Wednesday, 15 March 2017

The protest club

A common accusation from Franchise customers right from the start of AFC Wimbledon was that it was just a “protest club”, and that as a result people would soon lose interest and it would die away. If they had been right about why AFC Wimbledon was formed they might have had a point and things turned out that way, but they had misunderstood the reason for a re-formation of Wimbledon's football club entirely. Not only that, but as well as misunderstanding what we did, and why, in recreating Wimbledon's football club, they failed to notice that it was in fact Franchise FC that has actually become the protest club!

They protest their innocence, they protest their lack of guilt, they protest that they don't care, they protest that the facts aren't known, they protest that their side isn't told, they protest that the media is against them, they protest that we bully them, they protest that refs have it in for them (they really did, I'm not making any of these up), they protest that they're a legal continuation (they're not), they protest that they're not actually a franchise (they are), they protest that we gave up, they protest that we boycott them, they protest that we don't boycott them (at the same time!), they protest that we didn't start at the bottom, they protest that they're the Dons, they protest and they protest and then they protest some more.

They protest a lot.

Methinks they doth protest too much.

Here's the thing – protesting is entirely negative. We know it, because everyone that fought through 2000-2003 knows how exhausting, dispiriting and depressing it was protesting against what was happening. Protesting infects, it rots, it eats away from the inside and leaves nothing positive behind – that's why, I think, in 2002 Kris Stewart 'just wanted to watch some football'. That's why his call was taken up, because everyone felt the same – we've had enough of protesting, we want to do something positive and get our football club back and with it a big part of our lives. From day one of AFC Wimbledon it has been about creating, supporting, building, achieving… and my word hasn't that been glorious? It hasn't been about negatives, about protesting, it has been about positives, about looking forward, about what can be achieved.

And meanwhile… MK doth protest.

There was a chance – the 2006 Accord. A chance to wipe the slate clean and rebirth their club in MK, but they blew it. So consumed by the hate and so determined to cling on to the past, they blinded themselves to the future and refused to drop the 'Dons'. In that moment they cost themselves more than they realise, even now, because the negativity that goes along with the past is poisoning their future.

They claim they have rallied under the name Franchise and that it makes them stronger – it doesn't. It's poison. They sing Millwall's 'no one likes us, we don't care' song, but when you do care – and they do – it's just more poison. They tell us the town has embraced the 'Dons' name, but when the history is revealed and the sins of the past inevitably come out, all the 'Dons' becomes is a badge of shame – more poison.

It could all be so different. They've done many positive things in the MK community, but after 15 years they haven't got anywhere near being at the heart of that community or building and achieving what Wimbledon has done in the same time – and it's all down to the reality of who the protest club really is.

How they stop the negativity and the protesting is blindingly obvious, but I suspect it's too bitter a pill to swallow for most of them to realise that the answer is to be just like us. Until then, we'll just carry on watching them protest their way down.

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