Thursday 4 August 2022

Did I mention that we won?

How time races past - it is nearly 5 years since I last made a post here. It's more than 10 years since I started the blog. And it's now more than 20 years since the FA Commission gave its disastrously wrong 2-1 verdict to allow a football team to move to Milton Keynes. The dissenting voice on that Commission has passed away and much else has blurred into history. It's not over, of course it isn't, because this is a football club at the heart of everything and that means it's never over, but those making up the club change. There are Wimbledon fans in their 20s now who weren't even born in 2002, and it's all those who have become part of the Wimbledon story that now carry it forward. There are plenty of voices and faces from the past who are still around to tell the stories, to remember past heroics, to hold us to past promises and to keep the history very much alive and literally kicking - Wimbledon's spirit and knowledge are being passed on, generation to generation, and it now happens back on Plough Lane.

I didn't blog about the return to Plough Lane, because it was personal, private and overwhelming - it had nothing to do with anyone except us, Wimbledon fans returning to a place many of us knew as home and that younger fans will come to feel the same way about. Home. That one word says everything, it encapsulates all the feelings of love, belonging, sadness, safety and hope. It's where Wimbledon's football club is now - home. And that is all that ever did, or ever will, matter.

And now it's time to end things. This will be the last time I post to this blog. It was all over a long time ago, in truth before I even started this blog - which was only ever about keeping the truth told and exposing the lies told to try to justify what was done. Wimbledon fans won everything, as it turns out, from the very moment the club was reformed on 30th May 2002. That's how history already judges it, the simple but immense decision and effort to not take it lying down, to not take no for an answer and to not accept that our football club was dead (and yes, Milton Keynes was death for Wimbledon FC, that pesky history thing has borne us out on that). The blog will stay up for as long as it doesn't cost me any time or money to keep it here, but its job is done, and only a mad few are left denying the truths.

But what of the 'Dons' nicked-name? I said I'd continue for as long as the Milton Keynes team masqueraded under Wimbledon's nickname. It's over, they had their chance and they've blown it. I can't honestly say whether the campaigns and pressure over the years have influenced things much in either direction, one can only deal with observable reality and guess. The observable fact is that a team in Milton Keynes is still defining itself with the nicked-name of another town, despite now laying claim to being a shiny new city. I don't see that changing now until Winkelman is gone - and he's still trapped in a nightmare of his own making, unable to free himself of the club without losing the stadium. The name will go, it is as inevitable as it has always been, but it will probably take another generation before enough Franchise FC customers ask, "Why are we still using this thing just to piss off Wimbledon fans who haven't given a shit about us for many years?" It is as inevitable as water flowing downhill, but I may not live to see it. It is a source of great amusement to me that long after I'm gone there will be a couple of Dons fans sat in a pub, maybe it will be the Fox & Grapes, chatting over a pint after an appalling 0-0 draw with Doncaster, Fulham, Halifax, Hereford, Chelsea or Hartley Wintney, and it'll go something like this: Womble1 "I see Franchise dropped the 'Dons', calling themselves MK Warriors now." Womble2, "Is that right? What does the MK stand for?" Womble1, "Dunno, some place in the Midlands I think. Did you know they used to be us?" Womble2, "What do you mean us? Who's ever going to believe they could have anything to do with Wimbledon? Now stop being fucking silly and get a round in. I need another after watching that shambles, we'll never get back in the European Supermax Red Bull Third League at this rate."

It has been fun. Take care - I'll see you out there.

Sunday 5 November 2017

Defined by a pub team

A recent storm in a teacup for Franchise customers over their internet forum has reminded me of just how completely they remain defined by Wimbledon – hence 'defined by a pub team', because that's how they started out deriding us 15 years ago. Does it matter? Not if you're a Wimbledon fan, it's extremely amusing to watch, but if you're a Franchise customer it clearly throws up a lot of conflict. Devil's in the detail, so I'll expound…

The event that prompted me was the abrupt closure of the main internet forum for Franchise customers, amid bitter recriminations, tantrums and flouncing off – the usual. Within a couple of days a new forum had popped up, called… sitdownorwellstealyourclub. I kid you not, their forum glories in the stealing of Wimbledon's football club, reinforced by then calling itself “AFC The Concrete Roundabout”, again referencing AFC Wimbledon. This from a customer base that we're supposed to believe is sick of the grief they get about Milton Keynes stealing away Wimbledon's Football League place. They protest about that constantly – that it's not their fault – yet they then perpetuate it through their own forum. Bizarre behaviour? Of course.

The elephant in the room is, naturally, the 'Dons' nicked-name in the Franchise team name. While that remains, how can they be anything but a bad Wimbledon tribute act? As much explored on this blog, nether side is a “legal continuation” of Wimbledon FC, but AFC Wimbledon is building a ground on Plough Lane, is called Wimbledon, is followed by 99% of WFC's fans, plays in Wimbledon's colours, uses the Wimbledon badge… etc, etc… it's tedious now, there's been no doubt about who the real Wimbledon is for more than a decade. And Franchise? What do they have that makes their tribute act worth watching? 'Dons'. That's it. If you paid £20 to watch a Wimbledon tribute act, you'd be pretty pissed off to find the extent of the tribute was one nicked-name and a clapped-out ginger left-back on the bench. It's like a tribute band calling themselves MK Zep and claiming they're the real Led Zep based on a session player who played two notes on an album track once.

Don't be confused, I'm not highlighting this to enhance AFC Wimbledon's claims of continuation – I don't need to. One either believes a football club is more than just the legal entity that controls it, or one doesn't. Demonstrating the ludicrousness of Franchise's claim does not change the validity or strength of AFC Wimbledon's claim. Think on this though; the audience for a band know who they're turning up for and 99% of Wimbledon fans pre-2002 (not to mention ex-players) go to AFC Wimbledon – working out who the real Wimbledon are isn't rocket science.

Back to Franchise FC being defined by a pub team… It's almost entirely self-inflicted by them now. We've got all the big events out of the way at this point – played them, beaten them, risen above them in the league, etc – and very little gets said about them any more, everyone happy just ignoring their existence for the most part, quite literally. The oxygen for the fire now all comes from them – it's a bizarre exercise in self harm. The only reason the media now still bring things up is because they're clinging on to the 'Dons' nicked-name and because they keep squealing in protest every time the subject of Wimbledon comes up. If the 'Dons' nicked-name were gone, a meeting between Milton Keynes and Wimbledon would stir up about as much interest as Northampton Town vs Brentford.

And a small peek into the desperate mindset that some customers have got themselves into – they used a quote from a recent Guardian article, “The FA Commission recommended that the club should always retain a link with its former identity”, as justification for maintaining the 'Dons' nicked-name. It would have some justification if it weren't for the fact that the FAC actually said this (with my notes interspersed in { }):

“112. However, we recommend that the Football League agrees to measures with WFC and MKSC to ensure that it retains the essential identity of WFC and also ensures that WFC takes reasonable steps to help WFC fans travel and watch WFC in Milton Keynes. Mr Winkelman was also, whilst understandably excited about the prospects for Milton Keynes, enthusiastic about retaining WFC’s identity and image. We believe that it can be fairly stated that finding WFC a home in Milton Keynes will add considerable value to a large community starved of First Division Football, whilst at the same time that community (70% of whom are from London) will add value to WFC.

{note this includes the MKSC and Winkelman, so the later club ownership change should not have impacted on Winkelman's 'enthusiasm' for retaining all this WFC stuff – he'd already promised it}

113. These measures would cover, in no particular order, and without being prescriptive, (and these are essentially matters for the Football League rather than ourselves) matters relating to:
Continuity of:
· Club name and nickname {one gone, one incorporated in team name}
· Club logo {gone}
· Club colours {gone}
· Club playing strip and other merchandise {gone}
· Players {gone, as players do!}
· Staff {all gone}
· Shareholders {all gone}
· Directors {all gone}
· Academy {gone}
· Community schemes {all gone}
· Club website(s) {gone}
· Club shop in Wimbledon; {gone}

{It's already a mockery, but it gets worse. Remember, they're claiming 'Dons' fulfils the Commissions recommendations!}

Subsidised/free travel to matches between Wimbledon and Milton Keynes (we are told that trains can be chartered by the Club: the journey time is approximately one hour);
{never happened, not even once}

Discounted tickets for existing fans at the new stadium in Milton Keynes;
{never happened, not for anyone}

A ticket outlet in Merton;
{never happened}

Continued communication with existing fans;
{never happened}

Local press (Merton) coverage of WFC and its results;
{mad to suggest it, impossible to make it happen}

Promotional material regarding maintenance of identity as WFC;
{never happened}

Club museum at the new stadium in Milton Keynes;
{never happened}

Stadium branding at the new stadium in Milton Keynes; and
{never happened}

Re-naming of local areas/streets in Milton Keynes to associate with WFC.
{never happened}

114. We consider these measures vital to ensuring WFC’s identity and they should be agreed to and put in place as soon as possible. The Football League will then be able to monitor and approve the process of maintaining links.”

The Commission considered those measures vital and that they should have been put in place as soon as possible, but nothing was ever done about ANY of it. Now think again on how the Franchise customers think clinging to the 'Dons' nicked-name (quite literally the ONLY remaining link between the Milton Keynes club and Wimbledon FC) is somehow justifiable or in any way meets the criteria set out by the Commission. Ludicrous.

And yet… they won't let it go. For whatever stubborn, irrational or hate-fuelled reasons they have, they insist on keeping 'Dons' and on having their club's entire existence defined by… Wimbledon, by us, by whatever thread we feel like tugging on next to get them foaming at the mouth. It's certainly justification for all those who want Franchise saddled forever with the 'Dons' nicked-name, but only extreme masochism explains why Franchise customers think it's a good idea.

Saturday 8 April 2017

Ranty, protesting Franchise customer #2

After more than 15 years it's the Franchise customers that still can't seem to let things go, deal with reality and move on. Now we have "Cityender", hereafter 'Townender', because Milton Keynes still isn't a city, natch. He's another one posting about me in places I'm not allowed to reply, so, as I'm bored, I'm posting his words here, with my replies, for my amusement.

“Years ago I had hoped that BW would acknowledge the simple fact that (whatever PWs input as a guest in their boardroom or wherever) it was the directors of WFC that planned and sought permission for the move (and MK was not their first choice) It is now many a long year since I gave up on the hope that he/she would acknowledge that simple fact.”

Winkelman approached WFC in 2000, as documented by the FA Commission report. WFC did not approach Winkelman. Simple fact – and one that apparently Townender still can't accept. I, on the other hand, have never had a problem accepting that Rokke and Gjelsten tried to take WFC to Dublin. Plenty of guilt to go around, yet it's Townender trying to whitewash Winkelman, still.

“I remember that not only PW but the Norwegian owners also were characterised as profiteering, asset stripping individuals and that this was what led their decision making. I wonder if anyone has drawn up a balance sheet showing how much they put in to buying the club from Hammam and keeping it afloat in the intervening years as opposed to how much they took out when they put the club into administration. I'm sure BW will have a good grasp of these facts but never admit them 'in open court' because they simply do not fit his/her narrative.”

They fit my narrative (the truth) fine – Hammam stitched up the Norwegians a treat, flogging them the club for £30m when it wasn't worth a fraction of that. They then lost many millions of pounds more chasing the fantasy of moving to Dublin and Milton Keynes. They thought both those moves would provide them with huge income and both were pipe dreams and cost them a lot of money. So what? They chose to run the club unsustainably, they chose to chase dreams of moving, they chose not to invest in a return to Wimbledon – it was entirely down to Rokke and Gjelsten as to how things panned out and they chose to abandon the fans and chase illusory promises of riches made by those proposing the Dublin move and then Winkelman and the MKSC proposing the MK move. I've been happy to discuss this always, and have put the facts on the blog many times, but I guess that doesn't suit Townender's narrative.

“There are so many other examples of how facts had to be broken or bent to support the BW propaganda, for instance the assertion that the 3MC decision made the move mandatory when it did not,”

One small problem – I've never once claimed it was “mandatory”. See this is how the Franchise customers have lied themselves into believing their own lies. They've repeated crap like this so many times that they think it's true. Read everything I have ever written and you will not find me claiming the FA Commission made the move “mandatory”, because I never have. What it did was legally bind the FA, FL and club to its verdict, so that none of them could legally challenge the decision. As ever, I'm happy to deal in the facts and not the customers attempts to re-write history.

“or that PW would dump the club as soon as the new stadium was opened because it was all just a property deal.”

I speculated often on when the football club would become surplus to requirements for Winkelman. Initially the terms of the S106 agreement for the stadium made maintaining the football club essential. I'm unaware of the terms of the S106 being fully met, even now, because the stadium development still isn't completed, more than 10 years later. As for dumping “as soon as the new stadium was opened”, I never said it, as with everything else Townender claims. We'll be kind and blame his failing memory, rather than anything more malicious. And of course it was a property deal – a football club used as a makeweight, moved 60 miles, to get a supermarket built.

“And there were constant hints that all the professional consultants, creditors and court officials had been hoodwinked into thinking WFC were in dire financial straights and had somehow had the wool pulled over their eyes so the move could go ahead (even the Revenue !). BWs views on these things were so far fetched... and yet they were widely believed and accepted.”

The true state of WFC's finances was never revealed to the FA Commission, the accounts remained unaudited. Published figures left out transfer income to make the situation look worse than it was. Was WFC in financial trouble? Absolutely, yes. But liquidation was far from inevitable. These facts are clear and accepted by all those who have studied the actual facts and not the Franchise customer attempts to hide them.

“It is of course now all water under the bridge and we have survived the attempt to do us damage. But it was a real campaign against us and it should not be completely forgotten.”

A campaign for the truth. And it is indeed water under the bridge, because the attempts to re-write history have and will continue to fail. The damage done to Franchise FC has been self-inflicted by refusing to acknowledge the truth and persisting in blaming Wimbledon fans while using the nicked-name of Wimbledon in the MK team name. If Franchise customers want to stop damaging their club, then it's entirely within their ability to do something about it. They choose to maintain the pretence of a connection to Wimbledon. Their choice. They can live and decline with it.

Tuesday 21 March 2017

Ranting Franchise customer

Had a recent exchange with a Franchise customer on Twitter and he ran off and posted a massive rambling rant about it on Franchise's main forum. As expected, he wouldn't post my reply to him, which shows you just what a dishonourable coward he is (he subsequently has posted part of my reply, only part though. Update: said customer has now blocked me on Twitter and made up a bunch of rambling, crazy nonsense about me. I guess he doesn't like being made to look stupid, but mostly he did that all by himself), so I figured I might as well share it here, for universal amusement. Sorry 'WellDon', you've not done very well at all. And no, you don't get to reply on this blog - try not to get too upset about it...

“Bath insists that using the nickname the Dons is holding us back, Bath goes on to insist that we are sullying the good name of the folks at Kingston as well, but how that is possible is beyond me as some of their customers are incapable of using a toilet,”
A minor incident, that can only have involved 1-2 people. How is that any basis for judging thousands of Wimbledon fans? When you do that, right out of the gate, how do you expect to be taken seriously?

“seem to think they are above the law,”
Evidence for that? Or are we still on one incident and a couple of people?

“and their actions however socially unacceptable are somehow justified, how we can sully that sort of reputation is a mystery.”
You've mentioned one incident and then suggested more without any evidence. The reality is that Wimbledon's fans are certainly no worse than any other clubs' fans, and probably amongst the better reputations around. If you believe anything else you're just making things up in your head. You are not dealing with a hive-mind collective here, Wimbledon fans are thousands upon thousands of individuals, just like any other football club.

“I believe their perception of the situation is born from hope rather than reality, they imposed a boycott on our ground, and everyone excepting a few small-minded individuals ignored it,”
No. The club did nothing. WISA asked other clubs to boycott Selhurst Park, pre-season friendlies with you and asked fans to either boycott or put as little into MK's coffers as possible. That request, such as it was, ended in 2006. No one at all has called for any sort of boycott in the 11 years since then.

“they then in 2012 triumphantly heralded the boycott had been ended, as if it was some sort of concession, but nobody at Stadium MK noticed any difference, as prior to the boycott, away fans still made us one of the best attended venues in the league, it was business as usual. At this point I would venture that the imposed boycott had become so laughable and a point we could mock them on as nobody cared, they lifted the boycott to court a new media love in.”
This is all in your head, as shown by the reality of the brief boycott that actually did occur.  How much money MK didn't get between 2003-6 (or since), because of it, is debatable, but without the boycott the 2006 Accord would never have happened, so it served its purpose and was then ended. Also, at this point, you should be realising how completely divorced from reality your whole view of events is, when it's so completely distorted and delusional about the boycott.

“That lifted boycott conveniently gave clearance to 3,030 hypocrites to attend our stadium, but thankfully they witnessed God intervene, as he deftly stuck out his heel and guided the ball into the net.”
It would only be hypocritical to have attended that game if one had called for or supported the boycott. So, it would indeed have been hypocritical if I or Simon Wheeler, for instance, had attended. We didn't. 3,030 people did, which included many fans of other clubs. What proportion of those 3,030 are hypocrites, who knows? Won't be many though. All this is pretty obvious, and yet you again want to label thousands of people. It doesn't work and it doesn't make you or anyone else claiming it look very clever. Embarrassing, frankly.

“I hope you can see from this, they believe we care what they think, when more accurately it is the farthest thing from any of our minds.”
You patently obviously care what other people think of your club and have done from the start. If you really didn't care, you wouldn't keep on moaning about it all the way you do and you wouldn't keep on making up lies about Wimbledon fans.

“They believe that everyone hates us, I don’t think that, but so what if they do, who cares, it’s not affecting my life, I gain pleasure out of it, and I know I’m not alone, knowing when we beat some of these teams, how much it must upset them.”
We don't think everyone hates you. Why you would think that is beyond me. You've previously claimed to me that you don't see any hate or disgust from other fans towards MK, but now here you are acknowledging that some do and that you don't care – swapping one denial for another.

“So, what if we are the AFC perceived hate figures in the game, like I said its largely a myth and is these days only peddled by keyboard warriors, and most that haven’t the vaguest idea what they are talking about.”
Dislike is dislike, whether it's typed or shouted in your face. Because you see one and not the other doesn't mean a lot.

“I have proudly followed the Dons up and down the country, wearing colours and have never been met with anything else than friendly rivalry. Times I have engaged in friendly banter on away days with oppo fans, most are interested to hear about our journey, most love our stadium, but the most common theme is AFC is, and how they don’t support their view, or it’s in the past...just get over it.”
Most people aren't up for an argument, they've come to watch their football team. I'm surprised you expected anything else.

“Like a family argument, things become confused, dates, timelines, the regaling of facts to support your argument, or like a skilful politician avoiding anything that might weaken your stance, that applies to both sides.... yes Bathy, even you.”
No, that's why the blog exists, so that timelines are preserved and the history re-writing that MK has attempted can be refuted. The facts don't change, no matter how many lies Winkelman and others have tried to spin over the years.

“You see even the simplest of things, like labelling our fans as “Franchise Scum”, “Customers” or something similar were born long ago, but apparently, they only call us that in retaliation for being called “KFC Kingston” or the “Pub Team” .... like I said, it’s all about timelines, what came first the chicken or the KFC?”
We had a legitimate grievance in 2002 and names were coined. Franchise FC stuck and Franchise customers is both accurate and, apparently, still provocative. Why you lot call us names is another matter. None of them make much sense, either in construction or reasoning, and it's only Franchise customers that use the terms. I've not met anyone ever who has done anything other than smile patronisingly at your use of supposedly 'derogatory' terms for us.

“So, we move onto what is apparently our biggest lie in all this, why didn’t the supporters of the then Wimbledon purchase the overspending, living beyond its means club, well the explanation is, they were never given the opportunity, is that true, I don’t know,”
You don't know. YOU DON'T KNOW. And there it is. Despite not knowing, by your own admission, you have quite happily thrown that lie around, sold it to others and slagged off every single Wimbledon fan. And you don't know if there's a shred of truth in it. That says everything about you and about the lie – and THAT you DO know.

“but I find it confusing when the bulk of their support had already buggered off down to Kingston to form another club, why they would have wanted to anyway. For one thing, they would have had to tackle the crippling debt before even contemplating a purchase, and that’s without mentioning paying the outstanding wages, which I believe were at least two months unpaid.”
Quite. And yet still you repeat that lie (about a specific, very short time in 2003) as if it somehow justifies anything. Take a long hard look at yourself – repeating a lie you can't back up, about people you don't know and over something you admit it would be illogical to criticise anyone for. Who has the problem here?

“I think the opportunity to purchase for the fans was never likely, simply because it would have cost them too much, and it was much easier to wash your hands of all the debt, ignore the unpaid wages, and the pension rights, walk away scot free, and start all over again, throw AFC on the front of their name and hey presto.......a future and history secured, just no responsibility of the debt.”
We already had AFC Wimbledon from June 2002, when WFC was not for sale or in admin. Even in admin it was not available to us, with the administrators ONLY looking at MK and Winkelman funding the club in admin from the start – that's the “did nothing for 7 weeks” lie.

“But the big bad man in the shape of PW was lurking, and did the unthinkable and saved the club, bugger that’s put the kybosh on their little plan, them hoping the club in its original state would just die a natural death had come undone, the club they walked away from, neglected, boycotted was suddenly stolen, someone call the police, a crime has been committed here.”
Saved what? Is there a Wimbledon FC playing in MK? No. Winkelman approached WFC in 2000, he instigated the move. He gave evidence to the FA Commission that they said was important. You can't paint him as saviour when it's him that instigated the move, it simply doesn't work – it's history re-writing of the highest order. WFC was dead to us on 28th May 2002, surely you understand that? How can you not?

“Can you believe it PW bought a club that could apparently not be bought by their own fans, a scenario I’m sure the three-man commission would have found much more acceptable than a move to MK, but fear not the customers of AFC had a right result, no longer could they be blamed from letting their club die, they had a scapegoat, a hate figure....everyone can now forget they abandoned their club, walked away to let it die, and blame someone else for stealing something they didn’t want.”
The club was stolen from the fans. Easy for any football fan to understand. We're not talking illegal acts here, we're talking 'taking something without permission'. Legally the fans didn't have to give permission, but even Franchise customers by now know what it means to have YOUR football club. So why the outrage from MK when we talk about our club being stolen? We didn't get any recompense or help in recreating it, so why would we describe it any other way than 'stolen'? What's telling is that you get so irate about us using that word, yet then you do the whole 'we don't care' thing… it doesn't add up and we all know why.

“So where are we now, well the hate continues, in the eyes of AFC everyone hates us, but personally I wear the Franchise badge with pride, things will never change, if we ever did give the Dons name up, the fans would still sing “We’re the Dons”,”
No, you wouldn't, and you know it. That would die out within weeks. It's just another reality you're too scared to face.

“AFC will just find something new to bitch about despite what they may tell us,”
What? Please tell me, because there's nothing I can think of, particularly when we already went out and earned the league place again. There is nothing else, so why do you imagine there is? Again, the answer is obvious and it's all to do with you not being able to face the truth.

“as their hate for us will live on long after me and you get the one way ticket to see the man with golden heel, and after all we only exist because of their failings, and we give their existence meaning.”
Now you're in cloud cuckoo land. The meaning of AFC Wimbledon… is a football club for Wimbledon. That's it. That's why it was re-formed, that's why it has prospered, that's why we're going back to Plough Lane. That you have deluded yourself into thinking MK defines anything about us is, quite literally, your problem. Meanwhile, MK still parades around with Wimbledon's nicked-name in the team name… by definition being defined by us. QED.

“So, I’ll leave you with this, AFC feel they have not done any wrong regarding Kingstonian, AFC purchased the ground, gave Kingstonian a rent free 15 years’ existence, sold the ground to Chelsea, gave the K’s a seven-figure sum from that sale, and have made them homeless.... I just wonder if the fan base at Kingstonian look at it with such warmth, and don’t get me started on the dog and banger track that’s going to get demolished to have these people with selective morals a new stadium, apparently they don’t give a damn about them......those caring people at AFC, it makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, three sporting organisations all made homeless in the swish of a pen.”
Two aren't our problem and it's plain daft to suggest otherwise. The Ks situation was never and never will be perfect, but we have taken an awful situation for them and given them a home, rent-free, for 15 years, a load of cash, lots of help and received lots of appreciation back. That you equate our treatment of them with what was done to us reflects either on your poor knowledge of the two different situations or on how desperate you are to lie about and smear a football club that has done nothing to harm you.

“Anyway........AFC are going back to the place of their birth, oh hang on, no they’re not no matter whichever way they want to dress it up, as once again they play out this fairy story how hard done by they are, while, yes you guessed it, forgetting anything that shows them in a bad light.”
Yes, we're going back to Plough Lane. It's not the place of our birth, that was the Fox and Grapes pub, but you wouldn't know that because you don't know our history. Our history. We are the bearers of it. We don't have to dress up anything, because we are Wimbledon. If you haven't got that yet, then you haven't been paying attention.

“So, they want all the good stuff, the history etc. but not the legal or moral obligation of the debt they walked away from,”
The debt was never ours to take on. I find it odd that you are fixated on that detail, when it's something that was never a possibility. It is quite bizarre that you try to blame Wimbledon fans for this, rather than the actual culprits like Hammam, Rokke, Gjelsten, Koppel and Winkelman. Quite bizarre.

“so how’s this, you want us to drop the Dons, you drop the Wimbledon tag, and the claim to the history as you are clearly not the legal continuation of Wimbledon FC, and we will Drop the Dons, if you accept and believe you are Wimbledon, pay the debt, then you can stand on the moral high ground you crave........hell will freeze over first.”
We're a stone's throw from Wimbledon and moving to Plough Lane. We are Wimbledon. And you are? Milton Keynes. About time you took that on board, got over your irrational and illogical hatred of Wimbledon fans and stopped trying to be us. We've never claimed 'legal continuation', that was an erroneous claim by Franchise customers (there is no 'legal continuation' of WFC), and we've never sought the moral high ground, we just happen to be stood on it most of the time by running the club the way we do and gaining our league place back the right way.

Thanks for writing your essay, but until you can actually take on board the facts and take off the Winkelman-tinted glasses, you're not going to make any progress. We moved on, a long, long way, through 6 divisions and back to Plough Lane, passing a thousand different hurdles and milestones along the way. Oh boy have we moved on. Time you all did too.

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.

Wednesday 14 December 2016

The tide is turning

Simple message first...

If you want WimbleDON's move to Milton Keynes to stop coming up and being the subject of anger, then stop having the 'Dons' nicked-name in the Milton Keynes team name.

Simple, right? Could not be any more straightforward and easy to accomplish. Most readers can stop there, you get it, it's always been obvious and doesn't need spelling out further. Still with me? I'll go into more detail. First, an analogy...

If you tell Wimbledon fans to 'get over it' and 'move on', but then make them see 'MK Dons' flaunted about all over the place, it is like having asked someone to stop punching you in the face, but you then hold up a sign that says 'Punch me in the face'. If you want Wimbledon fans to stop going on about how Milton Keynes took Wimbledon's Football League place, then stop bringing it up and reminding them of it by having Wimbledon's nickname in Milton Keynes team name! What could be more blindingly obvious?

Seriously, every time a Wimbledon fan sees 'MK Dons', what do you think it stirs up? Sure just 'MK' would still remind them of events, but 'MK Dons' keeps rubbing it in, keeps saying there's a part of Wimbledon in MK - and there really isn't, only the seriously deluded are banging on about that now. So when Franchise customers (you won't be MK fans until the 'Dons' is dropped) defend keeping the 'Dons' they're not only holding up that sign from the analogy, they're punching themselves in the face to save anyone else the bother. And no, I'm not advocating violence, I'm highlighting how keeping 'Dons' is a masochistic piece of self-harm on the part of Franchise customers.

Won't Winkelman mind the expense? No. He's already said it's up to the customers, he's privately admitted he'd be in favour of a change and, critically, he has laid the groundwork for the change:

Page 15, section 10... Subsidiary undertakings - Milton Keynes City Football Club Limited, Milton Keynes Football Club Limited.

It's there in black and white. He's ready for the change, he wants the change.

And to wrap up, this whole 'get over it' and 'move on' thing... There's a reason the comment sections of stories about Wimbledon/Franchise are no longer full of Wimbledon fans defending themselves - they got over it and moved on, they can't be arsed to bother with the people that peddle the lies about Wimbledon. So yes, the comments are now a larger proportion of Franchise customers metaphorically punching themselves in the face by going on about 'Dons' and embittered old fools still complaining about Wimbledon's football style in the '80s and '90s.

And to my devoted Franchise customer fanbase, note the one thing that comes up time after time after time in the comments, and on which the tide has truly turned... drop the 'Dons'. We want it, neutrals want it and an increasing number of Franchise customers want it. So just get on with it. Get over your obsession with Wimbledon, move on to Milton Keynes - drop the 'Dons'.

Monday 5 December 2016

One-nil to the Wimbledon

It seems like a good time to update and re-publish this piece from 4 years ago. This piece was originally written for and reproduced with permission from the commemorative issue of Yellow & Blue in December 2012...

We won. It's that simple. We won. No matter what the result of the 2nd round FA Cup tie against Franchise FC, we won. And we've been winning for a long time now, we've been winning ever since 28th May 2002, which is when we last lost. Admittedly what we lost that day was an entire football club, but the response of Wimbledon fans to that loss has been nothing short of magnificent.

28th May 2002 was the last time that we were victims and since that date, starting with the meeting at Wimbledon Community Centre that effectively re-created our football club, we've been winning. When the manager and players representing Wimbledon, representing us the fans, representing our club, step on to the pitch next door to the supermarket that effectively killed Wimbledon FC, it will be with the knowledge that we took all they could throw at us, survived the death of our club and came back to create something glorious from the wreckage. Our very presence on that pitch, in the stadium a supermarket paid to build on Wimbledon FC's corpse, reminds the whole football world that we've won, we refused to stay dead, we refused to go away and we refused to sit down and shut up.

Winkelman will goad us (he did, with lies about the administration period), Winkelman will use weasel-words about family (he did), Winkelman will fail to apologise for what he did (he still hasn't, despite admitting what he did was wrong), but as he watches Wimbledon walk out on to his pitch, as equals (even more so now as we sit above them in the Football League), he'll be watching the victors, he'll be watching the club that really could do it all, he'll be watching the fans who really did stick by their club through the worst times – and he'll know. We won.

To those who want to stick the proverbial two-fingers up to Winkelman, Koppel, the FA, the Norwegians, Hammam, Stride, Parker and anyone else that brought us down to that crushing defeat of 28th May 2002, you should glory in the fact that our mere existence has been a permanent two-fingered salute at them for the last 10 years. Every achievement we make, large or small, has built on that initial refusal to accept the destruction of our football club just so Winkelman could facilitate his property deal in Milton Keynes.

It's not easy to list all the things we've won – the list is just too long – but here are some reminders of just how total our victory has been:

* Our club exists – that's the greatest victory of all over those who thought we weren't “in the wider interests of football”.

* We're back in the Football League, five promotions in nine years – meanwhile Franchise FC is one division lower than it started. Make it 6 promotions in 14 years now.

* We have more season ticket holders and twice the attendance than the average attendance at Plough Lane the last time we were in the fourth division of English football.

* We play as close to Wimbledon as is possible, as close to the Old Centrals birthplace as Plough Lane is – no small victory in London, and with ongoing plans to embed ourselves even more closely with our community. Plans that have now been approved and will go ahead.

* We own the ground we play at – and not just that, we have helped another football club survive and keep playing at their ground along the way. Franchise FC does not own the ground it plays at.

* We've resurrected a successful FITC scheme from absolutely nothing – Franchise FC destroyed Wimbledon FC's scheme in south London, despite Winkelman's promises.

* Thanks to WISA the honours of Wimbledon FC are back in Merton. Franchise FC considers itself a new club born in 2004.

* The trademarks for Wimbledon FC are owned by AFC Wimbledon.

* The vast majority of ex-Wimbledon FC players consider AFC Wimbledon to be the true inheritor of the Wimbledon legacy – none now claim that a club in Milton Keynes is the Wimbledon FC they played for.

* There's still a huge groundswell of popular support for Wimbledon, even after 10 years – the precise opposite is still the case for Franchise.

* AFC Wimbledon and The Dons Trust has advised other groups of fans on re-creating or saving their clubs, making many great friends along the way. What we have achieved has been recognised and inspired others across the country.

* Everything has been achieved while the club is still owned and run by its fans – Franchise is still the plaything of a property dealer.

There have been lots of little victories against the Franchise customers along the way too, ones that not everyone will have been aware of. Little things that have built up over the years and resulted in a complete bunker mentality among a core of the customers that they believe, wrongly, has strengthened them. We will see the culmination of that denial and delusion on 2nd December, when they unveil their 'We're the Dons' flag to a national TV audience that will look on with, at best, bemusement. They will follow it up with many goading chants that no one but a core of the customers will understand either – chants about Kingston and other obscure trivialities they have grasped at as straws of legitimacy or just to spite us over the years. Crucially, it won't just be the neutrals watching that will be bemused by their behaviour, it will drive a wedge between that core of Franchise customers and those in Milton Keynes who want to support an MK football team, not an anti-Wimbledon protest group or a club delusionally clinging on to a nicked-name link with another town. Whether the Franchise customers want to face it or not, and even whether Winkelman wants to admit it or not, this will be a watershed moment for the ludicrous 'Dons' nicked-name. (And so it has proved. They still cling to the 'Dons' nicked-name, but its inevitable dropping is now just a matter of time.)

Take strength and heart from every single chant and goad we get from the customers, because every single thing they do just demonstrates that what they started out deriding as a 'pub team' is now such a huge focus of their attention and has turned into their obsession. It's understandable for us to be interested in our old Football League place and those that took it away, but seeing the rabid froth emanating from some of the Franchise customers about us is a massive compliment to what our club has achieved. If we really were a pub team they wouldn't have to give us a moment's thought, but instead many of them are obsessed with us, because they know how much we've achieved, how far we've come and how completely we've won on all fronts.

If, as I expect, we lose the football match (who knows this time around?), it will of course be momentarily depressing as the Franchise customers celebrate winning their cup final (like Hampton & Richmond, Bromley, Withdean 2000 and others we have left behind, just like we'll leave Franchise behind) and we exit the FA Cup for this year (we haven't, miraculously, we're in the 3rd round draw!), but what will follow is far more important. Our players will leave the pitch built on Wimbledon FC's corpse... and AFC Wimbledon will still exist. We could lose 10-0 and walk away having still won what's most important – a football club for Wimbledon fans. In defeat, the true extent of our victory will be apparent, because most of us have been through far worse than losing a football match. We'll wake up the next day with our football club intact, our victories still in place and our hopes for the future undimmed.

AFC Wimbledon has proved over the last 10 years that not only was the FA Commission wrong to grant permission for franchising a football club, but that we are the very definition of being “in the wider interests of football”. It's one-nil to the Wimbledon and, just like the 1988 FA Cup Final victory, no one can take it away from us, the fans. We were there, we're still here and we are Wimbledon.