The original Wimbledon were at their peak in the late 1980’s, winning the FA Cup in 1988, and with players like Vinnie Jones and Denis Wise, dubbed ‘The Crazy Gang’. In 2002 the club were relocated to Milton Keynes in a move that was very controversial with supporters. Wimbledon fans are likely to call the side ‘MK’ without adding ‘Dons’.
The EFL stepped in when the club refused to use MK Dons full name – instead referring to them simply as Milton Keynes. To get around this EFL directive, if you are at Plough Lane and you hear the half time scores being read, you’ll notice that one result will just be announced as, for example, ‘Doncaster are winning 1-0’ – you’ll know their opponents must be MK Dons!
In 2002 a group of supporters decided the only way to effectively fight the decision to relocate to Milton Keynes was to start again from scratch. And so, in 2002, AFC Wimbledon was formed. Trials for their first team were held on Wimbledon Common, open to any unattached player. They are one of the few supporter-owned clubs in the EFL – the Dons Trust, the supporters group who own AFC Wimbledon, is pledged to keep at least a 75% stake in the club.
The club’s rise through the leagues was pretty meteoric. In 14 seasons they rose from the 9th tier to the 3rd tier. A relegation in 2021 saw them back in the 4th tier after 6 seasons in League 1.
It wasn’t until 2020 that the club were able to move to their own stadium after years playing at Kingsmeadow, Kingston-on-Thames. Their new stadium , Plough Lane, is just 250 yards from their original Plough Lane ground, and is built on the site of the old Wimbledon greyhound stadium.
The club places great emphasis on its role as a social focus for the entire local community and, in 2012, became the first football club to be presented with the Prime Minister’s Big Society Award for outstanding contributions to the local community.