Dons v Dons

The pressure of the promotion race can be put to one side for a moment as the (younger) Dons turn their attention to cup glory. Ladies and gentlemen… its London Senior Cup semi final time! The LSC, or to give it its full name The Coventry Scaffolding London CountyFootball Association Senior Challenge Cup, might not be the most prestigious of competitions, even to sides playing their football at a much lower level than ourselves… but it also happens to be a trophy we haven’t yet won since our reformation, despite those ’25 years unbeaten in the LSC’ posters we produced to publicise the only cup competition we bothered with in our first season. I get the impression that should we somehow overnight become a Football League club at some point in the future (without wanting to anger those all important Football Gods…) we’ll regret not winning this tournament… not in an ‘I regret not travelling the world when I was on my gap year’ kind of way, more ‘I wish I’d put chilli sauce on this kebab’…

Back in our first year we played about four games just to take a third round home battering by Barkingside, all home encounters watched by crowds in four figures. This time around we entered at R3, defeating Dulwich and Beckenham to set up a Dons v Dons semi-final showdown, between last years finalists and 2009’s winners (at our own Kingsmeadow, which I attended and produced a full report for the now dormant general football little brother blog of Anonymous Don, which can be found here).

Despite being hot favourites for the game, Wimbledon came away empty handed last season after a shoot-out defeat at the hands of the Met (although the back four that night did subsequently pick up a Perrier Award nomination for the debacle…), in a game that in contrast to those early LSC encounters – and indeed SSC finals at Woking – was watched by a gate of less than a thousand. There could be another reason behind why we appeared to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory that night, and I’ll allude to that at the end of this post…

The Other Dons remain exactly where they were last time we met, the Ryman Premier, which must count as something of a success following the sad loss of their characteristic old Claremont Road ground to share with Wembley. As a trust owned club I’ll always be more inclined to wish teams like Hendon greater success… I’m sure supporters of non-supporter owned clubs wouldn’t really understand that view, perhaps even seeing it as a form of snobbery – but the way things are going the trust owned clubs will be in a majority soon anyway, at least in the lower levels of the game. The only real downer is trust ownership normally follows a traumatic experience, be it financial meltdown, the loss of a ground… the theft of a football club…

We left our spiritual home twenty years ago, and with all due respect to our current home, have never come close to finding anywhere that even comes near to the feeling I got when I first started watching my Dons at PL. Kingsmeadow means a lot to me, if only for being the stage our radical reinvention was played out on, but it seems likely we will one day find our own new home, somewhere that at least in part captures the spirit of Plough Lane. We can only hope Hendon find a place they can call home a lot sooner than we eventually will…

Hendon seem to have rested a few first choice players for their 0-3 home defeat at the hands of Horsham at the weekend, and will be going all out to lift the famous old trophy for a fourth time. This will be a stiff task for a mixture of Dons first team squad players and the cream of reserve and youth… as always in this type of game there will be no doubt Wimbledon will be fielding a better calibre of player in their XI, but the scratch nature of the line up in mixing players who won’t have had much experience playing together will probably make the Other Dons slight favourites for this one.

Despite that, the day we do return to the Football League I’ll miss occasions like this… the senior cups are low-key without being reserve fixture stale. There is still a bit of an atmosphere around the place – one of my favourite trips last season was the defeat at Godalming in the SSC. We might not be promoted this year, we might not even go up next year, but we will do, one day… and of course the last time the Dons won the LSC was in 1977, the year we last left the non-league game – if you’re hoping history will repeat itself, a victory tomorrow night will be the start of what could be a good omen.

2 thoughts on “Dons v Dons

  1. maliniok says:

    “one of my favourite trips last season was the defeat at Godalming in the SSC.” This is scary… Trust me I had written my WUP article before you wrote this sentence. 🙂

  2. dons4div4 says:

    Some of the most exciting games I ever saw at Plough Lane were the London Challenge Cup games of the 60’s and 70’s. We’d be playing and beating the reserve sides of the likes of Millwall and Orient. No pressure, cup atmosphere, under the autumn floodlights. Clear, warm, magic nights.

    Got through to two finals too, home to Arsenal and away to Spurs. And both really close run games, even though we did lose both (anybody remember Gerry O’Rourke hitting the bar up at White Hart Lane?).

    I’m up in London today on business and hadn’t intended to go. But you’ve jogged a few very nice memories, and I think I’ll get along to the game tonight…….

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