ONLY ONE WIMBLEDON FC

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Six years ago I published this article with my views on Franchise. The clubs did not face each other that year as MK lost in the FA Cup first round. They did come up against each other in the Cup in 2012 with MK wining at home 2-1. How things have changed in the intervening period. On Saturday the Milton Keynes lot will take on AFC Wimbledon at their home place some sixty miles from Wimbledon. This time the sides are meeting in League One and the Real Dons are higher up the table than the other lot. So I will go there on Saturday to follow my team on the basis that they deserve our support especially after their recent successes. But I will contribute as little as I can in terms of spending at the MK base.

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AFC Wimbledon Supporters Pic: Michael Fisher

November 10th 2010: There’s Only One Wimbledon FC

Anyone who knows me will realise I am a Wimbledon supporter. That includes Hot Press readers thanks to Eamonn McCann’s article in the latest edition. The conversation sometimes starts along the lines of “you mean MK Dons?”. It’s a phrase I and many others cannot bear mentioning because of the way a once proud football club which won the FA Cup thanks to Lawrie Sanchez in 1988 v Liverpool was allowed by the football authorities to fold and move some sixty miles away to Buckinghamshire. There were plans at the time for the club to transfer to my home town of Dublin (or possibly even Belfast where I live). But I would not have gone to watch them in either place as I could not regard them as Wimbledon FC. I have followed the Dons since their days as amateurs in the Isthmian League. For me, their first major success was in winning the FA Amateur Cup final at Wembley in 1963 when they beat local rivals Suttton United 4-2.

UPDATE: ***Sutton United have been drawn at home to AFC Wimbledon in the 3rd round of the 2017 FA Cup next month***

Fast forward to the FA Cup 2nd round draw live on ITV on Sunday (November 7th 2010), presented by Jim Rosental, with whom I used to work in BBC Radio Birmingham. In fact I persuaded him to add to the station’s coverage of six league clubs by reporting a “minor match of the day”. I was motivated by the fact that Wimbledon were in the Southern League premier division at the time (1975) and the very first match of the new season was Nuneaton (at the edge of the station’s area) versus Wimbledon. The Dons won and Jim back-announced my report by saying “Mike Fisher, bit of a Wimbledon supporter himself”! Sunday’s draw has produced the possibility of a tie between AFC Wimbledon and the franchise outfit. But first both sides have to win replays. Headlines in some media have portrayed this as a glamour tie and one which the TV companies would no doubt seek to cover. But judging by the mood on the ground as expressed in blogs and on twitter, many AFCW fans would prefer such a clash not to happen. As a founder member of the Dons Trust I agree. AFC Wimbledon are not yet ready to meet the club that stole the Wimbledon heritage and wrapped themselves up in the comforts of league status. AFCW have started from scratch, even going back to the roots at Wimbledon Common where they began trials for players. Now the club is at an exciting stage, contenders for promotion to the Football League. But I would be glad enough to meet MK when we get there, in another year or two and who knows, maybe they will even be relegated to division two. So my first thoughts are that I will be delighted to see either Stevenage or Ebbsfleet or even both of them progress in the Cup. I will return to this issue after the replays.

If it does turn out to be AFCW v MK Dons then the club I am sure will be very professional in its response, as indicated in the statement at [new window] http://www.afcwimbledon.co.uk . However the real fans will have to decide. Do they boycott the game (which would mean the club would lose badly needed revenue) or if they do attend, how do they behave towards the visitors? Various options have been discussed so far, but I think that if this fixture is held, then my best approach as a season ticket holder would be to purchase a ticket and then not go to the game or else attend but not take a place on the terrace or in the stand. Anyway the 1st round replays have to be held before the Dons fans face what could be some difficult choices. Neutrals have a lot of sympathy for them and nothing must be done by supporters at Kingsmeadow that would alienate the wider soccer fraternity.

WE’RE GOING UP!

Fourteen years ago the mandarins of the Football Association took away our football club Wimbledon FC. They said it was not in the wider interest of football to remain in London. Well fast forward to 2016 and a crowd of nearly 60,000 at Wembley, over one-third of them supporting AFC WIMBLEDON. A 2-0 win against Plymouth Argyle has ensured that the real Dons will be in League One next season. Among their opponents will be Franchise FC from Milton Keynes who were allowed to take our club away and set it up 60 miles away from SW19. Now you have the answer. Come on you Dons (Scotland excepted)! Here is a great flavour of the occasion from BBC Radio London: AFC WIMBLEDON

WOMBLE TIL I DIE

On the night AFC Wimbledon have qualified for the play-off final at Wembley against Plymouth on May 30th for promotion to League One of the English football league, I was delighted to watch this video by KICK which turned up on the Guardian Sport Network. It contains interesting archive pictures of Plough Lane.

Accrington Stanley 2  AFC Wimbledon 2 after extra time (aggregate 2-3).

NEW YEAR 2015

Haydon the AFC Wimbledon mascot  Photo:   © Michael Fisher

Haydon the AFC Wimbledon mascot Photo: © Michael Fisher

As we enter a New Year it’s good to know that within the week, AFC Wimbledon of League Two will be playing one of the biggest games since their foundation as a non-league side twelve years ago. The Dons will play Premiership Giants Liverpool in the 3rd round of the FA Cup. The game at Kingsmeadow is all-ticket and kicks off at 7.55pm, which means it will be televised live by BBC1 TV. Come on you Dons! And a Happy New Year to one and all.

BRING ON THE REDS

AFC Wimbledon mascot Haydon the Womble  Photo: © Michael Fisher

AFC Wimbledon mascot Haydon the Womble Photo: © Michael Fisher

Bring on the Reds! It’s a dream tie for AFC Wimbledon of League Two. Success against Wycombe Wanderers on Sunday has brought them a lucrative home tie against Premier League side Liverpool in the FA Cup third round. Dons supporters will of course remember the shock result of the FA Cup final in 1988 when a Lawrie Sanchez goal secured the trophy for Wimbledon FC for the first and only time. Kingsmeadow has a capacity of 4850 and no doubt it will be a full house for the match to be played between January 3rd and 6th 2015. Gate receipts and television rights will provide a welcome boost for the club’s finances. A draw would be a good result, meaning a replay at Anfield.

Anfield  Photo: Liverpool FC

Anfield Photo: Liverpool FC

As a non-league side Wimbledon always had a reputation for being giant killers in the FA Cup, with a notable victory against Burnely in the FA Cup third round on January 4th 1975, 39 years ago. The Dons went on to draw at Elland Road against Leeds, a match I was at, but they lost the replay.

Leeds United v Wimbledon FA Cup (4) January 25th 1975 Programme: Collectsoccer.com

Leeds United v Wimbledon FA Cup (4) January 25th 1975 Programme: Collectsoccer.com

Wimbledon v Leeds United FA Cup (4) replay February 10th 1975 Programme: ebay sale

Wimbledon v Leeds United FA Cup (4) replay February 10th 1975 Programme: ebay sale

FA CUP SUCCESS FOR AFC WIMBLEDON

Holiday reading: Vinnie Jones' autobiography and the story of Wimbledon's 1988 FA Cup glory

Holiday reading: Vinnie Jones’ autobiography and the story of Wimbledon’s 1988 FA Cup glory

For the first time, AFC Wimbledon, the successors of Wimbledon FC, are into the third round of the FA Cup. The draw will be held tomorrow (Monday 8th December) at 7pm at The Deep aquarium in Hull. It will be carried live on BBC2 and 5Live. The third-round ties will take place between 3rd and 6th January 2015. AFC Wimbledon will be ball number 50 out of a total of 64. Eight non-league sides are in the draw, three of which face second round replays.

AFC Wimbledon KIngsmeadow  Photo:  © Michael Fisher

AFC Wimbledon Kingsmeadow Photo: © Michael Fisher

The Dons were away to League Two rivals and current table-toppers Wycombe Wanderers. A Sean Rigg goal in the 56th minute was sufficient to give them victory on front of a crowd of 3196 at Adams Park, 1035 of whom were Dons fans. In November 2008 the Chairboys had beaten AFC Wimbledon 4-1 at Kingsmeadow in the FA Cup first round, when the Dons were still a non-league club in the Blue Square South division. I was able to see the second half of the match and to watch the winning goal in Dublin as the game was carried live on Setanta Sports (Ireland). COME ON YOU DONS!

Michael Fisher at AFC Wimbledon Kingsmeadow in August 2014  Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Michael Fisher at AFC Wimbledon Kingsmeadow in August 2014 Photo: © Michael Fisher

DONS HIT BY GULLS

AFC Wimbledon v Torquay  Photo: © Michael Fisher

AFC Wimbledon v Torquay Photo: © Michael Fisher

AFC WIMBLEDON 0 TORQUAY UNITED 2

This was my first visit of the 2013/14 League 2 season to Kingsmeadow. The day was sunny but cold and the pitch seemed in good condition as the two teams came out from the dressing rooms.

AFC Wimbledon v Torquay  Photo: © Michael Fisher

AFC Wimbledon v Torquay Photo: © Michael Fisher

It looked like our mascot Haydon might get a call-up to the first team in the absence of Harry Pell who called in sick with a stomach bug. Certainly the Dons could have done with his enthusiasm in the first half, when there were times that the defence seemed asleep.

AFC Wimbledon v Torquay  Photo: © Michael Fisher

AFC Wimbledon v Torquay Photo: © Michael Fisher

Going into the game the Dons were in 14th place in the table while Torquay United were one from bottom. The visitors also had a new manager Chris Hargreaves. The West Country club was once managed by Irishman Frank O’Farrell in the 1960s.

AFC Wimbledon mascot Haydon the Womble  Photo: © Michael Fisher

AFC Wimbledon mascot Haydon the Womble   Photo: © Michael Fisher

The visitors took the lead after 29 minutes through defender Krystian Pearce and doubled their advantage before the break when on-loan striker Jayden Stockley scored two minutes before the break. That last 15 minutes of the first half was some of the worst football I have ever seen from AFC Wimbledon from my vantage point in the Paul Strank stand.

Nongshim Stand looking well  Photo: © Michael Fisher

Nongshim Stand looking well Photo: © Michael Fisher

Dons’ manager Neal Ardley was forced to ring the changes during the break and made a double substitution. He introduced wingers Chris Arthur and Kevin Sainte-Luce in place of Alan Bennett and Luke Moore. That meant a switch back to a more orthodox 4-4-2 formation from the 3-5-2 preferred by the boss in recent times.

AFC Wimbledon v Torquay  Photo: © Michael Fisher

AFC Wimbledon v Torquay Photo: © Michael Fisher

Playing towards the Nongshim Stand, Sainte-Luce provided just what the fans behind that goal were looking for when he powered down the right and was sent sprawling by Kevin Nicholson, who received a booking for the challenge. Callum Kennedy sent over a cross that Torquay keeper Michael Poke parried before a Dons’ player could get a touch. Wimbledon finally started to exert a spell of pressure just before the hour, but the visitors’ defence held firm.

AFC Wimbledon v Torquay  Photo: © Michael Fisher

AFC Wimbledon v Torquay Photo: © Michael Fisher

The attendance was good – 4,339. Of those, 402 made the trip from Torquay and they were the ones who went away happy that their side had secured three valuable points. For Neil Ardley, it’s back to the drawing board. He certainly wasn’t happy with his side’s performance.

Will Antwi looks for the ball: AFC Wimbledon v Torquay  Photo: © Michael Fisher

Will Antwi looks for the ball: AFC Wimbledon v Torquay Photo: © Michael Fisher