Should AFC Wimbledon Fans Boycott Their FA Cup Tie With MK Dons?

Chris Wright

19th, November 2012


By Chris Wright

The truly vacuous ‘stadium:mk’ in all it’s glory

From the moment it was noticed and flagged up as possible it became almost inevitable. For the first time in footballing history – well, since 2002 – MK Dons and AFC Wimbledon are scheduled to play each other in the FA Cup second round on the second day of December.

Some fans are feverishly anticipating the game, others dreading it, others indifferent and others prepared to boycott it in protest – but any way you look at it, it’s going to be an historic night for football for many reasons, not many of them good.

For the uninitiated; the chasm between the two clubs opened up a decade or so ago when, after getting the green light from The FA, Wimbledon uprooted from their patch in Merton, South London (though, of course they were ground-sharing with Crystal Palace at the time) in order to relocate to a planned brand new stadium in the concrete ‘new town’ paradise that is Milton Keynes in a bid to haul themselves out of administration.

The story from then on is very simple in it’s narrative, but no less bitter and turbulent for it. Essentially, AFC see themselves as the right honourable heirs to – or, at least protectors of – Wimbledon’s history with MK Dons, or ‘Franchise FC’, regarded as mooching imposters: an unrelated prefab brand of a club, borne of a business venture 60 miles away in a different city.

While the vision of chairman Peter Winkelman (who is the main focus for most AFC fans’ ire), who pushed for Wimbledon to re-gen as a resurgent footballing brand in Milton Keynes, hasn’t really materialised, AFC have rattled through five promotions in nine years after starting life over from scratch in the regional Combined Counties League, though the wound is yet to heal.

The animosity is still felt very keenly, as AFC supporters’ planned boycott of next month’s FA Cup tie clearly shows – the partisan line being that MK Dons shouldn’t exist, ergo the fixture shouldn’t either and that turning up in the away end at the preposterously named ‘stadium:mk’ (speaking from personal experience and a largely neutral perspective, it really is a weird, eerily soulless ground even when reasonably full) would only serve to hand money directly over to the club they despise – the club that stole their name and their place in the Football League.

Wimbledon’s spiritual home: Plough Lane, as seen in 1975

While the split appears to be roughly down the middle among AFC fans, Simon Wheeler, chairman of the Independent Wimbledon Supporters Association, is as far from ‘on the fence’ as his humanly possible over his decision.

He told The Guardian:

“I won’t be going and I know lots of other fans won’t be going. I would rather take my girlfriend’s mother to the garden centre than go to that game. Other fans will have to take a long look at themselves and make a personal, informed decision.”

Garden centre? Christ, this guy’s serious!

I suppose the other option is for AFC fans to flock to Milton Keynes, pay their money and then put on a show of defiance en masse, i.e, standing with their backs to the game, etc. Indeed, several fanzines and forums are suggesting the release thousands of black balloons to mimic the gesture made by Wimbledon fans to signify the death of their club when it was initially announced that the Milton Keynes move was on.

Them’s the options, it would seem.

It’s hard to know what I’d do in the same circumstances, given that I am talking in hypothetical terms; though when Forest were flirting with the idea of building a hulking great 70,000-seater white elephant of a stadium on the outskirts of the city to be nearer to the M1 motorway for England’s World Cup 2018 bid I was strongly opposed. It was just a wholly misguided stab at short-term £££ that would’ve alienated an entire fan base and probably bankrupt the club before long. I’d have never even considered going to a Forest game ever again, let alone boycott a few in protest.

I know it’s not really remotely similar, but it’s all I’ve got to compare. Any kind of corporate cash dash never goes down well with English fans – especially of smaller, more provincial clubs – who’d largely rather see their team go under than sell it’s soul in the pursuit of brand viability. Rightly or wrongly, of course.

Do we have any Wimbledon/MK Dons/AFC fans out there in Pies land? What do you plan to be doing come the afternoon of December, 2nd, 2012?

Posted in FA Cup, Featured, Opinion

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  1. Drew Harrison says:

    Unbelievable that the independent media continue to write this without reference to MK Dons supporters . I am available and have voiced my feelings before to media and any interested independents

  2. jack gisby says:

    going to the game, under 18 so only 1 quid to the franchise scum and going to donate a fiver to the club and not buy any sort of extras in the horrible place, think the black baloons is a cracking idea. just old enough to have participated in their original release. Up the Dons

  3. Chris says:

    Fair enough point Drew, but this article is about AFC fans and whether they should boycott or not.

  4. usrick says:

    The focus should not be on harming MK Dons, financially or otherwise – it should be on benefiting the new side. Fortunately, sport allows a perfect way to do both. Don’t boycott (MK Dons fans may just buy up the tickets anyway), don’t turn your back (waste of money for the ticket)- the best “revenge” is to show up and help your side beat the bastards!

  5. von worstenbrauer says:

    I am considering to start boycotting ‘modern football’ altogether. Just amateur football in its simple, kind and natural form. No commercial nonsense and media hypes. No World Cup in Qatar, no Champions League with bankrupt teams.

    Not sure yet whether I, as a Modern Football addict, am able to go cold turkey!

  6. Humding says:

    I don’t think we should boycott it, quite the opposite; I think this is a match when our players will appreciate visible, vocal support more than ever.
    Of course what happened 10 years ago stank, and I totally understand people not wanting to validate it. But I think showing up and supporting the team on the day should be the priority. It’s also the best way to underline that Franchise are NOT the Dons, and putting that at the end of their name doesn’t make them so.

  7. SuperDonRiz says:

    As an AFC Wimbledon Fan I won’t be going, fellow fans are welcome to go. I have nothing against MK or their fans, they are entitled to a Football club but why take mine, we we’re vulnerable had been kicked about for years and were considered easy prey, MK had a footbal club MK City, that was non-league and could have been built up. But Winkleman needed a league position, that is essentially what happened.
    Winkleman had tried to entice Barnet, Luton and QPR to MK before turning his attention to us. So why the saviour pretence? MK domain name was registered 2 years before etc.
    I don’t regret what happened afterwards We are a “Fans Club” run by us. It’s been a great ride and it took us 9 years beautiful years to get back in the league. If Franchising had been allowed to happen without the stand we took, can you imagine how many questionable relocations would have happened. I’m not saying AFC Wimbledon saved football, it just gave it back to me.

  8. James says:

    Wimbledon fans need to get their heads out their arse and go support Wimbledon and stop bitching about it.

    The fans shouldn’t even have switched teams to be honest. You support your team wherever they are.

  9. sleeba says:

    James what are you talking about? Who’s swapped supporting Wimbledon for Mk???? No one.
    I used to go in the 70’s when that picture was taken and looking forward to going back there when they knock down the Greyhound track. It’s gonna happen…believe!!!
    I’m in two minds but I think attending will help the team and that is the end game and more positive.
    What would Dickie Guy do?

  10. PinkPaisley says:

    I’m a Dons fan.

    I’ll be there. Thanks to a small and dedicated bunch of fans, I still have a club to support.

    Winkleman hurt us once. I am happier with the club as it now is. He can’t hurt us any more.

    And after all, it did only take 9 years.


  11. FranchiseFan says:

    The thing that annoys me is that it seems that the majority of the AFC fans ‘ire’ is aimed at us, ‘the customers’ as those in Kingston like to refer to us as. I was barely a teenager when I had a football league club dropped on my doorstep and I now follow said club as passionately as the AFC fans do theirs. The majority of the fans that I see week in, week out at both our ’empty, soulless ground’ and away are probably younger than me. It’s not OUR fault what happened to Wimbledon, but this is where the hate is being generated.

    I’ve personally met 3 AFC fans, and had good conversations with them about the whole thing, we even shook hands. Obviously, neither them nor I are ‘scum’, which is banded about so fervently, but the more the media are putting out one-sided, antagonising stories such as this, the deeper the hatred from both sides is going to become.

  12. I am an AFC Wimbledon fan and very much torn. The club needs the fans’ support as much on the pitch as off of it; the game is on and we owe it to the players to support them, especially in a hostile atmosphere. However that plays straight into MK Dons’ hands. They want a rivalry, we quite rightly don’t want to recognise or legitimise them at all. By turning up, we encourage the rivalry. It’s Catch 22.

  13. Guy says:

    It’s strange how AFC fans still won’t let it go. If their club was stolen from them, and it’s unfair blah blah blah, why do it to

  14. Humding says:

    Guy – Wimbledon gound-share with Kingstonian, they haven’t stolen anything from them.

  15. I’m gutted, I’m living in Dubai at the moment and was always hoping I’d be back for this. For years I thought if it eve happened I wouldn’t go to the plastic ground but now its here I want to support MY team…AFC Wimbledon…around the same faces i used to see at Plough Lane and Selhurst Park…

    I don’t care if the MK filth beat us… we have the moral high ground regardless

  16. Don Don says:

    Kingstonian did not own KingsMeadow the ground they and AFC Wimbledon share. AFCW were tennants paying a ground owner who cared about neither club. AFCW bought the lease (Kingston council own the freehold)and saved both clubs from potentially being groundless. Furthermore, unlike AFCW who used to have to pay rent to the owner, Kingstonian pay nothing to AFCW to play there. Huge numbers of ground improvements have been paid for by AFCW fans that Kingstonian benefit from. When AFCW eventually move out Kingstonian will have done very well from an arrangement most non league clubs could only dream about. (Kingstonian are my second team – good luck to them)

  17. Sambo says:

    I’m an AFC Wimbledon season ticket holder and have been (on and off due to Uni)for years. I was about 18/19 when this whole situation began. Obviously I understand all points of view, and I’ve been deliberating about whether to go to to the FA Cup game or not. I probably wont go but only because of travelling issues.

    What happened to Wimbledon FC should never, ever happen again to a football club. However, I have no animosity towards MK fans (it wasn’t their fault) and believe that with this game the best thing to do would be to go and support AFC Wimbledon, sing louder and get behind Ardley’s men for a victory. The present and the future are more important than the past – the past can’t be changed, the future can. Ignoring MK isn’t going to help AFK Wimbledon progress and in the end it was the FA panel that allowed one man’s plan to happen anyway.

    In all honesty, if Wimbledon FC had continued without moving to MK, we’d probably be in the same position in the same league as AFC are now in, if not in the Blue Square. Yes, if MK had started from the lower leagues and worked their way up that would have been a more respectable feat, but they didn’t and they have to live with that, whether they want to think about it or not.

    It would be a great victory if AFC win – I’m not confident – but the fans attacking each other on internet forums is stupid. I’m sure MK fans understand why Wimbledon fans are angry, but Wimbledon fans also have to understand that being angry isn’t going to change anything.

    The only thing I do agree with is that MK should drop the name Dons. It’s purely a heritage thing and doesn’t make sense any more. If anything, the MK fans deserve their own identity and the ‘Dons’ tag is the only thing left that needs changing (colours, crest, city etc have all been changed, why not the tag).

    It’ll be an unforgettable game and should be treated as that with a good atmosphere and banter between fans. No anger, no stupidity. I think we’ll give them a good run out, but in the end I doubt we’ll go through. A reply would be interesting though… let all the MK fans who think we’ve completely kicked out Kingstonian a chance to notice that it’s still a shared stadium only a couple of miles from our original home.

  18. Tom the bees fan says:

    As a Barnet fan i was thinking of attending to show my support to AFCW.
    what happened should never have been allowed to happen. I think the AFCW fans have done a brilliant job restoring there team and i have been to several matches when they were in lower leagues to show support(although now in league two they are competing with Barnet so haven’t been since). Rather than boycott the match why doesn’t everyone from other lower league clubs attend in shirts etc.. to show our support and our opposition to this sort of thing ever happening again

  19. Hubo says:

    Should be an easy game for MK Dons. 4-0 or 5-0.

  20. Sambo says:

    I like Tom and his ideas.

  21. Humding says:

    Tom – Well said that man! Brill idea.

  22. […] put it in youth-friendly parlance, ‘it’s complicated‘ between MK Dons and AFC Wimbledon at the moment, with the two sides – one borne from […]

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