When the draw for the second round of this year’s FA Cup was made, the media started to rub their hands with excited glee. It was for them, the dream tie they had wished for.
For supporters of AFC Wimbledon it was the worst possible draw. Old wounds that have yet to fully heal have been reopened. This is one time that the club really doesn’t want the spotlight shining brightly upon them.
The very thought of MK Dons v AFC Wimbledon is one that fans cannot stomach.
Immediate thoughts were of a boycott, a complete no show of the supporters to show solidarity against the club that famously stole Wimbledon FC away from their deep roots. This was quickly squashed, after all the fans club would find it hard to control such a boycott. The clubs foundations after all were born out of the fans ideas that they wouldn’t lie down and give up, so it would be a little hypocritical if they say the fans can’t express themselves by attending a game.
A statement was made a while ago by the club stating that the Dons Trust Board members would not accept hospitality or in fact a place in the directors box should such a fixture eventually take place. Of course the board members are free to choose to attend the game and stand with other supporters if they see fit. So quite a hard line has been established already, one that will not be broken.
Supporters are somewhat divided over the dilemma they find themselves in.
For most its black and white, Such is the ill feeling that still, rightly, resides in most they have already stated that they will not visit Stadium mk. Even to extent that should the match be televised (at the time of writing this had yet to be confirmed, but was more than likely), that they wouldn’t even watch.
Then there are those who say that their attendance of the fixture will show the football world exactly what AFC Wimbledon are all about. The ones that are undecided whether to attend have to of course, as the chairman of the Wimbledon Independent Supporters Association (WISA) Simon Wheeler stated, have to consider the history of their club and make their own decision.
In the meantime manager of the team Neil Ardley who is only 5 weeks into his managerial career, has to keep his players focused. They have been battling a fight to keep away from the League 2 drop zone for the early part of the season. A battle which saw the decision to employ Ardley, when previous boss Terry Brown was sacked.
Ardley is no stranger to the controversy having played the majority of his career with Wimbledon. “The meeting of the two clubs was probably going to happen at some point with the way we have come up through the leagues, and i knowhow the fans are feeling, and i know how much passion and hurt there is.” he said while still preparing his side to play 3 important league games before the cup tie.
Of course the club has advance so much in its 10 year existence, rising from Counties level, through the non-league football pyramid, and they will treat the actual playing of the match like any other they enter. “We will go there to try and win the game, as any other football club would. I would love for us to beat them, but we cannot that way too much. It’s the FA Cup, and we all want a good cup run.” Said Simon Bassey, club coach and lifelong Wimbledon fan. The 36 year old went to his first game in 1986 aged 10 as a fan, and has been a player, youth coach, head coach and even interim manager while the search for a full time boss was happening. He went on to say “I can understand 100 percent if fans do not want to go to Stadium mk, but everyone is different and will have a different stance on the issue”
It was a dark day when the announcement was made to allow the clubs roots to be lifted and relocated. Those dark clouds have descended once again. The media circus will go into overdrive. Eventually the game will pass, and the dust will settle.
This one match though, will not go anyway into righting any wrongs that have occurred over the past decade.