Afc Wimbledon

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:00 pm on 26th January 2012.

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Photo of Siobhain McDonagh Siobhain McDonagh Labour, Mitcham and Morden 6:00 pm, 26th January 2012

I completely agree with the hon. Gentleman.

The people we most want to congratulate are the supporters. AFC Wimbledon is owned by the fans through a small supporters group, the Dons Trust, and is deeply rooted in our community. When it was promoted to the Football League at the City of Manchester stadium last May, after Danny Kedwell’s penalty kick and Seb Brown’s heroic penalty saves, it was not just the club that was celebrating, it was the whole community.

But I have not called this debate today just to praise my local football club—although that would be reason enough. Yes, I want to use this debate to inspire, and to sing the praises of community football. But the main reason why I requested the debate is because, strange as it may sound, everyone involved wants to prevent what happened to us from happening again. No true football lover could possible want what happened to us to happen to anyone else.

Yes, it is true that the fans of AFC Wimbledon are enjoying their success, and yes, they are the same people who enjoyed success as supporters of Wimbledon, but the highs that we have experienced are nothing compared with the lows, and we do not want another club to suffer those. First, in 1991, the club left its home at Plough Lane. This was an ignominious time, especially for those of us who, like me, were connected to Merton council. We were persuaded by the owner, Sam Hammam, that Plough Lane was unsuitable for top-flight football, which required all-seater stadiums, and that he should be allowed to leave while a new stadium was found.