Tag: Franchise

Never Forgive, Never Forget: The Return Of The Spectre Of The Unwanted FA Cup Match

Here we go again, then. This afternoons draw for the FA Cup Second Round brought about, for the second time in three years, the distinct possibility of AFC Wimbledon having to play MK Dons in the worlds oldest cup competition and this draw is one that will likely provoke heated debate over the next week and a half or so. The first thing to say about this is that it isn’t guaranteed yet. Both clubs have to overcome replays first and, while the likelihood of MK Dons losing theirs at home against Southern League Premier Division side Cambridge City the week after next remains slim, this is a side that has won just one of its last seven matches and has slid down the League One table after a strong start to the season. Meanwhile, whilst Wimbledons one-all draw at Bootham Crescent against York City looks like a creditable enough result from a distance, reports from the match have seemed to indicate that they were more than a little fortunate to come away from this match with a second bite at the cherry. There remains every chance that this match will not take place after all. Still, though, the possibility remains, and it should be added that this is a match that very few AFC Wimbledon supporters want to go ahead, regardless of whatever breathless comments the press will...

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Stevenage Do Us All A Favour

While last night’s FA Cup match between Woking and Brighton & Hove Albion had its fair share of drama, the real excitement of the evening came in Buckinghamshire at something called Stadium:MK, where Stevenage FC snatched a dramatic late equaliser and then won a penalty shoout-out to book a place in the Second Round of the competition and spared the rest of us the possibility of the “spectacle” of a match between AFC Wimbledon and the club that assumed a league place in 2004. The home side had taken the lead early in the second half before an equaliser deep into injury time brought the sides level. Extra-time could seperate them and it looked for a while as if a penalty shoot-out wouldn’t either, before Stevenage eventually grabbed it by a 7-6 scoreline. Over the last week and a half or so, Wimbledon supporters have been coming to terms with a tie that they may have found emotionally difficult, even if the rest of the media was willing it to happen. There came a marked recognition that they would have to play if both sides won their replays and this led to protracted discussion of how they, if they had to, should mark the occasion. Stevenage’s penalties last night, however, made all of this an irrelevance and they will now travel to Ebbsfleet United for their replay tomorrow night without...

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Match Of The Week: ** **** 0-0 Scunthorpe United

So, you play a forty-six match season in which you have finished in third place, some distance clear of the opposition. At the end of that season, you have take part in a play-off match against a team that finished three league places and eleven points behind you, and you fail to kill them off over the 210 minutes of open played that transpire, and the tie goes to a penalty shoot-out. At 3-3, the opposition miss, giving you a golden opportunity to take the lead, but your player misses. At 4-4, the opposition miss again and you are just one kick away from a Wembley final. And you miss it again. Then, at 7-6 down, your former international striker, a man that has played in the Premier League, the Champions League and the World Cup Finals, misses. And that’s it. You’ve blown it. Sometimes it’s surprising how magnanimous football supporters can be. Most of us know the aching pain of losing after a penalty shoot-out, missing out on promotion by the breadth of a goalpost or any of the other myriad of misfortunes that can blow your entire season, and we understand that there is something fundamentally cruel about the end of season play-offs. Leeds United may still be widely loathed (to be frank, it’s disproportionate, considering that they have now been two years in League One and...

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In Praise Of… “The Beautiful Game? Searching For The Soul Of Football”, by David Conn

In November 2001, I (as was my wont at the time) made the short journey from my flat in the centre of St Albans to Clarence Park to watch The Saints play Basingstoke Town in the Ryman League Premier Division. It was an uninspiring match – a flattering 3-1 win – but more concerning was that, rather than being able to settle down to watch the results come on Sky TV afterwards, we were stuck with the BBC’s coverage. The club hadn’t been paying its bills, and the satellite TV had been cut off. Two months later, the sky fell in. The club failed a CVA that it had entered into and the chairman put it up for sale for £1. The Ryman League suspended the club until it secured new ownership and got its house in order. For five long weeks, with no match day revenue to sustain it, St Albans City slid towards what seemed like an inevitable winding up order. On the clubs message board, tentative discussions were held over what we would do when the inevitable came, but none us really understood very much about what we could do as supporters to save the club. At the last minute, a new owner was found and the club was rescued, but St Albans City sailed very, very close to the wind during those five, dark weeks...

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Chasing The Argonauts

In the name of “progress”, we continue to be reminded about the dangers of frachising in football, and we continue to be right to stay vigilant against attempts to parachute teams into the Football League or senior non-league football. The fundamental principle is that, subject to concerns over the health and safety of large crowds, newly-formed clubs should start at the bottom and work their way up. The history of the game is littered with such attempts. Idle dreams of fame and riches mixed with rampant egotism means that there will always be people seeking a quick route to the top of English football, from Chelsea being formed to make use of the then-vacant Stamford Bridge right through to the enforced relocation of Wimbledon FC. Ultimately, it is down to the authorities to ensure that this doesn’t happen and it is the responsibility of all football supporters to campaign against it, wherever the issue seems likely to raise its ugly head. Perhaps the strangest case of attempting to franchise, however, came in the late 1920s when a stalwart of the amateur game decided that it was about time that those confounded professionals needed to be taught a lesson and tried to get his club – which never even played a single match – voted into the Football League. His club was called Argonauts FC. RW (Dick) Stoley was a...

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