Did the English FA do Wimbledon a favour?

Updated: Sep 10

At the beginning in 2002, I just marvelled at the speed in which AFC Wimbledon were formed, then I cheered the new club all the way as it climbed English football’s pyramid. I loved friendly, decent and civilised Kingsmeadow, their non-league looking ground in Kingston-upon-Thames. In typical fashion, I bought every book about Wimbledon FC and AFC Wimbledon, even though I really didn’t like the original club. I joined the Dons’ Trust, bought a scarf, badge, the whole business and for while the Dons threatened to edge out the Addicks in my affections.

I still think the achievements of AFC Wimbledon supporters was not only fantastic for their own phoenix club, but their stunning success continues to provide inspiration for other fans in similarly deprived circumstances, such as those of Bury at the moment. I understand the alarm caused by the football authorites' decision to allow homeless Wimbledon to be moved 80 miles away from its roots, and the implication that franchising could be normalised in English football, but eventually I concluded that in some ways moving Wimbledon FC from Merton (Croydon in reality) to Milton Keynes did the fans of the original Dons a favour. For nearly two decades Wimbledon supporters have maintained a burning sense of injustice that has not only carried them up the leagues but has led them back to Plough Lane and the prospect of a much better stadium - and level of support - than they would ever have had if the MK move hadn't taken place.

The two “Dons” clubs have met a few times now but the AFC attitude of not meeting MK Dons directors pre-match and at half-time is, to my mind, just petty. Unfortunately, one of the downsides of being a fan-owned club is that the directors, more often than not, feel they must act as delegates instead of leading by example.

I don't suppose a single AFC Wimbledon fan would agree with me, but there has to be a point where the feuding ends and common courtesies are shown. I fear that won't happen any time soon, and that's why I eventually went off "AFC" – and why for a while both E-bay and Amazon were deluged with brand-new looking Wimbledon football merchandise.

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