This Sunday AFC Wimbledon take on Milton Keynes for the first time since the controversial disbanding of the original Wimbledon FC in 2004. The FA Cup tie is a huge grudge match considering the way in which the MK club came to be out of the dying Wimbledon club. That side won the competition in 1988 in an epic victory against Liverpool at Wembley in possibly the greatest ever FA Cup story in history.
AFC Wimbledon formed from the embers of the burning ashes that was Wimbledon FC - The Crazy Gang, The Wombles and the original Dons - but what has happened to the final squad that defeated a Derby County side containing Tom Huddlestone on the final day of the 2003-04 season; the final ever game of the original Wimbledon FC’s history.
GK: Scott Bevan
Signed in March 2010 he remained with the club when it moved to Milton Keynes. The former Southampton keeper then spent time at Tamworth, Kidderminster Harriers, Shrewsbury and Torquay before settling at Bristol Rovers. He is currently number one keeper for The Pirates.
DF: Shola Oyedele
One of the young players asked to step up in the face of a closing club he also went on to play for Milton Keynes before later playing non-league football with Woking and Wingate & Finchley. Where the Nigerian currently is now? Well your guess is as good as mine.
DF: Dean Lewington
The son of current England assistant Ray he also stuck with Milton Keynes and is currently the Buckinghamshire club’s longest serving player and record appearance holder.
DF: Mark Williams
Perhaps more famous for a string of relationships with British models including current wife and porn actress Linsey Dawn McKenzie (sport fans she was the girl who streaked across Old Trafford before an England test match with the West Indies).
The Northern Ireland international went on to play for Columbus Crew in the MLS, non-league Stafford Rangers and finished his career with Rushden & Diamonds in 2005; who themselves recently dissolved.
DF: Harry Ntimban-Zeh
A French journeyman when he arrived at Wimbledon in 2004 he stayed with Milton Keynes before being released along with compatriot Laurent Herve in 2005. It seems he retired from professional football the same year.
MF: Malvin Kamara
Kamara went on to play for Cardiff City, Port Vale and Huddersfield Town. After stints at various non-league clubs the one cap Sierra Leone international who infamously had to watch Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory before every game is now plying his trade for Hampton & Richmond Borough.
MF: Jermaine Darlington
A popular signing of mine on Championship Manager and the goal-scorer on the day. He went on to have stints with Watford and Cardiff City but struggled with a persistent knee injury.
He became one of a handful of players to ‘’re-sign’’ for AFC Wimbledon in 2006 where he was a regular in the side even after an administrative error related to his signing saw AFC expelled from two cup competitions and docked 18 points (reduced to three on appeal). He has since played semi-pro football with Maidstone United and Whitstable Town.
MF: Ben Chorley
Chorley was a player who was much easier to track down. After leaving Milton Keynes in 2007 he went to Leyton Orient via two seasons at Tranmere Rovers. Now 30, the former Arsenal YTS is still at Brisbane Road as a stalwart defender.
MF: Gary Smith
Was on loan at Wimbledon from Middlesbrough for the Derby game and went on to play for Milton Keynes. He won League Two with Brentford in 2009 and moved to Darlington at the end of the season.
He was released by The Quakers in 2011 after suffering a severe knee injury in the FA Trophy win against Mansfield last year. He has not played professionally since.
This is made more poignant by Smith’s involvement in a landmark case involving former Manchester United youngster Ben Collett whose leg was broken in two places in a tackle with Smith.
Effectively ending the Sir Alex Ferguson dubbed ‘A-class’ footballers career Collett was awarded £4.3 million in compensation in 2008.
FW: Wayne Gray
Another player who went on to a journeyman career post Wimbledon. Southend, Yeovil, Leyton Orient, Grays Athletic, Cambridge United, Chelmsford, Woking and Carshalton Athletic have all been graced by his presence and he is currently with AFC Hornchurch for a second spell.
FW: Wade Small
Small was Milton Keynes first ever Player of the Year in 2005 and ended up moving to Sheffield Wednesday for a ‘substantial fee’ in 2006. Injury problems mounted and brief spells at Blackpool and Charlton were followed by signing for Chesterfield in 2009. Since leaving the Spireites in 2010 he has played for Aldershot Town, Lewes, and Tooting & Mitcham and is currently at Kingstonian in the Isthmian Premier.
GK: David Martin
Originally a defender with Tottenham as a YTS he was just 18 at the time and moved to Liverpool in 2006. He spent much of his four years at Anfield out on loan including a long stint with Leicester in 08-09. Now back in Milton Keynes as the number one keeper.
DF: Peter Hawkins
Signed for Rushden & Diamonds after the Milton Keynes rebrand before stints with Ebbsfleet United, Maidstone United, Tonbridge Angels and Bly Spartans. Now at Whitstable Town with Jermaine Darlington.
MF: Jason Puncheon
The most successful of all the players in the squad that day didn’t even get on the pitch. Puncheon has had a whirlwind career with Fisher Athletic, Lewes, Barnet, and Plymouth Argyle and is now playing Premier League football with Southampton.
MF: Ben Harding
Went on to play for Milton Keynes for one season before signing for Aldershot Town. A short-lived spell at Wycombe Wanderers ended when he signed for current club Northampton Town earlier this year.
FW: Dean Holdsworth
The Wimbledon legend went on to play for a string of clubs after their dissolution in 2004 before going into management with Redbridge. An impressive spell at the helm of Newport County saw him take over at League Two Aldershot Town in 2011; where he remains to this day. On a side-note he once scored a hat-trick past me in a five-a-side match.
Was a youngster at Wimbledon at the time and didn’t feature against Derby County. Now a Scotland international playing in the Premier League with QPR.
Once compared to a young John Barnes Morgan was tipped to end the barren run of left-footed English wingers. Ready to sign for Spurs in a £400k deal in 2003 it was postponed until Morgan could recover his full fitness after a string of serious knee injuries. He played only three more games as a professional as a promising career was curtailed by injury. Now 29 he runs a management company with ex-teammate and Reading captain Jobi McAnuff.
Former Aston Villa and Bolton midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker and current Reading pair Jobi McAnuff and Mikele Leigertwood were all asked to leave in January as administrators needed to cash in on their potential.
Patrick Agyemang was also flogged in January to Gillingham. At the time he said:
"I didn't really want to leave Wimbledon but I am getting used to the idea. All my friends are at Wimbledon and they are good friends, but I had to do it at some stage and I can't wait to get started now. I want to score as many goals as I can and maybe there's a chance of reaching the play-offs and then The Premiership - you never know.’’
To highlight the amazing rise of AFC Wimbledon they are now playing in the same league as Gillingham, who at the time of Wimbledon’s end-game harboured hopes of Premier League glory (in reality The Gills survived relegation by the skin of their teeth). Quite astonishing when you think about it.
Who do you hope comes out on top in the FA Cup this Sunday?
image: © Matthew Wilkinson