“YOU know that you will always get 100 per cent from me. You are going to see a few tackles and I do not let any left-wingers get past me!” Ken Livingstone, George Galloway, Tony Benn beware, it’s not the Banquo ghost of Margaret Thatcher assailing you, but rather Wimbledon’s ‘how’s ya father’ new right-back Barry Fuller.
Neal Ardley hasn’t stopped giggling at his good fortune in signing the experienced ex-Barnet defender for two seasons as he begins the reconstruction of Wimbledon’s team along with (appropriately) left-winger Chris Arthur, from Havant & Waterlooville.
But maybe the gaffer should give extra consideration to the goalkeeper/s he brings in to the Club, and particularly those with an expertise in shot-stopping, given Fuller’s predilection for conceding penalties.
Barnet fan Daniel Alidjan tells WDSA: “Barry is a solid League 2 right-back and can venture forward, however he is very prone to giving away a penalty. I think he gave five away last season! He also got a stupid four-match ban right near the end of the season for abusing the ref (who was awful) at the end of the game and that was the last we ever saw of him.”
Another Bees’ fan Will Armstrong added: “His performances definitely improved through the season and he started to offer more going forward on top of defending well, but he did seem to have a tendency to make a critical error every so often, usually giving away a penalty. Barnet gave away seven penalties last season and I’m pretty sure at least four of those were from Barry. Hopefully for you, that was just a blip.”
But Fuller’s reputation as a take-no-prisoners defender may not cause angst among Dons supporters still wincing at some of the shambolic defending last season. They figure that Fuller’s tenacity is just what the Dons need after they were just 18 minutes from the drop on the final heart-fluttering day of the season. You will need no reminding that the rickety defence coughed up 76 goals last season.
Ardley was thrilled to get a player of Fuller’s vast experience and Football League background into his squad. Fuller has accumulated 246 league appearances over seven seasons with Barnet (twice), Stevenage and Gillingham.
“We were really surprised when Barry became available,” Ardley said. “We liked him when we first played against Barnet last season because he caused us problems. We talked about him afterwards and said that he was the sort of character and player that we wanted at this club. When he became available we were delighted and we quickly jumped at the chance to meet with Barry.”
Fuller comes as a winner and at 28 still has years ahead. He won the League 2 play-off final with Gillingham and lifted the trophy as captain and won the FA Trophy with Stevenage. He is a two-time Wembley winner.
“I am the type of player who plays the same whether I am playing for a team near the top or at the bottom. I wear my heart on my sleeve and what you see is what you get. You know that you will always get 100 per cent from me. You are going to see a few tackles and I do not let any left wingers get past me!” Fuller declares.
“I have a lot to offer because I have a few years left in me yet. I am in the best shape of my life and I am the fittest that I have even been in my career. Hopefully, I will be here for a long time.”
Daniel Alidjan adds: “To be honest most of us at Barnet would have liked to keep him on but I reckon he demands a decent wage and both parties agreed to the release. He should do well for you especially if he has a good partnership with the winger in front of him.”
On the same day Ardley finalised the signing of Chris Arthur, 23, who started his career with QPR, spent last season with Havant & Waterlooville after previous spells with Northampton Town and Rotherham.
Arthur became Ardley’s first signing of the summer and the gaffer said:“We have watched Chris a lot during the last season and though he is not a high profile signing, I am sure that Wimbledon’s fans will be excited by his talents.
“He has got unbelievable pace, a great left foot and he can also fill in at left-back. I think we can develop Chris and turn him into a very good player.
“We moved quickly for Chris because we wanted to sign him as soon as the season ended. He had a great season at Havant and we believe he will fit in well to the dynamics of our team.”
And it’s not often you see a player send an open letter to fans upon his departure from a club, but that is what Arthur did at the Hawks.
“I didn’t want to leave without saying anything but as many of you will now know I have decided to move on next season and sign for AFC Wimbledon in League 2,” he wrote.
“Although my ambition has always been to get back into the Football League, I believe this would not have been possible without the support I have received from the Hawks Directors, Management, Staff, players and last but certainly not least the Hawks loyal supporters.
“Last season’s performances on the pitch and being awarded fans player of the year has to go down as the pinnacle of my career so far and none of this would have been possible without everyone. Havant and Waterlooville will always have a very special place in my heart and I’ll be checking the website regularly to keep tabs on how the club is doing. Thank you all very much for all your support.”
So what can we expect from Arthur?: “I am direct and I like the ball at my feet. I enjoy taking players on and getting crosses and shots in. You will see a lot of running from me because that is the sort of player I am. Neal has told me that he wants me to go out and express myself, to be a winger, and go out and show what I can do. Neal wants me to go try and win games for him.”
Hawks fan ‘Probably Shirts’ tells WDSA: “Chris is a big left-footed player who started with us as a left back, but moved into a left sided midfielder.
He’s got good control, excellent crosser of the ball, and makes Usain Bolt look sluggish! And he’ll give you full value for 90 minutes. I imagine if he’s now full-time with you his fitness will only improve.
“He was our player of the season last season, in spite of our leading scorer being the league’s top scorer and you’d have thought he’d have got everyone’s vote. Not only does he perform reliably and consistently, but he’s got a great temperament too.
“We will miss him, but to fair to him he’s far too good not to have a crack at a higher standard of football. I think his previous time at Northampton wasn’t too successful, but over the past year he’s matured/blossomed/improved dramatically.”