Matt Tubbs3
Matt Tubbs … “As goalscorers come, particularly in the lower leagues, it’s as good as it gets.”

THE  player Dons fans once believed was unattainable is the Club’s latest signing and feeling the love Matt Tubbs is talking about promotion and Wimbledon in the same breath as Neal Ardley declares there’s more wheeling-dealing to come.

Ardley’s dogged persistence over two months convinced Tubbs to turn his back on Crawley Town in League One, drop down a league and sign a season-long loan with the Dons in the pursuit of more football as he is frozen out at AFC Bournemouth with 12 months left on his contract.

It is a significant capture for Ardley: Tubbs has scored 109 goals in 201 (60) league appearances and for Wimbledon that netted just 49 goals in the league last season a sense of optimism is germinating.

With his breakthrough signing it offers the prospect of more to come with Ardley teasing supporters “watch this space … one down and hopefully a couple of good ‘uns to go.”

There are strong indications that the next one in will be Adebayo ‘The Beast’ Akinfenwa to form a potent twin strike force with the potential to transform Wimbledon into a force next season, at least that’s what Tubbs is expecting from his new club.

Tubbs, 30 next month, believes with a few more additions the Dons can challenge for promotion this coming season and he is buying into Ardley’s ambitious plans.

“I had offers from League 1, League 2 and Conference clubs and it was a decision I made to come here,” Tubbs said.

“The manager was a big factor. I think this club is pushing in the right direction. I’ve met the manager on quite a few occasions now and he’s always spoken highly about the club.

“If he can bring the players in who he wants and the fans all pull together then there’s no reason why we should not push for promotion. It’s a case of me coming here now and repaying the manager’s faith in me.”

Matt Tubbs Dannie Bulman
Crawley Town duo Matt Tubbs and Dannie Bulman now both at AFC Wimbledon.

There is no denying that one of Ardley’s main attributes as a manager is his persuasive powers with potential signings and getting Tubbs over the line just a week after landing his Crawley team-mate Dannie Bulman ranks as his greatest bit of business in his 21 months in charge.

“As goalscorers come, particularly in the lower leagues, it’s as good as it gets. Matt’s a real predator, a fantastic finisher,” Ardley acclaimed.

“I’m chuffed. This is one I’ve worked on for two months now and I’ve had to show a lot of patience. It’s been tough and I’ve learnt a helluva lot about this one, but for a club like us this is a major signing and if he goes on to do as well as I hope then we’re all going to be very excited.

“When we met we talked about my ambition, where we want to take this club and we talked about how I see his role.

“I think he knows how much I want him and he knows from how long I’ve waited, how hard I’ve pushed, how hard I’ve tried, that he has a manager that likes him, wants him and he’s hopefully going to have a full season and he’s going to get a lot of goals playing from us. I think that was a big thing for him and let’s hope it works out that way.

“When I first mentioned to Erik (Samuelson) that Tubbsy was at the top of my list, Erik gave me a look like ‘aiming high, all the best’ and along the way there were times when you thought it probably wouldn’t happen, but we stuck with it and I’m absolutely delighted.”

The club was able to pursue Tubbs, Bulman and others with a ‘lower table’ budget topped up by the wages of released high-earners, Jack Midson, Seb Brown, Peter Sweeney and Callum Kennedy and boosted by the collective efforts of fans fund-raising initiatives.

“I would like to pay tribute to the extraordinary amount of time and effort put in by Neal to bring Matt to the club”, Samuelson said.

“Fans don’t see the work that goes into making such deals happen, but believe me it was massive. Neal set his sights high by identifying Matt as our key target and then went about the pursuit with dogged persistence until he got the deal over the line.

“I’d also like to a big say thank-you to long-time fan Mike Richardson. The extra funds he has committed, matching donations from fans, enabled us to pursue the deal where otherwise it wouldn’t have been possible. Many thanks too, to the fans who have donated – I hope all fans agree that next season is beginning to look very interesting indeed!”

But it won’t end there. Ardley is hard at it trying to boost his squad and has some more ‘quality’ targets in his sights.

Adebayo Akinfenwa smiles
Adebayo ‘The Beast’ Akinfenwa the next one in?

It’s understood that ‘The Beast’ Akinfenwa has been waiting for Ardley to land Tubbs as a sign of intent for the club’s ambitions. It will be some bit of business if Ardley can pair the two into a goalscoring combo for next season.

“One thing I’ve tried to do is aim high with my signings and go for real quality and at the moment I think I’m getting that and I think there will be one or two more to add to this,” the gaffer said.

“We want to have a season where we have a little crack at the other end, and that’s not going to be easy. There’s a lot of big clubs that have come up and come down and you look at the league and it could possibly be stronger than it was last season so we have to go with that.

“The main thing is we need goals in the team, last season taught us that, and watch this space. Hopefully one down and a couple of good ‘uns to go.

“When we look at strikers we don’t just pluck names out of the air; we look at records, we look at stats, it’s important to know what you are looking for and types that will complement what you are trying to do and complement the partner you are trying to put them with.”

The signings of Tubbs and the experienced Bulman have certainly stirred up things at Crawley Town, with a sense of indignation on the fans forums. But one Reds’ fan cleverly captured the mood….

What did Matt Tubbs ever do for us!
I mean apart from 57 goals in 83 games.
Firing us to 5th round riches at Old Trafford
Winning two promotions
Saving us from relegation last season
Being sold for ten times what we paid for him less than two years previously

Like everyone on this thread said I bet we can do better for the money than our all-time best striker. Strikers are ten a penny and queuing up to play for the smallest team in League One…

While another had this barb…

“AFC Kingston, where Crawley legends go to see out their final days. :oups: ”

Tubbs was once a tormentor of AFC Wimbledon with four goals in four matches for Crawley Town against the Dons. Now he’s on our side and hopefully we’ll be cheering his (many) goals to come this season.

Follow all the transfer speculation and opinion on the dedicated WDSA forum thread register (free)

And talking of quality, WDSA’s season final Wombles Downunder #206 is now out .. 14 writers, 27 pages, written by Dons’ fans for Dons fans … ‘it’s a really good read’..