House of Payne: Dons will never forget or forgive franchise debacle (From Richmond and Twickenham Times)
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House of Payne: Dons will never forget or forgive franchise debacle
So it might just be Milton Keynes v AFC Wimbledon in the FA Cup, writes former Surrey Comet sports editor John Payne.
Both sides must win home replays to make it happen.
Two years ago, when the same fixture was on the cards, Wimbledon were spared a trip to Buckinghamshire when the club which stole their identity were knocked out in a replay by Stevenage.
Ironic, really, since only Milton Keynes seem to have any appetite for the sides to meet at all.
The fixture would clearly capture the imagination of neutrals, largely because they can see the romance of Wimbledon inflicting a bloody nose on the club which still inexplicably claim “Dons” as part of their name.
It is also something Milton Keynes seem to want.
Their odious chairman Pete Winkelman was quickly celebrating the potential fixture on their website, while manager Karl Robinson was apparently “dancing around his house” with delight when the draw was made.
In contrast, you get the impression that many at Wimbledon would rather lose their first round replay at York City than face their nemesis.
Both the club and Wimbledon Independent Supporters Association quickly issued statements regretting the draw.
But, without detracting from the history at all, this might actually be a good thing for Wimbledon.
For a start, they aren’t going to be able to avoid playing Milton Keynes forever.
At some point it’s a match that has to happen. You can’t pick and choose your opponents.
It may be wrong, but Wimbledon fans have to accept that a club bearing the ludicrous name MK Dons exists.
They aren’t going away, although it is worth remembering that its creation actually destroyed two clubs - Wimbledon and MK City.
For a second thing, it highlights the amazing progress Wimbledon have made and, at best, the stagnation of Milton Keynes.
Winkelman’s unloved franchise may play in a new stadium, but that is as soulless as the club itself and they have collected far more red cards than friends during their decade of existence.
Wimbledon fans will never forgive and they will never forget. And nor should they.
But they should also ease off the recriminations and enjoy being in the position where virtually every neutral will want them to win and also strike a blow for the Wimbledon Guardian’s ‘Drop the Dons’ campaign.