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

DONS DELIVER IN DAGGERS’ DEN

Home of the Daggers

Home of the Daggers

A weekend visit to London gave me the opportunity to see a part of it I had never seen before: Dagenham. Once it was a village in Essex and I manged to find the original village green around the Anglican church. It’s quite close to Dagenham East tube station, which in turn is only a short hop from West Ham. So it’s not surprising that in the pub, I saw a West Ham flag and a picture of Bobby Moore on the wall. I was there to see the local football team play Dagenham & Redbridge in league 2 against AFC Wimbledon. Known as the Daggers, the club was formed in 1992 when two sides merged. Their ground at Victoria Road opened in 1955, where Dagenham FC played.

The Traditional Builders & Contractors Ltd Stand at the West end of the ground is for the awy fans and was built during the close season of 2009. It has a capacity of 1,240 and is all-seated. Access to this  stand is via gates at the far end of the ground from the entrance via Victoria Road. The stand has disabled facilities, and incorporates a bar, snack bar, and new club office and changing facilities. The ground now has a capacity of 6078.

AFC Wimbledon pre-match

AFC Wimbledon pre-match

The players emerge onto the pitch from a tunnel in this stand rather than the old tunnel in the middle of the Carling Stand, on the right of the picture. The floodlights were replaced in summer last year, bringing the London Borough of Barking & Dagenham Stadium fully up to the new Football League regulations. The view from the stand was excellent, particularly for any action in the goalmouth, but obviously more difficult to watch anything at the other end of the pitch! It meant that the 873 travelling Dons fand including myself in the crowd of 2265 got an opportunity to greet the team as they finished their pre-match warm-up.

Neil Sullivan AFCW goalkeeper

Neil Sullivan AFCW goalkeeper

One of the biggest cheers was reserved for goalkeeper Neil Sullivan, who kept a clean sheet during the game. The decisive moment came 80 minutes in, when a 19 year-old Parisian recently signed by the Dons on loan from Cardiff City, Kevin Sainte-Luce, struck a beautiful shot through a crowd of players after the Daggers had failed to clear a corner properly. A tense ten minutes of normal time and four additional minutes followed, but the Dons held out for a deserved victory, giving them seven points from their last three matches and lifting them off the bottom of the table.

Overall, there was a very friendly atmosphere at the club, which reminded me a bit of the old Plough Lane ground where Wimbledon FC used to play. The social club (one of the sponsors is a firm of local undertakers!) sold a nice pint of ale from Cornwall and was worth the extra 50p admission for non-members. One other point of interest: I noticed a steward sporting a Southend FC woolly hat, who remarked to a Dons fan that the teams would be meeting each other at their ground next month in a midweek match. So perhaps another short trip via Southend airport (where the service on both days was very good) is on the cards!

WE ARE WIMBLEDON

DONS BANNERA huge day in the history of AFC Wimbledon. A goal in additional time saw MK Dongs aka Franchise overcome the Real Dons and advance to the FA Cup 3rd round. But the Wimbledon players & supporters were the real stars. Full marks to whoever ordered the aerial bombardment sign #wearewimbledon! There was a great atmosphere at The Fans’ Stadium, Kingsmeadow, where several hundred Dons supporters watched the match on television.

Back Bar KM

Back Bar Kingsmeadow

AFCW Fans

AFCW Fans

Milton Keynes

Milton Keynes

The bar trade helped to bring in revenue as did the Club shop. I am glad I went there to follow the match and not to MK some 60 miles away. A moral victory for AFC Wimbledon. Two coincidences: as I write I am waiting for a bus at London Victoria coach station to take me back to Belfast via Cairnryan and the first stop is Milton Keynes. Update: A five minutes stop there for a cup of tea was plenty! Secondly I was picked up this morning heading to Belfast City airport by a taxi driver whose relative happened to work for MK DONS!! #wearewimbledon

AFC Wimbledon banner

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.

Fast forward to the FA Cup 2nd round draw live on ITV on Sunday, 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] 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.

UPDATE: The match that some media people would like to have seen will not happen (sighs of relief all around Kingsmeadow). Stevenage overcame MK Dons in a thrilling finish decided by penalties after extra time. The Dons needed extra time too as they overcame a very lively Ebbsfleet United 3-2 in their replay. Nice one Sammy!! So it’s a home match to look forward to now in the FA Cup second round against Stevenage on November 27th. The game will be televised live by ITV sport as they are now following the fortunes of AFC Wimbledon. The kick-off time has therefore been altered to 12.50pm.

From the website (new window) www.afcwimbledon.co.uk a brief description of how the Dons overcame Ebbsfleet:

In a pulsating game Sammy Moore scored an equaliser in the fifth minute of added on time to take the match into extra time and then the winner in the last minute of extra time. Mark Nwokeji had put Wimbledon ahead after 8 minutes heading home but a brace from Ashley Carew after 12 and 19 minutes put the home team ahead. Both teams created a number of chances with the two goalkeepers pulling off great saves.