Winkelman: Two amazing things have come from Wimbledon FC - AFC Wimbledon and Milton Keynes Dons
16:30 14 November 2012
Milton Keynes Dons chairman Pete Winkelman says he is looking forward to his side facing AFC Wimbledon in the FA Cup second round despite the history between the two clubs.
The south London Dons were formed by fans when the businessman and his consortium bought the original Wimbledon FC but relocated them to Buckinghamshire and changed their name.
That was 10 years ago and the phoenix club have had a remarkable rise through the non-league, finally reaching the Football League in 2010/11.
The two clubs almost came face to face at the same stage of the competition two years ago, only for Stevenage to beat MK Dons in a first-round replay, but the showdown at stadium:mk in early December will be the first time ever the two will have met since their controversial beginnings.
Winkelman told Sky Sports News: “It was inevitably going to happen, it had been close to happening before but this time it seemed pretty real.
“We both had work to do but amazingly AFC got through their replay [against York] on Monday night and we followed last night with our victory over a spirited Cambridge City side.
“We are very keen to get this game played and get it done and dusted. There’s obviously been a lot of history and water under the bridge over the last 10 years but it’s a game the whole football world could be looking forward to. We certainly are.
“They are two good footballing teams. They come to us as a Football League team, which is an incredible achievement for them. They come to our beautiful new home which is an incredible achievement for us and I hope people will see the amazing things which have come from Wimbledon FC; ie the two clubs, AFC Wimbledon and the Milton Keynes Dons.
“I’ve been involved throughout the whole thing and come to it with all the baggage from the past as well. For our players and (manager) Karl Robinson it’s something they are excited to be part of because it’s history in the making.
“There will always be that controversy surrounding the clubs but this is a chance to get both on a football pitch and play some football. Win or lose it’s great that it’s going ahead and we will be able to look forward rather than back into the past.”
That willingness to move on is shared by AFC Wimbledon chief executive Eric Samuelson, who said: “Our job is to get the game played and over with - and hopefully win.
“This is a chance to show the footballing world just how proud we are of what we’ve achieved.”
Had the 2010 fixture taken place, there were reports of a possible AFC Wimbledon boycott, and while Samuelson insists that was never a possibility he acknowledged fans’ opinion remains divided.
“A fair number are saying they are not going to go as a matter of principle, and that’s a personal decision,” he said. “Those of our fans who do go, I would think, will be very vocal indeed.
“Emotions are running very high and it’s reminding everybody of how we started.”