Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Wombles vs concrete cows

I used to hate Wimbledon. Ugly football, ugly footballers. And for the 1988 FA Cup. Particularly for the 1988 FA Cup. But for all their faults, they were a proper football team, around in one form or another since 1889.

Until, 2002 that is, when an FA commission saw fit to say yes to a scheme to move them over fifty miles away to a town with no connection to the team. Wimbledon FC became MK Dons (a truly shite 'franchise' name).

The supporters of Wimbledon FC were having none of it, and founded their own club, AFC Wimbledon. Fourteen years after Dave Beasant had lifted the FA Cup at Wembley, AFC Wimbledon started their first season in the Premier Division of the Combined Counties League.

A bunch of Wimbledon supporters got together, and founded the new club, majority owned by a supporters trust. Open trials were held over three days on Wimbledon Common, a team was selected, and Orinoco tidied up afterwards.

The FA in a remarkable, contemptible statement described the new club as 'not in the wider interests of football', but AFC Wimbledon progressed up the unglamorous FA pyramid that only gets mentioned when teams are patronised on Match of the Day in the early rounds of the FA Cup: first promotion into the Isthmian League First Division, then the Isthmian League Premier Division, then the Conference South, then the Conference National.

This weekend, most of the football news was about Man Utd, or about Birmingham and Blackpool. But something else happened: AFC Wimbledon beat Luton in the play-off final, and as of the start of the next season, are back in the Football League, playing in League Two (or the Fourth Division, as it was before the guardians of football who are hell bent on ruining the game renamed everything for no good reason other than their own hubris and stupidity).

It's a victory for the good things in football over the bad things in football (i.e. greed, and the people who use the game to pursue it). And if Wimbledon win promotion to League One…they'll play the MK Dons.

Now that's a grudge match. But not a derby.

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