The History Of AFC Wimbledon
Combined Counties League To League 2 in 9 Years
AFC Wimbledon was formed following the relocation of Wimbledon F.C. to Buckinghamshire in 2004. Wimbledon F.C. had won the F.A. Cup in their glory days, and bounced around the Football League through the years. In 2001, Wimbledon F.C announced they would be moving and rebranding themselves Milton Keynes Dons. Since becoming MK Dons, they have one the Football League Cup, built a new stadium (Stadium MK), but have stayed put in League 1. AFC on the other hand, have been promoted five times in nine seasons, had a player score in the FIFA World Cup game (Shane Smeltz for New Zealand) and won the BBC London Sports Awards Team of the Year. Now, lets take a deeper look into the New Dons.
The 2002–03 season was the first ever for the Dons, who were essentially a amateur team at the time. They lost their 1st ever game 4-0 to Sutton United in a friendly, but won their first league game 2-1 at Sandhurst Town. They finished in 3rd that year, barely missing out on promotion. In the second season, fan support was huge, as Wimbledon had a "quality" soccer club to follow, and the community boosted the club. The Dons won thier first 21 league games before drawing to Sandhurst Town 2-2. Although manager Terry Eames was fired on the 18th of February, they continued their strong progress, was were promoted to the Isthmian League First Division. AFC had an average attendance of 3,000 that season, larger than the average of MK Dons at the time.
The Isthmian League Days
Dave Anderson was announced the new manager ahead of a new season, who lead them to a easy title win, and promotion into the Isthmian League top division. Also in the 2004-2005 season, they competed in the FA Cup for the first time, reaching the first round, before crashing out. Arsenal would later in the FA Cup that season. The 2005-06 season proved to be one of the hardest in AFC history, with the Dons bouncing around, but struggling to stay in playoff positions. AFC made it to the playoffs on the last day of the season, but lost in them. The 2006-07 season was rather uneventful with the Dons crashing out of the playoffs at the semifinals. There was rumors of a 18 point deduction due to fielding a unregistered player, but it was brought down to 3 points. That season would be Dave Anderson's last and he would be replaced with Terry Brown who would go down in Dons history as the greatest manager so far. He lead them to the Conference South, after beating Staines Town 2-1 in a thriller with both goals coming late in the game for Wimbledon. They were starting to become more and more of a legitimate club, and was in between the status of a Semi-Pro and Pro team.
Welcome To The Conference
Their first season ever in the Conference South, was one of the best season ever for Wimbledon. They finished as champions of the Conference, set a average attendance of 4,722 and advanced to the First Round Proper of the FA Cup for the first time ever. Terry Brown was the manager of the year, and the Dons were close to being able to get their revenge on MK Dons by backing it into the Football League. Unfortunately the 2009-2010 season was nowhere near the previous season. Although they made decent progress in the FA Cup, they finished 14 points behind the play-off spots, and ended the season in a mediocre 8th place.
The BEST Season Ever
The Dons came into the 2010-2011 season hungry for success, and that is exactly what they got. The started the season taking top points from 13 of their first 20 games, and only lost twice in their next 16 games. However, things took a spin for the worst at round 37, with the Dons starting a 3 game losing streak but then went unbeaten for the last 6 games of the season to finish in 2nd with 90 points. They beat Luton Town in a penalties in the play-off finals, which where held at the City of Manchester Stadium (also known as the Etihad Stadium). The Dons lost 2-0 to Stevenge in the 2nd Round Proper in the FA Cup before losing 3-2 to Woking in the 2nd round of the FA Trophy. It didn't matter though, as along with Crawley Town, the Dons had made to the Football League. It had only been 9 years.
Struggles In The Football League
Like AFC Wimbledon's previous seasons, the 2011-2012 season got off to a strong start. After several good friendly preformance, including wins over Fulham and Watford, the Dons lost their first game 3-2 to Bristol Rovers. They would win their next game 2-0 vs Dagenham & Redbridge away, but had to wait until match week 6 to get their first ever home win in the Football League, a 3-2 win over Port Vale. In their first 12 games, they had only lost 3 times, a good feat for a newly promoted team. Things went downhill from their as the Wombles went without a win for 12 straight games, a streak that lasted from early October to early January. AFC stayed strong though, and beat Port Vale, Gillingham and Macclesfield Town in their next 3 games. They struggled again as they went winless for 7 games after their win vs Macclesfield Town, including ugly losses to Northhampton Town and Hereford United. They couldn't right the wronging ship, and lagged to the finish line, winning only 5 of their last 11 games. They finished in 16th place in the Football League, 10 points above the drop zone. They made it to the 2nd round of the FA Cup before losing to Bradford and 3rd round in the Paint Trophy before losing to Swindon, but change would be needed if they were to compete next season.
Heading into the 2012-2013 season, change was needed and they got it. Although they didn't buy anyone from transfer, they picked up free agents Curtis Osano (From Luton), Louis Harris (From Wolves) and Warren Cummings (From Bournemouth). Also, they got Angus MacDonald on loan from Reading and Dale Bennett from Watford on loan. Cup-wise the season got off to a poor start, being knocked out of the League Cup and Paint Trophy in only the first round. The League 2 season also started poorly, losing 7 of their first 10 games, which lead to the sacking of Terry Brown after a 1-0 loss to Torquay United. Neal Ardley was announced as the new manager and has taken points from only four of his first eight games. The Dons currently sit 1 point above the drop zone in 21st.
Time For Revenge
Although the League 2 season has been sluggish, the Dons have achieved success in the FA Cup. After beating York on a replay in Round One, AFC Wimbledon will finally have a chance to get revenge on MK Dons in the second round of the FA Cup on Sunday, December 2nd. It is sure to be a rowdy game, and if AFC can come up on top, it just might finally finish healing the wounds that Wimbledon F.C. left, and AFC has fought to mend.