Tag: Wimbledon

Ten Years Of AFC Wimbledon: Part 4 – Nature Is Bent On New Beginning And Death Has Not A Chance Of Winning

“It only took nine years” was the song booming from the AFC Wimbledon end of The City of Manchester Stadium at the end of the Blue Square Bet Premier play-off final against Luton Town in May of last year. There was a certain irony to the fact that two clubs from the south-east of England had to travel over two hundred miles to play a match that would ordinarily have been played at Wembley. Big money was winning again, and the scheduling of the Champions League final meant that twenty thousand supporters would have to decamp to the other end of the country for the day. It was no great hardship – after all, how many clubs from the north of England have had to make the same journey in the opposite direction down the years? – but it certainly impacted on the size of the crowd for such a showpiece fixture. It would have been unsurprising to see three times as many people turn out had the match been played in London. If there were some supporters of AFC Wimbledon whose thoughts turned to the possibility of returning to the Football League in August 2002, such a journey must have felt like the footballing equivalent of having to scale Mount Everest. The Combined Counties League, a feeder league to the Ryman League, was the sort of environment in...

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10 Years Of AFC Wimbledon, Part Three – Gazing At The Stars

It was a balmy evening at the end of May 2002 and emotions at The Sir Cyril Black Community Centre in Wimbledon were running high. Two days earlier, the unthinkable had happened. A three-man independent commission set up by the Football Association had, by two votes to one, waved through permission for Wimbledon FC to leave Selhurst Park, its unhappy home for the previous eleven years, and decamp sixty miles north to Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire. Football franchising had arrived in footballs modern era, and their club was the laboratory animal upon which the experiment would be carried. What were Wimbledon supporters to do? Their club would continue to play at Selhurst Park for another year. Should they continue the protest at the club? Play out the final year and then meekly follow the freak show north? The answers to these questions would end up having far wider-ranging ramifications than most would have thought possible at the time. The Wimbledon Independent Supporters Association (WISA) had been formed seven years earlier, as the permanence of the clubs move to Selhurst Park became increasingly obvious. These were seasoned campaigners who had already played a significant role in seeing off the proposed move to Dublin. Fighting off the Milton Keynes move, however, had proved to be a bridge too far. Perhaps the writing had been on the wall. After all, when the Football Association...

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10 Years Of AFC Wimbledon: Part Two – Salt In The Wound

In part two of our series on the formation and rise of AFC Wimbledon, we rejoin the story in the summer of 2001. With the clubs owners having seen their attempt to move Premier League football to Dublin rejected by the Football Association of Ireland and in turn by the FA, UEFA and FIFA, an entrepreneur has turned up at Selhurst Park with a potential get-out for the loss-making clubs owners. Part one of this series can be seen here. The offer to move Wimbledon FC to Milton Keynes had first been made by Winkelman following the clubs relegation from the Premier League in the summer of 2000. It was rejected by the club, but by July 2001 the offer had been agreed. How, though, had this come about? With the benefit of hindsight, there were probably three reasons. Firstly, the sale Wimbledon FC by Sam Hammam to the Norwegians in 1997 hadn’t been the sale of a “club” as English football supporters might understand it. There is little to suggest that either of the Norwegians had the faintest interest in Wimbledon FC as an institution in its own right, rather that they had paid £25m for a Premier League place – in other words, a “franchise.” Their sudden need to sell after the clubs tumble from the Premier League in 2000 probably reflects this, at least in part. Secondly, the drop from...

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Ten Years Of AFC Wimbledon: A Prelude

It was ten years ago yesterday that an independent commission set up by the Football Association reached a final verdict on a case that would, in some unexpected ways, come to change the face of football club ownership in Britain forever. It had happened before and it has happened again since, but the decision of that commission to allow Wimbledon FC to move sixty miles north and jettison name, its colours, fan-base and traditions continues to mark a fundamental shift in the politics of football in this country, but how did it happen, how was it allowed to go ahead and what were the implications of English footballs first foray into franchising in living memory? The seeds of the momentous events of May 2002 were planted almost two decades earlier. The ascent of Wimbledon Football Club from the Southern Football League to the First Division in eight years with an FA Cup final win in 1988 is often portrayed as a fairy tale, but the players that made it so were undoubtedly angels with dirty faces – children that only a mother could truly love. They played the gamesmanship card to its fullest – including a sometimes viciously reductionist brand of the game – but, given the clubs meagre financial position this was unsurprising. The means, in terms of league positions, justified the ends. But this of itself was...

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Tom Davis: The Career Of A Blue Square South Journeyman

Some people find their way in the world as a jack of all trades, spending their talents over a range of different tasks. Others, meanwhile, discover that they can do one thing, but do it very well. Midfielder Tom Davis didn’t quite make the grade as a Premier League professional and he has also tried other divisions, but like a compass pointing involuntarily north, he always seems to find his way back to the division that he has called home for the lions share of his career: the Blue Square Bet South. There are, of course, plenty of other players that have made this particular division their home since its introduction eight years ago, but none have done it with quite the level of success that Davis has managed. The midfielder started his career in the youth set-up at Fulham, but since dropping down into the non-league game has played in no less than three teams that have been promoted from this division, with a potential fourth being on the cards this season following his signing on loan by the manager of the current league leaders, Woking. The Surrey club had been sailing off into the distance at the top of the table but – in spite of a defeat against struggling Eastbourne Borough last weekend – they have since his arrival at Kingsfield started to improve again after...

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