Tuesday Night hosted the second ‘Dons Derby’ of the season and it was one to remember for AFC Wimbledon, after they were knocked out of the League Cup in the same fixture at Stadium:mk earlier this season.
Of course, much controversy surrounds this fixture, due to the way MK Dons came about. The club were originally Wimbledon FC, before relocating to Milton Keynes in 2003 and taking the club’s history, trophies and all the rest with it, before officially changing their name in 2004. AFC Wimbledon came about back in 2002, just as permission for MK Dons to form had been granted, and have since rose out of the depths of non-league football into League Two.
The two clubs had already met on two other occasions prior to Tuesday night’s Johnstone’s Paint Trophy clash. The first meeting came in the FA Cup in 2012, which was won 2-1 by MK Dons, while the second was played just two months ago, when AFC were knocked out of the League Cup following a 3-1 defeat. Tonight, AFC Wimbledon got one back for their team and essentially, football itself, by turning over a 2-1 deficit to win 2-3, thanks to striker Adebayo Akinfenwa, who scored the winner in the eightieth minute to send their fans in to raptures.
I think it’s fair to say that neutral football supporters will be happy that AFC Wimbledon won – it feels like some justice has been served after the mad decision to change the identity of the original Wimbledon, despite huge opposition from the football league and fans alike.
I don’t believe that football fans, overall, have anything against the club’s fans, ground or general set-up at Milton Keynes, but the way the club came about was entirely wrong. It took a year for the move to go through, but as soon as the announcement was made, Wimbledon FC’s support dried up, few bothered supporting the club beyond that point and instead protested to keep their club how it was and how it should have stayed. Despite their best efforts, the proposed move, which was overseen by an independent panel, went ahead.
Wimbledon fans were forced to choose between continuing to support a side which was a complete alteration of their beloved club, or start again with a new side in the lower leagues of football. Fans were split – some felt that, despite the change, switching to a new club felt wholesomely wrong, while others felt the club’s actions were a travesty and wanted to begin a new Wimbledon of their own, just like the club they had lost.
There was some good news for AFC Wimbledon fans though. Back in 2005, the Football Supporter’s Federation refused to allow the MK Dons Supporters Club in to the FSF unless they handed over all their trophies and honours to the London Borough of Merton, which was reluctantly agreed to a year later and completed in 2007. Furthermore, MK Dons were not allowed to be renowned for having any sort of history prior to 7th August 2004, when they played their first official league match.
Now that AFC Wimbledon have risen up the leagues and only a single league separates the two sides, the rivalry has never been more intense. Due to pitch invasions during the last two visits to Stadium:mk, tonight’s game housed the away supporters in the upper-tier of the North Stand, and those fans will be returning to South-West London feeling satisfied with their side’s progression in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.