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AFC Wimbledon

From Academic Kids

Template:Football club infobox

AFC Wimbledon is a semi-professional English football team representing the area of Wimbledon and Merton in London, though they currently play their games in nearby Kingston upon Thames. The Club and the fans see AFC Wimbledon as a direct continuation of Wimbledon F.C., and that the MK Dons are no longer representative of the people, and the legacy of Wimbledon F.C.

They spent their first two seasons in the Premier Division of the Seagrave Haulage Combined Counties League, but were promoted to the Isthmian League First Division for the 2004/2005 season after winning the CCL championship with an unbeaten league season. They proceeded to win the Isthmian First Division at the first attempt, thereby earning automatic promotion to the Isthmian League Premier Division for the 2005-06 season. The Dons also hold the all-time United Kingdom record for consecutive unbeaten league games, at 78, over a period spanning two leagues and at least part of three seasons.

The club was founded in 2002 when The Football Association allowed the owners of what was then Wimbledon FC ltd. to relocate to the town of Milton Keynes on the far side of Buckinghamshire. Although the old team was unable to move for more than a year, their traditional local support dried up almost immediately. The Wombles mascot and Wimbledon heraldic badge were denied to them. Finally, in 2004, Wimbledon FC ltd. renamed themselves Milton Keynes Dons, leaving AFC Wimbledon the sole bearer of the 'Wimbledon' name.

All organized supporters' groups that had followed the old club switched allegiance to AFC Wimbledon, and the club has consistently drawn greater attendances, playing in a small regional league, than the old club, playing much better-known and better-supported opposition in the First Division of The Football League. While the old club struggled to draw crowds in their new home, AFC Wimbledon drew over 4,600 fans for their first-ever game, a preseason friendly against Sutton United. Supporters of other clubs around the country have generally united in a boycott of Milton Keynes Dons FC (often mocked as "Franchise FC" or "MK Franchise") in a protest against the club's relocation which is perceived as a move totally alien to the traditions of the English game.

AFC Wimbledon was placed under the ownership of the Dons Trust, a supporters' group which has pledged to retain 75% or greater ownership, though in 2003 they sold a minority interest in a share issue to finance the acquisition of Kingstonian's Kingsmeadow Stadium, which they operate as The Fans' Stadium, Kingsmeadow, offering space to the Football Supporters Federation. AFC Wimbledon intend to play there until they can afford to return to Wimbledon proper, where no "Wimbledon" first team has played since the closure of Wimbledon F.C.'s Plough Lane ground in 1991.

In 2002-03, their first competitive season, AFC Wimbledon started slowly, but won their last 11 league games to finish the season in third place, narrowly missing promotion to the Ryman Isthmian League. In 2003-04 they won their first 21 league games before a draw on 10 January 2004, giving them 32 consecutive wins in league games over two seasons. By this time, AFC Wimbledon was the only club in England at any level to maintain a perfect league record for the 2003-04 season, and all others not to have lost had drawn more times. The Dons went on to complete an unbeaten regular season (42 wins, 4 draws, goal difference +148), easily earning promotion to the Isthmian League First Division, and winning the CCL title with seven games left to play. On April 30, 2004 they completed a "Double" by winning the CCL's Premier Challenge Cup.

The 2004-05 season saw a Wimbledon side back in the Isthmian League for the first time since 1964. They won 29 games, drew ten, and lost three, and led the division all season to earn promotion to the Isthmian League Premier Division. Also, the Dons - in their first appearance in the FA Cup since the creation of AFC Wimbledon - reached the Third Qualifying Round, bowing out to Thurrock from Conference South (two divisions above). A 1-0 home win over Metropolitan Police on April 9, 2005 guaranteed the First Division title. They won the Surrey Senior Cup final 2-1 over league runners-up Walton & Hersham on May 3, having defeated teams from higher leagues in earlier rounds, including a reserve side from Premiership club Crystal Palace in the quarterfinals. Dons manager Dave Anderson was named Manager of the Year in the Isthmian First Division following the season.

One Wimbledon player received a unique honour in the 2004-05 season. After scoring all three goals in the Dons' shutout of Dunstable Town in the Second Qualifying Round of the FA Cup, Rob Ursell was shortlisted by The FA for The FA Cup Player of the Round Award. In an online fans' poll on The FA's official site, Ursell won that award in a landslide. Ursell and the season's other 10 winners, including Premiership stars Shay Given and Ruud van Nistelrooy, were introduced at halftime of the FA Cup final at Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. Later in the season, Ursell also received a callup to the England national futsal team. The 2004-05 season also saw the Dons sign their first full international in the AFC era, when they acquired New Zealand international Shane Smeltz in midseason.

The Dons' success in 2004-05 was not limited to their senior side; many of their youth sides also had strong seasons. Both of their under-13 and under-11 sides won league championships (in different leagues); one under-13 side and both under-11 sides added their league cup for a double. One of their two under-14 sides also won a league-cup double. The Dons placed two under-15 sides in the top two positions in their league, and also saw one under-11 side lift a county cup. Finally, one of their two under-12 sides, plus their only under-8 side, won league cups. Overall there are 16 youth sides representing AFC Wimbledon from under 8's to under 18's, with some of the under 18's managing to play some games in the reserves and in the first team.

As well as the youth set ups, AFC Wimbledon also have a ladies side which play in the FA Nationwide Women's Premier League Southern Division, the 2nd highest tier of Women's football. The women's team was formerly affiliated with Wimbledon F.C., but switched affiliation to AFC Wimbledon in the 2003 close season.

The Dons set a new all-time record for longest streak of unbeaten league games at any level of senior football in the United Kingdom with their 76th, a 1-1 draw at Bromley F.C., on November 13, 2004, and a 2-1 victory over Bashley F.C. on November 27 made it 78. Withdean 2000, 2002/2003 CCL champions, delivered AFC Wimbledon's last league defeat (on Saturday 22 February 2003) before the streak finally ended at Cray Wanderers F.C. with a 2-0 loss on December 4, 2004.

In naming the club, the founders sought a name as close to "Wimbledon FC" as possible, and their first choice, "FC Wimbledon", was rejected by the London F.A. They gained approval for "AFC Wimbledon", the initials A.F.C. being common in club names and understood to officially stand for "Association Football Club". In January 2005, Marc Jones - one of the founders of the club - explained that in actual fact "'AFC' stands for NOTHING... we thought it sounded non-league but it never stood for anything." [1] (http://www.weirdandwonderfulworld.com/cgi-bin/guestbook?id=364782). That said, the alternate meaning "A Fan's Club" has been suggested by some to memorialize the intent of the same Wimbledon supporters who formed the club.

Their sponsors are Sports Interactive, the creators of Championship Manager and now developers of Football Manager.

Recently, the club's founders offered their support to the Manchester United fans proposal of setting up a club, in a similar manner to the Wimbledon fans, following Malcolm Glazer's purchase of the club. AFC Wimbledon and the new FC United of Manchester will play a friendly match on The Fans' Stadium, Kingsmeadow 21 July 2005.

Contents

Playing Squad

 

External links

Official sites

Unofficial sites

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