Dons Trust chair Matthew Breach suggests that even in the darkest moments, Dons fans have a lot to be proud of.
The 2,000 or so Dons fans trudging gloomily away from Fratton Park last Saturday were no doubt reflecting on three points lost and another defeat, and wondering when the next win would come. Or to look at it another way, it was an inevitable “down” in the natural cycle of ups and downs endured by football fans the world over. In such moments, it’s all too easy to dwell on the present, and not take a moment to reflect on the past (and if you’re an Arsenal fan, its probably better that you don’t).
But for AFC Wimbledon fans, I would argue that the opposite is true. During the Portsmouth match last week, that wonderful chant suddenly started ringing round the old ground – “Nine years, it only took nine years” – seven words that all Dons fans will surely have engraved on their hearts. And so they should, in my humble opinion. Because remembering where we’ve come from since 2002 – that we have a team competing in the Football League, that we can feel both anguish in defeats and delight in victories in equal measure – is the essence of Kris Stewart’s famous quote at the birth of the Dons Trust: “I just want to watch football.”
So if you’re ever feeling down after a match, take a moment to reflect on where we’ve come from since 2002 and the many, many ups. Five promotions, four cup finals, the famous giant-killing at Aldershot, the play-off final at Staines, that fabulous day in Manchester less than three years ago – and, of course, 27 April 2013. And we’ll all have our own favourite games too: perhaps our first match in the CCL at Sandhurst, or beating Chelmsford in the Conference South, or our first win in the Conference National at Kettering, or the Chessington & Hook 5–3 win from 3–1 down with only nine men. Compare those with the downs – no contest, I would suggest.
So, on the day that Dons fans are themselves match sponsors, once again putting hands in pockets to help fund the playing budget, please remember what together we’ve achieved. And as we strive to return home to a wonderful new stadium in Merton, do also dare to dream of what new adventures might be just around the corner.
Oh, and here’s one more statistic we should all be proud to recall: 15,742. The highest match attendance for an AFC Wimbledon league match. Yes, that was only last Saturday at Pompey!
This article originally appeared in the Bury matchday programme on 22 February.