AFC Wimbledon are on the brink of playing in League One with MK Dons… we take look back at key moments as they go for glory

  • AFC Wimbledon face Plymouth Argyle in the League Two play-off final
  • The club can incredibly reach heights of the club that left them behind 
  • Win at Wembley will see them play in same league as MK Dons next term
  • Sportsmail looks back at the key moments on the road to this point
The Phoenix go head-to-head with Plymouth Argyle in Monday's League Two play-off final at Wembley
The Phoenix go head-to-head with Plymouth Argyle in Monday’s League Two play-off final at Wembley

The Phoenix that is AFC Wimbledon can, incredibly, reach the heights of the club that left them behind with victory in the League Two play-off final against Plymouth Argyle on Monday.

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Wimbledon chairman Charles Koppell (right), pictured in 2002, took the first steps of the modern MK move

Win at Wembley and the Dons will find themselves in English football’s third tier for the first time and on a level footing with Milton Keynes Dons, a remarkable reward for the struggle fans have gone through to re-establish themselves since the team they once supported uprooted 14 years ago.

Supporters left to start all over again can find themselves at a new peak on a journey full of them after so many difficulties.

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Proposed move was unanimously rejected by the Football League board but Koppell announced he’d appeal

Here, Sportsmail looks back at the key moments on the road to this point as AFC Wimbledon go for glory again.

1979: Interest in moving a team to Milton Keynes began in the 1970s, with Wimbledon among the early options in a franchise-style relocation.

The Milton Keynes Development Corporation had earmarked a site for a stadium adjacent to the under-construction Milton Keynes Central railway station.

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AFC Wimbledon were founded by the Dons Trust and entered the Combined Counties Premier League

The mooted switch fell through due to a lack of perceived interest that could have boosted attendances but the idea of transferring a club to Milton Keynes remained.

August 2001: Wimbledon chairman Charles Koppell took the first steps of the modern MK move by writing to the Football League seeking approval for an extraordinary switch outside of the usually-allowed 25-mile radius that a club is allowed to relocate within.

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Kris Stewart, chief executive of AFC Wimbledon, addresses the media during press conference in June 2003

The plans outlined starting playing at a newly-built stadium in Wimbledon’s new hometown from the 2003-04 season and an agreement was said, in the letter to Football League chief executive David Burns, to have already been reached ‘subject to planning and regulatory consents’.

The move was widely criticised by Wimbledon fans, the League and the Football Association and was unanimously rejected by the Football League board later in the month.

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Milton Keynes Dons held their first match in the newly-built Stadium mk (pictured in 2007)

Lawrence Lowne, chairman of the Wimbledon Independent Supporters’ Association, said: ‘This is a mockery. We have been fearing this and fighting it for a long time.

‘They are looking at the history of the club which has been going since 1889 and saying ‘let’s just forget it’.’

Koppell announced he would appeal.

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AFC Wimbledon celebrate after beating Luton Town on penatlies to find themselves in the Football League

January-June 2002: Wimbledon won the right to have their case re-examined after an arbitration panel ruled the procedures involved in the panel’s decision ‘had not been fair’.

The FA appointed an independent commission made up of lawyer Raj Parker, Aston Villa operations director Steve Stride and Isthmian League chairman Alan Turvey.

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AFC Wimbledon fans hold their placards prior to FA Cup match against Milton Keynes Dons in December 2012

They voted by a two-to-one majority – Turvey dissented – in favour of a move with Wimbledon otherwise thought to be struggling for financial survival.

July 2002: AFC Wimbledon were founded by the Dons Trust and entered the Combined Counties Premier League, seven tiers below the original club in what is now the Championship.

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Neal Ardley, the AFC Wimbledon manager, celebrates after beating MK Dons in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy

2002-2003: The newly-founded club started out in the Combined Counties, finishing third with an impressive 2,449 attending their opening match at Sandhurst Town followed by 4,142 for their first home game. AFC groundshare with Kingstonian.

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The phoenix club have always stated an intention to return to their spiritual home of Plough Lane

June 2003: The Dons Trust agree a contract to buying Kingsmeadow’s lease.

September 2003: Wimbledon, playing in front of skeleton crowds tending to mainly be made up of opposition supporters, received Football League clearance to begin playing games at Milton Keynes’ National Hockey Stadium.

2003-04: AFC Wimbledon won promotion for the the first time, recording 21 victories in a row to romp to their first time into the Ryman Division South while also winning the Premier Challenge Cup

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Lyle Taylor of AFC Wimbledon is carried aloft by the fans after their team wins the play-off semi-final

July 2004: Approval was provided to change the name of the original club to Milton Keynes Dons, their blue and yellow kits were switched to white. AFC Wimbledon continued with their plans to emulate the original team as it was before their move.

2004-05: AFC led the Ryman Division One South from start to finish, won the Surrey Senior Cup and went 78 matches in total without defeat to achieve promotion once again.

2005-07: A third consecutive promotion was denied with a play-off defeat by Fisher Athletic and again the following season with a semi-final loss at the hands of Bromley.

July 2007: MK Dons held their first match in the newly-built Stadium mk.

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2007-08: AFC Wimbledon finally made it out of the Ryman Premier League play-offs, beating Staines Town 2-1 to rise into the Conference South.

2008-09: Back-to-back promotions were secured once again with a first-place finish in the sixth tier.

2010-11: AFC had failed to get promoted first-time in the 2009-10 season but play-off success came again a year later after they go full-time, the Dons beating Luton Town 4-3 on penalties in the final to find themselves in the Football League.

December 2012: The draw for the FA Cup second round brought MK Dons and AFC Wimbledon together for the first time. Jon Otsemobor scored an injury-time winner for the team branded ‘Franchise FC’ who continued to refuse to drop the ‘Dons’ part of their name that links them back too Wimbledon.

Pete Winkelman, the public face of the consortium that backed the move to Milton Keynes, admitted regrets about the way the relocation was handled.

‘I’m not proud of the way this club came to exist, and I am totally prepared to be the villain of the piece, but I can’t put the genie back in the bottle,’ he said.

October 2014: MK Dons and AFC come together again in August of 2014 with the former as victors but two months later a meeting in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy gives AFC Wimbledon their first win in one of English football’s most bitter rivalries.

Adebayo Akinfenwa netted the winner after the underdogs twice came from behind away at Stadium mk.

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December 2015: The phoenix club have always stated an intention to return to their spiritual home of Plough Lane and last year the London Borough of Merton approved planning permission for a new stadium on the site. The club are seeking to build a 20,000-seat ground with an initial capacity of 11,000.

May 2016: AFC Wimbledon reach the League Two play-off final. Win on Monday and they will spend next season in the same division as MK Dons following their relegation from the Championship. It is their first competitive game at Wembley.

Credits: Metronews

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