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Quote of the decade

“I hate that word ‘survived’. I don’t want it associated with this football club anymore, certainly celebrating survival.

That was ex-Wimbledon head coach Mark Robinson, after Portsmouth on the 1st May 2021.

Many things said in the past year have aged very badly. This has to be one of the worst of the lot.

Anyway, the two words I’ve never wanted to write now have to be typed out in the following sentence.

We’re down.

OK, not officially, but if the goal difference swings that much next Saturday then I’ll be writing to the EFL asking for a stewards enquiry.

I’ll get what proved to be the fatal blow to our season out of the way first.

It’s fitting that getting a draw at Fleetwood was done in the most brain-dead manner possible.

You’re 1-0 up with two minutes to go. Results elsewhere are going exactly the way you want them to.

Sure, you’ll have about nine minutes injury time to deal with, but you’ve managed to avoid the 80-82 minute collapse this time.

Then the Bulgarian Kiwi decides to try and timewaste, starts tapping the ball forward when he shouldn’t, and the rest is painful history.

His fuckwittery didn’t relegate us, but it was a gloriously suitable way of losing your League One status.

I think we have the right guy in charge in Mark Bowen, and I hope he stays, but calling it an “injustice” isn’t correct.

Not that it matters now.

That act of idiocy sums us up, doesn’t it? The way we threw it away yesterday in Lancashire was how we’ve thrown away our third tier status.

We’ve spectacularly blown it.

Even the amount of games we’ve led in (especially under MB) where the collapse was a case of when, not if is part of that.

But every single one of us knows where we’ve absolutely shit the bed this season, and for today at least there’s no point going over well-trodden ground.

There will be plenty of occasions in the coming days, weeks and probably months to go into what is hopefully a brutal post-mortem.

But football is about feelings, and I have two strange conflicting emotions right now – resignation and anger.

I’ll come onto the latter in a bit, but this morning, the actual act of going into League Two doesn’t annoy me so much.

It’s partly because we’ve been so shit for so long, that this club and collection of players don’t deserve to be in League One.

To give you an idea of how much we’ve blown it, here’s the league table on New Year’s Day.

Five points clear, two games in hand.

Even eighteen days later, we were still OK to the point where just a win or two could get us back on track.

Your mileage may vary in when you “knew” we were going down, and your editor thought that was after Cheltenham away.

But then, I remembered that before we played Sunderland at PL, I did a preview for Mackem fanzine A Love Supreme.

Towards the end, I said there was a growing sense that if and when we’d enter the bottom four we’d probably stay there.

This was in mid-February. Not so long after we were looking healthyish in the table.

If I saw this coming two-and-a-bit months ago, others did too. I think I was still holding out hope that MR would have found enough of a clue by then to turn it around.

So in terms of on-field stuff, I’m resigned to us losing our League One status. Four months of shit takes it out of you, but in truth it’s been longer than that.

It’s disappointing that we won’t be playing Sunderland, or Charlton, or Derby, or Sheffield Wednesday in league competition next season.

As far as I’m concerned, we’ve given up the right to do that because of how poor we were.

But League Two isn’t the end of the world, certainly not like going down into the Conference would be.

People will point out that we’ve swapped Sunderland for Stevenage, and they’d be right.

But in League One, we also faced Accrington, Shrewsbury, Cheltenham and Cambridge. That’s not much different from facing Bradford, Swindon, Walsall and Leyton Orient.

I’m not quite so worried about crowds, if we’re doing well then they’ll be pretty decent anyway.

I read a Stockport County forum last night, and they were talking about how the away support in L2 is much better than the Conference.

That said, anyone convincing themselves that we’re still going to get 8k on more than the odd occasion is dangerously naive.

And judging by some comments from last night and this morning, there are some seriously deluded happy clappers about.

They probably don’t even realise we’ve gone down.

Within the next week, maybe even tonight, I’ll be driving past Crawley’s ground. Yeah, we’ll be playing them next season, but in an odd way I’m looking forward to it.

Why? Because like all fans of clubs who have just been demoted, we might be able to win a few more games next campaign.

And going there and gubbing them 4-0 is an appealing prospect. Funny, that.

The most important figure at AFCW right now is Mick Buckley, because he’ll a) probably make the decision on the new manager, and b) has to get the whole CEO appointment right – and quickly.

And he needs to, because off the field is as much of a clusterfuck as on it.

Which is why I’m also as angry about this as I am resigned.

Part of the reason is that this relegation was so un-necessary. It didn’t need to happen.

True, we’ve been sailing very close to the wind in the last few seasons, and one may even suggest our decline started the day after we beat Franchise at KM.

But even that shouldn’t make going down inevitable.

We had so many chances to make that next step forward over the past four years, and we just couldn’t do it.

Indeed, since our time in L1 all we’ve done is just cut to the bone and then expect whoever is in charge to perform miracles.

Here’s a little tidbit for you, from the murky world of sports journalism : soon after Walter’s Great EscapeTM, he played a round of golf with one of Fleet Street’s veterans.

The expectation from the man who helped kept us up well against the odds was that he would be given enough funds to start the rebuild we desperately needed even back then.

His reward for keeping us up was to see his budget cut.

True, Walter signed his own death warrant, and he had to go, but even at the lowest level of L1 you still need more funds in than we put up.

Yeah, yeah, funding Plough Lane and all that. But we could have managed that better financially too.

This season just gone was also trying to do Moneyball/Brentford with £2.50 and a cracked copy of Football Manager 2007.

In the real world of professional football, it doesn’t work. In the fantasy world of AFC Wimbledon, there’s no way it couldn’t.

But what has really, really, really pissed me off about this last eight or nine months is the sheer hubris of AFCW.

The whole whirlwind of arrogance that just wouldn’t accept things weren’t right.

I’m not going to link to any of the big interviews MR did with the club, or the video with him and a couple of DTB members. The smug tone of them alone would annoy me too much.

Going back home was great, but it also went to too many people’s heads.

The “Process” may have set out with good intentions, but it became a massive part of this arrogance.

When it was clearly failing we were still being told that it was the only game in town.

If you thought it was actually quite shit, then it was because you knew nothing about football and therefore shouldn’t comment.

This hubris came to a head when we sold Ollie Palmer. I don’t believe it was solely down to now-departed Joe Palmer, though I don’t doubt he was heavily behind it.

But anyone who knew anything knew it was a massive gamble at best – and an act of sheer wanton negligence at worst.

Yet it was done by a club that badly over-estimated how clever it was.

It thought that because the transfer committee was so good, we could just replace somebody proven with relatively little bother.

I won’t link to MR’s quotes about signing Cosgrove, but they were massively over-cooked knowing what we know now.

Self-confidence is fine if you can back it up, but we didn’t one bit.

The over-selling of who we are and how good we are has led us to playing League Two football next season.

We have undeniably done very well to get back into the EFL from the CCL in under a decade, and eventually return home to boot.

But this season in particular, too much at AFCW has been over-hyped far beyond its worth.

“The Greatest Story In Football” marketing bollocks still irritates me, as it does many others.

The loan signings were utter shite, yet we kept being told this was the brave new way of doing things.

The less said about the Finishers Coach the better, and that was another gimmick that was passed off as a revolutionary act.

It’s not just the first team. How often have the youngsters coming through been hyped up, only for them to end up at Hampton and Richmond?

Look at what both Mark Bowen and Lee Brown said about Academy football. But then, they’ve both just got here, so of course they don’t know what they’re talking about.

AFCW talked the talk. It didn’t walk the walk.

Will the people responsible actually hold their hands up? I’m not holding my breath.

The club’s structure and decision making process is brain-aching to follow, and perhaps deliberately so.

It’s almost as if it’s been designed for nobody to take any responsibility when it goes wrong.

It would be nice if the Dons Trust Board, the PLC Board and any other boards that have been created recently just to issue a statement with one word :


Some of them on there might actually mean it.

Mind you, others are probably just hurt that Exeter are going up, and will become the poster boys of fan ownership and not them.

Other than that, I’m not really interested what a DTB member on social media says right now. I expect it’s all for public consumption, or telling the voters what they want to hear.

I’d rather those in charge take the hit, show a bit of contrition (which is very hard for some of them, I know), then shut up and start repairing this club again.

Relegation is shit, but when the first signs of change come in the summer I’ll put 21/22 in the past where it belongs.

As somebody more astute than me recently said, the list of the players we’re getting rid off will be this season’s highlight.

But we’re staring into League Two because of ourselves and nobody else.

Simply put, AFC Wimbledon is an arrogant little club full of arrogant little nobodies, who have too much to say for themselves.

There is too much self-aggrandising, too much hubris, too much hype, too many power trips, too much idealism, too much student politics, too little humility and far too little actual knowledge.

And that’s why we’re going down…

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