images Rob Catchpole & Andy Sinne

IF you grew up in the seventies the Wombles were part of your life. AFC Wimbledon started life as Wimbledon Football Club; an English, professional association, football club based in Wimbledon, south-west London. Founded in 1889 as Wimbledon Old Central Football Club, the club spent most of its history in amateur and semi-professional, non-league football before being elected to the Football League in 1977. The club reached the First Division in 1986 after a mere nine seasons in the league and just four seasons after being in the Fourth Division. The club’s first match was a 1–0 victory over Westminster, and it only took seven years for success to come to Wimbledon as the club won both the Clapham League and the Herald League in 1895–96. Wimbledon won the Clapham League again in 1900–01, as well as two minor trophies. A meeting was convened on 1 May 1905, and the decision was taken to drop “Old Central” from the club’s name – the club became Wimbledon Football Club, and under its new name the club won the South London Charity Cup the same year – however, excessive debts caused the club to fold in 1910. The club was restarted a year later under the name Wimbledon Borough, though “Borough” was dropped from the team’s name after barely a year. The club continued to play on Wimbledon Common and at various other locations in the Wimbledon area until 1912, when the side settled at Plough Lane. Wimbledon joined the Athenian League for 1919–20, and in the second season in its new division finished as runners-up. The club then joined the Isthmian League. Winning four Isthmian League titles during the 1930s.

Wombles Of Wimbledon Common Are We


and reaching the FA Amateur Cup final in 1934–35, Wimbledon began to prosper. The club reached another FA Amateur Cup final in 1946–47, and finished as runners-up in the league twice over the next few seasons.[Wimbledon won the Isthmian League for the fifth time in 1958–59 before starting a period of domination that saw three successive championships – 1961–62, 1962–63 and 1963–64. Wimbledon also lifted the FA Amateur Cup in 1962–63, beating Sutton United 4–2: the club’s all-time top goalscorer, Eddie Reynolds, scored all four Wimbledon goals with his head, and in doing so became the only player to have headed in all four of his side’s goals in a Wembley match – as of 2012, still a unique feat. Following these successes the decision was taken to turn professional for the 1964–65 season and to enter the Southern League. Wimbledon had continued success in their new league, finishing as runners-up at the first attempt. Wimbledon became nationally famous during an FA Cup run during the 1974–75 season: entering the competition at the first qualifying round, Wimbledon saw off first Bracknell Town, then Maidenhead United, Wokingham Town, Guildford & Dorking United, Bath City and Kettering Town to find themselves in the third round proper. They then became the first non-League team that century to beat a First Division side away from home by defeating Burnley at Turf Moor. In the fourth round the good form continued, as the team held the reigning First Division champions Leeds United to a 0–0 draw at Elland Road. Goalkeeper Dickie Guy saved a penalty from Peter Lorimer to earn a replay, which was narrowly lost 1–0 by an own goal in front of over 40,000 spectators at Selhurst Park. After winning the Southern League three times running from 1974–75 to 1976–77, Wimbledon were elected to The Football League in place of Workington for the 1977–78 season.

Wimbledon stayed in the Old First Division and then the FA Premier League from 1986 until 2000. Most famously, in 1988, Wimbledon beat the then-champions Liverpool 1–0 in the FA Cup final, thus becoming only the third football club (after Old Carthusians and Royal Engineers) to have won both the FA Cup and the FA Amateur Cup, having won the latter in 1962–63.

AFC Wimbledon PLC

was placed under the ownership of The Dons Trust, a supporters’ group which is pledged to retain at least 75% control of that ownership. In 2003 a minority interest was sold in a share issue in order to finance the purchase of Kingsmeadow, the ground that AFCW part owned with Kingstonian.

 a professional English association football club based in Kingston upon Thames, London. The club currently plays in League Two of the Football League, which is the fourth tier of English football. They play at The Cherry Red Records Stadium, in Kingston upon Thames, London, a ground which is shared with Kingstonian.

The club was founded in 2002 as a result of the decision for Wimbledon F.C.’s relocation to Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire by the Football Association; Wimbledon F.C. was subsequently renamed Milton Keynes Dons in 2004. The Wimbledon supporters who strongly opposed the idea of moving reacted by founding their own club, AFC Wimbledon. In view of its transplanting to Milton Keynes, the majority of Wimbledon fans felt that the original club no longer represented Wimbledon’s legacy and traditions, and thus withdrew their support, choosing instead to start a new so-called “phoenix club” from scratch.

When AFC Wimbledon was formed, it affiliated to both the London and Surrey Football Associations, and entered the Premier Division of the Combined Counties League, which is the ninth tier in English football. In its short history, the club has been extremely successful, being promoted five times in nine seasons, and going up from the ninth tier (Combined Counties Premier) to the fourth (League Two). The only other club considered to have completed this feat is the now dissolved Rushden & Diamonds.

AFC Wimbledon currently holds the record of the longest unbeaten run of league matches in English senior football, having played 78 consecutive league games without a defeat between February 2003 and December 2004.AFC Wimbledon hold the distinction of being the first club to be formed in the 21st century to make it into the Football League.

On 28 May 2002, the Football Association backed a three-man independent commission decision to allow Wimbledon F.C. to relocate 56 miles north to the new town of Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire after claims from Wimbledon chairman Charles Koppel that such a move was necessary in order to prevent the club from going bankrupt.

The principle involved in this relocation was unprecedented in English football; by moving in such a way, Wimbledon F.C. were cutting all ties with the area of Wimbledon. Although the club were unable to physically move to Milton Keynes for over a year, their traditional local support dried up almost immediately in protest. On 30 May 2002 a band of loyal supporters of the club led by Kris Stewart and fellow founding members Marc Jones and Trevor Williams, announced plans to create a new club dubbed “AFC Wimbledon”.

On 13 June 2002, a new manager, kit, crest and stadium were unveiled to fans and the media at the packed out Wimbledon Community Centre. In order to assemble a competitive team at short notice, AFC Wimbledon held player trials on 29 June 2002 on Wimbledon Common, open to any unattached player who felt he was good enough to try out for the team The event attracted 230 players, from whom the club’s squad for their inaugural season was chosen.


AFC Wimbledon

held player trials on 29 June 2002 on Wimbledon Common, open to any unattached player who felt he was good enough to try out for the team the event attracted 230 players, from whom the club’s squad for their inaugural season was chosen.

The Crest

is based on the coat of arms of the Municipal Borough of Wimbledon, which features a black double headed eagle in reference to a legend that Julius Caesar once made camp on Wimbledon Common, this symbol being his own attributed coat of arms. It is designed to replicate, as far as possible, the crest of the original Wimbledon F.C. to reflect the fact that AFC Wimbledon see themselves as a continuation of the club that existed before relocation and rebranding as MK Dons. The club wished to preserve Wimbledon’s legacy and traditions for loyal fans who felt that the move had isolated the club from its roots and its community to such an extent that it no longer bore the hallmark of the club that they had once supported and that AFC Wimbledon was its spiritual, if not legal, successor.

Community Work

AFC Wimbledon also offers a Schools Coaching Programme in Merton, Kingston and neighbouring boroughs. The club look to encourage a healthy and active lifestyle for both Primary and Secondary school children through football and a range of other sports. The sessions are run with an emphasis on learning, development and health awareness in a fun coaching environment. On 15 March 2012, coaches from the CFS, in partnership with the Football League’s main sponsor nPower, engaged in a community outreach scheme promoting the FA’s ‘Respect’ campaign to school pupils. Nearly 2,000 children aged 10 and 11 were taught how abusive verbal and physical behaviour on the pitch to both players and referees should never be tolerated under any circumstances. The aim of the nationwide ‘Respect’ scheme in schools is to eradicate racism, homophobia, violence and dissent from the next generation of footballers and supporters