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New column: AFC Wimbledon keeper Seb Brown writes for Total Football

Male, 22, GSOH, seeks avid reader....

Hi everyone,

I am Seb Brown, currently goalkeeper at League 2 club, AFC Wimbledon. I have been invited to contribute a regular piece for you by the guys at www.totalfootballmag.com.

Those of you who follow my other column in the Evening Standard may know that it is ghost-written, however the guys here have given me free reign... within reason!

I love the written word, it's so powerful. It has the power to teach you; enlighten you; embarrass you (the poem I wrote for a girl aged 16!) and entertain you (hopefully this column!). I've been asked to introduce myself briefly in my first article, and I'll try my best to keep it from sounding like an awful dating profile!

Ok, some of the more observant amongst you may recognise me from May's Blue Square Bet Premier playoff final. Most newspapers had a pretty awful picture of me, either crying or looking like an angry grizzly bear, somewhere in the back pages on the 22nd May! I just hope you weren't reading the sports section over breakfast!

However to go back to the beginning, having left school with some very respectable GCSEs (including an A* in English!) I began my career at Brentford FC as a scholar aged 16. I was lucky enough to be involved in the first team squad, as an unused sub, in both of my scholar years.

Pro contract

In my second year I had an emergency loan at St. Albans City and spent half a season at Windsor & Eton. I was offered a pro contract at Brentford and made my one and only competitive performance in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy at home to Yeovil.

Shortly after, I got injured, which kept me out until March, by which time I knew my days were numbered. When I was released I had only been back in training for two months and wasn't sure what was going to happen next season. I even had a couple of job interviews, one at a gym and the other to be a barman!

Injured players at Brentford were always last to leave, which turned out to be a huge turning point in my future. I picked up a discarded leaflet one afternoon, it was for a PFA endorsed sports science course at Roehampton University (about 15 minutes from my house).

Eventually I got in touch and enrolled for September 2009 and I am currently in the final year of today. That was that part sorted.

The football was still in the balance. I knew a couple of people in the game who I could speak to, however there were still no offers or even a trial. I did go on a youth tour with Cambridge United, a favour from Jez George, their current first team manager.

Reaping the rewards

Jez also offered me a scholarship at 16, however I elected to sign for Brentford. Jez is a man I really admire in football, he conducts himself the right way and appears to be reaping the rewards with a young side at Cambridge at the moment.

He invited me back to train with their first team in pre season, though unbeknown to me, my dad had liaised with a colleague of his, whose son was represented by an agent named Lara Southworth (my current agent), and she knew of Wimbledon's requirement for a cheap second choice goalkeeper, as their current understudy was out with ACL damage. A phone call later and I was heading down to the first day of pre-season at AFC Wimbledon.

Now for those who haven't been bored with story after story of me supporting the club, Wimbledon was the team I supported.

I had been a season ticket holder at Selhurst Park and Kingsmeadow until I began at Brentford, so getting a trial here was quite a big deal!

I kept it quiet at the time, I didn't want to be seen to be using this as a bargaining tool in my favour. There was a lot of competition for the place and I'll openly admit I don't think I was first choice for it.

Not straightforward

Paul Priddy, the goalkeeper coach, was a huge part in me signing there, he put an awful lot on the line for me and I hope I have repaid him in kind.

It wasn't that straightforward, they had a goalkeeper on the mend and would have four of us on the books if we were all fit and I hadn't set the world alight by all means, including an error in the last minute of the last pre season fixture. Therefore the club would only offer me a non contract registration.

My Dons debut came away to Tamworth where the number one came off injured at half time. I did ok, kept a clean sheet and was in for the next game against Cambridge at home - ironic how football works isn't it!

It was nearly all over as soon as it began, I misjudged a long clearance and which bounced over my head leaving Danny Crow through on an empty net. He missed. I've never told him much that miss has meant to my career!

I went on to play about 20 times in all competitions that year, more than I ever hoped for. I even signed a proper contract in January 2010. I was told I was to be first choice for the 2010/11 season and what a season that turned out to be!

A good year!

2010/11 was a pretty good year as they go! We got promoted. I retained my Young Player of the Year award at Wimbledon; received one of the clubs Player of the Year awards; made the Conference Team of the Year and was named the Non League Paper's Goalkeeper of the Year, not to mention gaining three England C caps, despite the tragic circumstances in which I came to gain the jersey.

The celebrations that followed the penalties at Eastlands were emotional for everyone in blue and yellow. I had seven voicemails, 88 text messages, about 120 Facebook notifications and 200 odd Twitter mentions that day! The congratulations we received were incredible.

From all around the football world. I even had some very gracious Luton fans wishing us good luck. They should be incredibly proud, that must be tough for even the most apathetic of supporters. I did receive one abusive Facebook message, which although hilarious is a bit too crude to publish!

And now here we are in the Football League, we've had a topsy turvy start and are on a bit of a poor run at the minute, but we're sure that we can turn things around sooner rather than later.

I hope you all enjoy my articles and I can't wait to start rubbing digital shoulders with fellow Total Football columnists including Ben Smith, Keith Hackett and Hedvig Lindahl. You can let me know what you think on Twitter (@sebbrown1) or by email to sebbrowncolumn@hotmail.co.uk.


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