"Womble Till I Die" - 2016 League 2 Playoff Final

  • Graffiti on the locked gates of Plough Lane, in 2006 - Wimbledon's original home ground.

Over in South West London, a footballing fairytale is being written. Chapter by chapter a team with a proud history is making up for lost time, and are on the verge of something special. It's been 13 years since the original Wimbledon FC were controvertially relocated to Buckingamshire, eventually renamed 'Milton Keynes Dons', and the fans left to rebuild from the bottom of the footballing pyramid. AFC Wimbledon was formed in an act of defiance, a refusal to fold to what many consider an early sign of the monetisation of football, but the club had to begin their rise from the 9th teir of English football. Perhaps even the most faithful of supporters could hardly have predicted the success that followed, as the fans club achieved 5 promotions in 9 seasons - only one other club has ever achieved this, Rushden and Diamonds FC, the now dissolved club from Northamptonshire.

The story has captured the imagination of many footballing fans, as an example of what can be done when faith is put in the foundations and traditions of English football - the supporters matter. For the past 5 seasons the club has been battling in the English 4th teir, quickly establishing themselves and sustaining their status in the division. For the first time in those 5 seasons, 2015/16 saw AFC Wimbledon reach the playoffs, something which fans could hardly have dreamed of. The previous 4 seasons had been steadily average, very rarely reaching above or dropping below an equal amount of games won, drawn, lost, and goals scored/conceded. There was hardly reason to complain, though, the club had achieved the unimagineable, and perhaps it was just a matter of time until the door was opened to take the next step towards the top of English football.

In a dramatic tie over two legs, AFC Wimbledon showed their refusal to miss the opportunity presented to them in the Playoff Semi-Final against Accrington, a 92nd minute Tom Beere winner gave them a chance that surely was too significant to waste. Fans travelled in their thousands towards the North-West of England to support their team, Adebayo Akinfenwa encompassing their passion and belief as he headed in a second half equaliser after Accrington had turned the tie in the first half. In extra time Lyle Taylor produced the unthinkable for Wimbledon, they had one foot in the final when he gave them the lead with minutes to go. Even a powercut couldn't overshadow the realisation of what was happening for AFC Wimbledon, they were heading to Wembley with a chance to start a new chapter in one of the greatest stories in English footballing history.

Fans of AFC Wimbledon will be well aware of the fact should they win at Wembley on Monday, the prospect of competing in the same division as MK Dons for the first time in their history will become a reality. Could a story of apparent in justice be about to reach it's climax? In reality, many believe that this would just be another significant chapter in a rise that ultimately ends at the top of English football. Perhaps it is a matter of when, not if.