Looking forward to hosting AFC Wimbledon

Friday 9 November 2018
Haringey Borough v AFC Wimbledon (7.55pm KO)
Live on BBC Two

Wow, just writing that down is amazing!

I don’t think we could have picked better opponents if we had tried for a club we can only aspire to be like and are truly privileged to host.

We believe the success of local clubs will have a positive impact on the community and we have gone to great strides to create a community club that has a fan base of loyal people that look forward to their time with friends at Coles Park.

AFC Wimbledon have achieved that and more and here is a brief overview of their incredible achievements in their recent history since joining the Football League.

In 1977 they joined the Football League Division Four and amazingly by 1986 they were promoted to Division One. As a lifelong Chelsea supporter who had lived in Carshalton, the route to Chelsea was past Plough Lane and from 1977 to 1986 the growth of the club had been incredible and very quickly I knew more and more about Wimbledon. In 1982 when I was 14 I was asked to go and train with Wimbledon but unfortunately my parents couldn’t get me to the sessions so I missed out on a great opportunity. Anyway, from that day onward I always felt a connection and in their first season in Division One they finished 6th and did the double over Chelsea winning 4-0 at Stamford Bridge and 2-1 at Plough Lane, with Dennis Wise scoring the 1st goal at Plough Lane. As a Chelsea supporter I don’t need to say much about Dennis and it was a nice touch that ‘The Legend’ pulled Haringey out of the hat!

In 1988, 11 years after reaching Division Four, they won the FA Cup beating Liverpool with an incredible performance and to quote John Motson; “The Crazy Gang had beaten the Culture Club”.

Then 4 years later in 1992 they were founder members of The Premier League.

In the summer of 2002 AFC Wimbledon were born by incredible Dons supporters that wanted their club in their community and within a few weeks they played their first home match in front of 2,449 fans at Sandhurst Town’s Bottom Meadow ground, where terracing was improvised from bales of hay. Just in case you were wondering, we won’t have hay on Friday night but we will definitely have our biggest ever crowd and hopefully a similar attendance.

In 2011 they won promotion to League Two in the play-off final and were back where they belonged. In 2013 in the final moments of the season, Jack Midson stepped up to score from 12 yards. It was a goal that not only secured victory over Fleetwood Town but preserved the new Dons’ hard-won League Two status. In 2016, the Dons made a timely surge into the League 2 playoff places in May 2016, before winning promotion in the playoff final at Wembley and establishing the Club in League 1 for the 2016/17 season where they remain today.

The rise has again been incredible with lots of ups and a few downs but to have a club competing in League One (level 3) after starting in level 9 with a club run by the supporters for their community and with a return to Plough Lane now in progress, this is an amazing achievement for everybody associated with the club.

As our Chairman Aki said when the draw was made, “this is the real Wimbledon in my eyes” and long may AFC Wimbledon enjoy success on your journey. We have started ours and in the last 10 years have made great progress and now play in the tough Bostik Premier League with a strong community fan base, which we hope will continue to grow.

On Friday night we welcome the supporters, players and management of AFC Wimbledon to Coles Park and hope this is a special night for all those involved and we can all celebrate community football as a way to bring people together.

Dave Bell
On behalf of those at Haringey Borough FC