Yes it’s a football post. But even those of you who aren’t fans of the beautiful game maybe interested in this so stick with it.
Pretend for a moment that a cornerstone in your life disappeared, a thing you like to do with your friends every week upped and moved away overnight. 70 miles (or so) by road away. Meaning that to do your thing, you faced a 140 mile round trip and 120 minutes in the car. You’d be pretty annoyed. Particularly if your chosen thing had been around for a good time in the local area, being successful.
In 2001 Pete Winkelman decided to move Wimbledon FC to Milton Keynes, a relatively new town with no football club of any note. In their old guise Wimbledon had won the FA Cup against all the odds beating the then all powerful Liverpool in a memorable Wembley final. Wimbledon have always been the ultimate underdog story, at times homeless, but striving with almost a English war time spirit to survive. The crazy gang era of the 80’s and 90’s started the careers of Vinny Jones and Denis Wise, two of the original “love to hate” characters that set the English game apart from the more polished La Liga or Serie A.
I have just watched the new Wimbledon, AFC Wimbledon founded in 2002 by fans after their club was ripped away from them, lose to MK Dons (what their Wimbledon became) 2-1 in the FA Cup. AFC Wimbledon has risen from the bottom of English football to reach the forth tier in a remarkably short time. This FA cup meeting was the first in the two clubs history.
As I watched on the TV I was amazed by how many fans MK Dons have. I know football is popular and people will watch games on park lands all over the UK but most Football Clubs here are older than America! Families go back generations supporting the same club, it’s part of peoples DNA a religion of sorts. One based on blood sweat and tears rather than lies and conjecture mind.
I have to come clean here. I am the football equivalent of a born again christian. Until I was 14 I supported Tottenham Hotspur, despite living in Reading. I regret this. My family had a tradition of supporting Spurs so I went with it. In 1994 I went to Elm Park with my Dad, since that day I have been loyal to my home town club. Back to MK…
Who are these people? Who did they support before? Did they even like football? Watching them celebrate their teams win is rather like watching a football movie, someone yelled action and all the crowd extras jumped up and down. Actors for hire. This might be unfair, but football is a game steeped in tradition. A badge of honour, cliche but a truism, for all the changes in Football from being a working mans game to the big business opportunity it has become, the fans remain just as their fathers and grandfathers did. Just paying more money.
MK Dons, there but for the grace of God go I.