Creepy Crawley And The Nature Of Rivalry

One of the side effects of writing a blog that’s read by slightly more people than my wife and mum (my dad reads too…) is that every so often someone gets in touch and asks for a contribution to their own site. Often the questions asked come from a different angle and make me consider the club in a manner I wouldn’t normally, and one of those came last month in a piece I did for a website called Best of the Bets.

The question referred to our return to the Football League, and whether we’d be looking forward to renewing any old rivalries. Of course, no one really leapt out as a rival on promotion to League Two, I wrote a few lines about looking forward to finally facing Aldershot, some short-term excitement at reprising a couple of Premier League fixtures at Bradford and Swindon, two new London derbies (albeit ones that don’t exactly get the heart pumping).

Yet no one that really makes you sit up and relish facing off against hated local scum. Maybe one day that void will be filled by Aldershot once we’ve got a few years of mutual back slapping out of the way they’ll tire of being reminded certain clubs only took nine years to navigate their way through the non-league pyramid. Perhaps a club currently higher in the pecking order will drop down (or we’ll move up?) and fill that void… a Brentford, maybe even a Millwall (and I’m convinced when Fulham’s bubble eventually bursts they’ll end up making Bradford look a financial success story…).

The problem being that our rise, fall, and second coming has seen us never end up in the same division long enough to develop significant rivalries with clubs of equivalent size… Which has led to a series of almost manufactured rivalries developed almost to fill a void. The first was the almost comical Merton derbies with Raynes Park Vale, laughable in that as far as I can make Dons fans seem to make up the majority of Vale’s home crowds anyway.

Moving up the divisions, we missed out on a few local clubs such as Kingstonian and Sutton, long memories saw us briefly face off against historical rivals, the likes of Dulwich and Tooting, but mostly the keenest of contests came against those sides who somehow found an extra few hundred thousand pounds down the back of the sofa (or by not paying their tax bill for a few years), or welcomed in a rich benefactor for a few years until they eventually got bored and wandered off. Yet while the likes of Withdean and Bromley have now been left long behind, we do still have one thorn left sticking in our sides after scrabbling out of the non-league game, the team that came up with us last year…

Its unlikely Dons fans would be giving Crawley a second thought right now if it hadn’t been for a combination of two factors… their convicted criminal manager, and one of the few people in a game that tends to close its eyes and pull the blanket over its head when faced with potential scandal who has actually managed to have been conclusively proved to be a cheat. Then of course are the huge piles of cash that allowed themselves to buy their way into the League to begin with.

That Crawley are disliked by Dons fans is no great surprise… they didn’t exactly romp to victory in the popularity stakes last year in the Conference, and their presence in League Two has already ensured they aren’t exactly being welcomed with open arms up and down the country – hell, they even managed to turn Manchester United into popular favourites for a game last year…

The Dons selling out our allocation for Saturdays game probably isn’t too much of a surprise, what with the size of Kingsmeadow meaning pretty much every game has been a full house so far, what did surprise me was Crawley selling out their section, meaning they’ll actually have more in the ground than they did at their own stadium for an evening game against Wrexham a couple of years ago.

It seems this game has been elevated to rivalry status by the sheer number of times the two sides have faced off over the past couple of years, this being the eighth meeting in that time, and its no surprise the two sets of supporters are getting sick of each other… I’m not exactly salivating at the prospect of Saturdays game, it’s one to get out of the way more than anything, yet victory will be celebrated by all of us in the same manner last seasons comeback win was (Kedwell free this time).

And as for defeat… well it’s not exactly going to be like last week where the result was pretty much forgotten about five minutes after final whistle – it has the potential to be an evening-wrecker, much as losing to Hampton or Bromley was. You see, knowing we’ll probably have left Crawley spluttering in our dusty trail in two or three years time counts for nothing right now, especially if a large group of noisy visitors are left celebrating in the corner as we file away into the evening.

Lets face it, Crawley have done nothing wrong in spunking vast amounts of dubiously acquired cash at quick-fire promotions, they haven’t broken any wage caps, they are paying their bills up front, and as long as the Fat Eyelinered one hasn’t been up to his old manila envelope tricks they deserve to be where they are on merit (unlike certain other new towns we could mention). And yet the nation still seems to be captivated with the side that went up with them via the playoffs… Crawley were almost the forgotten champions.

Football fans love a good news story, and the Dons progress with Brown assembling a young talented side within budget, playing good football, will ensure Crawley remain in our shadow for a while yet. And that must really stick in their throats, you’ll hear it in the songs they sing, the desperation… they know what’s coming in the years to follow and are looking for cheap victories while they can, like Withdean, like Bromley, like Hampton… hate us now, so you’ll remember us when we’re gone…

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40 thoughts on “Creepy Crawley And The Nature Of Rivalry

  1. Silk says:

    Do I want to to win tomorrow? Yes
    Would it mean more than any other league victory this season? Yes
    And why is that?
    Two words. Steve Evans. I hate the attitude that he comes across with in interviews. I hate the way that when we didn’t sell him Kedwell he slagged us off; when we beat them 2-1 he slagged us off.
    I don’t want to beat Crawley I want to beat Evans. It is exactly the same with Real Madrid – I want them to lose because of Mourinho’s attitude. Both are good managers to go with their bile and that just makes them more annoying.
    As for Crawley – I don’t begrudge them success due to their windfall and I honestly hope they aren’t left high and dry by their owners.
    As for rivalries the constant promotions have left us without one and it is telling how much a rivalry is missed. Crawley will probably be League One next season so probably won’t be playing us but I think will genuinely like to get to the point where they can play the likes of Brighton regularly – which could happen if the money men stay – and maybe they shouldn’t try and run away from the big fixture and result which can make a season feel just that little bit better.

  2. Dave Beasant,s Puma Kings says:

    Alan Alger – hardly a cheap shot, just an opinion – isn’t that what football is all about.

    I’ll have a bet with you that AFC are in a better position in 3-5 years – they have built up their club slowly in the right way and will always be sustainable. What happens to Crawley if their Owners get bored, pull out or get hit by some business downturn that no-ones predicts. How many clubs has that happened to in the last 5 years that we thought were the next big things – Hornchurch, Farnboro, many more clubs etc etc – in this time Wimbledon have gone about their business quietly and effectively

    • Alan Alger says:

      I do not doubt that. I love the way AFCW go about their business and I’ve praised it plenty of times. I have no favourite between the two clubs BUT I object to blog posts like this with no basis in fact. I was more annoyed at the Bromley comment.

      • anonymousdon says:

        To be honest Alan, Bromley are probably a nice family club on the occasions you visit, but theres no doubt whenever the Dons rolled into town they atracted the detritus of society intent on getting pissed up and causing trouble. Add to that the events of April 2009, we’re hardly likely to have fond memories of them, are we?

        As for Crawley, well of course there is little basis in fact… I’m not a journo, I’m a blogger, so I’m not really interested in going looking for it. Yet the void created by lack of discourse over who exactly these investers are, what their motivation is, and how long they are likely to fund what is undoubtedly a football club overstretching itself in the search of short term glory (who knows, potentially sacrificing their long term stability) allows me to speculate for the entertainment of Dons fans. Thats pretty much my only goal in doing this, and as far as feedback over the years is concerned I’m doing a pretty good job.

        Which brings me to your involvement in this. I have no idea what your involvement with Crawley Town is, in fact I’m making the assumption that you have none, and bearing in mind the aggresive nature of your comments here (as a supposed neutral) I think I’m being kind in doing so. Yet you either have some kind of insider knowledge of who is behind the funding of Crawley, you seem sure enough they’ll still be bankrolled to the point they will be above the Dons in three years time (in which case furnish us with the details!)… or you simply share the attitude of many in the game that its all money coming in, it must be good, lets close our eyes and put our fingers in our ears and pretend its ok.

        Our football club is built on the twin principles of mass supporter ownership and sustainability, something that is shared by many supporters up and down the country as a a blueprint for how football clubs should be run, a vision for the future of our game. So you must understand why Crawley’s short term strategy upsets not just myself, but the vast majority of Dons fans and beyond. Now I’m not going to pretend I understand the nature of PR or your job, I understand stirring up a little controversy and the resultant publicity might be all good for Blue Square, but what I will say is your confrontational nature is hardly endearing you personally to either Dons fans, or the wider footballing public.

  3. Sing-a-long-a-Don says:

    Crawley have sold 750 tickets because Chelsea aren’t playing til Sunday.

  4. dons4div4 says:

    The win over Crawley last year was the best game I’ve seen in our modern era, but I’m with those contributors who don’t feel any great “rivalry” with Crawley. In fact I’ve always felt a bit sorry for them (I think it must be since that 10-0 win back in the late 60’s).

    I suggest “rivalries” get sort of hard-wired into you through your formative years of support.

    So for me it’s always been rotten old Sutton United (I lived on the wild frontier land of Stonecot Hill, even had to attend school in enemy territory – only three Wimbledon supporters there in 63 – we got beaten up every day), and dear old Tooting & Mitcham (never any of that council-house-estate Sutton chippiness, graciously handing over Ediie Reynolds and Dickie Guy, etc).

    But beyond the actual games, it was always Chelsea who got under my skin as a kid. It wasn’t very fashionable back in the 60’s to say you supported a non-league club, but I stuck with it, against what seemed like just about everybody else in south west London who claimed to support Chelsea.

    Whether they went to any games or not. Whether they knew anything about football or not. Much like most Man Utd supporters now I suppose.

    Cocky, arrogant Chelsea players being the big I-ams up and down the Kings Road. That little Scottish git of a winger (what was his name?), thinking he had the pick of all the birds on a Sunday night down the Tolworth Bowl. Nearly getting thumped for taking the mick out of Chopper Harris as he sat on the 293 back to Epsom after he was banned for driving. “Skinhead” (remember them) gangs 40/50 strong marching down the middle of Hillcross Avenue chanting “Chelsea”.

    Thinking about it, never ever encountered a Wimbledon skinhead supporter. Maybe we’ve always been that bit posher.

    “Chelsea” were flippin everywhere. But Wimbledon were the local side for goodness sake.

    So as far as I’m concerned glory seekers everywhere can rot in hell, but it’s Chelsea that I really hate.

    Can’t think of a more suitable fate than that Abramovich should have turned them into the ultimate plastic team. It suits them very well.

  5. The Wizard of Oz says:

    I can’t tell if this is a love-in or a hate-in. Hope Wimbledon win though 🙂

  6. Anonymous says:

    It does not really matter how you dress it up you called people scum, football could do without people like you.

  7. Martin says:

    Less than 12,000 at Palace’s last home game and Council-housed and taxpayer-funded Crawley Town suddenly find more “fans” for an away game than their entire attendance at home just two short years ago. Another massive compliment to us and what we have achieved of course.

    Managed by a convicted criminal who never served any time for it, funded by mystery backers who still remain anonymous despite explicit Football League rules and Company Law on disclosure of directors’ identity and ownership, they would be amusing if their story wasn’t so tragic.

    It’s always a shame to see a decent old Southern League stalwart get so abused in such a blatant way. Good luck to the 40-odd people who really care when they are left to pick up the pieces from the administrators in a couple of years.

    • SLC Crawley says:

      More ignorance. It’s the poorly-constructed arguments of small minds such as yours that fuel the prejudices of others.

      Never heard the concept of fans travelling away for ‘big’ matches in their droves, irrespective of league fortunes? We took 2,000 to Hayes in 1992 back in those ‘decent’ Southern League days – that would have been four times our average home attendance. It wasn’t a cause for finger-pointing then, but it is now? Why?

      And Crawley’s social housing set-up? More than three in every four properties in the town is privately owned, but don’t let that get in the way of your well-researched argument.

      Sad idiot.

      • Martin says:

        Hmmm.

        Council-housed refers to the ownership of Broadfield Stadiumm, as does taxpayer funded, both a result of years of fraudulent mismanagement that kept Crawley in business and in the Conference National despite multiple points deductions. But if you want it to apply to you and the rest of the town be my guest.

        Everything I have posted is a fact and your continued need to deny even the most basic of them belittles you.

      • SLC Crawley says:

        Maybe you should work on your delivery a bit more – I’ve never heard a stadium regarded as Council-housed… only by those wanting to show off anyway.

        I just thank our Borough Council that they can afford us the importance of giving us a ground to play in. You can only hope that yours will hold you in similar regard one day to do the same… no sign of that yet.

      • Martin says:

        You should be VERY glad that the Council owns the stadium as it is the only thing that will save the club when the inevitable comes.

    • Greg says:

      Not sure what game you’re referring to (the one where we had less than 750 at home 2 years ago), was it a Sussex Senior Cup match? Always a statistically strong argument to pick 1 game and suggest that it is typical! Perhaps we should pick Man Utd away and point to the 10,000 away fans we took to Manchester? Funnily enough, we have had decent support for sometime now, when we won the Southern League (2003-04) we averaged around 2,500, and slightly more than that the following season in the conference.Yes crowds dropped off under the Majeeds, but that was to be expected given the dislike of them by most fans (not a lack of wanting to support the club, but fans not wanting to give the Majeeds their hard earned money). If you (and you will never know this) had not started off with an immediate fan base of 3,000, you would understand that for a traditional non-league club, which we are, to get to high levels of support, takes time, and success. Again, big fish in a small pond mentality that has been so typical of AFC fans over the past 9 years or so.

  8. Greg says:

    How typically arrogant of an AFC Wimbledon fan to suggest that AFC are such a ‘big game’ for Crawley, explaining why we have sold 750 tickets. Maybe it’s because it’s less than an hour away and we are top of the league? And why should the fact that we nearly went into administration under the Majeeds (who every Crawley fan hated with a vengeance) stop the new owners (lifelong Crawley supporters) from investing in the club? That’s nonsensical. It strikes me that having been a big fish in a small pond (Combined Counties League, Ryman etc) with budgets that would enable them to outspend all the other teams together, AFC fans don’t seem to like it now they are no longer the big fish.

    • Martin says:

      These “new owners”, who are they?

      Why are you surprised that many people in football, Wimbledon fans included, wonder how and why a club that almost went out of business only a couple of years ago (leaving debts of hundreds of thousands, including to us taxpayers) suddenly finds millions of pounds which with to fund an inevitable and rapid rise up the professional leagues?

      What has any of the facts posted on this blog got to do with Wimbledon’s budget in the CCL or Ryman League (when is was often surpassed by other, similar, temporarily monied and now largely defunct clubs like Withdean 2000, AFC Wallingford, Fisher Athletic, Heybridge Swifts etc. etc.)?

  9. OldIsthmian says:

    I don’t begrudge the Crawley fans their spell in the sun, after the years of mismanagement, fines, points deductions and so forth they deserve a break. It is a pity they have to share the enjoyment with a convicted tax cheat, who I am sure is still an embarrassment to many of them. Make the most of it while the money lasts, because it won’t last for ever and reality will return.

    My one bit of advice to the fans would be never to let these backers buy the ground from the council then when it does all fall apart you will at least have a place for the re-formed team to play.

  10. Cheshire Womble says:

    What i object to is not so much the money crawley used to achieve league status (similar to blackburn winning the prem, if you have rich backers, then as long as itd in the rules then fair enough), what i personally dont like is when clubs are on their knees one minute, with their very existance in question, in administration, then suddenly, not only solvent, but also with cash to burn. If you go into administration, there should be time constraints in place, where you cannot buy players for a period of time after they exit administration, this is not aimed at just crawley, but all clubs, its not right to mismanage and then spend relatively obscene amounts of money to gain success soon after claiming poverty and help

    • Greg says:

      Doesn’t make sense. Why should the actions of the Majeeds (criminals, hated by all Crawley fans) taking the club to administration and to the verge of liquidation, stop new owners from coming in and investing in the club? And if you had 2 lifelong (9 years) AFC Wimbledon fans wanting to invest significantly in your club, would you object?

  11. Winslow womble says:

    SLC you have a very valid point. We AFC should consider the money we had in relation to the other teams in the lower leagues we played in. I guess we used the “we are bringing lots of money into the league by pushing up attendances so no doubt the league would like to keep us. Some of us thought that the 17 point deduction in the Turdy league was actually designed to do that. However as much as some club and or league management may or may not have valued the cash we bought into the league, I am sure that at least 99.999% of opposition fans couldnt wait to get rid of us so that there was a “fairer” playing field. I really dont think that the average AFC fan has a particular problem with Crawley … except when you beat us … but I do think that the attitude of your manager falls into the catagory of wind up merchant, he appears on the face of it to be quite an unpleasant chap. When you lost a few games in a row comments I heard related to things like “Would love to see Evans face right now” or “Wonder if fatso has blown a fuse yet”, nothing about Crawley perse. It is really a one man problem. Ask Boston United fans.
    Lastly it is true that no matter how much dosh you dont pay the taxman you still have to put a team together, which your league placing seems to indicate you have done. So you will be welcomed at KM on Saturday but we will of course give you a stiffing on the field.

    • SLC Crawley says:

      I’d take a stiffing/stuffing on the field every week if the comments of other fans were as well thought out and rational as yours.

      However, being despised for a reason not of our doing seems to lead us to want to earn victories over our opponents even more than ever. Hardly surprising.

      Cheers.

  12. Nick says:

    SLC calls us hypocrites because we spent more than other clubs at CCL level. Yeah, we probably did, but we spent money we could afford to on our crowds. Crawley were getting crownds of less than a thousand a year ago and could not afford to run their club they way they did on generated revenue alone. Where that money came from we’ll probably never know. But it’s interesting that the fat convicted fraudster had it to spend.

    • SLC Crawley says:

      Not sure what your point is.

      Crowds aren’t and will never be the barometer of how much you can or can’t spend. What world are you living in?

      You spent money you could afford to on your crowds. We spent money we could afford to on the generous investment of our backers – transfer fees paid up front and extremely generous signing on fees for players to account for wages that were no more unreasonable than Luton’s, or Mansfield’s, or Grimsby’s.

      So what?

      • Nick says:

        Ours was sustainable. We’ll see if yours is.

        Enjoy it while it lasts though, especially if you were one of the 1,000 or so loyal supporters who remember the Majeed’s and the Southern League…

  13. Anonymous says:

    Evans isn’t bothered by us – but makes a point of going on his club’s website and the local paper to say this.

    Crawley fans aren’t bothered by us, yet are taking nearly twice as many fans to us as they took to Aldershot and about ten times the number they took to most Conference away games last season.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Why do you have to call people scum, also you are not wimbledon you are afc wimbledon.

    • anonymousdon says:

      If you read back you’ll notice I might have used the word scum, but I was using it to refer to theoretical opposition rather than anyone in particular…

      Apart from that, the second part of your comment is sloppily vague… just call us AFC Norbiton, you know you want to…

  15. SLC Crawley says:

    More hateful vitriol.

    This theory that we’re somewhat troubled at AFC getting publicity for going up is a nonsense thought up by AFC fans. We won the league nearly a month before your play-off final and had more than enough said about us… and not all of it bad.

    Add on the Man United coverage and we had more exposure than any other non-league side in recently living memory during the course of the 2010/11 campaign. More than you, certainly.

    Most of us were quite glad to let someone else take the limelight after a year of press obsession which got a bit tiring.

    And now the obsession seems to be yours…

    • anonymousdon says:

      How is this ‘hateful vitriol’?!

      I could understand the obsession business if I was writing stuff like this week in, week out, but this is just football fan writing about a club I admit I don’t have a great deal of fondness for (and you can’t blame me for that – see my response to Paul below…). Part of this involves belittling achievements my club haven’t yet managed, like certain FA Cup clashes… read between the lines and take the backhanded compliment!

      • SLC Crawley says:

        “Then of course are the huge piles of cash that allowed themselves to buy their way into the League to begin with.”

        >> Does Terry Brown get all his players to play for free or something?

        “We’ll probably have left Crawley spluttering in our dusty trail in two or three years time”

        “…spunking vast amounts of dubiously acquired cash…”

        “…the Fat Eyelinered one… his old manila envelope tricks…”

        “…they know what’s coming in the years to follow and are looking for cheap victories… you’ll remember us when we’re gone…”

        You need some new material.

        Funny too that no-one ever praises our management team for assembling a winning team. In the grand (relative) scheme of football, plenty of teams have spent more than us and got nothing back. Do you really think Luton’s players were on pennies last season?

        What was your budget in relation to those others in the Combined Counties etc. In terms of the money we spend, we are absolutely the same proposition now to what you were seven years ago. That makes you filthy hypocrites.

    • Martin says:

      “Funny too that no-one ever praises our management team for assembling a winning team.”

      Yes, it must have been dead tricky reading the Conference top scorers table from 2009/10, signing two of the top three and trying (and failing) to sign the third…

      Signing a couple of experienced captains from the level above was managerial genius too…

  16. Alan Alger says:

    I’d like a little bet with you that Crawley will be higher in the pyramid than AFC WImbledon in the two or three year time frame you state.
    Dubiously acquired? Do you want to elaborate?
    And what about the dig at Bromley in the section under ‘money down the sofa’ or ‘benefactor’ – they are a nice friendly family club managed the right way as far as I can see.
    A pathetic cheap shot article which does nothing for your club. Come on AFCW – you are bigger than this. I won’t tar you all with the “anonymousdon” brush – but he has let you down here!

    • anonymousdon says:

      Make us an offer Alan! I’ve lost enough money to your firm over the years, no harm losing a little more!

      As for the article, come on… its a blog, I’m speaking my mind, and I guarantee you’ll find ten times worse about Crawley elsewhere if you look hard enough.

    • Wallington Mark says:

      Alan you have some cheek.cheap shot article.The crap you spout as pr for Blue square,running on the pitch with your banners at Torquay in the Fa cup.You do let Blue Square down,

      • Alan Alger says:

        An incredible reply. How little understanding do you actually have of PR?
        The fact we got those flags on the pitch (something we’d have done regardless of which team from our divisions had done it) earned me untold praise in our office.
        Do you have that little understanding of WHAT my job is?
        By the way – what crap?

  17. Cheers from Rome. My name’s Nima and i’m a womble since 1988… I think we don’t have any king of rivalry with MK Dons… because they are nothing… i mean for me they don’t exist… I think Fulham is the most important rival for us…
    Nima
    http://awombleinrome.wordpress.com/

  18. Paul says:

    Cheers mate.
    I enjoyed that.
    I think you need to look north to Milton Keynes if you really want a club to have a pop at. We may steal the points but we didn’t steal your soul.
    Although a Crawley supporter since I was a kid, I’ve never had a problem with Wimbledon. Indeed, I’m very sympathetic about what happened all those years ago.

    • anonymousdon says:

      I was quite careful to try and avoid mention of MK beyond pointing out if we do dislike Crawley we dislike them as a football club and town that earned their place in the Football League. Hoping we never have to have any kind of rivalry with them on the field…

      What I didn’t mention, but have before, is the most obvious reason Dons fans might take a dislike to Crawley, beyond the money, beyond the fat one… they keep beating us!

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