Tuesday, 15 December 2009

High Path Project - Day 5: The Reveal!

AFC Wimbledon vs Gateshead. Not a bad game, but not a patch on the pre-game reveal of the High Path Super Dons flag!

I'd arrived quite early myself to put up some flags in the Tempest End that I hoped would make a nice back-drop to the event when I was lucky enough to be spotted by Ivor,  AFC Wimbledon's Commercial Director and someone well-known to the High Path team. I'd originally asked Ivor if he'd do the honours along with Haydon and unveil the flag on the wall near the Tempest tea bar but a quick chat and a change of plan meant....
...the unveiling of the flag would take place in the goalmouth in front of a packed Tempest End crowd... Yikes!!

There were a couple of other announcements that needed to be made as well so we would be pushed for time but after a quick chat with Paul, the photographer it was felt there would be a small window of opportunity between the players going off after a warm up and coming back to start the game. We'd all have to be ready to get on, hang up the flag and get ready for a quick unveiling....and of course hope that guest of honour Haydon the Womble had received his invitation.

With my instructions to be in position at 2.30 ready to invade the pitch at 2.45, I set off to see if I could find everyone.

It didn't take too long to spot them all at their table in the back bar. Everyone was smiling and I hardly had time to say 'Hello' before Warren grabbed me and showed me the matchday programme. "Look at this, look at this!" He'd found an article and their photos in the programme itself.  I knew we'd be mentioned as I'd sent in a few snaps for them to select from and 500 words by explanation, but we were really pleased to find that not only had the text survived uncut, but they'd used all the photos I'd sent. A two page spread no less!! What was also really nice was that everyone featured at least once so no-one  felt left out.

I had to leave everyone to buy my own programme and then went to the side of the pitch to get the flag ready for 'instant placement' on the goal net with various clips, pegs and coverings. Of course as I stood there waiting for the High Path posse to join me I could feel it starting to rain. Great. That was all we needed...

It's probably a good time to look back at the original design that inspired us after the first session. This was Marie's drawing of Haydon in goal for a penalty shoot out and he's just about to dive low to his left to turn a low shot round the post.  We made a few adjustments to help it fit on the sheet and had to add some colour as well but we were still pretty close to the original design at the end of it all.

                                                                                                 With a few minutes to go the High Path crew dragged themselves away from their comfy seats in the bar and made their way over to the pitch entrance.
 The excitement was building...The players went off..... Andy and I rushed on with to hang up the flag...Ivor turned on the mike and called everyone over... The unveiling had begun!

Here we all are then being lined up by Paul the photographer. Note the stylish use of golden tassels on the covering sheet to give that attractive and expensive theatrical look. Paul was trying to get us to all kneel down but that was easier for some to do than others!

Ivor introduced us to the crowd and explained all about the flag project. Warren thought that Ivor had done a pretty decent job but thought he ought to say hello to the crowd himself - which he did!
Then the big moment when Haydon pulled the rope and down came the white sheet!

Unfortunately it came down on top of everyone, which wasn't supposed to happen! We were all a bit close because of the photograph but after we rescued the slightly shocked survivors Paul had another go at trying to photograph us.
The crowd had really given the High Path supporters a huge cheer and round of applause and  what with having the flag on display and Haydon right next to them - well it was all getting a bit much to be honest...  Everyone was waving back to the crowd and getting a bit carried away. John Brown thought he'd do a bit of showboating of his own and did a few keepie-uppies and Danny wouldn't let go of Haydon! 
Eventually we made our way off the pitch - still clapping the crowd - and everyone went to their seats. What an experience though...

So then at the end of the day was it all worth it?         Of course it was!!!

Andy dropped me an email with some of their reactions  so some final words to the High Path Super Dons themselves...

"John said it was a really good day and enjoyed kicking the ball about in the goal and and scoring. I think he was hoping to give Terry Brown something to talk about in his team selection, so Danny Kedwell beware!"


"Warren said it was a great day and loved the crowd chanting and cheering them..."


"Danny loved being with Haydon on the pitch and tried to take him back to the stand with him so he could help with the bin."

"Ian said he really enjoyed being on the pitch."

 And Marie, despite having Andy stick his arm in front of her face, " had a fantastic day saying she hasn't been on proper pitch before and loved doing it."

And thanks too to Andy for all the work and time he puts in and who I suspect would still come and watch us even if he didn't have an excuse although some of his comments betray a lingering attachment to some other local club. 

Very last word to Andy then...

"Me, I thought yourself , Ivor and the AFC crowd  were fantastic and treated us all superbly and proved what a great football club AFC Wimbledon really are with brilliant community spirit. I hope they get to knock MK out of the FA cup in the next couple of years with a diving header from John Brown."

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