Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Forgiving and forgetting

Almost since the verdict of the FA Commission was made on 28th May 2002, we have had people telling Wimbledon fans to 'get over it', 'move on' and other trite phrases suggesting we are collectively supposed to not only forgive what was done but somehow forget it too. And I am not exaggerating - as other Wimbledon fans will confirm - from the very start we've had people saying things like 'Hey, it was only a football club' or 'But you've got a new club now, why aren't you happy with that'. Most of these ignorant comments have, of course, come from the Franchise customers, who either just don't have the first idea of what a football club means to most fans or who don't want to have to face the guilt of knowing what was done in their name to bring them a Football League place.

The most recent 'get over it' example we have comes from Jeremy Alexander in The Guardian:

He gets quite a lot of basic facts right, but repeats a now tired, old mantra just the same:

"The hot breath of the hijacked is on the necks of the hijackers – except that this perspective, initially raw with feeling, should now be dead and buried."

Cute line about hijacking, nicely done Jeremy, but he's still grabbed at the old 'move on' aspect. The comments that follow the article further demonstrate how the customers still don't 'get it'.
I'll make one simple point to the Franchise customers and others who think we're supposed to have 'got over it' by now - how and why would you forgive or forget a wrong that was done to you, when not one person involved in doing that wrong has ever had the guts to even apologise?

No one... not Winkelman, not Koppel, not Raj Parker or Steve Stride, not the Football Association, not the Football League... no one. None of the main parties involved in ripping a football club away from its fans and community has ever uttered a word of apology for either making it or allowing it to happen.

Just one apology has ever been received and that was from a Merton Council that wasn't in a position to stop what happened, but that many argue could and should have done more than it did:

Some will doubtless think apologies are worth nothing, but if any of the protagonists of creating Franchise FC were serious and sincere about wanting Wimbledon fans to 'move on', then it's the least they would do, right? It costs them nothing... not a penny... and yet still, nine years on, not a word of apology comes from those still involved - Winkelman, the FA and the FL. Indeed, far from apologising, Winkelman and his customer acolytes continue to fan the fires with the kind of lies and misinformation that this blog highlights.

The other factor now brought up is the return of the trophies and honours - as Alexander does in his Guardian piece:

"Franchise FC may have been fair and funny in 2003 but in 2007 they returned Wimbledon's trophies to the Borough of Merton and kicked off in Stadiummk"

So what? For one thing, those honours should never have been in Milton Keynes in the first place and for two, what about the Football League place which was far more fundamentally valuable? Are we giving rewards to thieves who return some stolen property while keeping other stuff now? Frankly, the return of the trophies and honours was long overdue and the grudging, mealy-mouthed way in which they were returned to Merton - those at Franchise couldn't even bring themselves to give them to AFC Wimbledon - did them little credit in making up for what happened in 2002.

Don't be sucked into the other twisted manner Franchise customers portray things either - they like to suggest those like me who remember and remind are somehow bitter obsessives with nothing else in their lives. Of course they want to think that and have others believe it, because they can't cope with the fact that normal, happy, intelligent and balanced people absolutely despise Franchise FC and what it stands for still. Frankly, I'd think there was something wrong with someone who had 'got over' having their football club destroyed in the manner it was in 2002. Blocking out that sort of hurt and rejection as if it never happened can't be healthy.

And what of AFC Wimbledon? It's brilliant thanks... a happy, thriving, successful club, which every fan, new and old, can enjoy and trust to be around forever. It exists and provides that joy solely because of the efforts of Wimbledon fans and fans of other clubs who have helped us along the way. Its existence is not a reason to either forgive or forget what happened in 2002, particularly when we were told by the Commission that such a reborn club was "not in the wider interests of football".

To those who expect everything to be forgotten, I ask one simple question... What have you ever actually done to understand or compensate for what Wimbledon fans went through in having their football club franchised to Milton Keynes?

If the answer is nothing - other than maybe to have cast a vote to return honours that should never have left Wimbledon in the first place - then you have your answer as to why these things will not be forgiven or forgotten. The onus of responsibility lies with those who did the taking, not those who were taken from.

I doubt any Wimbledon fan is holding their breath expecting Winkelman or the FA to apologise, never mind compensate us, for what was done in 2002, but until the guilty parties show even the smallest sign of remorse, I and tens of thousands of football fans like me will not be forgetting or forgiving. And if you don't like that, I suggest you 'get over it'.

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