If you stand in the away end of stadium MK, one of the most common chants to sing is ‘You’ve got no history’ towards the MK Dons faithful. After the relocation of Wimbledon to Milton Keynes in 2003, MK Dons have never had the support and the uniqueness of Wimbledon, and there has been unfair hatred towards the team.
Wimbledon have an interesting history, becoming the home of the players known as the ‘Crazy Gang’ in the late 1980s. With players like John Fashanu, Dennis Wise, Lawrie Sanchez and Vinnie Jones, the team rose through the leagues before winning the FA Cup in 1988.
Yet financial troubles never stayed away from Wimbledon, with their ground Plough Lane not getting redeveloped throughout their rise through the leagues. It led to the team having to look for a new stadium, and when there were none available in South London, other alternatives had to be sought.
Enter Pete Winkelman, who proposed making a new Milton Keynes, with a developed retail sector, including a new football league stadium. After a lot of opposition to a move 56 miles North-West of Wimbledon, the club were given permission in 2002. With many of the fans rebelling against this, AFC Wimbledon was created, claiming to have the true history of Wimbledon, including the FA Cup victory.
This meant that MK Don’s had no history, and after going into administration and poor performances, were relegated down to League 2. Managers came and went trying to fight for promotion with the Dons. The first was Martin Allen, who took the team to the Play-offs, only to lose to Shrewsbury.
Paul Ince was next, and led the Dons to their first bit of silverware: the Football League trophy (The Johnstones Paint trophy). This was further followed by the League two trophy, with more history made for MK Dons. However, with success, it meant other teams were sniffing around, seeing Ince move to Blackburn.
Di Matteo followed, leading the team to two points below the automatic promotion spots, and were knocked out of the play-offs by Scunthorpe United. Again like Ince, Di Matteo’s success was noticed by West Brom, and he would then go onto Chelsea to win the Champions League.
MK Dons continued to languish in League One, until the appointment of Karl Robinson.
At the age of 29 Robinson was not only an unknown, but the youngest manager in the Football League. He led MK Dons to fifth in the league, only to lose to Peterborough on aggregate in the 2011/12 season. The following season MK Don’s experienced their best ever FA Cup campaign, which included facing AFC Wimbledon. They got the bragging rights by winning 2-1, and also recorded victories over Championship outfit Sheffield Wednesday and Premier League strugglers QPR. However their cup success wasn’t replicated in the league, and the Dons didn’t failed to make the play-offs.
The next season was much of the same, with the team finishing 10th. The season that stood out, though, was the 2014/15 campaign, which saw MK Dons beat Manchester United 4-0 at home in the Capital One Cup, and then gain promotion to the Championship, highlighting just how far the club had come.
For a club that is often told they have ‘no history’, they can laugh in mockery at just how little the outside world know. This is a club which has not only grabbed bragging rights but also made their own history, having already won three trophies. With Pete Winkelman’s vision coming true, MK Dons could one day go full circle and become a Premier League club.