MOST people thought they’d seen the last of the name Wimbledon when Milton Keynes Dons swallowed them up, lock, stock and smoking barrels, and decamped up to Buckinghamshire.
So, the return of the name, amended to AFC Wimbledon, to the Football League is one of the great footballing romance stories.
The fans of the original club decided the name wouldn’t die and restarted from the bottom back in 2002 with a dream to get back into the league. But few reckoned on seeing the name again amongst the professionals.
Now, five promotions (in nine seasons) later, AFC Wimbledon have returned the name to league football and they become Rotherham United’s 133rd different opponent tomorrow when they come to the Don Valley Stadium.
Promoted via a penalty shoot-out in last season’s Blue Square Bet Premier Play-off Final, they had a great start to life in league Two and were third in the opening weeks of October. But a slump has followed and they have won only once in the last 11 games although it was a pretty impressive win - 1-0 in an FA Cup replay at League One Scunthorpe.
“I saw them that night and they were excellent, they played Scunthorpe off the park,” said Millers manager Andy Scott.
“I saw them several times last season, half-a-dozen players in their squad I know from my Brentford days and they can be very good indeed, as I saw at Scunthorpe. On their day, they can be as good as anyone in the division. They had an excellent start but teams can hit a spell and find it a little tougher and they have been on a bit of a run.
“But Terry Brown has them playing expansive football, they have some good individuals and we need to be on our game.”
The Millers will welcome back Jon Harley after he took a blow to the eye last Saturday which caused problems with his vision but Guy Branston misses out again as his foot tendon injury has not responded to treatment as well as expected.
Scott may restore Michael Raynes to centre defence. He replaced Jason Taylor at half-time last week.
“It’s fantastic that we have players who can score goals but it’s the bane of my life the way we are letting goals in,” says Scott.
“When we beat Aldershot 2-0 at home recently and kept a clean sheet I was as happy as Larry. I’d love that again.”