Pre-season 2002 a b
The rise of AFC Wimbledon through the pyramid to the Football League is a story that is every bit as remarkable as that of the original Wimbledon FC club and a refreshing reminder of how a football club can be sustained by community spirit rather than commercial greed. Formed in 2002 following the announcement that the original club would relocate to Milton Keynes, a large majority of supporters transferred their allegiance to the fledgling team, which started life in the Premier Division of the Combined Counties League.
The colours chosen for the new club were the mid-blue and yellow associated with Wimbledon's rise to the top of the Football League and the crest was based on the older version worn by the older club.
The club was placed under the ownership of the Dons' Trust, a supporters' group that committed to retaining at least 75% control of the shares issued. In 2003 a minority interest was sold in order to purchase Kingsmeadow, the ground the club shared with Kingstonian FC. The club's chief executive, Erik Samuelson, carried out his full-time duties in return for a salary of one guinea (£1.05) a year, because "it sounds posher than a pound." From its formation, AFC Wimbledon were sponsored by Sports Interactive, creators of the Championship Manager and Football Manager computer games, an expression of their commitment to grass-roots football. In fact, during the pre-season friendlies before the team played in competitive matches, they wore a strip modeled on that worn in the 1963 Amateur Cup final with Sports Interactive's logo in place of a club crest.
During their first season, AFC Wimbledon narrowly missed out on promotion, attracting crowds of more than 3,000, larger than those attending Wimbledon FC's home games in the First Division (then the second tier). The following season the team won the Combined Counties championship and Premier Division Challenge Cup. Over the following eight seasons, AFC Wimbledon were promoted five times and established an English record of playing 78 consecutive games without defeat.
In October 2006 a legal action to allow AFC Wimbledon to inherit the records of Wimbledon FC was settled: the medals and trademarks related to Wimbledon FC were transferred to the London Borough of Merton and it was agreed that MK Dons (the successor to Wimbledon FC) would not lay claim to any of the honours won under their previous incarnation. As a result the Football Supporters Federation announced that the supporters of Milton Keynes Dons would be permitted to become members and that it would no longer appeal to supporters of other clubs to boycott MK Dons matches.
In 2009 AFC Wimbledon reached the Blue Square Premier Division and finished just three places short of the play-off zone. Having turned fully professional, the team finished as runners up the following season and reached the play-off final where they beat former Football League members Luton Town in a dramatic penalty shoot-out.
To mark their first game in the Football League, the team wore special white commemorative shirts based on those worn by the original Wimbledon club in 1977, when they were elected to the Fourth Division. These were emblazoned with a modified crest for the occasion.
In May 2016 the Dons won promotion to League One, having finished in seventh place and going on to win the play-offs.
In December 2017 the local council granted permission for work to start on a new stadium on the site of the defunct Wimbledon Greyhound Stadium, just 250 yards from Plough Lane. Work was scheduled to be completed in 2020. To mark the start of this new era, the crest was given a makeover and a new strip, designed by supporter Marc Jones, was introduced. Although based on the latest Puma Form Stripe design, Jones, a graphic designer and one of the four founder members of the club, incorporated several design features that referenced strips worn by the original Wimbledon FC at key moments in their history, including yellow shoulder panels (1982-83), yellow and blue rings at the collar (FA Cup final 1987-88) and diagonal shadow stripes (1985-86). These latter are each formed of nine fine lines to represent the number of years it took the new club to earn promotion to the Football League.
The Dons had a poor season in 2021-22 and failed to win any games after Christmas Day and they went down after six seasons in the third tier.