Sunday, November 7, 2010

Yesterday's FA Cup ties produced some good shocks, some spectacular goals and some fanatstic goalkeeping exploits (Dover's goalie was on fire!).

The headlines in Monday's papers though are more likely to come from a tie in today's second round draw, as the fourth matchup out of the hat threw up the possibility of AFC Wimbledon hosting the club killing evil that is Milton Keynes.

Both sides have to win their respective replays against Ebbsfleet United and Stevenage for this to happen, but the mouthwatering prospect of the FA Cup grudge match of all time is a very real possibility, although I do fancy Stevenage to turn over Franchise FC in the replay.

The offical AFC Wimbledon website was quick to react to the draw:

"Depending on the outcome of two replays, we have been drawn against Milton Keynes in the FA Cup 2nd round to be played on 27 November.

Most people know the way that Milton Keynes obtained their football club. It was wrong then and it is still wrong now, which makes this fixture very painful for us. However, when we entered the FA Cup we understood that this might happen and we will go about our business professionally and complete the fixture. But we would have preferred that it hadn’t happened. We have no further comment to make at the moment.".

A very classy statement from a very classy Club. We should expect nothing less.

As a Wimbledon fan and Dons Trust member I can't wait for the possible match up and the fact that it's happening when I'm back in the UK excites me no end. I'll be at the Dons game v Luton a few days later, so if there's any chance of getting a ticket for the Cup game as well, I'll be there in a shot if I can. Will even miss East Fife away to Ayr if need be!

But that's my view of the situation. I'm an East Fife first and foremost and not only am I an exile now, my main support of the Club only came after AFC were formed in 2002. I've followed their fortunes from the start and their support of our campaign to oust Derrick Brown as Chairman at East Fife was very welcome (they even ran a two page feature on our plight in their programme).

I'm not a dyed in the wool Wimbledon fan though. I didn't watch the team win the FA Amateur Cup in 1963 then rise up the non league ladder and take the Football League by storm. I wasn't at Wembley to see them complete their ultimate triumph in winning the FA Cup in 1988 (although I did cheer them on from the comfort of my living room!). I didn't see my Club basically die before my eyes like the true fans of Wimbledon FC did. I didn't have that heartache of losing my love and my home and having to rebuild my life from scratch.

I can only imagine what it must have been like for the Dons fans at that time. The idea that someone could buy East Fife, move them to the new town of East Kilbride and call them EK Fifers is mind boggling if you look at it that way (thanks to The Russian for that analogy on the AFTN forum).

Football fans the world over were appalled by what happened, many will never set foot in Milton Keynes or give Franchise FC a single penny. Many have been appalled that the FA included Milton Keynes in their potential venues for their 2018 World Cup bid. That in itself is enough reason for it to fail for me.

The real Wimbledon fans view the prospect of playing the team that put them through all that heartache as sickening and unpalatable. Many don't even want to acknowledge the existence of Franchise FC let alone play them. Now they have to.

There was a brilliant article on When Saturday Comes earlier this month, explaining why any game against Milton Keynes is really the nightmare scenario for long time Wimbledon fans. You can read the piece HERE.

It was bound to happen at some point, as it will surely only be a matter of time before Wimbledon are a League Club once again, but it doesn't make it any easier for the hardcore Dons fans.

It's great that the game is going to be at Kingsmeadow though. At least the home tie gives the Wimbledon fans the chance to see the game live, as very few would have made the trip to franchiseland. The risk of violence and anger spilling over too far is also reduced a little but the hostility will still be clearly there.

Public attention will also be raised to what happened once again. There will be a whole generation that will have no idea about the relationship between the two sides and why we must never let such a thing happen again.

It may be the potentially mouthwatering tie of the round for the casual fans and neutrals but for those that lived through all that heartache, it brings it all to the forefront once again. Although it will never truly be that far away.

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