AFC Wimbledon: Wikis

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AFC Wimbledon
AFC Wimbledon.svg
Full name AFC Wimbledon
Nickname(s) The Dons;[1] The Wombles. The Crazy Gang
Founded 2002
Ground Kingsmeadow,
Kingston upon Thames,
London
(Capacity: 4,722)
Chairman England Erik Samuelson
Manager England Terry Brown
League Conference National
2008–09 Conference South, 1st
(promoted)
Home colours
Away colours
Third colours

AFC Wimbledon is a semi-professional English football club affiliated to both the London and Surrey Football Associations.

AFC Wimbledon take their name from and trace their origins to Wimbledon in the London Borough of Merton, although their home ground, Kingsmeadow, is in the neighbouring Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames. The club and its supporters consider it to be a continuation of the former Wimbledon Football Club, whilst Milton Keynes Dons, the club formed when Wimbledon moved to Milton Keynes, are not considered by the club or fans to be representative in any way of the legacy and tradition of Wimbledon F.C.[2]

The club began life in 2002, playing in the Premier Division of the Combined Counties League. AFC Wimbledon have since been promoted four times in seven seasons, with their success culminating in the 2008–09 Conference South championship which secured Conference National football for 2009–10.

The club currently hold the all-time English record for the most consecutive unbeaten league games by any senior football club, having played 78 league matches in a row without defeat over three seasons.

Contents

History

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Formation

Ryan Gray prepares to take a corner during 2003–04

The club was founded by supporters of Wimbledon Football Club, led by Kris Stewart, in June 2002.[3] Days earlier, the Football Association had agreed to allow Wimbledon F.C. to relocate 56 miles north to the new town of Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire. The distance 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 Wimbledon F.C. were unable to relocate to Milton Keynes for more than a year, their traditional local support dried up almost immediately in protest.[4]

In June 2002, in order to assemble a competitive team at short notice, AFC Wimbledon held player trials over three days on Wimbledon Common, open to any unattached player who felt he was good enough to try out for the team. From these trials, the club's squad for their inaugural season was chosen. The new team attracted a crowd of 4,657 fans for their first ever game, a pre-season friendly against Sutton United on 10 July where they were beaten 4–0.[5]

Competitive football

AFC Wimbledon's first manager was Terry Eames. They started slowly but won their last eleven league games of the 2002–03 season, finishing third and narrowly missing promotion to the Isthmian League First Division.[6] Their average attendance exceeded 3,000 — higher than the average attendance the same season of Wimbledon F.C., still playing in the First Division.[4]

In 2003–04, AFC Wimbledon 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, they were the only club in England at any level to maintain a perfect league record for the 2003–04 season. Despite the sacking of Eames, AFC Wimbledon's success continued under caretaker manager Nicky English, whose first game in charge resulted in a club record 9–0 victory. The team went on to finish as champions of the Combined Counties League, and unbeaten at that. Promotion to the Isthmian League First Division was therefore assured, and the club even completed a double by winning the league's Premier Challenge Cup.

Under newly-appointed manager Dave Anderson, AFC Wimbledon took their form into the next season — they led the division all season, and ran away with the title to seal promotion to the League's Premier Division. AFC Wimbledon also took part in the FA Cup for the first time, reaching the Third Qualifying Round. Victory in the Surrey Senior Cup sealed a two doubles in a row. During this season, AFC Wimbledon set a new record for the longest run of unbeaten league games at any level of senior football in the United Kingdom. They remained unbeaten for 78 league matches between 22 February 2003 (a 2–0 defeat at home to Withdean 2000) and 4 December 2004 (a 2–0 defeat at Cray Wanderers).[7][8]

AFC Wimbledon fans and players celebrate promotion to the Conference South at the end of 2007–08.

The 2005–06 season proved far more competitive than previous seasons — after winning their first few games, AFC Wimbledon found themselves struggling to remain in the play-off places. After fluctuating form they eventually reached the play-offs with a 1–0 win against Anderson's former club, Hendon. However, defeat at Fisher Athletic meant no third promotion in a row. The Dons again reached the final of the Surrey Senior Cup, losing 1–0 to Kingstonian in a fiercely contested derby.[9]

The 2006–07 season was Anderson's last in charge, and AFC Wimbledon lost in the play-off semi-finals for the second year running. Much of the season was overshadowed by the threat of a proposed 18-point deduction by the FA for the club's fielding of Jermaine Darlington who, it transpired, had not been registered correctly by the club and had therefore played in three games whilst still ineligible. However, this punishment was eventually reduced to a three point deduction and a £400 fine after the FA finally acknowledged that the club had made a simple administrative error. The Darlington affair also resulted in expulsion from the Surrey Senior Cup and the FA Trophy that year.

Under new boss Terry Brown, AFC Wimbledon achieved promotion to the Conference South the next season, beating Staines Town 2–1 in the play-off final. AFC Wimbledon quickly adjusted to Conference South football during 2008–09, being amongst the leading clubs for most of the season and winning the title on the final day. The club will compete in the Conference National during 2009–10.[10]

Ownership and legal status

AFCW PLC was placed under the ownership of The Dons Trust, a supporters' group which has pledged to retain at least 75% control of that ownership. In 2003, however, 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; given the circumstances of the club's formation, this decision raised some concerns.

The Dons Trust is an Industrial and Provident Society registered with the Financial Services Authority as "Wimbledon Football Club Supporters' Society Limited". This is not to be confused with Wimbledon Independent Supporters Association (WISA) although WISA has as one of its stated constitutional aims "to purchase shares in AFC Wimbledon's holding company".

Ground purchase and the debt

Upon their foundation in 2002, AFC Wimbledon entered into a ground–sharing arrangement with Kingstonian to play home fixtures at Kingsmeadow, in the neighbouring borough of Kingston upon Thames.

Kingsmeadow had been the home of Kingstonian since the club moved there in 1989 from its traditional Richmond Road ground. However the club had hit major financial difficulties following relegation from the Conference. Administrators sold the club, including the lease to the stadium, to the businessmen Anup and Rajesh Khosla. The Khoslas subsequently transferred ownership of the stadium away from the club and into separate subsidiary companies privately owned by the Khosla family, in a move widely seen as asset stripping.

After an SGM, it was felt by the AFC Wimbledon board of directors that securing ownership of Kingsmeadow would safeguard the ground for the future of both clubs. In March 2003[11] the Dons Trust members voted to purchase part of the lease for Kingsmeadow and in June 2003 the contract for buying the lease to the stadium was agreed with Rajesh Khosla; £3 million needed to be raised. This purchase took place a few weeks before the proposed formation of the Kingstonian Supporters Trust which AFC Wimbledon's Supporters Trust had been advising. That trust itself would have considered purchasing the lease to the ground had it been able to raise the funds.

Various innovative methods of fundraising (primarily a share issue offer to supporters which quickly realised £1.2m, and the Dons Trust Bond) meant that the debt to Mr Khosla was steadily reduced. On 30 March 2006, a Dons Trust meeting was held at which a majority voted to accept a commercial loan from Barclays Bank in order to clear the outstanding debt to Mr Khosla, which was at a much higher rate of interest. On 24 November 2006 a statement on the website finally confirmed that the club had taken the Barclays loan, and had repaid Mr Khosla in full. Although the club has now settled its debt to Mr Khosla, around £300,000 is still owed in the form of the commercial loan, with a further £300,000 to Dons Trust bond–holders.

The club continues to work on new ways of fundraising to clear the debt once and for all. Meanwhile, the future of the ground is secured as a home venue both for AFC Wimbledon and equally importantly for Kingstonian F.C. Kingstonian lease the ground at a nominal rate, paid for in part by the proceeds of an annual pre-season friendly between the two clubs, the Trevor Jones Memorial Trophy. AFC Wimbledon's long term ambition however remains to return to a ground in the borough of Merton. Soon after the club's purchase of Kingsmeadow, then Finance Director and current Chairman, Erik Samuelson was reported as saying:

It is difficult to find space for a ground in Wimbledon, but although Kingsmeadow is now home it doesn’t mean we will be here all our lives. But, for now, we are very happy at Kingsmeadow.

—Erik Samuelson, Finance Director, AFC Wimbledon, as reported in The Wimbledon Guardian[12]

Youth and women's football

The club places great emphasis on its role as a social focus for the community, and part of this role is to offer the chance to play football to all.

The Dons have established youth teams from Under 19 level all the way down to Under 7s, as well as a women's team, AFC Wimbledon Ladies. The Ladies were formerly affiliated with Wimbledon FC, though switched affiliation to AFC Wimbledon in the 2003 close season.

Sponsorship

AFC Wimbledon have been sponsored by computer games developers Sports Interactive, creators of the hugely popular original Championship Manager and Football Manager series, since the club's inception in 2002; the SI logo appears on the front of the team's shirts. SI Managing Director Miles Jacobson said of the sponsorship deal: "We are huge supporters of grass roots football. Most of us play grass roots football at some level (or in my case, below grass roots!), and we know that that is where the stars from tomorrow are going to come from."[13]

The idea for Sports Interactive sponsorship came from Nick Robinson, who was an employee at Eidos, Sports Interactive's then-publishers. However, Eidos were not willing to fund the deal, and so Sports Interactive found the cash themselves.[13]

The sponsorship of AFC Wimbledon is not Sports Interactive's first support of lower-league football; they sponsored a "Save York City" charity football tournament in 2001.[13]

Players

Current squad

Jon Main was the club's top goalscorer during the 2008–09 season.

As of 13 March 2010.[14]

Note: Flags indicate national team as has been defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
1 England GK James Pullen
2 England DF Jay Conroy
4 Ghana MF Kennedy Adjei
5 England DF Alan Inns
6 England DF Ben Judge
7 England MF Samuel Hatton
8 England MF Lewis Taylor
9 England FW Danny Kedwell
10 England FW Jon Main
13 England GK Seb Brown
14 England MF Derek Duncan
15 England MF Steven Gregory
16 England DF Brett Johnson
No. Position Player
17 England MF Ricky Wellard
18 England FW Luke Moore
19 England FW Ross Montague
22 England DF Paul Lorraine (captain)
26 England MF Will Hendry
27 England DF Danny Blanchett (on loan from Peterborough United)
28 England MF Glenn Poole
29 England FW Nathan Elder (on loan from Shrewsbury Town)
35 England FW Matt Harmsworth
36 England DF Ryan Jackson
37 England DF James Stenning
38 England DF Jack Stafford

Players out on loan

Note: Flags indicate national team as has been defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
11 Canada MF Elliott Godfrey (at Staines Town)
20 England GK Jack Turner (at Bedfont Green)
21 England FW Peter Rapson (at Walton Casuals)

Player of the Year

The WISA Player of the Year is voted for by fans in time for the final home game of the season. Previous winners have been:

Year Winner
2002–03 England Lee Sidwell
2003–04 England Matt Everard
2004–05 England Richard Butler
2005–06 England Andy Little
2006–07 England Anthony Howard
2007–08 England Jason Goodliffe
2008–09 England Ben Judge

Former players

As part of WISA's campaign to reclaim the history of Wimbledon Football Club for the community of Wimbledon, the Wimbledon Old Players Association (WOPA) was formed in 2005. Membership of WOPA is open to all former Wimbledon F.C. and AFC Wimbledon players and managers. Among the sixty founder members were John Fashanu, Dave Beasant, Efan Ekoku, Neil Sullivan, Dave Bassett, Wally Downes, Marcus Gayle, Neal Ardley, Alan Kimble, Andy Thorn, Roger Joseph, Dickie Guy, Allen Batsford, Roger Connell, Ian Cooke, Martin Simpson, Samuel Floyd, Clive Shipway, James Rowe, Roy Law and Steve Galliers.

On 16 July 2006, WOPA fielded a team in the Masters Football Tournament at Wembley Arena, with AFC Wimbledon's backing.[15] The team included Carlton Fairweather, Scott Fitzgerald, Marcus Gayle, and Dean Holdsworth.

Managerial history

Dates Manager
2002–04 England Terry Eames
2004–07 Northern Ireland Dave Anderson
2007–present England Terry Brown

Honours

Following the move of Wimbledon F.C. to Milton Keynes and its rebranding as Milton Keynes Dons, there was much debate over the rightful home of all the honours won by Wimbledon F.C.. Former supporters argued that the trophies won by Wimbledon F.C. rightfully belong to the community of Wimbledon and should be returned to the local area. AFC Wimbledon believe that the honours of Wimbledon F.C. belong to the fans, as illustrated by the following statement on the club's official website:

The supporters of AFC Wimbledon believe that our club is a continuation of the spirit which formed Wimbledon Old Centrals in 1889 and kept Wimbledon Football Club alive until May 2002. We consider that a football club is not simply the legal entity which controls it, but that it is the community formed by the fans and players working towards a common goal. We therefore reproduce the honours won by what we believe was, and will always be, "our" club, in our community.

—AFC Wimbledon, statement on the club's Official Website[2]

In October 2006, an agreement was reached between Milton Keynes Dons F.C., the MK Dons Supporters Association, the Wimbledon Independent Supporters Association and the Football Supporters Federation. The replica of the FA Cup plus all club patrimony gathered under the name of Wimbledon F.C. would be returned to the London Borough of Merton. Ownership of trademarks and website domain names related to Wimbledon F.C. would also be transferred to the Borough. It was also agreed that any reference made to Milton Keynes Dons F.C. should refer only to events after 7 August 2004, the date of the first league match played as Milton Keynes Dons. As a result of this deal, the Football Supporters Federation announced that the supporters of Milton Keynes Dons would be permitted to become members of the federation, and that it would no longer appeal to the supporters of other clubs to boycott MK Dons matches.[16] The replica trophies and Wimbledon F.C. memorabilia were returned to Merton on 2 August 2007.[17]

Honours

Only honours won by AFC Wimbledon are listed here. For a list of honours won by Wimbledon F.C., see Wimbledon F.C.#Honours.

Records

Club records

  • Biggest home victory: AFC Wimbledon 9–0 Slough Town, 31 March 2007.
  • Biggest away victory: Chessington United 0–9 AFC Wimbledon, 14 February 2004.
  • Biggest home defeat: AFC Wimbledon 0–4 Hampton & Richmond Borough, 1 April 2006.
  • Biggest away defeat: Walton & Hersham 4–0 AFC Wimbledon, 2 April 2005.
  • Longest unbeaten league run: 78 matches, from 26 February 2003 to 27 November 2004 (This is the currently the longest unbeaten run of consecutive league matches in all senior English football)
  • Record home attendance: 4,722 at Kingsmeadow, 25 April 2009 against St Albans City.
  • Record away attendance: 9,453 at The New Den, 9 November 2009 against Millwall F.C.

Player records

  • Most appearances: 189, by Anthony Howard between July 2004 and March 2008.
  • Most goals: 107, by Kevin Cooper in 105 appearances between August 2002 and May 2004.
  • Most league goals in a season: 53 , by Kevin Cooper (66 in all competitions) during 2003–04.

References

  1. ^ The nickname is often derived from the team's place of origin, so for example teams in many sports which represent the area of Wimbledon are commonly known as "the Dons".
  2. ^ a b "AFC Wimbledon Website, Honours". AFC Wimbledon. http://www.afcwimbledon.co.uk/honours.php. Retrieved 2007-11-23. 
  3. ^ "A club is born". The Guardian. 2002-07-14. http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2002/jul/14/sport.comment. Retrieved 2008-05-13. 
  4. ^ a b "Dip in attendances lower than breakaway club AFC Wimbledon's". BBC. 2004-06-06. http://www.bbc.co.uk/threecounties/sport/2003/06/06/wimbledon_receivership.shtml. Retrieved 2007-11-23. 
  5. ^ "AFC Wimbledon match report vs. Sutton United". AFC Wimbledon. 2002-07-10. http://www.afcwimbledon.co.uk/-/reports/friendly--senior/1948/sutton-united. Retrieved 2007-11-23. 
  6. ^ "Combined Counties Football League Premier Division league table 2002-03". AFC Wimbledon. http://www.afcwimbledon.co.uk/archive.php?squad=1&Psection_id=5&Psub_section_id=36&op=Viewby&season=2002. Retrieved 2007-11-23. 
  7. ^ "AFC Wimbledon set English record". BBC. 2004-11-13. http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/4010137.stm. Retrieved 2007-11-23. 
  8. ^ "Cray Wanderers 2 - 0 AFC Wimbledon". AFC Wimbledon. 2004-12-04. http://www.afcwimbledon.co.uk/-/reports/ryman-league-division-one/2922/cray-wanderers. Retrieved 2009-06-03. 
  9. ^ "Match report for Surrey Senior Cup vs. Kingstonian". AFC Wimbledon. 2006-05-12. http://www.afcwimbledon.co.uk/-/reports/surrey-senior-cup/8689/kingstonian. Retrieved 2007-11-24. 
  10. ^ "AFC Wimbledon wrap up promotion". BBC. 2009-04-25. http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/eng_conf/8018657.stm. Retrieved 2009-06-03. 
  11. ^ Open meeting re the purchase of Kingsmeadow Sunday 18 May 2003
  12. ^ Simmonds, Mike (2003-07-07). "Home Sweet Home". The Wimbledon Guardian. 
  13. ^ a b c Tom Bramwell (2002-07-10). "Sports Interactive sponsors AFC Wimbledon". GamesIndustry.biz. http://www.gamesindustry.biz/content_page.php?aid=308. Retrieved 2007-06-21. 
  14. ^ "Squad lists and profiles". AFC Wimbledon. http://www.afcwimbledon.co.uk/squad.php?Psection_id=3. Retrieved 2009-02-03. 
  15. ^ "Wimbledon Independent Supporters Association news item re Wimbledon Old Players Association (WOPA)". Wimbledon Independent Supporters Association. 2006-05-23. http://www.wisa.org.uk/wopa/news7.html. Retrieved 2007-11-24. 
  16. ^ ""Accord on history and honours of Wimbledon F.C." - WISA website". Wimbledon Independent Supporters Association. 2006-09-09. http://www.wisa.org.uk/cgi/l/articles/index.cgi?action=show&id=544. Retrieved 2007-11-24. 
  17. ^ "Merton given back Dons trophies". BBC. 2007-08-02. http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/teams/w/wimbledon/6927439.stm. Retrieved 2007-11-24. 
  18. ^ "Match report for Supporters Direct Cup vs. Enfield town". AFC Wimbledon. 2002-08-12. http://www.afcwimbledon.co.uk/-/reports/supporters-direct-cup/1957/enfield-town. Retrieved 2007-09-14. 
  19. ^ "Match report for Supporters Direct Cup vs. FCUM". AFC Wimbledon. 2005-06-23. http://www.afcwimbledon.co.uk/-/reports/supporters-direct-cup/5144/football-club-united-of-manchester. Retrieved 2007-09-14. 
  20. ^ "Match report for Supporters Direct Cup vs. Brentford". AFC Wimbledon. 2004-07-20. http://www.afcwimbledon.co.uk/-/reports/supporters-direct-cup/1880/brentford. Retrieved 2007-09-14. 
  21. ^ "Match report for Supporters Direct Cup vs. FCUM". AFC Wimbledon. 2006-06-22. http://www.afcwimbledon.co.uk/-/reports/supporters-direct-cup/8775/football-club-united-of-manchester. Retrieved 2007-09-14. 

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