If it’s late December it must be that time of year again, so….
Continuing the SW19 tradition of hopeful (and hopeless) predictions for the coming 12 months ahead has never quite been so, well, interesting. Firstly, I would like to apologise for getting last year hopelessly wrong – even the high and proven forces of Lesser Magik could not prohibit the power of white powder, brown envelopes, vaseline and a “Monster Kong” 12″ rubber vibrator. But as anyone ever dabbling in such paranormal dealings will testify, those who prohibit what is to be eventually suffer greatly.
While you’re still working out what that last sentence was about, your humble and esteemed editor has once again locked himself into a dark room, read properly this time “Occult For Dummies” (the 2003 editon, with new section on voodoo), consulted his ouija board, played Black Sabbath’s first album backwards, dealt Tarot cards out and obtained Marjorie Orr’s phone number. All that coupled with drinking vast quantities of freshly slain oxon blood (more commonly known as Tesco’s red wine) has come together somewhat disturbedly to bring you the following….
During an after-game kareoke night at Ks, Kris Stewart shocks the entire audience after drunkenly mentioning “moving forward” whilst in a rendition of “My Girl”. The previously jovial mood turns to frightening anger, and Mr Stewart is whisked away in a blacked out Ford Mondeo for his own safety. Confusion reigns for many seconds as a successor is found. Somebody jokingly suggests that Phil Taylor may be available to be the new AFCW chairman, though it was decided that AFCW would rather do without a chairman.
Further humiliation abounds for Franchise as they draw a mere 987 for a SP game against Grimsby. Of those, 50 are from Humberside, the rest are journalists in the press box all turning up en masse to report on the lowest attendance ever. This humiliation is compounded when it is revealed AFCW draw 1344 to a game against Cobham – even more remarkably, the game got postponed 2 hours before kickoff.
The AFCW game versus Guildford and Godalming is held up as the referee for the first game is assigned to the match. The delay comes as he realises he has forgotten his watch. This leads Terry Eames to say “well you never used your watch the last time you reffed us against them”. AFCW win 4-0 despite having 11 men sent off.
Only one Franchise player is so far committed to the MK move, Trond Andersen. Though somewhat bizzarely, he is looking forward to the club going to the MK Bowl as “I’ve got tickets for the Bon Jovi gig”.
After realising that he would have to play Franchise games in the MK Bowl as opposed to watching concerts, Trond Andersen goes on strike. He is immediately backed by the PFA, who claim that being forced to play there is severely detremental to his career. Rather than risk a legal minefield, Franchise agree to let Trond Andersen go despite being outside the transfer window. His new club is Birmingham, and they win the next game 5-0
No sign of Kris Stewart. The bar at Ks drops kareoke due to lack of interest
In an amazing shock, a ground announcement that a club called Wimbledon makes actually happens. AFCW announce that they indeed will be sharing at Tooting and Mitcham for the next three years. Merton Council do however give some cause for concern when an unedited press release gets inadvertantly broadcast, with the telling phrase “Right, do we have to continue with this episode now? They’re back aren’t they?”
Franchise finally announce a venue for them to play in Buckinghamshire – Germander Park Primary School, Milton Keynes. The Franchise FC programme proudly announces that they will be playing in their exciting new venue “as soon as possible”. Charles Koppel writes a very gushing article which proclaims that it is the ultimate move, that the committment to move is still as strong as ever, and that the club are extremely grateful that the third year have agreed to pick up the litter on the ground the day before they arrive.
An Ash fan wins an undisclosed sum on the National Lottery and donates Â£10000 to his favourite club. Rather bizzarely, Ash start a winning run again. Even more bizzarely, all these games are won with the assistance of referees, including a rather brutal gang-rape on the Cobham goalkeeper in the penalty area that is missed by the referee
AFC Wallingford continue their run, which stretches beyond 25 games undefeated. AFC Wimbledon still remain second, despite a rather strange game against the other AFCW. After going 2-0 up, the Dons are then pegged back to 2-2 having been given the news during the game that Kris Stewart is alive and well and has been found doing pennance for his slip in January. Despite this distraction, the Dons hold on after their defence forgets to come out for the second half : fortunately, nobody knows the difference until 87 minutes in.
The first Franchise FC game at Milton Keynes is postponed yet again after Germander Park Primary School hold their annual spring fair for the first game. An offer by Charles Koppel to have the two events simultaneously is refused by Bucks police, as it is felt the large numbers going to the fair would block in the car of the 4 people likely to turn up.
SW19’s ARMY, in a moment of drunkeness, agrees to sponsor one of the last home games of the season. AFCW are happy to accomodate and give the necessary banqueting facilites : the broom cupboard is available.
The long-awaited Merton derby between AFCW and Raynes Park Vile is sensationally moved from Merton to Selhurst Park. Although the official reason given is safety, the real reason is that the owner of RP Vile’s ground, Mr Charles Koppel, invites the game over to SP so he can get to see a game with some people turning up. Such a move goes down poorly – only 243 people turn up, though AFCW win 3-1.
AFC Wallingford are crowned champions after finishing top with 40 more points than anyone else. As a reward, their players are given the rest of the season off, though they do manage to win their last game 3-2.
Franchise FC still haven’t managed to play in Milton Keynes, after the school complained about “some strange guy with long hair hanging around the school gates with a funny smile on his face”.
Meanwhile, in more near-obsessive methods to prove to the Buckinghamshire public that Franchise FC are genuine Milton Keynes material, Charles Koppel orders all current and future players to sing the Milton Keynes national anthem before games. Some confusion mounts as to what this actually is, but eventually it is decided that the Style Council’s song “Milton Keynes” is adopted. Disaster strikes when it is realised said song is very derogative about the town, and for the 15th time in a year, Koppel has to go into hiding.
AFCW finish second but must await the planned restructuring of the non-league scene to figure out. Whilst this is happening, the club celebrates its first anniversary with a monumental piss-up. To everyone’s amazement, nothing untowards actually happens, though this may be due to the choice of venue (the Alex), where everyone can only afford one round of drinks anyway.
In the first round of restructuring of the non-league scene, it is decided by Ryman League clubs that only teams who play in grounds that are easy to find will be admitted to a higher level. AFC Wallingford, despite winning the CCL, are immediately stripped of their title due to it being in the middle of nowhere. AFC Wimbledon are immediately promoted in their place
Peter Winkelmann announces that he is finally no longer a joke in the music industry and that his acts really do draw money. He proves this by signing Kylie Minogue up – however, immediately after the contract is signed, Ms Minogue suffers cellulite and subsequently her album sales plunge fatally. Undeterred, Winkelmann claims that Milton Keynes is the capital of the world and that he is proud of franchising.
After huge complaints from AFC Wallingford, including a threat to bring down some people from Oxford to have a couple of words, a new restructure of the non-league setup is proposed. Both AFCW and Wallingford are to be placed in a new Ryman Premier division. This in itself draws no complaints : however the next aspect of the proposal proves more controversial. Through use of two dice, a pin and a blindfold, it is decided that AFCW will have to play teams like Bishop Auckland, Stalybridge Celtic and Telford, all requiring huge journies. Immediately, mass protests from players, staff and fans alike ensue, including claims that “there are only so many times that I can visit my dentist”. The matter remains unresolved for now.
The inaugral Merton Cup is played between AFCW, RP Vile and T&M. The surprising winners of the said tournament are Vile, as both AFCW and T&M spend so much time laughing at the 3 people who turned up from Grand Dive that the team from SW20 remain unbeaten. The first game between AFCW and T&M in many a long year ends in farce as it degenerates into a 22 man brawl. Most spectators are horrified at the carnage, except for the local GAA hurlers (who play next door at Mitcham rugby club) who claim they’re all soft as shite.
After exhaustive negotiations, the restructuring of the non-league scene is complete. A pool of 64 clubs are listed, including AFCW, and each team must pick who they want to play next, providing that they play the next fixture at an alternative venue from their previous game. AFCW’s first game is therefore at Margate as it is August. The club win 2-1 after a late penalty from Joe Sheerin
Following a disasterous end-of-season campaign, Franchise FC find themselves in the second division where they ironically play Joe Kinnear’s Luton Town. As an added wager, the Hatters boss will get to take over Franchise and move them to Dublin should the Beds team win. Luton do indeed win 1-0 thanks to an own goal by Reo-Coker and immediately plans are made to uproot the club.
A well known rock band are set to make a comeback tour at the Newcastle Telewest Arena. This coincidentally ties in with an AFCW away game at Bishop Auckland.
Two years on from the World Trade Center attacks, both the FBI and MI5 make a significant terrorist cell discovery within the British Isles. The MI5 Director General, Eliza Manningham-Buller, makes a solemn and chilling statement that “those arrested rank amongst the most evil minds in this country”. Such men, she claims, were not to be approached, though they understood that not all the suspects of this terrorist cell were captured immediately.
In other news that day, Cardiff City and Barry Town are both seeking new owners.
AFCW start off a heavy few days, firstly playing a game at Woking (where Glyn Shimmel had to collect a pot of paint from the local B&Q), then a hastily arranged fixture at home to Dulwich Hamlet, where the Dulwich fullback was to be visiting a mate in Colliers Wood afterwards. Finally, due to Terry Eames going on holiday the next day, AFCW round off a successful few games by winning 1-0 at Crawley. AFCW are top, with Sutton United second
The first game at Franchises’ new home in Dublin’s Northside is once again mysteriously cancelled due to nobody turning up. Charles Koppel finally gets the hint and say “Fuck it, it’s not worth it. I hate football anyway”. Due to losses of over Â£10m on flyers within the MK area, and the medication bills (ahem) of Peter Winkelmann, Franchise is wound up.
A major falling out occurs at AFCW, when a scheduled game against AFC Wallingford is cancelled after only half the AFCW squad turns up. The game in question was selected by the AFCW board “for old times sake”. However, half the squad had a party to go to in Leicester Square that weekend, and would have preferred playing Dagenham and Redbridge. Subsequently, AFCW splits into two : AFCW and AFC AFCW, the latter opting to play the game in East London.Both clubs retain their place in the league however, after rising property prices forces Sutton United out of business.
AFCW retain an unbeaten run after signing unemployed labourer Patrick Agyemang and warehouse operator Neil Shipperley. Both have played professional football before but nobody can remember who for.
AFC AFCW meanwhile run into problems when Simon Bassey is sent off in a game against Walton and Hersham. Not quite so unusual except that he was refereeing a Junior Dons game at the time.
The split between AFCW and AFC AFCW reaches crisis point at a stormy meeting. The Dons Trust suffers a breakaway, with a newly named trust called the Real Dons Trust representing AFC AFCW. Tensions are raised beyond intolerance when the new leader of the Real Dons Trust describes AFCW as “AFC Franchise”, which almost leads to the police being called. Order is restored, however, after WISA intervene and threaten to turn the meeting into a discussion of a constitution
Unpeturbed by off-field events, AFCW lose ground after a 4-2 loss to Telford. Nobody actually wanted to go to Telford, but manager Terry Eames thought that it would be “a laugh to go to after the shit going on off the pitch”.
Meanwhile, AFC AFCW secure a high-profile friendly against newly formed AFC Fulham. Their creation occurs because of a property deal in the Midlands sending the homeless club from West London. A bumper crowd of 4,744 at the rented premises of Hendon FC sees a 0-0 bore draw.
AFCW reveal that since the breakaway club formed, their attendances drop 90%, they lose their major sponsor and face financial ruin after T&M ever-so-suddenly discover that they have the right to increase rent per annum to 300%. However, AFC AFCW themselves reveal financial strife when the Real Dons Trust realises that they are not legally allowed to transfer funds over from the Dons Trust.
Another emergency meeting is called at Wimbledon Theatre, this time with added security and police guards. Rumours that Selhurst Park stewards are to be called in are however dismissed. Realising that both clubs are facing the very real and serious threat of extinction, it is agreed to re-merge the two clubs once again to form the newly titled Real AFC Wimbledon (2003). With an impressive (and some claim highly suspicious) quickness, the new shirt is revealed with the new logo – the same one as the old Wimbledon FC. A new sponsor has yet to be found, though as the last Commercial Director was used as a weapon in the previous meeting at Wimbledon Theatre, this issue is deliberately witheld.
The new club will be allowed to keep its position in the league for this season, but a fan vote on the next opponents is written into the constitution. The entire hall leaves happy and more united than it had been since the now legendary May 2002 WISA meeting. But suspicions are already raised when a short gentleman is spotted speaking to the new owners of Real AFC Wimbledon (2003) with a heavily accented line of “my children”…..