50/50

If you were having difficulty remembering just how far we have come over the last nine years there are frequent reminders pretty much everywhere. The last question in the ‘Can You Help’ section of this weeks Knowledge in the Guardian features a question wondering whether Tipton Town, who racked up 100 points this season and still only finished second in the Midland Football Alliance, were the greatest runners-up of all time… I’m sure there’ll be quite a few replies from the South West London area pointing out the third place team in the 2002/3 Combined Counties season and their mighty 111 point tally…

I’ve seen comments from a couple of people on the WUP guestbook mentioning how surreal the last seven days have been and I thought ‘hang on, with respect hasn’t the last nine years just been a completely bizarre experience?’. If I woke up in a daze to find its 2002, the three-man commission are about to unanimously throw out Wimbledon FC’s request to relocate, and the last nine years have been but a vision, I wouldn’t be surprised. In fact I’d be fucking delighted, I’d be twenty-four again…

But then again, haven’t the last nine years been unbelievably special? We’ll never know what would have happened if we had been given a chance to breathe life into the Wimbledon FC corpse, presuming the Trust had somehow been able to take control of the club… it’s likely there would have been a minor feel good factor upon taking over but years of hard slog would have followed, as we slipped down the table. We could easily have found ourselves in exactly the position we are now (including playing at KM) without that special feeling we have around the club, not to mention the momentum we carry with us.

I thought twice about writing that last paragraph in case some passing Franchise apologist picks up on it and uses it as justification for the move, the old ‘it’s worked out best for everybody’ excuse that the outcome of the event somehow justifies the theft itself. And while we’re on the subject of theft here’s a well know quote form the commission report you might want to bear in mind on Saturday…

128. Furthermore, resurrecting the Club from its ashes as, say, “Wimbledon Town” is, with respect to those supporters who would rather that happened so that they could go back to the position the Club started in 113 years ago, not in the wider interests of football.

 Well come 5PM on Saturday, ‘Wimbledon Town’ could be back in the League, the only problem being our opponents were also royally shafted by the football authorities… neutrals I’ve spoken to are admitting split loyalties, but are falling down on our side of the fence. Not that this means anything beyond being a nice gesture, anyone with even half an interest in making the journey was put off by those darn ticket prices, so it’s just our core support of 6,000 heading up, outnumbered 2:1 by Luton (but then again hasn’t that always been the Wimbledon way?).

Regarding the game itself, I’ve been thinking about it pretty much all week and have come to the conclusion this could really end up just about any score you could think of… its close, 50/50, but if one team cracks under the pressure on the day the other side could end up knocking in a few… yet maybe that’s what comes from thinking through just about every possibility in my head since last Wednesday.

I’ve got to say, while I’ve analysed how I would react to failure, I’ve stopped short of thinking what I would do if we actually won… I daren’t even allow it to cross my mind for even a moment – well that’s a lie, actually, I thought about it  Monday morning on my way to work, and its highly likely I’ll end up in tears. Perhaps I’ll even end up standing there passive, shell-shocked, my mind unable to find a suitable expression to the level of emotion I’ll feel.

I know we’ve convinced ourself defeat won’t be a disaster, and we’re right, it won’t be the calamity it would be for Luton if they miss out. I have heard that Saturdays loser will automatically be installed as next seasons favourites for promotion, but the truth is we have no idea how much money Fleetwood and Mansfield are going to throw about over the summer. We just don’t know how competitive the bigger clubs like Grimsby are going to be. We can do ourselves a massive favour by winning at our first proper attempt.

I’ve got a lot of respect for Luton and the majority of their supporters, they’ve been treated as harshly as we have… but another season in the BSP won’t kill them. We’ve spent nine long years in the wilderness, we’ve worked hard for this, we’ve earned it and we deserve it. We shouldn’t be ashamed to admit we want this badly, it’s the reason why so many of us haven’t been able to sleep for most of the week…

So come on Wimbledon, make us prouder than we already are right now. And whether you’re joining me at Eastlands, watching at home or the pub, or some dodgy feed in some corner of the world, I hope we have something to celebrate together come 5pm BST on Saturday…

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