For one beautiful moment this weekend the now almost mythical “magic of the FA Cup” seemed set to re-emerge from the embers of a competition that sadly, is not what it used to be.
Ironically, this moment was produced by a match whose combatants quite literally, are not what they used to be: MK Dons and AFC Wimbledon. As AFC Wimbledon’s Jack Midson powered a header into the back of the MK Dons net and ecstatic Wimbledon fans invaded the pitch, the overwhelming justice of the situation seemed palpable.
Here was a club who represent everything that a football club should be, sticking it to one that represents everything it should not be.
AFC Wimbledon are a fan-owned club, with loyal support who currently occupy their position in the N Power Football League Two on merit. MK Dons are the brainchild of Peter Winkelman, a former music mogul, who arbitrarily began their football life in England’s third tier. This was due to AFC Wimbledon’s fans’ former team Wimbledon FC, being smuggled away to Milton Keynes by the aforementioned Winkelman in 2004.
If that wasn’t irritating enough, Winkelman has since belligerently maintained ownership of Wimbledon FC and its history claiming AFC Wimbledon “have no right to it.”
Exactly how people from Milton Keynes have more right to the history a South London club, than many fans who were at Wembley when Wimbledon famously beat Liverpool in the 1988 FA Cup Final, I would love to know. Answers on a postcard please Mr. Winkelman.
So when Midson headed Wimbledon’s equaliser sparking a wild pitch invasion at the away end of Stadium:mk or the “moo camp” as it has been comically dubbed with reference to the town’s infamous concrete cows, behaviour of fans that would usually be deplored somehow seemed justified.
Here was a club with a ramshackle ground backed by passionate, loyal supporters (who refused to let their club die) causing chaos in a typically soulless bowl of a modern stadium, primarily inhibited by “fans” who probably supported another football team until 2004.
Of course, supporters should not be lauded for invading any pitch, but given that the very existence of MK Dons threatened to kill off Wimbledon altogether; if ever there was an occasion on which fan passion spilling on to the pitch should be overlooked, surely this was it?
Comparing this to the cringeworthy celebrations of MK Don’s winning goal in the 2-1 match where the stadium’s horribly corporate sound system blasted out The Fratellis’ criminally-overplayed hit Chelsea Dagger and the happy-clappy natives thrust their arms up and down repetitively; one did not have to be a genius to identify the club and supporters with tradition.
Undoubtedly, on the pitch MK Dons are a tidy outfit put together by a promising young manager, who probably deserved their win and place in the FA Cup third round.
But off the pitch, AFC Wimbledon and their fans have something MK Dons never will: character.
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