John did not see the opening

John Day is one of the many volunteers who has kept the club going for the 30 years of its painful exile.

He worked on for years, unpaid, at Kingsmeadow, from the creation of the phoenix club an through its many promotions to League One.

It was a family thing: daughter Lois volunteered with him on the turnstiles and son Peter and his wife Emma helped out in the early days of the merchandising.

But John never got to see the Dons return to their spiritual home.

The grandfather of six died on October 9. aged 83.

His funeral takes place at Morden’s North East Surrey Crematorium today, four days before the club’s first home game in 29 years.

Peter said: “Dad seemed to find the loves of his life fairly early, including watching The Dons on the terraces at Plough Lane in the 1940s.

He recalled being at the amateur cup final in 1963 when Eddie Reynolds scored four goals with his head.

“When we won the FA Cup in 1988 it was the first time I saw a tear in his eye.

“When the FA made their criminal decision [to allow the club to move to Milton Keynes], he was at the meetings on setting up our new club and soon volunteering on the turnstiles at Kingsmeadow.

“You could tell which turnstile he was on by the speed of the queue; he would happily have a chat with the average attendee.

“Dad was still attending games right up until the 2019/20 season was curtailed, whilst a little more challenging to get him into the ground.

“He was clearly optimistic on the future, having bought his debenture and transferred his five-year season ticket to our new ground at Plough Lane.

“Having not seen us play at Plough Lane for 29 and a half seasons, he got to within a month of seeing it happen.”

John had lived his whole life in Morden.

He first went along to Plough Lane with his dad. He later took his four children, and two of his grandchildren continue to follow in his footsteps.

A qualified book-keeper, he was still working part time – helping six voluntary groups that he was a member of with their books.

Peter added: “I think along with other volunteers, he wouldn’t have seen himself as special in any way, being just one of a number of people that were very happy to help our club get back on its feet after the injustices of the decision by the FA’s three-man commission.

“There are undoubtedly a number of fans including volunteers that have not made it to this point to see the new ground, but we have to take comfort that many knew that we were going to return.

“In my last conversation with Dad, on the day he died, he asked about the latest on the ground, and was very happy that we were so close.”

Former chief executive Erik Samuelson said: “He was friendly, dependable, enthusiastic, totally loyal to the club and always looking to help. What a lovely man he was. I am so sorry he didn’t live to see the new stadium.”


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