Friday, 15 May 2009

AFC Wimbledon – triumph against adversity

Their progress may have gone unnoticed amongst the flashy corporate driven Premier League but their achievements over the past few years perhaps should be recognised as they sit alongside those of Manchester United when put into context.

Nine years ago this month Wimbledon lost to Southampton at the Dell, a result which saw them relegated from the
Premier League after 13 years. It was a sad end to what really was the last great footballing fairy tale (or so we thought). The club was only promoted to the football league in 1977 and a rapid rise up the footballing ladder culminated in an FA Cup win in 1988 and a sustained spell in the Premier League.

But the club, with small support and without their own ground after it was condemned following the Taylor report, couldn’t recover from the financial hit that came with relegation. In order to survive the board felt there was only one option and made the highly controversial move to re-locate the club to Milton Keynes

This American franchise system goes totally against what British football was used to, with the local club inextricably linked to its community. For Wimbledon fans, or at least those who didn’t follow the club to Milton Keynes, their club had literally been ripped away from them.

It was no surprise then that after a year in their new home the club re-branded itself as Milton Keynes Dons, and has since severed all ties with the old club. Wimbledon as we knew it was at an end.

Or was it?

Out of the ashes came a new club set up by the displaced Wimbledon fans. A new club that had open trials on the local Wimbledon common, a club that would embody the spirit that brought the old Wimbledon from Division four to the FA Cup final in the 1970s and 1980s – AFC Wimbledon was born.

The club officially started in......

Read the rest of my guest blog over at SoccerCityFC.

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