Most people know the way that Milton Keynes obtained their football club. It was wrong then and it is still wrong now, which makes this fixture very painful for us. However, when we entered the FA Cup we understood that this might happen and we will go about our business professionally and complete the fixture. But we would have preferred that it hadn’t happened. We have no further comment to make at the moment.
Of course any potential fixture relies upon us winning our replay at Ebbsfleet, and of course Them overcoming Stevenage, both tricky ties. The media, however, have no such reservations allowing reality to get in the way of a potential story, it is after all their job. Which is why, despite the fact the tie is far from confirmed, our club had to release some kind of statement on the O/S.
We as Wimbledon supporters now have to face up to the fact there is a very real possibility we have to answer our ultimate ‘What if?…’ question… For some the answer will be easy, for or against, but for the rest of us the dilemma is as great as ever.
I understand those who will never, can never, bring themselves to enter even our own stadium when They come to town. I applaud them, in a way envy them, they are making the supreme sacrifice by not attending. And if you are reading this, and you have decided not to go, I fully support your decision, and nothing I am about to write is intended in any way to question or belittle your support of our football club.
Because I am going to the replay. And I do hope we win. I hope Stevenage do us a massive favour in their replay, but if it comes down to it, if we have to play them, then I will be there too. To say it was a difficult decision is an understatement, but ultimately I love AFC Wimbledon more than I hate Them. I have to be there, I have to show those who murdered our club that they failed. If it happens in three weeks time, or if it happens in three years, when it eventually does (and we all know its going to happen someday…) I want to see the stands packed with Dons fans, to show the world what our club is all about.
There should be no violence. Perhaps that is too much to ask, the chances are in such a large crowd someone, somewhere, will do something stupid. The point is we should all make sure that these incidents are very much isolated. Sensible policing will go a long way towards ensuring this. For example, the game needs to be played at Kingsmeadow. A larger stadium will encourage fringe elements, those not connected with our club, to turn up and try to cause trouble. Plus can you imagine if it was played at Fulham several hundred of their supporters and several thousand of ours walking back to the tube station together through Bishops Park after the game… I would imagine once policing and stewarding costs are taken into account neither side would make much money from the game, regardless of where it is played…
You get the impression the actual result of the game will probably mean more to our opponents than it will us. Actually winning the game would be amazing, but the chances are we will lose, and the event relies on how we deal with that. A wall of noise and pure intimidation from start to finish regardless of events on the field will do it. It will be tough, seeing their players in our ground, knowing they have no right to be there. We have to be strong.
Undoubtedly neutrals will see this game in a different light to us. I received several text messages following the draw – from Dons fans who were devastated, to others congratulating me on getting the ‘one I wanted’. A fixture between us and them, no matter when it takes place, will see us immediately cast in the role of overwhelming public favourite, and we will do well not to antagonise those wishing us well. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be open about the fact we would rather play anyone, literally anyone else but them.
And lets not forget the players, who will undoubtedly be looking to play in what will be professionally the biggest of their careers. Sheltered they may be, but they understand the issues surrounding the fixture. It doesn’t mean they don’t want it to happen, it doesn’t mean they won’t dream about becoming a legend if it does. Good luck to them – they probably have no idea how much of a circus it will be if it happens, but they are at least guaranteed the sort of support that will make Millwall last year look like a kids tea party…
The most important plea I want to make is that whatever happens, we cannot let this game divide our fanbase. The difference of opinion over how we should approach this game will vary from those who still believe we should not fulfill the fixture, to those who were wishing for it to happen. The rights and wrongs have been debated… our board sensibly examined the potential consequences many years ago so we now find ourselves reluctantly obliged to play the game. Any further discussion of the issue is potentially divisive… we are Wimbledon, lets stand and face our enemies together.
There is a chance we may not progress at all, in fact if I was connected to Ebbsfleet or Stevenage I would probably be a bit put out by the attention we are getting. But I urge you to attend the replay at Ebbsfleet, let’s be loud and cheer our team through, then face whatever consequences as one…
Come On You Dons.