AFC Wimbledon is a English soccer team founded in 2002 based out south west London. On the surface, this club lacks the history of most English teams. Clubs such as Manchester United, Liverpool, and Aresel were all founded in the 19th century with a long list of famous players who helped win several titles and trophies. However, if you look past the surface, you start to learn that AFC Wimbledon also boasts a long history with players, and titles until all the club's history was erased in a single, heartless move.
Before there was AFC Wimbledon there was Wimbledon F.C. An organization with over 100 years of history which includes playing in the top flight English soccer league as well as a FA Cup title in 1988; a huge prize up for grabs to any English soccer team. It is slightly similar to NCAA's March Madness for English soccer, with the tournament taking place over duration of the season. The '88 FA Cup champs had a bright future ahead of them, but this championship was the pinnacle of the club's success. As the years went on Wimbledon F.C. troubles began to emerge. In addition to the team's poor performance, the team had to look for a new pitch to call home after the Taylor Report lead to stricter stadium regulations. Finding a new home within Wimbledon was difficult, leading to the chairman of the club at the time to propose moving the team to a different city even to move as far as Dublin, Ireland. Instead of finding a new home for the club, the chairman sold the team to two Norwegian businessmen. These owners appointed a new manager who promptly planned to relocated the team 90km northwest of Wimbledon to the town ofMilton Keynes. The owners expected the Wimbledon fans to remain devoted to their team regardless of location.
The fans told them to bugger off.
The Wimbledon F.C. fans were now without their team that had called Wimbledon home for over 100 years. Instead of taken what was given to them, the fans showed their deviation and determination to their common goal; having a team in Wimbledon that they supported. So in 2002 the Wimbledon fans, who had their first team ripped away from them, started their own team. This team would be owned and operated by the fans. This is the story of AFC Wimbledon.
However, because AFC Wimbledon was a new team it had to start at the lowest league of English soccer. The club has seen much success be promoted 6 times to reach the English soccer's 3rd tier league, called "League One" because naming this properly is stupid. The team has had many dramatic moments since coming to be in 2002, including making it into the English Football League proper (ie the top 4 leagues), battling the team that once was Wimbledon F.C. now known as the Milton Keynes Dons or MK Dons, and eventually staying up in League One while the MK Dons were relegated to the league below.
The hatred towards the MK Dons from the Wimbledon fans is real. Wimbledon fans refuse to even acknowledge the team as 'the Dons', as Wimbledon fans believe that is their own team's name. This leads to fans referring to the MK Dons as the "The franchise currently playing out of Milton Keynes." As you can image when the two teams clash, Wimbledon fans make a point of showing up and making sure the Milton Keynes players know how they feel. The most frequent chant yelled by the Wimbledon fans during the Don's Derby is: "Who were you, who were you, who were you, when you were us?"
Currently the AFC Wimbledon Wobbles are in a relegation battle, trying desperately to stay up in League One. Despite spending a huge chunk of the season at the bottom of the table the Dons have found there form recently winning 4 times and drawing twice in their last 7 games. This has moved them to the edge of the relegation zone only one point from safety with 4 games remaining. Not only is Wimbledon at risk of being relegated; the MK dons having been preforming very well in the league below and have a good chance at being promoted. I have not talked with any Wimbledon fans, but I would assume there is no worst salt to rub into the metaphorical wound of being relegated, than that of your League One position being taken by the team you despise.
A lot is at stake for Wimbledon in the coming weeks, I will do my best to keep you up to date with the latest news out of Wimbledon. Their next game is at home against the Bristol Rovers, a team in the middle of the table with a relatively impressive goal differential. Fingers will need to be crossed to keep the dream alive.