Tag: Wimbledon

The Twohundredpercent Play-Off Jamboree: Luton Town 0-0 AFC Wimbledon (3-4 Pens)

So it all comes down to ninety minutes. There can, at least, be little debate that this year’s Blue Square Premier play-off final is being played between the two best teams left in the competition, following Crawley Town’s testosterone-fuelled championship win but, as we pan across the banks of empty seats at Eastlands this afternoon, it is difficult not to reflect upon the wisdom of the decision to host the showpiece of this league here – although we are talking here about ticket prices and specifically not about the decision to play the match in Manchester – and wonder what a spectacle the match might have been had it been played in London. The decision was made, however, and we are where we are. It’s also worth pointing out that, while the crowd of 19,000 is clearly a disappointment for this match, it’s worth remembering the fact that even describing it thus is a remarkable comment upon the strength in depth of English football. This, let us not forget, is a match in the fifth division of English football. Both clubs are here this afternoon seeking to take steps towards wronging a right and, while the story of what happened to Wimbledon FC is a well-trodden path, it occasionally feels as if what happened to Luton Town has not received the attention that it deserves. To be clear, the...

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From The Video Archive: Luton Town vs Wimbledon, 1988

AFC Wimbledon play Luton Town in the Blue Square Premier play-off final in Manchester this afternoon and, setting aside concerns about the ticketing arrangements for a moment, there is a definite sense of headiness in the air this morning as supporters of the two clubs head north for the match. For both clubs, there is an obvious sense of injustice that they find themselves in this particular division in the first place. We all know what happened to Wimbledon FC, of course, and that Luton Town were essentially relegated as the result of a punitive point deduction awarded on the basis of the actions of people that had already left the club at the time of the award means that a flame also burns within their supporters, as well. If we rewind the clock by twenty-three years, though, we can see that Wimbledon and Luton Town have been here before. During the 1987/88 season the two clubs had mid-table teams in the First Division and they played each other in the semi-final of the FA Cup that year at White Hart Lane. Wimbledon had beaten West Bromwich Albion, Mansfield Town, Newcastle United and Watford to get there, while Luton Town had beaten Hartlepool United, Southampton, Queens Park Rangers and Portsmouth to get that far. In the other semi-final, Liverpool were playing Nottingham Forest at Hillsborough. We are thrilled –...

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The Twohundredpercent Play-Off Jamboree: Wimbledon 6-1 Fleetwood Town (8-1 Agg)

“Not in the wider interests of football”. We mentioned this astonishing statement, made on the subject of a new club starting in SW19 at the time that Wimbledon FC was being franchised to Milton Keynes, during our report of the first leg of this evening’s Blue Square Premier Play-Off between AFC Wimbledon and Fleetwood Town, but it is a statement that cannot and should not be repeated enough when mentioning tonight’s home team. Nine years on, the hollow ring that were always likely to reverberate around those words could scarcely sound more empty. That a club – any club – could make it from the depths of the Combined Counties League to the cusp of a place in the Football League would be astonishing enough. That it could be done at a club that has been owned and run by its supporters, on a sustainable basis and on a bed of principles the represent something firmly positive about our game is one of the great achievements in British football over the last ten years or so. One might reasonably wonder where those that turned out at Sandhurst Town for the nascent club’s first match less than a decade ago might have believed that they might be by now. The size of their crowds was always likely to give them degree of competitive edge. The constitutional requirement to be sustainable...

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Play-Off Prices And The Nature Of Value

Value is a relative concept, and it is all the more so in the case of sporting events. In recent times, for example, the standard fall-back position for those that defend the increasingly extortionate prices that many football clubs now charge for season tickets has been the size of the waiting list for season tickets at their club. What happens, however, in the case of a match for which the exact numbers that will turn up is, broadly speaking, unknown? What is the cut-off point at which the casual supporter thinks to themselves that they cannot justify this expense to themselves? We may well find out the answer to this in a couple of weeks’ time, after the announcement of the prices for the final of the Blue Square Premier play-offs. The match is due to be played at The City of Manchester Stadium on the twenty-first of May. It would be something of a surprise, to say the least, if it isn’t played between AFC Wimbledon and Luton Town, considering that these two clubs won their away legs in the semi-finals by two and three goals respectively. This would achieve the significant end of season double-whammy of having thousands of supporters from the south-east of England in Manchester for a play-off final whilst thousands of others, from Manchester City and Stoke City, head in the opposite direction for...

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The Twohundredpercent Play-Off Jamboree: Fleetwood Town 0-2 AFC Wimbledon

The history of football in Fleetwood, Lancashire, is one of boom and bust. The town’s original club, Fleetwood FC, renamed itself Fleetwood Town and were founder members of the Northern Premier League in 1968, before folding in 1976. A new club sprang up the following year, reached the final of the FA Vase in 1985 and won back its place in the Premier Division of the Northern Premier League three years later. It too folded in 1996. The latest incarnation of what we might regard as effectively the same club was founded a year later, and has spent the last fourteen years climbing the same slippery pole as its predecessors. This time last year, they were winning the Blue Square North play-off final against Alfreton Town. Flush with the cash of chairman Andy Pilley, they turned professional during the summer and their first season in the Blue Square Premier has been a resounding success. Their ground, Highbury (the Arsenal links – though not formal – don’t end there; Fleetwood also wear red shirts with white sleeves), has a shiny new stand and the team has rose to fifth place in the Blue Square Premier in their first season in it, setting them up for a play-off semi-final against AFC Wimbledon. Wimbledon, of course, have been here for a year longer than Fleetwood. They led the table for much of...

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