On Monday the 30th of May 2016, AFC Wimbledon fans travelled to Wembley hardly believing what was about to take place. For the first time in their five seasons in the Football League 2, AFC Wimbledon were taking part in the 2016 Playoff Final, with chance to move into League 1 for the first time in the newly formed Wimbledon's history.
This was not the aim, there was not an expectation. Many fans agreed that there was enough quality in the squad to push for promotion, but realistically there were very few who translated this to an expectation. None the less, they found themselves travelling to Wembley with just one football match standing between their club and a historical promotion.
Looking at their run to the final, they showed a heart and spirit that encompassed all that AFC Wimbledon stands for - a refusal not to die or be overpowered. It was a football match that they were simply not going to lose.
The match was in the balance for 78 out of the 90 minutes. There were chances at either end, and it was always going to be a game where the first goal would decide the winner – step up, Lyle Taylor. The Montserratian Striker had scored 21 goals in his first season at the club, and he flicked the ball into the corner from a Callum Kennedy cross to put AFC Wimbledon one foot into League 1. History was being written, but this game was not over. Argyle knew they had to attack Wimbledon, leaving themselves open to going 2-0 down. That should’ve happened, minutes after the goal, Barry Fuller had a chance to seal the promotion with a chance 1 on 1 which was saved by McCormick. Adebayo Akinfenwa thought he’d sealed it when he headed on target from close range, only to see another brilliant McCormick save keep Argyle in the game. McCormick saved again when Lyle Taylor went clean through, some teams might’ve questioned whether or not this was going to be their day – not Wimbledon.
One final chance for AFC Wimbledon to confirm their place in League 1 when Adebayo Azeez raced through and won his team a penalty. This was Adebayo Akinfenwa’s moment to print his name deeper into the hearts of Wimbledon fans, and he stepped up in typical fashion firing his team into the Football League 2.
It didn’t take long before questions about whether or not the club is ready to take the step up to a higher division, but it will be a day that AFC Wimbledon fans will remember for years to come. This is a club on a continuous rise, and there is an overwhelming sense that this historic story is not over yet.