Sunday League is a cornerstone of English football. Cold mornings, muddy pitches and a unwieldy bunch of lads out for three points. For SE Dons, it’s much more than that. Boasting over 200,000 subscribers on YouTube, as well as multiple domestic cups and league titles, failure is not an option.
The Lewisham based team have plenty of big personalities in their ranks. Players like Big G (George Kamurasi), the 6’6 Ugandan keeper, who has made appearances on Soccer AM, Nathan Palmer, a man who might have Sunday League’s worst attitude, and SK (Salvyn Kisitu), a true Sunday League jack of all trades.
The most intriguing of the bunch, however, might be Mad B. The rowdy target man hails from Peckham, a local rival both on and off the pitch for Lewisham. Crossing the districts with a reputation could lead to a scuffle, but times have changed for the better.
He said: “Back in the day, if you did something like that, it would be a risky move because of how tense the rivalry between the two areas were. I was lucky that I knew Drew (Don Strapzy) through my music and our relationship helped me get in with the boys”
Mad B grew up in Bermondsy, but went to school in Peckham, getting him in and around people from that area. It was always going to be a rough upbringing around those times, but through making music in his youth, he made it through.
Even with everything that you may see online about crime rates in London, Football has always been an equaliser between groups and the fact that our beautiful game can be a way to solve these disputes is great to see.
He added: “Thankfully, it’s calmed down a lot, so Lewisham and Peckham can settle their differences through ways that don’t involve serious consequences.”
Mad B has had his fair share of time at the Dons and has seen players come and go, as well as seeing the club grow. “Sharing the pitch with players like Montel and SK just makes you realise how stacked the squad is and even these days playing for the XI’s”
The Dons have rung in a new era of young players through their academy and a lot of their game time is playing with people like Mad B. “I’m still learning so much. It’s amazing seeing some of the lads from the academy showcase their talent with some of the veterans is amazing and I’m still picking up a few things, even at my age.”
Mad B has had his fair share of iconic moments at the Dons but one faithful game against Lullingstone was where he really cemented himself in Dons folklore. “Where do I even start. Freezing cold Sunday morning and I’m coming off the bench when we’re 2-1 down.” Stated Mad B, when asked about that game. “I still see that ball over from Lamar; inch perfect, man. What a feeling it was, especially when it’s rare that I’ll nick some minutes, never mind a goal”
In the same game, that ended 2-2, Mad B nearly hit home one of the greatest goal in SE Dons history. An overhead kick during the games dying embers, that would’ve taken all three points for the Dons, was blazed over the bar. “If that went in, I don’t think I would’ve been prepared for what might’ve happened on the sideline. The opportunity lined up and the stars nearly aligned for me.”
Whilst Mad B can put on a show on the pitch, he does it with a massive disadvantage. He lost vision in his right eye 15 years ago and now plays football with an eye patch. He has never let it get in his way, however. “I’ve never been someone to be let setbacks stop me, no matter how severe. My eye can be seen as a big issue, but I’m never going to use it as an excuse for my football. I just crack on”
He channels his natural positive energy into his ‘Free The Patch’ movement, a tagline and brand created by the striker. “The ‘Free the Patch’ movement is something that I want people to remember and even if it just a select few people who do, I want them to remember it as something positive that was pushed through the means of the Dons.”
Whilst the Dons have evolved in quality overtime, there is always room for the legends at the club. The XI’s, pronounced ‘ex-ones’, is a squad that normally partakes in charity matches and Mad B is an integral part of this rag-tag squad. “The XI’s are a massive part of the club. We’ve raised over £40,000 for various charities over these games, so whilst we do take these charity matches seriously, at the end of the day, the cause is the most important thing.”
“The XI’s content is also so massive for the channel. No match on a Sunday? XI’s game. No 5-a-side? XI’s game. Off season? XI’s game. The fact we can do that whilst also giving game time and respect to some of the legends of the Dons is brilliant.” Said Mad B, when asked about the importance of the XI’s
Despite being out of the first team, Mad B is still a part of the club. He’s a man with a true passion for his team and teammates, the type of player you need at every team. The first team have had a great start to their season, with three wins in three, and Mad B only sees them carrying on this good form.
“I mean the boys in the 1st team are just so good. So much talent with new players coming in, as well as some of the long-time players showing their worth.” “Three wins from three, it doesn’t get much better than that. You’ve got to give a lot of credit to JR (SE Dons head coach), the man is a genius and he gets it right so often.”
For Mad B, his story at the Dons is far from over. He is the true definition of a fan favourite and even though he might not be a part of that first team, his legacy is nothing short of iconic.
“It’s great playing for the Dons because the talent we have is amazing and I cherish the times that I’ll get a run out for the first team.”