We’re nearly there. After the shortest summer in history, league football returns tomorrow, and I do mean LEAGUE football. Breathe it in, fellow Dons fans, for we have earned this. Plus you know the spotlight won’t last for long, once the Sky cameras leave the car park, the journalists have penned their welcome back articles, and other clubs in the division tire of that ‘everyone’s second club’ crap (which took about five minutes in the Conference…).
Then we’ll be just a normal League Two club. A normal League Two club with a bit of a special back story, but a normal League Two club all the same. Isn’t that just brilliant?!
While I don’t think anything will stop us spending all day tomorrow walking on air, we just happen to be facing off against one of the favourites for promotion from this division. Regrettably, this means victory will not be a foregone conclusion, but our biggest success has already been earned… we showed Winkleman and his followers how to rightfully earn a place in League football, we embarrassed the football authorities who messed us around passing various enquiries back and forth, we proved the three-man commission (in particular Raj Parker and Steve Stride) wrong in that a reformed Wimbledon are very much in the wider interests of football… and we did it all in nine years.
Sorry if this preview is starting to become overly emotional, I presume there’s going to be enough of that at Kingsmeadow come 12.45 tomorrow (I’m sure one of the last time Dons fans were featured on Sky in the WFC era it ended with images of fans in tears, this time around we could be starting amidst similar scenes…). But to quote Eminem (not something I’m normally inclined to do), Fuck it, I’m on one, lets enjoy… The ‘one’ in particular he was referring to was a controlled substance, no such stimulants are required for Dons fans this time around, this is pure natural euphoria…
But back to Bristol Rovers, who presumably will be slightly confused turning up and finding themselves in the middle of this circus, for them it’s just another game… Nice to hear some positive comments coming from Rovers fans before the game, obviously they might be a little different after the game if we win/once they realise the away enclosure is actually outside the stadium (or might as well be…). I’m guessing all those Rovers fans with ‘forged’ tickets will wonder why they bothered.
I can’t help but cast my mind back to the Luton game two years ago and think this could be a very similar contest. A newly promoted Dons side coming up against relegated opponents in front of a sold out Kingsmeadow, obviously the occasion will be a million times more special, but I would expect to see a close game… not that I’d be willing to stick my money on it. Betting on the opening couple of rounds of games in a football season is a fool’s paradise, with no kind of form to go on it’s pretty much guesswork. Rovers haven’t played a competitive match yet, and the Dons only have the Friday night Crawley tie to judge us on.
Actually, while I touched upon Luton earlier, those twitter users who follow the Dons official feed might just have seen a retweet from some guy desperate for us to lose on Saturday and end the season relegated. Well, I was a bit annoyed at first, so I clicked on the guys profile to see which scumbag club he supported, those club stealers from Buckinghamshire? Bromley? Gatwick??? And it turned out he supported Luton. My initial annoyance just vanished and all I could think was ‘bless…’.
On to tomorrows encounter, and TB might as well have named his side given his comment ‘nine players from the play off final will be in the starting eleven’. Presumably the two additions will be Midson and Porter, this also means Gwillim will start ahead of Bush at left back. So even though I only managed one correct 1-11 last season, including many occasions where I picked known injury/suspension victims, I’m pretty confident of starting the season with a perfect record.
The Anonymous Don’s expected lineup is as follows;
Although TB might be throwing us a curveball with that last one, Jolley was on the bench at Eastlands but never made it onto the pitch, but unless Brown is planning on playing Mulley or Minshull instead I think we can safely presume he meant the squad…
Now all we need to do is hope all of our lads remember it’s an early kick off, I’ve been reminding myself all week (although there is bound to be last-minute drama at my end, probably involving my season ticket…). You won’t hear from me now until after the game tomorrow, whether you are watching the game at Kingsmeadow, your local, at home or on some dodgy internet connection in Bangkok, make sure you enjoy it. Days like this should come along once in a generation, and it seems as though we’ve had dozens over the past decade… who knows when the next will come along…