OPINION: Tomorrow’s opponents, the MK Dons: a remarkable success story

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August 28, 2015 by Made In Brum

Re-posted with permission

Blues’ fixture on Saturday wouldn’t have been possible when I first started watching football in the late nineties/early noughties. Not because our opponents have only recently been propelled through the divisions by an influx of money a la Fleetwood or Bournemouth, but because when I first started watching football the Milton Keynes Dons simply didn’t exist.

To treat the MK Dons as anything other than a footballing leper is considered almost blasphemous by many football fans. They are Franchise FC, the football club that stole another football club. They are the embodiment of everything apparently wrong with the game today, and to see them in the Championship and actually starting the season very well will be making a fair few football fans feel very queasy right about now.

But I don’t have a problem with the Dons, never have done. For starters I don’t think they stole a football club; it made a massive stink at the time, but for me the ‘old’ Wimbledon moving 60 miles up the road was the best outcome in what was a very bleak situation. I don’t think the MK Dons stole Wimbledon, because to be honest I don’t think there was anything left to steal. Wimbledon had no ground, no money and very few fans. Add to that mounting debts and costs, unscrupulous owners and a totally ineffective local council who were unable or unwilling to find the club space for a ground of their own and it was clear where Wimbledon were going. They were going to the wall.

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So what would have happened if Wimbledon had simply gone bust in the early 2000s? Well a lot of people would have lost their jobs and the club would probably have been restarted in the manner that AFC Wimbledon was started, the difference being that they would have started their own club later and the MK Dons simply wouldn’t have started up at all. Even if the Wimbledon fans who formed AFC had taken over the shell of the old Wimbledon, the aforementioned problems the old club had may have been insurmountable or at least the very least would have hindered them greatly. Either way, it is unlikely that the old Wimbledon would have been any higher up the footballing pyramid had the fans who run the club now attempted to resuscitate it.

What do we have now then? Well Buckinghamshire has a club that is thriving, playing in a fantastic stadium with a team playing good football that is going from strength to strength. Kids in Milton Keynes, rather than having to hot-foot it to Watford, Luton or London to watch professional football now have a club on their doorstep to call their own. They are probably the club with the most untapped potential in the country; a massive catchment area, a very young fan base and the Dons do a heck a lot of work in the community to capitalise on both, work that is now really starting to come to fruition. Nights like last season’s when they horse-whipped Man United 4-0 at home in front of 27,000 people will one day become something like the norm; in ten years or so I predict that the MK Dons will be where Stoke or Swansea are now, a fully fledged Premier League club.

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Credit for their progress should be doled out to a whole host of people, but Pete Winkleman deserves credit more than anyone else. He had the vision to bring league football to Milton Keynes, the guts to actually do it and then the steely mindedness to keep going in the early years after the MK Dons came to be when they were struggling like mad playing in the lower reaches of the Football League in a hockey stadium, when the world and his footballing wife seemed to want this project to fall flat on its face. Hard work and sheer belligerence has got him and the club through those very tough early days, and now the rewards of that are as plain as day.

There will be Blues fans who will really want us to beat the Dons simply because of how they came about just like any other club that plays against them, but I think what has happened has been the best possible outcome of what was an awful situation. No-one wants to see a club die, but the old Wimbledon was dying and even if someone had stepped in and saved it the club would almost certainly have hurtled down the divisions to where AFC Wimbledon are now anyway. Instead, rather than none or one there are now two football clubs who are thriving; isn’t that a good thing?

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8 thoughts on “OPINION: Tomorrow’s opponents, the MK Dons: a remarkable success story

  1. petebaldwin11 says:

    Would you say the same if following our problems, we got moved to Banbury?

  2. Graham says:

    Nice to see a “neutral” football fan who has actually done some research on this and gets it rather than just regurgitate the usual propaganda. Personally I doubt Wimbledon would have even made it back to league 2 if the move to MK hadn’t happened. It galvanised their support and gave them determination to make it back to the league. It has worked out well for both clubs. Still no one likes us, we don’t care. COYD.

  3. BathWomble says:

    “Wimbledon had no ground” – Selhurst’s owners were open to continuing the groundshare and there WERE options for a new ground, as we are currently proving.

    “no money” – Transfer money had been left out of the club accounts.

    “and very few fans.” – Just offensive. Wimbledon had thousands of fans. How many does it have to be for you to think we count?

    “Add to that mounting debts and costs” – which could have been dealt with if the owners had done what other clubs have done and lived within the club’s means.

    “unscrupulous owners” – Precisely. How does that justify anything?

    “and a totally ineffective local council who were unable or unwilling to find the club space for a ground of their own” – It’s not a council’s job to find a football club a ground and the “unscrupulous owners” lied about their efforts to find a ground.

    “and it was clear where Wimbeldon were going. They were going to the wall.” – Maybe, but maybe not, as you would know if you properly studied the facts and not just the propaganda fed to you by the “unscrupulous owners” and Winkelman.

    Our football club was taken away and we got nothing in return. That’s why it was stolen. It was stolen from us, the fans. Illegal? No. But it was still stolen from us. Guilt lies with the owners, previous owners, Winkelman, FA Commission and others, but there’s no doubt it was wrong – even Winkelman now admits that.

    You like them? Fine. But get the facts right and don’t whitewash the guilty. It wasn’t a good thing, we aren’t all better off and us working incredibly hard to put Wimbledon back in the league doesn’t excuse what was done.

    • MKWOMBLEDON says:

      The facts ARE right. It was a good thing as it gave people a club to support, you lot didn’t seem to care as no one from Wimbledon’s supporters clubs bought Wimbledon instead they went and spent the money on creating AFC!!! Now that isn’t a lie so don’t pretend you’re innocent and completely right because you arent. Fair enough you’re working hard but you are NOT Wimbledon! Why can’t you understand that? Wimbledon no longer exist they ceased to exist after they renamed to MK Dons and came out of administration as a new club so don’t bother calling yourselves Wimbledon because you’re nothing like the originals nor will you ever be

  4. Greg says:

    I think the fact MK Dons have triumphed despite the hate and the lies told about the move proves the move was justified in the end .
    When the move was given approval (not made mandatory) a new club using the Wimbledon name was born okay maybe not representing town of Wimbledon and playing in Kingston but two clubs have life whereas one would surely have died.

  5. BathWomble says:

    “Triumphed”? Franchise FC is now exactly where Wimbledon FC were in 2002 and getting similar crowds. 13 years to achieve that. Not really a triumph, now is it? The lies have mostly come from those that made the move happen. The truth has come from Wimbledon. The fact that Franchise customers still repeat the lies is one big reason why so many still hate Franchise FC. It seems 13 years has taught some people nothing.

    • MKWOMBLEDON says:

      Until you beat Man United 4-0, get into the Championship, win a proper trophy or manage to get over 6,000 fans stfu because MK Dons are in a much better state than Wimbledon were 14 years ago so don’t pretend that MK Dons have stayed still with no success because they have had success and as I say, MK Dons have gone from 4,000 at the National Hockey Stadium to 13,000 at stadium:mk, where have you gone from? 2,000 to 6,000… How are these lies? Quite clearly the AFC fans are lying to justify them jumping overboard before the club had even left! Why didn’t you buy the club if you were that bothered? These are not lies, this is the truth so to say ‘the truth comes from Wimbledon’ is really quite inaccurate.

  6. MKWOMBLEDON says:

    Sick of AFC’s lies, they’re spewing up any rubbish they can to justify their actions to just leave Wimbledon and not bother to revive it because they probably wouldn’t want to pay off the debt! So they leave it to die, shame. Wimbledon may be dead but the spirit lives on in MK Dons! AFC can try all they like to look like the original but you can’t force it because it just isn’t right. COYD

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