The Sound of Football: AFC Wimbledon (Andrew)

Every fortnight we cover the best and worst football songs from every club in the UK from our book ‘The Sound Of Football: Every Club, Every Song’. You can buy it here

AFC Wimbledon

Nickname: The Dons

Ground: The Cherry Red Records Stadium

Stadium Capacity: 5,339

Song: We Are Wimbledon

‘We Are Wimbledon’ is the perfect song for AFC Wimbledon as, despite being formed in 2002, the club is the proud winners of the 1988 FA Cup. To understand why a club formed in 2002 can claim a trophy from 1988 we need to understand how AFC Wimbledon was formed.

In 2002, the original Dons, Wimbledon FC, was in administration, living out of a rented ground, its stadium long sold, and watched by a handful of fans. The club directors argued the only salvation for the club lay in a fresh direction.

After trying and failing to find a new home in south London, the directors applied to the Football Association to relocate the club to a new stadium in Milton Keynes, 56 miles north. To its fan’s dismay, the FA sanctioned the move; and, in 2003, Wimbledon FC upped sticks to Milton Keynes, changing their name to the MK Dons.

Many Wimbledon fans refused to follow the club to Milton Keynes. Instead they established a new club: AFC Wimbledon.

AFC Wimbledon entered the ninth tier of English football and has steadily climbed through the divisions to reach the Football League. During their rise AFC Wimbledon went 78 matches without losing a game, an English record.

Yet, although formed in 2002, it’s AFC Wimbledon rather than MK Dons who has the right to claim Wimbledon most famous victory: the 1988 FA Cup – and with it the club’s cup final song.

In the 1980’s and 90’s Wimbledon was famous for playing direct football – a long ball, straight to an attacker as fast and as often as necessary to create more chances to score. It wasn’t pretty, neither were the players, but the Dons reputation for direct football meant teams would under-estimate them, believing the players had nothing to offer. Liverpool was one such team.

Liverpool was the dominant team of the 1980s and, in 1988, the club had just been crowned league champions. The FA Cup Final should have been no contest – Liverpool v Wimbledon. There should only have been one outcome. A victory for Liverpool.

Yet, Wimbledon scored first. Liverpool tried to battle back. Liverpool created lots of opportunities, even had a goal disallowed, but they just couldn’t score. It looked like a shock was on the cards until Liverpool was awarded a penalty. But even then, they couldn’t find the back of the net: Liverpool striker John Aldridge’s shot was saved by the Don’s goalkeeper Dave Beasant, making Dave the first keeper to save a penalty in a FA Cup final. Wimbledon went on to win the match and claim an epic upset.

Today, both the final and the song released to celebrate it are ‘owned’ by AFC Wimbledon after The Football Supporter’s Federation refused MK Don’s fan group permission to join the federation unless MK Dons acknowledged that AFC Wimbledon had the real rights to Wimbledon’s history.

‘We Are Wimbledon’ is the perfect song for the new club. Although, when the song was first recorded, fans and players thought it was cheesy, now when the fans belt it out now it becomes a genuine, lump in the throat anthem to power of working as a team. In 2012 it was re-recorded by the Big Blast Band, a band based in a local care centre for people with learning disabilities. The players teamed up with the band and recorded a new version for a local charity. Because that’s what fans of the Dons do – they see it through, determinedly, directly, together, at home, always and forever in South London.

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