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Page last updated at 11:16 GMT, Thursday, 25 November 2010

AFC Wimbledon chase FA Cup history against Stevenage

AFC Wimbledon fans
AFC Wimbledon fans celebrate winning the Blue Square South title in 2009

By Caroline Chapman

AFC Wimbledon have quite a story to tell for a club that has only existed for eight years.

Currently sitting top of the Blue Square Bet Premier after four promotions in seven years, it is hard to believe that back in 2002 they were playing in the Combined Counties League.

The Dons are now embarking on an FA Cup journey and will make their second-round debut against Stevenage on Saturday - not a bad achievement for a side formed by a group of supporters to protect their club's precious legacy.

"We are creating our own history now, as this is the furthest we have got," club president and former goalkeeper Dickie Guy told BBC Sport.

"The side is good enough to create their own history and if we win on Saturday we could be in with the big boys."

The original Wimbledon advanced from non-league football to the old Division One and were original members of the Premier League, but their history came close to being wiped out and their London roots left behind when the Football Association gave the go-ahead for the club to relocate to Milton Keynes.

Dickie Guy
Guy became president of AFC Wimbledon in 2004

In response supporters outraged by the decision set up AFC Wimbledon in a bid to keep the name and spirit of their club alive.

Under the guidance of first boss Terry Eames and his successor Dave Anderson, AFC Wimbledon, based at Kingsmeadow, Surrey, slowly climbed the lower leagues.

Whilst in the Ryman League Premier Division in 2007, Terry Brown took over and has since taken the side to non-league's top flight.

And although League One's MK Dons are the official continuation of Wimbledon, it is the new boys who hold the honours of the Crazy Gang days, including the FA Cup they famously won against Liverpool in 1988.

Two leagues now separate Brown's side from Milton Keynes, and had they both won their respective replays, the FA Cup second round draw would have brought them together for their much-anticipated first meeting.

"I spoke to a lot of our supporters and there was only one person that wanted to play MK Dons," said Guy.

"Possibly some players would have liked it but I don't think many would have wanted to open up old wounds.

"It was outrageous what happened to us eight years ago and I would prefer to carry on as we are and move our way back into the league and forget all about MK Dons.

"The only thing I want off them now is to drop the name Dons. They are nothing to do with Wimbledon, they are nowhere near Wimbledon and yet they still seem to hang on to the name."

Guy, 61, who made more than 600 appearances in goal for Wimbledon between 1967 and 1978, believes the animosity between the sides will never die down.

It was their life and it was something that was taken away from them and they are not prepared to forgive and forget.

Dickie Guy

"It's still raw for lots of the supporters," he said. "These supporters have been following the club their whole lives, some of them have been coming down to us since we were at Plough Lane when I was playing in 1975.

"It was their life and it was something that was taken away from them and they are not prepared to forgive and forget."

Courtesy of that unforgettable 1988 victory, the new-look Wimbledon will always have a special relationship with the FA Cup, but as their focus rests firmly on reinstating the club in the Football League, Guy believes a cup run comes second on their list of priorities this season.

"It's brilliant for the club it as it gives us exposure on the television. It brings a lot of money into the club and it gives the lads a chance to play against league sides," said Guy.

"We always like to do well in the FA Cup as we are quite a famous FA Cup side. But I would imagine the priority, apart from the money that comes across from this, is to get back into the Football League."

Saturday's opponents Stevenage achieved that very goal last season after being crowned Blue Square Premier champions.


"They're a big strong physical side but they may not relish the fact that they are going to come to us. They would have preferred Ebbsfleet, with them being a league below us," he added.

"We're quite confident. We need to step it up a little bit from the last couple of games but I'm sure the atmosphere is going to be tremendous."

Despite focusing on extending their lead at the summit of non-league football, Guy is already dreaming of possible opponents should they reach the third round.

"If we win the game we are going to go in the hat with the big teams and hopefully get someone like Manchester United which will be brilliant for everybody involved," he said.

"Personally, I would really like to go to Old Trafford. It's a fantastic place and I'd love to see my lads run out there."

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see also
Anderson understands Dons' 'hurt'
09 Nov 10 |  AFC Wimbledon
Ebbsfleet 2-3 AFC Wimbledon
18 Nov 10 |  FA Cup
MK Dons 1-1 Stevenage (6-7 pens)
16 Nov 10 |  FA Cup
AFC Wimbledon 0-0 Ebbsfleet
06 Nov 10 |  FA Cup
Wimbledon to change name
21 Jun 04 |  Milton Keynes
Dons' darkest day
06 Apr 04 |  Milton Keynes

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