Looking back the first English League club I actually supported was Wimbledon FC!! I remember sitting at home on my own in Marlo watching the 1988 FA Cup Final, and everyone in school supported Liverpool, Everton or Manchester United. I decided to support Wimbledon for the day as they were rank outsiders, and in fact had been a non league team just 10 years before this, after an amazing rise up the divisions. The day was something special, with a Dave Beasant penalty save and a Lawrie Sanchez header silencing the arrogant Liverpool FC fans, whose team were shite, or so it appeared! There was some irony, with Wimbledon being sponsored by the unpopular Carlsberg brand at the time, Liverpool later became majorly sponsored by Carlsberg as they became a massive club and are now one of the England’s top 6 clubs. On the other foot, Wimbledon FC stayed in the top division until the year 2000 (an incredible feat given their average home attendance was 9,000 odd (both at Plough Lane and then at Crystal Palace’s Selhurst Park). However in the year 2000, despite a final day win at Southampton, Bradford City stayed in the Premiership and Wimbledon went down. Irony again as Bradford beat Liverpool 1-0 12 years to the day that Wimbledon had done. It was a sad day for football as far as I was concerned. Most people thought the club wouldn’t survive and the 1988 FA Cup win would be condemned to the history books, which is pretty much what happenned. They are still the last club that currently don’t exist to have won the FA Cup. In 2003 the decline was complete as they sunk into the third division and were moved to Milton Keynes to become Franchise FC, MkDonalds Fried Chicken and a club who forgot their fans. Wimbledon FC started 2003 – 2004 season as a non existent team. They even played my team four times in the next few seasons, with AFC Bournemouth winning two, one a 2-2 draw and one a 0-1 defeat which cost us our play off place in 2005. The name of this new team was officially Milton Keynes Dons FC. Fuck them. They fucked Wimbledon FC over and got a free place in the football league. I detest this new team of MK Dons.
However every cloud has a silver lining and soon the real Wimbledon FC fans formed their own club, named it AFC Wimbledon, adopted the blue and yellow home colours and white and black away colours, kept a womble as the mascot, created a similar badge and they also got to play at Kingstonian’s Stadium in South West London. Suddenly all the former Wimbledon fans had a team to support again, including my mate James who had been a lifelong Wimbledon fan. I had longed to watch them play, as they played in the lower leageues (Isthmian League, Beezer Homes League, Ryman League etc.) but still attracted 2,500 odd to their matches. I could have gone in April 2006 when the London Northern Ireland Supporters Club held a meeting there to meet Lawrie Sanchez (Northern Ireland ex player, manager and Wimbledon FA Cup hero) and witness the signing of Shaun Schofield’s new book, There’s Always One. I think AFC Bournemouth were at home that day so I didn’t go. Then in September 2006 when I had finally moved to London for the first time, James invited me to watch AFC Wimbledon for his birthday. We were off to watch the Wombles! I love football and this was bound to be a special day out.
I met Neil, James and Sam at Waterloo station complete with a four pack of Carling as a carryout. We then caught the train to Kingston and found that the stadium at Kingsmeadow was only about a 10 minute walk. Rather than grab a pre match pint somewhere else we headed straight to the ground to get the tickets and have a beer there. The match ticket was only like a fiver or something. Then we called into the bar at The Fans Stadium and had a pre match pint. I was wearing my Northern Ireland shirt. It had been a while since we had stood at an English football match and it was great to walk in behind the nets and stand and watch from the corner fleg in one end. Me and James also met the mascot and grabbed photo opportunities – the famous Womble of Wimbledon! I also bought a match programme. AFC Wimbledon’s opponents on the day were the relatively unknown Oxhey Jets team from Hertfordshire, they had qualified for this, a preliminary round of the FA Cup. AFC Wimbledon were big favourites. The stadium itself was massive for a club in such a low division, there were about 1,800 fans there. That was incredible for such a ‘low key’ match. Indeed I had been to a match where Northern Ireland’s two biggest clubs attracted a lower attendance!!
The match itself passed by very very quickly, with AFC Wimbledon winning 3-0 and comfortably. I was very impressed with their very hardcore and physical style of play. It was as if nothing had changed and AFC Wimbledon were still living the Wimbledon dream. The original Wimbledon were called the Crazy Gang sometimes (they had some characters such as Vinnie Jones and John Fashanu) and it was fantastic to see them. James was happy the whole day, and I remember a few random moments. I met a guy called Alan, from Navar in Bangor, Northern Ireland. It turned out that Alan grew up near me and was just a few years older. Alan was hobbling on crutches and would also head to Copenhagen to watch Northern Ireland the following week, as would I! Neil also noticed a guy who was so pished he fell asleep during the first half. I took a photo of Neil in front of this guy! We also got a half time pint and then to celebrate the victory we headed to another nearby pub. I hung around in the club shop though to buy a scarf and a few bits and pieces, which I was happy to do as I support everything the club stands for and hope they get their dream someday of playing in the football league and beating MK Dons the very team which stole their identity.
Whilst buying some stuff in the shop, the other 3 lads had gone in search of a pub and I found it quite quickly. Not only was it a pub, but it was basically an AFC Wimbledon Strip Club. Entry was free and on entering a woman came up to me totally topless and flashed her fanny at me. It was straight to the bar. So for James’s birthday we had found ourselves at a strip club. One of the girls danced to Eye of the Tiger, but the girl who caught my eye danced to Heart Shaped Box by Nirvana (a short clip of this is below). The only snag with this strip club was that the girls danced every 10 minutes and charged a quid a time per person, so we only stayed in there about an hour, even that cost 6 quid, but we did get to see 6 fannys and 12 boobies. James was happy. After this we headed back on the train and split up into the night. The day was over and what a great one as usual! I haven’t been back to see AFC Wimbledon since (James and Neil have) but they have just been promoted to the Nationwide Conference South! How amazing is that?! AFC Wimbledon are now only 2 leagues below the football league and only 3 below MK Dons. I personally cannot wait for that match.
Let’s hope the MK Dons go bankrupt and disappear, while AFC Wimbledon can continue a mammoth rise to the Premiership. I’d love that. Me and James would be there to watch it. Might call into that strip club for a pint again. AFC Wimbledon for the 2018 FA Cup. Believe it! You heard it here first. Up the Dons!!!
Who went – James Condron, Neil Macey, Sam Cooper, Jonny Blair.
Final Score – AFC Wimbledon 3-0 Oxhey Jets.
Date – Saturday 30th September 2006.
Information on the match –
AFC Wimbledon (2) 3
Darren Grieves (7)
Steve Butler (33)
Byron Bubb (90)
Oxhey Jets (0) 0
16:52:51 FULL-TIME: AFC Wimbledon 3-0 Oxhey Jets
16:51:28 Correction goal scored by Mickey Haswell
16:50:08 GOAL: AFC WIMBLEDON 3-0 Oxhey Jets – Byron Bubb (90)
16:47:22 The Match Sponsors have named Robin Schroot at Man of the Match and they have also awarded the Oxhey goalkeeper a bottle of champagne for an outstanding performace
16:44:12 SUB: Wayne Finnie replaced Scott Curley
16:32:49 SUB: Byron Bubb replaced Wes Daly
16:30:56 Beadle replaced by Lee Grace
16:29:44 Gary Beadle (Oxhey) stretchered off
16:20:26 Oxhey Captain has been sent off for a second bookable offence
16:14:41 SUB: Richard Butler replaced Roscoe D’Sane
16:09:36 The attendance has been recorded as 1,747
16:06:51 Oxhey Jets have a goal disallowed for off-side
16:03:16 The second half has kicked off
15:47:54 HALF-TIME: AFC Wimbledon 2-0 Oxhey Jets
15:35:35 GOAL: AFC WIMBLEDON 2-0 Oxhey Jets – Steve Butler (33)
15:33:39 Oxhey goalkeeper is playing a blinder
15:08:54 GOAL: AFC WIMBLEDON 1-0 Oxhey Jets – Darren Grieves (7)
15:04:27 AFC Wimbledon on a constant attack of the Oxhey goal
15:01:24 The first half has kicked off
14:56:39 Teams out
14:38:30 The AFC Wimbledon line-up has been received
14:02:12 Welcome to this FA Cup 2nd Qualifying round tie at home to Oxhey Jets
14:01:35 A new match has been started: AFC Wimbledon v Oxhey Jets
VIDEO I TOOK JUST AFTER THE FIRST GOAL:
THE DAY WIMBLEDON FC WON THE FA CUP:
AFC WIMBLEDON STRIP CLUB:
WIKIPEDIA ENTRY ON WIMBLEDON FC:
WIKIPEDIA ENTRY ON AFC WIMBLEDON:
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