Book Review: AFC Wimbledon: A Pictorial History
AFC Wimbledon: A Pictorial History by Graham Moody
Published by Amberley Publishing
The current incarnation of Wimbledon Football Club may not be the oldest in the League in the eyes of the great and the good, but the heroes currently holed up in Kingston represent a vital continuum with those of the club’s history. Hence, the past decade has been as momentous for the Dons as it has been for any. To mark this, Amberley Publishing, who are producing books devoted to Football League members at a ridiculously impressive rate, have issued a volume to commemorate these years of revival. Here, Charlie Worthington of the It Only Took Nine Years blog, @AFCW_Blog on twitter, provides his thoughts.
This is a detailed history of a club that genuinely has a story to tell. Graham Moody takes a look back at a decade that was traumatic, turbulent, and just a little bit terrifying for AFC Wimbledon and he truly captures the idea that this is not merely the story of the birth of AFC Wimbledon, but rather the renaissance of a community and its football club.
It’s a classic British underdog tale that the Football Association, the ‘moral custodians’ of modern football, have done their best to crush. This is the narrative of a club that slipped through the net, and returned with a vengeance to remind us all that there is still a little romance left in football – if you look hard enough.
There are plenty of remarkable stories within the greater narrative – Moody explores the history of English football’s longest unbeaten run (and the manager who was fired 42 games into it), the striker who scored 107 goals in 2 seasons only to be refused a new contract, and the recurrent theme of battles with the footballing authorities, who missed no opportunity to throw the book at AFC Wimbledon. Of course, he then turns his attention to an account of two games the entire footballing world had half an eye on: the play-off final of 2011 and the ‘derby’ that never should’ve been.
The book also features some more light-hearted moments, involving ex-players including a future News of the World phone hacker and a member of So Solid Crew, as well as a World Cup goal scorer playing in the Isthmian League. It’s particularly fascinating to hear these stories from a journalist, an outsider to the Wimbledon community, and it’s clear to see that he fell in love with this club – celebrating its successes, and experiencing the chaos that was never far behind.
The superb collection of photographs further add to the value of this book, particularly for Wimbledon fans, but AFC Wimbledon: A Pictorial History bypasses the failings of many football books based on a single club – it is more than simply a trip down memory lane for Wimbledon fans alone, but an intriguing illustration of one of the more gripping football stories of recent years.
While it may not be the preferred read of the armchair fan who couldn’t name a side below the second tier, this book is one that will surely enthral all those who know the delight and devastation of supporting a non-league or lower-league side; all those who share the same dream, of rising through the pyramid and finding glory at its peak. Wimbledon is a side that has achieved that ultimate goal once, and had the reality torn away from them. This book tells the story of how they did it again.
We are drawn in by the retelling of an unorthodox, unprecedented crime by football’s higher power, and the fundamental message quickly becomes clear. While players and managers may come and go, it is the fans that define a football club, that turn a series of events into a history to be celebrated – and AFC Wimbledon’s history is chronicled superbly by Graham Moody. In the words of Jock Stein:
“football, without fans, is nothing”