The reaction of MK Dons manager Karl Robinson upon the confirmation of an epochal first meeting between his side and the club from which they were forcibly spawned illustrated painfully the acerbic disparity between the two clubs. Displaying not a modicum of decency, Robinson spoke of his excitement ahead of the clash, imbuing it with the potential to be a "fantastic tie." Such ignorance and unabashed arrogance merely acts to grind salt in open Wimbledon wounds. That it remains even a possibility that AFC Wimbledon can draw 'MK Dons' is one of the greatest tragedies in British footballing history. When pressed for his initial reaction to the draw, Robinson mustered up perhaps the most insensitive line ever uttered from the mouth of a football manager, describing how he "did a little dance 'round the living room" once the draw was made. Sickening. Classless. Bigoted. Karl Robinson may be the youngest manager in the Football League, but he also possesses its most poisonous tongue.
For Simon Wheeler, the arduous realisation that his beloved Dons must take on their Milton Keynes hyper-clone in just a few weeks represented more dystopia than the giddy utopia fashioned by Robinson and fabricated by the mainstream media. Wheeler, Chairman of The Wimbledon Independent Supporters' Association, was aghast, informing of his intention to "watch it at Kingsmeadow or go to the garden centre" rather than give "any income to that football club." The tension is palpable, but this is distinctly not a rivalry. Persecution can never be a rivalry.
Nine years after the venerable Wimbledon were ripped from their heartland and, with the graceless approval of an FA-appointed commission, transplanted fifty-six miles north, Wheeler, one of many heartbroken Dons who evoked the Wombles renaissance in English football's ninth tier, does not see this fixture as an historic landmark in the struggle. Rather, he views this as a "fixture that should never happen." It has been suggested, in some quarters, that the faceless Mr Winkelman and co should concede the tie and forfeit as a sign of respect. For years, the top brass at MK Dons have made a habit of convenient ignorance, and are never likely to give up on such potential revenue streams. In actuality, the honourable thing would have been not to tamper with another towns football team; but Winkelman has never let human emotion get in the way of a good balance sheet.
The fundamental differences between AFC Wimbledon and MK Dons are constituent parts of a wider footballing phenomenon. This will be a harrowing fixture, pitting the idealistic model of what football should be against the demonic realisation of what it actually has become. This will be an alien fixture, the kind which would have been completely beyond the kin of even the most prudent horrorwriter twenty years ago. It strikes fear into my heart imagining what our game will be like in another twenty years time.