ‘I have to collect my sister.’

“Ridiculous.  But that’s where the club was at in terms of professionalism.  But by the time I had left, the whole thing had changed. From the food being served to the training drills to the professionalism in the group. Everything. And a huge part of that is down to Neal.”

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