The obvious answer is that 10 years of being one of the most hated clubs in the country has an effect. Undoubtedly they have retreated into a bunker mentality and somewhat understandably sometimes lash out at what they perceive as attacks on them. Initially they tried defending themselves with a variety of means, but all of these are pushed aside, either because they weren't relevant or they weren't true. In fact it has been a long succession of clutching at straws that they hoped would stem the tide of hate or give their club legitimacy. Let's not mince words, some of the attempted 'defences' have been outright lies cooked up those who don't care about the truth and they include increasingly twisted attempts to blame Wimbledon fans instead of those actually responsible for the move.
The blame game
Of course the main thing they blame us for is all the hate and abuse that has come their way for 10 years. That would be fair enough if it weren't for two things... one, it's not hate and abuse if it's facts and the truth, and two, we don't control what other football fans think or do and never have. Point one deserves further explanation too...
...It's not wrong to say our football club was stolen from us, it was. The fans never gave permission and received no recompense. It's not about legality and 'stolen' does not mean 'illegal'.
...It's not wrong to blame Winkelman and his associates for the move, he approached Wimbledon FC, he promised the 'free' stadium, he helped convince the 3-man Commission, he blocked Koppel's consortium and much more. Even he admits it was wrong and that he made it happen.
...It's not wrong to say we didn't desert our club, the owners deserted us for Milton Keynes. It has been proved time and time again that AFC Wimbledon was set up exactly when it needed to be in order to re-form a football club for Wimbledon.
...It's not wrong to call it Franchise FC, it is the only example since the league system was properly formed of a club moving between towns. There are a number of definitions of the word 'franchise' and the one relating to the North American sports franchising system is entirely accurate.
There are many more things, but the point is clear, these are the facts. It's not abuse, it's not a smear campaign, it's not lies - it's the truth. Sometimes the truth hurts, but that won't stop it being the truth.
What about the children?
What about the youngsters growing up in MK who have only ever known 'Milton Keynes Dons' on their doorstep as their local club. Nearly everyone, even the most dogmatic of Wimbledon fans, would have to agree that a kid just supporting their local football club is a good thing. It's a bitter pill for us when it means it's lining Winkelman's pockets, but I've never expected a 10-year-old to fully comprehend why I'd prefer them not to hand over their pocket money to Wormtongue Winkelman every fortnight. However, when they've grown up, I do at least expect them to know the facts and not the twisted pack of lies that were and are spread around by Koppel, Winkelman and their accomplices. Some of those young children back in 2003-4 when Franchise FC arrived in MK are now in their mid-to-late teens and early-20s - and a noticeable minority are repeating as gospel the lies and propaganda from the last 12 years, without the slightest pause to think that they've been lied to all those years.
Some of them do 'get it' and have had the gumption to do their own research into things, like this Charlton blogger I linked to recently (http://chrispowellsflatcap.wordpress.com/2013/10/13/growing-up-with-franchised-football-a-personal-history/), but too many others demonstrate ignorance of the facts and, more worryingly, a vile hatred of Wimbledon and its fans. Recent forays into the land of 'tweeting' have revealed all too clearly that a number of these people exist and their inability to understand or accept the facts is a sign that they have been badly let down by their elders, either at home or at the football.
Empathy, what's that then?
The most amazing thing is that by now I expected a large number of Franchise customers to have got the football bug, fallen in love with it and therefore started to understand just why Wimbledon fans and others were so hurt, upset and angry about what happened to Wimbledon FC. Yet this empathy seems to be entirely absent. There's the odd claim of 'I know it was wrong but we've both got good clubs now, can't you be happy with that', but that's still a selfish 'just leave me alone' excuse and not a sign of empathising at all.
Trying to get them to imagine what it would be like if their club now moved to Wakefield or wherever, still seems to fall on unthinking minds. Instead of picturing how they would feel, they just say it won't happen. Maybe it's a guilt thing that means they simply can't process and accept the information?
Instead of trying to understand what happened in 2000-3 and understand why 95% of Wimbledon fans backed a re-formed club, I just see jibes about 'abandoning', delusions about 'saving' Wimbledon FC and lies about Winkelman's part in it all. Surely after 10 years there must be a few among the Franchise customers who can see past the lies and spin to the truth? If not, one fears for the future. Not for Wimbledon's football club, built on all the right things like passion, determination, loyalty and community, but for Milton Keynes' club, built on lies, deceit, guilt, hate and bitterness. It's a slow poison, but I see it clearly eating away at particularly the MK youngsters, the ones who should be taking the most from being part of a football club, but who never will be able to while it clings to past misdeeds.