Translations of this material:
- into Russian: АФК "Уимблдон". 37% translated in draft.
Submitted for translation by Aigaleo 23.01.2009
The club was founded by dissident supporters of Wimbledon, led by Kris Stewart, in May 2002, when the Football Association agreed to allow Wimbledon to relocate 56 miles north to the new town of Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire and, in the view of these fans, cutting all ties with the area of Wimbledon. Although Wimbledon was unable to physically move for more than a year, their traditional local support dried up almost immediately in a ground-swell of popular protest against the move. The name AFC does not necessarily stand for the usual "Association Football Club": in January 2005, Marc Jones, one of the founders of the club, suggested that the initials 'AFC' meant nothing in particular: "we thought it sounded 'non-league', but it never really stood for anything." That said, an alternative meaning "A Fan's Club" has been used by some.
Soon after moving, Wimbledon Football Club Ltd went into administration,and the business was bought out by Pete Winkelman, who re-branded the club as Milton Keynes Dons F.C. in 2004. This left AFC Wimbledon as well as their ladies and junior sides as the sole bearers of the "Wimbledon" name. By then, all organised supporters' groups that had followed the old club had long since pledged allegiance to AFC Wimbledon.
In order to assemble a competitive team at such short notice, they held player trials over three days on Wimbledon Common in June 2002, open to any unattached player who felt he was good enough to try out for the team. From these trials, the club's squad for its inaugural season was chosen.
The new team attracted a crowd of 4,657 fans for its first ever game, a pre-season friendly against Sutton United on 10 July 2002.
In 2002–03, their first competitive season in the Combined Counties League, managed by Terry Eames they started slowly but won their last 11 league games to finish the season in third place, narrowly missing promotion to the Ryman Isthmian League.
In 2003–04 they won their first 21 league games before a draw on 10 January 2004, giving them 32 consecutive wins in league games over two seasons. By this time, AFC Wimbledon was the only club in England at any level to maintain a perfect league record for the 2003–04 season. Despite the sacking of manager, Terry Eames, The Dons success continued under caretaker manager Nicky English, whose first game in charge resulted in a club record 9–0 victory. The Dons went on win the championship with an unbeaten season (42 wins, 4 draws, with a goal difference of +148), easily earning promotion to the Isthmian League Division One. On 30 April 2004 they completed a "double" by winning the league's Premier Challenge Cup.
The 2004–05 season saw AFC Wimbledon playing in the Isthmian League, under the leadership of newly appointed first team manager, Dave Anderson. They won 29 games, drew ten, and lost three, and led the division all season to earn promotion to the Isthmian League Premier Division. Also, the Dons – in their first appearance in the FA Cup – reached the Third Qualifying Round, bowing out to Thurrock from Conference South (two divisions above). A 1–0 home win over Metropolitan Police on April 9, 2005 guaranteed the First Division title. They won the Surrey Senior Cup final 2–1 over league runners-up Walton & Hersham on May 3, having defeated teams from higher leagues in earlier rounds, including a reserve side from Premiership club Crystal Palace in the quarter–finals. Dons manager Dave Anderson was named Manager of the Year in the Isthmian First Division following the season.
After scoring all three of the Dons' goals with a hat-trick against Dunstable Town in the Second Qualifying Round of the FA Cup, Rob Ursell was voted FA Cup Player of the Round. The 2004–05 season also saw AFC Wimbledon sign their first full international, when they acquired New Zealand international Shane Smeltz in mid-season.
The Dons set a new all-time record for the longest streak of unbeaten league games at any level of senior football in the United Kingdom. They remained unbeaten for 78 league matches between a 2–0 defeat at home to Withdean 2000 on 22 February 2003 and a 2–0 defeat at Cray Wanderers on 4 December 2004.
The 2005–06 season proved far more competitive than previous seasons, and after winning their first few games the Dons found themselves struggling to remain in the play-off places as injuries to key players kept them below full strength. However, after fluctuating form they eventually confirmed their place in the play-offs with a 1–0 win against manager Dave Anderson's former club, Hendon on April 22. However the play-offs proved a disappointment as defeat at Fisher Athletic meant there was to be no promotion this year. The Dons again reached the final of the Surrey Senior Cup, losing 1–0 to Kingstonian in a fiercely contested derby game.
The 2006–07 season was Dave Anderson's last in charge, as AFC Wimbledon lost in the play-off semi-finals for the second year running. Much of the season was overshadowed by a proposed 18 point deduction for playing Jermaine Darlington without first having gained international clearance due to the player's previous club being Cardiff City. This punishment was eventually reduced to three points and a £400 fine by the FA, who accepted that the club had made an administrative error. In the FA Cup, the team reached the final qualifying round before a 2–1 defeat at Exeter City. However, they did achieve victories against Conference opposition in the FA Trophy, winning away against Aldershot Town and Gravesend & Northfleet before being expelled from the competition due to the Jermaine Darlington infringement.
The 2007–08 season saw AFC Wimbledon promoted to the Conference South after a 2-1 win over Staines Town in the Isthmian League playoff final. Terry Brown's first season in charge was to prove an often frustrating one, as the Dons were beaten by each of the teams finishing in the bottom four, with East Thurrock and Borehamwood both achieving the double over them. Eventual league champions Chelmsford City also beat the Dons twice, with a 1-0 victory at Kingsmeadow and a 3-2 win at Melbourne Park, though the Dons recorded a 4-0 victory over them in the FA Trophy. AFC Wimbledon reached the Third Round Proper of the Trophy, where the team suffered a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Torquay United and the Third Qualifying Round of the FA Cup, where they were beaten on penalties by Horsham.