The FA Cup is generally not on the radar of most EPL fans until the third round in January when the top-flight clubs join the competition. This weekend, however, there is a second-round match that is full of intrigue as well as some bad blood.
On Sunday, MK Dons will play host to AFC Wimbledon. For lack of a better sports comparison, MK Dons are sort of like the Baltimore Ravens of English football with AFC Wimbledon being the Cleveland Browns.
MK Dons came into being in 2004, not long after the Football Association’s decision to allow Wimbledon FC to relocate 56 miles away from London to Milton Keynes. Due to the club’s move, current MK Dons chairman Pete Winkelman has become as much of a hated figure to Wimbledon fans as Art Modell was to Cleveland Browns fans.
Loyal Wimbledon supporters were outraged by the loss of their club. Wimbledon FC had been in the community for more than 100 years. They were one of the original members of the Premier League and had been in England’s top flight from 1986 to 2000.
Following the desertion of their team, Wimbledon fans established a new club, AFC Wimbledon. AFC Wimbledon started life in the ninth tier of English football. Now in its 11th year of existence, the club has been promoted five times and is presently a member of League Two.
Sunday’s FA Cup tie will be the first-ever meeting of the two clubs since Wimbledon FC’s move to Milton Keynes. The tension has been growing, and the Football Association is so concerned that they have specifically asked for both clubs to “show restraint.” The police presence at the match is expected to be the strongest in MK Dons’ history.
For AFC Wimbledon and its fans, the game represents a chance to show club pride and a sense of correcting a wrong. Approximately 3,000 AFC Wimbledon fans will be travelling to the match and are planning to arrive wearing contamination suits as a form of protest. Other supporters are refusing to set foot inside of the stadium and will instead watch the match at AFC Wimbledon’s home, Kingsmeadow.
The winner of Sunday’s tie will move on to the FA Cup third round, where the top sides will join the competition.
The AFC Wimbledon at MK Dons match will be broadcast live on Fox Soccer Channel at 7:30 a.m. EST.