Wimbledon vs …them: Not Something To Get “Excited” About

By on Nov 8, 2010 in English League Football, Latest, Non-League | 13 comments

Most people know the way that Milton Keynes obtained their football club. It was wrong then and it is still wrong now, which makes this fixture very painful for us. However, when we entered the FA Cup we understood that this might happen and we will go about our business professionally and complete the fixture. But we would have preferred that it hadn’t happened. We have no further comment to make at the moment.

The response of AFC Wimbledon was as dignified as we would expect from the club. The FA Cup draw, however, has been made and, should they both win their replays the week after next, Wimbledon will meet the organisation that took their league place in 2004 in the Second Round of the competition. Predictably, the press reaction to the draw has been somewhat breathless, although most have stopped short of the crassest comment of all, to say that this is “the match that everybody wants to see”, or somesuch. There is absolutely no question that this draw was absolutely not the draw that supporters of Wimbledon wanted to see. Some are muttering under their breath that they would prefer Ebbsfleet to win the replay. Some may boycott. Some may turn to violence. The media may want it, but Wimbledon certainly doesn’t.

The club, however, has stated its position in clear terms. The potential sanctions for withdrawing from the competition could be severe, and it would be a defeat in itself to find the wellbeing of the club in any degree of jeopardy on account of them. They entered the FA Cup in the full knowledge that this draw would be a possibility. Both clubs have replays to come through in order for this scenario to play out in full. Wimbledon travel to Blue Square South club Ebbsfleet United a week on Tuesday, a match that should be winnable but will have left many of their supporters wondering in the back of their minds whether they even want their team to win the match. The others, meanwhile, are at home against Stevenage. Again, a winnable match. It’s not certain that this match will come to pass, but it would be a fallacy to suggest that it is unlikely.

Such a match would also be a logistical nightmare for the Metropolitan Police. It is not a comment on whether violence should be meted out upon those that have somehow to support the other team – violence of any sort is pretty stupid – but the fact of the matter is that this match would be a tinderbox ready to be lit. Could the police guarantee the safety of those that have come to support the other lot if this match was to be played under normal circumstances? If not, what would have to be done in order to get this match out of the way? Might they suggest that the venue be switched? Might they suggest that it be played behind closed doors? Both are possible, and the situation is further complicated by the fact that no-one will know whether the match is actually going to be played until a week and a half before the weekend of the Second Round of the competition because of the replays involved. The other team might earn themselves a sliver of respect if they refused their allocation of tickets, but there has been precious little contrition from their supporters since 2004 and they would be likely to demand that the club takes up its allocation.

Wimbledon supporters are ultimately resigned to the fact that if they are to get back into the Football League, the likelihood that they would eventually have to play them is high. Playing them for the first time in a league fixture, as equals, may be palatable to some (many, even), but drawing them in the FA Cup doesn’t pit them against each other as equals. It pits them against each other with the other team still reaping the benefits of what they took in terms of being able to pay considerably higher wages for players. Wimbledon would start the match as underdogs and, much as we may wish to see them win the match, the likelihood of it happening would be low. And regardless of that, even if it were to happen, should Wimbledon winning one football match really be considered sufficient for them to have to “forgive and forget”? If this is to be considered a matter of principle, it would seem somewhat odd that one win, one place in the Third Round of the FA Cup, should be considered enough for Wimbledon supporters to be considered to need to “put it all behind them”.

The television companies are doubtless frothing at the prospect of the match taking place. Perhaps all that we can do is keep our fingers crossed that one or other of the two teams comes unstuck in their respective replay the week after next. It may be an opportunity for Wimbledon to go some way towards lancing this particular boil, but in the overall scheme of things the likelihood of this happening will be considerably outweighed by the ugliness that would surround such a fixture. This isn’t a rivalry and it certainly isn’t a local derby. This could turn out to be the next chapter in one of the most unfortunate and ugly episodes in the recent history of English football, but the time isn’t right for it. It’s too much, and it’s too soon.

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    13 Comments

  1. ‘although most have stopped short of the crassest comment of all, to say that this is “the match that everybody wants to see”’

    ITV didn’t stop short, when the draw was made, almsot suggesting it was match to see who was the “real Wimbledon”.

    ‘Could the police guarantee the safety of those that have come to support the other lot if this match was to be played under normal circumstances?’

    Or, considering the violence of the other team, when they lost to Shrewsbury in the playoffs a few years back.

    Personally I hope AFC Wimbledon turn down any approach for the potential game to be televised, because if Ebbsfleet won their replay, Ebbsfleet v Franchise would still be televised and it would still give Pete Wankerman the opportunity to have a televised charm offensive should the Franchise beat Stevenage. Not to mention that it would stop the Franchise receiving TV money.

    Also, considering that the gate receipts are split between the two sides, how many Wimbledon fans are going to want to turn up, knowing that part of their ticket money will go to the people that killed Wimbledon FC? Let’s hope the Police give AFCW an excuse to hold the game behind closed doors.

    Rob

    November 8, 2010

  2. It’s very significant that it’s the Franchise customers who are relishing the prospect of a match between us and them. They are completely uncontrite and unrepentant and oblivious as to why they are so reviled by so many football fans. On their soon-to-be defunct forum, the Moocamp, some even talk of being “proud” of their club’s achievements.

    AFCW fans, like Rob and me, regard their “club” as illegitimate and therefore the result of any match between us would be irrelevant.

    As to the talk of “rivalry” – I am really relishing the return match away to Crawley and will definitely go if I can. That’s a rivalry. On the other hand, the thought of a match with Franchise makes me feel quite sick. I hope that we never have to play them and that they will go out of business before any possible meeting in the League.

    curranhung

    November 8, 2010

  3. The security bill alone will seriously reduce the profit either club receives from such a game.

    Another good reason many Wimbledon fans would have been much happier to have been drawn against any proper club instead.

    I don’t think you can totally refuse the invitation to be televised (as I assume this nonsense would be) as it is one of the conditions of entry to the cup competition.

    They are not rivals. They are not a football club. They are the now-pointless enabling part of a supermarket property development.

    Martin

    November 8, 2010

  4. Sadly, if it happens, the only ones to gain will be Wankerman and his band of football club thieves – even if they lose the match. There are more than enough twats in teh football media who’ll give him the publicity he adores and his chance to presnet himself as the saviour of Wimbledon FC and the big grown-up who’s put the past behind him and is prepared to extend the hand of friendship whilst AFC will be painted as Luddites who did nothing to save their club and are refusing to forgive and forget.

    Dermot O'Dreary

    November 8, 2010

  5. I am gettins sick of telling people that it is NOT a match I want to see, and they get upset and a little shocked when I tell them all I want is for Franchise FC to die.

    Only when they die will I get any closure.

    Jertzee

    November 8, 2010

  6. When the draw came out I thought it would be the game AFCW fans have wanted to happen, but after reading this blog plus a couple of others, I can now see it is the game AFC wouldn’t have wanted in a million years, as it’s a game a club, which really, shouldn’t exist, in their plastic stadium, as it kind of legitimises them. Also, if the game is televised, you can bet Wankleman and his cronies in front of the TV hyping the game up.

    I like millions of others would like to see Franchise go out of business, and I hate that Sky keeps on interviewing Wankleman and that the FA have put their plastic stadium down on a shortlist for 2018.

    Alan J

    November 8, 2010

  7. I interviewed a Dons Trust Board member sometime ago, and this issue came up. Here was his response:

    It won’t be long before you’re playing MK Dons on a level playing field. Surely chaos would ensue at that fixture? It’s a fixture I never really want to see happen. An away game there would probably split our support – many (like me) wouldn’t set foot inside Stadium:MK, some would travel but not enter the ground and others would actually want to see the match. A home game would see a bear pit atmosphere and make Galatasaray look like a genteel afternoon at county cricket by comparison. I’m not even sure I could trust myself to behave. Though I’m sure the likes of Sky Sports would lap it up.

    The full interview is here: http://europeanfootballweekends.blogspot.com/2010/02/afc-wimbledon-part-1.html

    Danny Last

    November 8, 2010

  8. An unacknowledged factor here will be how the Franchise sympathisers’ lies will inflame things.

    Because no-one likes to admit they are the product of theft, they cling to the notion that somehow, MK saved Wimbledon. This was Winkleman’s great lie, a repeat of Koppel’s deceit. As a result, they come out with the idea that Wimbledon fans were complicit in their own victimhood by somehow failing the team.

    This is just so, so very wrong it hurts. But when the thing you’re being blamed for still hurts, it’s actually inflammatory. Being told that instead of being a victim, you were actually the perpetrator. Instead of someone being the beneficiary of theft, they were the saviour – nay liberator – of the club.

    Most neutrals don’t buy this, of course, and the battle over the morality of the tale was pretty much done and dusted. But there is a corner of England where this truth never took hold, namely Milton Keynes. And everyone else, considering them pariahs, never needed to know how much they clung to the lie, and so its continued profession as an article of faith has gone unnoticed.

    But should AFC Wimbledon meet them, the media will come back as be as boneheadedly neutral as it was 8 years ago, and will treat both tales as equally plausible and factually correct (like climate change vs nothing to see here, evolution vs intelligent design etc) and so the great lie will get a great airing again. And will drive AFC Wimbledon rightly bonkers, because when the wounds get re-opened, to repeat the lie is to pour salt into them then give it a good old squeeze.

    If the coverage of this fixture could fix the situation, could nail the lie, then maybe – maybe – some good might come out of, but that would be to entrust ITV with the ability, sensitivity and understanding that anyone who has watched its football output for 15 years know they simply don’t possess.

    Dave

    November 8, 2010

  9. @curranhung – I’m not a Wimbledon fan, I’m one of what sadly appears to be a slowly diminishing number of “neutrals” who will never forget how the Franchise came to be, not to mention that I have friends who are Wimbledon fans, and knew what their reactions would be beforehand.

    Also my club are in the same TV region as the Franchise, and we get “treated” to Wankerman’s inane grinning face, and vile greasy hair on a regular basis, and because he’s the most media savvy chairman outside the Premiership, sports editors like Kevin Piper think he’s great as he’ll always give them a story.

    @Martin – don’t forget the fuss hen FCUM accepted the TV invitation. Clubs get the power of veto in the League and the Cup, because they may want to play the tie on a specific day, or avoid playing too close to another fixture.

    Rob

    November 8, 2010

  10. Rob – fear not, you’re not alone !!

    One of the most distasteful aspects to this whole sorry saga was the way in which the regional media so uncritically welcomed the franchise without a scrap of consideration for the impact it would have on the long-established teams in the area. The local BBC radio station in particular has totally fallen for them, and woe betride anyone who dares to say anything about the disgusting circumstances of how this team ended up in our area.

    Not to mention the truly nauseating amount of arse-licking that they gives to the greasy haired scumbag of a chairman.

    Dermot O'Dreary

    November 8, 2010

  11. The problem as I see it for AFCW fans is trying to keep a lid on the resentment they (rightly) feel for Franchise. This day was bound to come at some point – the only way it wouldn’t come round would be if Franchise were liquidated. And any game between the two sides is automatically going to attract a lot of media interest. All it will take is a couple of unsavoury incidents and the media will pile in, all too likely on the side of the media-savvy Winkelman. The hope would have to be that AFCW and their fans would show the sort of spirit that their opponents lack in positive ways rather than negative….

    Albert Ross

    November 8, 2010

  12. A key to the atmosphere on the day is the attitude of Franchise’s travelling support – and the make-up of same.

    I’m not suggesting they all wear mascara but how many of them are young Milton Keynes locals who started supporting the team when it arrived and are not aware to any significant extent of the wrongs and wrongs of their club’s birth?

    I’ve written before that eventually Franchise will be the bolthole for local fans who want to see league football and that the football community in general will have to live with that (although they don’t have to like it). I’m wondering how far down that road we are at the moment. Not very far, I suspect.

    Anyway: ideal scenario? Wimbldeon reach the third round with a well-earned 2-0 win over……….Stevenage (sorry Boro’ fans, nothing personal).

    Mark Murphy

    November 10, 2010

  13. Let’s just hope Stevenage win then, problem solved!

    Micky

    November 11, 2010

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