A former player for the original Wimbledon FC fulfilled his long-held dream of returning to the football club.

Bobby Ardrey was the regular first-team right back for Wimbledon FC from the end of the 1956/57 season until 1970/71 – and was a cornerstone of the successful 1960s team, which won the 1963 FA Amateur Cup Final.

Since ending his footballing career, Bobby has longed to return to the club – which has been reborn as AFC Wimbledon in the intervening years – and his wish came true thanks to the kindness of the club and the assistance of his care home, CHD Living.

Having recognised that Bobby’s bucket list wish could very much become a reality, it was staff at the care home who set about making his dream come true, liaising with AFC Wimbledon to arrange his attendance at the club’s League One game against Gillingham on November 23.

Wimbledon Times:

“I had a brilliant day and loved watching the game," the 82-year-old said.

"It was a once in a lifetime opportunity.

"It wouldn’t have taken much for me to get back on the pitch if they’d asked, and I reckon I could be even better today.”

Bobby’s younger brother, Peter Ardrey, made the trip to Kingsmeadow with him, where Bobby was greeted with a team shirt, signed by all the players, that bore his name on the back along with the number 4, his number during his playing days.

Wimbledon Times:

He then went on to enjoy hospitality as the guest of honour for the day, watching the team run out as 1-0 winners.

Peter, speaking on behalf of Bobby’s siblings, including sisters Jackie and Susan, said: “We were delighted to hear that CHD Living had organised a trip to AFC Wimbledon, enabling Bobby to watch a home game.

"We’re so pleased that he is back enjoying the football fraternity once more."

Wimbledon Times:

Ian Cooke, a fellow former player who played alongside Bobby in midfield throughout the 1960s called Bobby's return "fantastic".

"Because if you take people back to the scenarios in which they lived in, they’re more likely to respond, and trigger the brain to think of the things that happened during that time," he said.

"I think the care home have come up with a winner in taking people back into their environment, to stimulate the brain and help get them to think about what they used to do and maybe trigger a few memories, which is likely to help them in their day-to-day life. It’s obvious that Bobby is enjoying himself immensely."