AFC Wimbledon must face the reality of MK Dons
But they don't have to enjoy it
16 November ~ The first person that I discussed the pending FA Cup tie between MK Dons and AFC Wimbledon with didn't get to the end of their first sentence before proclaiming it as "the match that everyone wants to see". That may be the case for a lot of the neutrals but the inverse is true for a large portion of Wimbledon's support. The general demand is there, of course. ITV were a little more circumspect this time, waiting until MK had sealed the tie by beating Cambridge City 6-1 on Tuesday before announcing televised coverage of the match.
Back in November 2010, when the two clubs came out of the hat together for the first time, MK lost their first round replay leaving the broadcaster with a turkey of a live match between Wimbledon and Stevenage.
Now it's happening, I've been asked if the opportunity to stick it to Pete Winkelman and company isn't a heaven-sent one. The idea of "revenge" is totally missing the point. The suggestion that the result of one football match could make us feel better is laughable. If Wimbledon were to win 10-0, would it change the fact that our club was stolen? Not one iota.
Some will perpetuate this myth of some sort of "rivalry" by aiming barbs at MK fans. I've never really felt the need. The club's move was a fait accompli when it arrived on their doorstep. I might find the decision of any football supporters to follow a club that showed such brutal contempt for the feelings and traditions of another group of fans extremely strange, but ultimately it's a free country and they can follow whom they choose.
Should AFC Wimbledon play the match? Of course. Unpalatable as it may be for some, a continuing sense of grievance can never be allowed to prevail over the need to maintain the health of our club. And that's what we are now; a fully functioning league club. Whatever it may represent, AFC Wimbledon is not just a protest movement.
We also need the money. Magical though promotion to the Football League has been, it entails greater overheads not covered by a limited increase in income. If we want to maintain our model of collective ownership, we have to grasp every stream of extra cash going. Live television appearances are few and far between in League Two and every one is precious. The subsequent chance – however faint, given that MK are the clear favourites – of a third round tie against decent opposition is another carrot.
In the first ten years of AFC Wimbledon, there have been a few harsh lessons on the reality of running a football club; sacking managers, your best player leaving for a better contract elsewhere. It's no utopia. It's just that on this occasion, the pain of facing reality will be significantly sharper, so forgive a few of us if we close our eyes while it's happening. Andy Brassell