As the historic first meeting between MK Dons and AFC Wimbledon looms, here's why this potential Cup grudge match will be a 'crazy game' for the Crazy Gang
11:45 GMT, 13 November 2012
'We await, with baited breath, the winner of the other tie,' said the stadium announcer.
AFC Wimbledon had just completed a thrilling 4-3 extra-time victory over
York City in their FA Cup first round replay, but there was no
excitement in his voice. More like dread, despite an expected 50,000
windfall from Monday night' s match.
The 'other tie', of course, just happens to be MK Dons against Cambridge
City, throwing up the possibility of the Dons of Wimbledon taking on
the Milton Keynes' Dons for the first time since Wimbledon FC
'relocated' north 10 years ago.
Grudge match: Jack Midson (centre) celebrates after scoring what turned out to be the winner on Monday night
AFC Wimbledon: Brown, Fenlon (Osano 62), Mambo, Mitchel-King, Cummings, Jolley, Gregory, Johnson (Harrison 61), Yussuff (Long 42), Midson, Strutton.
Subs Not Used: Jaimez-Ruiz, McNaughton, Antwi, Harris.
Booked: Gregory, Strutton.
Goals: Strutton 34, 78, Harrison 97, Midson 99.
York: Ingham, Oyebanjo, Carlisle, Smith, Fyfield, Chambers, Kerr, Parslow (Reed 89), Kearns, Blair, Walker (Johnson 84).
Subs Not Used: Musselwhite, McGurk, Potts, Challinor, Doig.
Sent Off: Kerr (35).
Booked: Kerr, Johnson.
Goals: Brown 22 og, Reed 90, 119.
Referee: Keith Stroud (Hampshire).
This is the match AFC fans do not want, but their manager, former Wimbledon player Neal Ardley, insisted he would play against 'anyone' and claimed the FA could not be further from his mind. He does not intend to watch Tuesday's match, that's for sure.
'Our aim is to get in the third round, pure and simple,' he said. 'As players and staff all we can be is really professional, no matter who we play against, and try and get into that third round and a potentially big Cup tie.
'I'd play against anyone. Obviously we would be massive underdogs in a game against MK Dons. We'd like to get to the third round and give this great club – and all the fans who have put so much into it – a little bit of a Cup tie that might bring in a couple of pounds and ease the pressure.
'Is it about revenge No. To be honest, I haven't given it a thought. I know this is a boring answer but I'm not going to disrespect Cambridge. People talk about ties before they happen. If Tuesday night goes that way then we'll deal with questions about that.
'At the moment I've got two really big league games coming up here on Saturday and Tuesday and the FA Cup couldn't be further from my mind.'
Ardley denied Wimbledon's potential second-round opponents had affected their performance on Monday night, but it certainly seemed that way. The manager made seven changes from the side that won 3-0 at York in League Two on Saturday and Wimbledon fell behind to a Seb Brown own goal before Charlie Stretton scored twice.
Jamie Reed equalised in the 90th minute to send the game into extra-time, only for Wimbledon to quickly regain the lead through /11/13/article-2232156-15FE7EB9000005DC-563_634x415.jpg” width=”634″ height=”415″ alt=”Thriller: York had led after dominating the opening stages and should have been two or three goals ahead by the break” class=”blkBorder” />
Thriller: York had led after dominating the opening stages and should have been two or three goals ahead by the break
It was, as Ardley said, a 'crazy game', made all the more dramatic by the backdrop of Wimbledon supporters debating whether they would – or could- go to Milton Keynes.
'I can't go there,' seemed to be the general reaction to a club resolutely referred to in this part of south-west London as 'Milton Keynes'. The only Dons they know are the side who play in the Cherry Red Records Stadium in Kingston.
Some were talking about donating their ticket money to Wimbledon instead of attending and chief executive Erik Samuelson used his programme notes to stress just how important the first round replay was to boost the club's finances.
Crazy Gang: The original Wimbledon club famously stunned Liverpool to win the FA Cup in 1988
The breakdown was fascinating, but it was almost as if he were trying to justify winning despite the potential opposition lurking in the next round.
'Any extra income,' said Samuelson, 'whether it is from a cup game or fundraising event, is very welcome, and I thought I should put all this into perspective for you.
'I'm sure you will understand how important this replay is to us in terms of this season's finances. We could make about 50,000 profit from this game (excluding prize money).
'My point is simple: in a league where last season the reported annual players' wage bill averaged over 1.3million, we could earn enough from one televised replay to cover about four per cent of that figure. That helps.'
Cambridge exam: MK Dons must beat non-league Cambridge City in their FA Cup first round replay on Tuesday night to set up the tie with AFC Wimbledon. The first game, pictured, ended 0-0
TALE OF THE TAPE: AFC WIMBLEDON AND MK DONS
Nicknames: The Dons, the Wombles, the Crazy Gang
Chairman: Erik Samuelson
Manager: Neil Ardley
Ground: Kingsmeadow – The Fans’ Stadium in Kingston-upon-Thames
Average attendance 2011-2012: 4,294
League position 2011-2012: League Two, 16th
Honours: Conference Premier Play-off winners 2010-2011, Conference South 2008-2009, Isthmian League Play-off winners 2007-2008, Isthmian League Division One 2004-2005, Combined Counties League Premier 2003-2004
Milton Keynes Dons
Nicknames: The Dons
Chairman: Pete Winkelman
Manager: Karl Robinson
Average attendance 2011-2012: 8,659
League position 2011-2012: League One, 5th
Honours: League Two 2007-2008, Football League Trophy 2007-2008
This televised match earned Wimbledon
around 50,000 of extra profit, but the fans' thoughts were certainly
elsewhere. Not them, surely. Not MK Dons, the club for which there is
such raw feeling since the decision to allow Wimbledon FC to relocate to
Milton Keynes in 2002.
Some Wimbledon fans are advocating donating the
price of their tickets for the possible second round fixture to their
club, rather than help to line Milton Keynes' pockets.
There is little magic in this
potential Cup tie, but the match itself was a cracker. Two goals from
Charlie Strutton looked to have sealed the tie for Wimbledon after York
had Scott Kerr sent off, but substitute Jamie Reed scored a last-minute
equaliser only for Wimbledon to go 4-2 up in the first half of
extra-time. Reed made it 4-3 just before the end.
Battle: The potential second round tie will pit former Wimbledon FC favourite Neal Ardley (left), now in charge at AFC Wimbledon, with MK Dons boss Karl Robinson (right)
York were dominant before going ahead
in the 22nd minute. Seb Brown palmed away a curving shot from Lanre
Oyebanjo but then fumbled Danny Kearns' corner and punched the ball into
his own net.
Wimbledon were level after 34
minutes. Referee Keith Stroud played advantage after Kerr's lunging
challenge on Rashid Yussuff and Strutton drove the ball into the net.
Kerr was shown a second yellow card and trudged off – with ESPN cameras
following him into the dressing room – but York's dominance continued,
with Jason Walker hitting the bar.
Quick progress: AFC Wimbledon rose from the Combined Counties League to Football League Two in nine years
Grand ambition: The second round tie, if it happens, will be played at Stadium:mk, the 32,000 capacity home of MK Dons
Wimbledon's one-man advantage showed
in the second half, but York wasted a string of chances before Strutton
scored his second in the 78th minute.
thrilling equaliser sent the game into extra-time but Warren Cummings'
cross was diverted into the net by substitute /11/13/article-2232156-0000D0C900000C1D-125_634x286.jpg” width=”634″ height=”286″ alt=”Spiritual home: Plough Lane, where Wimbledon played between 1912 and 1991″ class=”blkBorder” />
Spiritual home: Plough Lane, where Wimbledon played between 1912 and 1991
Around the same time, Milton Keynes-based property developer Pete Winkelman formed a consortium to build a 30,000-capacity stadium in the city, with the intention of a Football League team playing there.
Local side Milton Keynes City were playing four divisions below the League at the time and so the consortium resolved to 'import' an existing League side to use the ground, approaching Luton Town, Barnet and Crystal Palace among others.
Winkelman then approached Wimbledon’s owners, making assurances that the club’s name, colours and badge would remain after the relocation. Chairman Charles Koppel, who had been appointed by Wimbledon’s Norwegian owners in January 2001, was in favour of a move, saying the declining club was being subsidised by 6m a year.
In August 2001, Koppel announced that Wimbledon would be relocating 56 miles (90km) north to Milton Keynes, sparking outrage among Wimbledon supporters and football fans everywhere.
Relocate: Pete Winkelman (left) was behind Wimbledon's move to Milton Keynes
Upon applying for the new club to gain Football League status, the consortium was told it would have to earn a place by working up through the non-league pyramid. The League added that such ‘franchised’ football would be ‘disastrous’.
After Wimbledon contested this decision, a Football Association arbitration panel was formed to assess the situation. They rejected the League’s arguments and recommended an independent FA commission was appointed to make the final decision.
This three-man panel, made up of solicitor Raj Parker, FA Council member Alan Turvey and Aston Villa Operations Director Steve Stride, ruled in favour of the move by two votes to one. Their verdict went against the FA’s recommendation and chief executive Adam Crozier said it was an ‘appalling decision’.
At the same time, disaffected Wimbledon fans laid the foundations for a phoenix club, called AFC Wimbledon, which would be based at Kingstonian’s ground and be a spiritual continuation of their club. They vowed to work up through the non-league and started out in the Combined Counties League, seven levels below the Milton Keynes club.
New start: AFC Wimbledon fans watch a Combined Counties League match against Chipstead at Kingsmeadow in August 2002
Since then, AFC Wimbledon has enjoyed a great deal of success, progressing up the pyramid to reach the Football League in 2011 after beating Luton Town in the Conference play-off final in Manchester.
They have retained the blue and yellow colours of the original Wimbledon and their badge, and have since been able to purchase the Kingsmeadow stadium from Kingstonian FC, who still play there.
The MK Dons started to play at the National Hockey Stadium in Milton Keynes in September 2003, the first match being a 2-2 draw with Burnley. They suffered relegation in their first season to what is now called League One and spent the whole year in administration.
They created a new club logo incorporating the letters ‘MK’ and play in an all-white strip. They moved in to the 32,000-capacity Stadium:mk in July 2007 and after winning League Two in 2008, have regularly challenged in the upper half of League One.
This is the second time the two sides have been on a collision course in the FA Cup. In November 2010, MK Dons lost in a replay at home to Stevenage Borough and a first meeting between the teams was averted.