Terry Pierce - AFC Wimbledon v MK Dons: The real story

09 November 2010 08:37

When the draw for the second round of the FA Cup was made on Sunday, one possible tie stole the limelight. MK Dons against AFC Wimbledon is the draw every football fan across the country wanted to happen. Every football fan apart from supporters of AFC, that is.

And as the media goes into a rather predictable frenzy at the prospect of AFC facing the side that stole their league place back in 2004, someone should stop and actually pay attention to the reaction of Wimbledon and their fans.

The Blue Square Premier side sparked some slight confusion when, through an official statement, they responded to the draw by saying: "When we entered the FA Cup we understood that this might happen and we will go about our business professionally and complete the fixture. But we would have preferred that it hadn't happened."

A lot of football fans who are detached from the story would wonder why? Surely it's the perfect opportunity to get one over on Franchise FC - as MK Dons are unaffectionally known - and to somehow right the wrongs of the controversial move off the pitch, as if a place in the third round against a big side would be enough for Wimbledon fans to move on and put everything behind them.

But those closer to plot have reacted very differently. By playing against the side that replaced them, the club feel that it legitimises what happened six years ago and by completing the fixture, AFC will have to recognise that MK Dons exist, something they refuse to do.

Of course, if they have to they will fulfil the fixture for the greater good. The punishment for failing to do so would jeopardise the hard work put in by so many people in getting Wimbledon back from the brink and prospering once more, and it would be another small victory for MK.

But Pete Winkelman will be far from welcome at The Fans' Stadium, and should the game go to a replay at Stadium:MK expect an away end either empty or full of people detached from AFC but up for a ruck.

The fixture would pose huge practical issues for the police and safety authorities. There is no way they could guarantee the safety of any visiting MK fans - or even the players and officials - not because violence would solve anything, but because emotions would be running so high it would take very little for the dark atmosphere to turn violent.

Wimbledon fans accept that if they win their place back in the Football League their paths will cross with MK eventually, but it will be on an even keel. Should the fixture happen so soon, and with the clubs still miles apart on the pitch, MK will be given an opportunity to reap the benefits of having a sparkling new ground and paying higher wages because of the wrongdoing.

Of course the fixture will only take place if both sides win their respective replays, leading some AFC Wimbledon fans to hope for a defeat against Ebbsfleet next week to avoid the whole situation. The TV companies, however, will be wetting themselves with excitement if both the real Dons and MK make it through.

The media will create the hype and the football-loving public will lap up the drama and the narrative. There is so much more to say, and so much more that has been said, about one of the most distasteful episodes in English footballing history.

And while it's easy to get sucked into the story, the fixture is, according to one AFC fan, "far too much, far too soon", and will only add another terrible twist in a shameful story.

Don't forget you can follow Terry on Twitter - @telpierce

Source: DSG

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