Saturday, 2 November 2013

An open letter to Milton Keynes fans

This is your chance. For the first and only time I'm going to address the people who could be deserving of the name 'Milton Keynes fans' instead of Franchise customers. It doesn't take much either, just a few simple requests and I see no reason why Franchise customers can't be transformed, almost overnight, into Milton Keynes fans. I'll list the requirements and then look at them in greater detail afterwards:

1. Tell your football club to drop the 'Dons' nicked-name from its team name.
2. Accept that what Pete Winkelman did in luring Wimbledon FC to Milton Keynes was wrong.
3. Stop claiming any continuing connection to Wimbledon FC, other than personal supporting history.
4. Stop repeating lies you've been told about Wimbledon FC, particularly when you insist on repeating those lies to Wimbledon fans who know far better than you do.

That's about it really. Not much to ask. Do those things and I'll respect you as a Milton Keynes fan instead of a Franchise customer.

And why should you do this? Because some Wimbledon fan on the internet asked you to? No. Do it because by doing so you demonstrate to the whole football world that you actually understand WHY your club is despised as Franchise FC and WHY Wimbledon fans like me and many fans of other clubs continue to view you as customers of a franchise and not fans of a football club. Do it because you have much to gain by doing so and absolutely nothing to lose. And that last point is important - you have nothing to lose, at all, by doing what I've outlined above, but you have so much that you could gain in respect and reputation as fans, both in the short term and in the long years ahead.

Let's look at the points in more detail...

1. Tell your football club to drop the 'Dons' nicked-name from its team name.
You aren't the 'Dons', you never have been the 'Dons'. Wimbledon are the Dons (our nickname, one of many we have, comes from a school connection), Aberdeen are the Dons (their's comes from a river), Hendon are the Dons (their's comes from their town name), but you are not the 'Dons'. You are Milton Keynes and your team name should be about your town, not someone and somewhere else's. 'Dons' for you is not a badge of pride and courage, it is a mark of shame and cowardice, because you are refusing to face that you are nothing to do with Wimbledon (or Aberdeen, Hendon and other legitimate 'Dons') or its football club.

I know the dogmatic response you will give - 'we're keeping the name to honour ex-Wimbledon fans and to reflect the club's history'. These are after-the-fact attempted justifications that are completely hollow. If the name of your team should honour ex-Wimbledon fans, it would be Wimbledon FC still, not 'Milton Keynes Dons' - your fight on this was lost in 2004, it is no less lost now and it's time you recognised that. If the name of your team is to reflect the club's history, it would be Wimbledon FC or even Old Centrals. It isn't, again this fight was lost a decade ago and this pathetic claim that 'Dons' somehow gives you honour and history is a fiction that only a few of you believe.

I recognise, of course, that some of you are now so chained to the defence of the 'Dons' nicked-name, that you would probably walk away from your club if the name was dropped. (I've seen several claim exactly that.) And if you've just agreed with that sentence, then ask yourself what it is you think you're supporting? Have you become so madly deluded over the years that you would walk away from your football club because of dropping some other team's nickname, but you didn't walk away from a club that changed from 'Wimbledon FC' to the completely different 'Milton Keynes Dons FC'? Can you not see how completely illogical and mad that would be? And yet that is what you are asking others to believe you would do - you'd abandon your football club because of a name change, even though you didn't because of a previous, more radical, name change. If that doesn't strike you as being incredibly ironic, not to mention absurd, of you, then it should, because it is.

You've taken great pride in your long chants of 'MK Army' recently, well now's the time to start earning some actual respect as the 'MK Army' and to stop pretending you're the 'Dons'. Stop wallowing in the past, stop clinging on to things that aren't yours and embrace the bright future that a Milton Keynes football team actually has, because the 'Dons' is holding your team back and dragging it down, stopping you from creating a football team that your whole town can be proud of and get behind. (And yes, yes it is. Hard though it is for some of you to accept, the 'Dons' stops many in MK from being able to adopt the club as their own. Face up to it, it's true.)

2. Accept that what Pete Winkelman did in luring Wimbledon FC to Milton Keynes was wrong.
It was wrong. He's admitted it was wrong. It still is wrong - passage of time has not made it any less wrong. And he's still benefitting massively from the actions he now accepts were wrong. So stop defending him and stop trying to rewrite history in a desperate attempt to prove he was right to do what he did when even he accepts it was wrong. He's wallowing in enough cash from his property deals that he doesn't need you perpetuating lies and misinformation to try to cast him in a good light.

Admitting these things about Winkelman will not somehow absolve others of blame. Do you really think any of us are going to forget what Hammam, Koppel, Gjelsten, Rokke, Parker, Stride and others did to destroy our football club? Do you really think we don't curse their names whenever the subject comes up? The only difference with Winkelman is that he's still there making money off the whole business and still lying about us while he's doing it. By constantly trying to paint him as a good guy in this, all you do is strengthen our resolve to publicise the truth about what he did. (Sound familiar? Yes, that's right, you continually strengthen my resolve to keep Winkelman being held accountable. Ironic, right? By trying to defend him you just make things worse. You should recognise this logic, because it's what you've tried using to stop me posting about all this. I know all this. I know what I'm doing. Do you?)

By all means defend yourselves as football fans, when you've earned that right, but stop defending a man who rightly receives all the disgust and disdain that's thrown his way for the things he actually did do.

3. Stop claiming any continuing connection to Wimbledon FC, other than personal supporting history.
Milton Keynes Dons is not a 'legal continuation' of Wimbledon FC, the legal entity owning the Football League share changed in 2004. Fact. End of. (As some are fond of saying.) That really should be the end of it and it is a continuing embarrassment that some of you persist in clinging on to Wimbledon connections. You have a new club, a Milton Keynes club, formed in 2004. Enjoy it, go have fun with it, but stop pretending it's anything to do with Wimbledon FC.

And if you were a fan of Wimbledon FC before supporting Milton Keynes, then fine, be nostalgic all you like for those days, revel in your personal memories, regale all you please about those times, but for goodness sake accept that you are supporting a different club now - a Milton Keynes club - because that is the cold, hard truth.

4. Stop repeating lies you've been told about Wimbledon FC, particularly when you insist on repeating those lies to Wimbledon fans who know far better than you do.
You think you know the facts because you've read some carefully cherry-picked documents linked to on your SA website? Those aren't the facts, those are historical records, some inaccurate, that tell you little unless put in context. The people most qualified to put them in context are the people who lived through those times. And yet, time after time on forums, messageboards and comments we find Franchise customers (because that's what you're back to being by doing this stuff) who weren't there at the time, spouting what they claim are facts about the move.

I know why you're doing it, you think you're defending your club, but you're not. You're spreading lies, bitterness and hate. It's that simple. You're the problem, not us. If you just stopped posting the lies about Wimbledon FC and its fans, then I and others would never have to come along and correct all of it, and by doing so drag Milton Keynes back into the mud you are so desperately trying to pull yourselves out of.

Decisions, decisions
So what's it to be? Are you Milton Keynes fans or Franchise customers? Are you embracing the future or clinging to the past?

Don't do it for me - I'm just some bloke on the internet who's holding up a mirror for you - do it because it's the right thing to do. Do it because it's the best thing for Milton Keynes' football club. Do it precisely because your football club isn't going away and you should have one you can be proud of, not Franchise FC that wallows in the past and celebrates wrongdoing. 'No one likes you' you sing - but you do care, any football fan would, so now's the time to do something about it.

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