AFC Wimbledon's first match was 12 years ago
Today marks the 12-year anniversary since AFC Wimbledon’s first match at Sutton United and the result was immaterial as thousands of Dons fans packed into Gander Green Lane to witness the rebirth of a football club.
On 10 July, 2002, 4,657 supporters attended a match that had to be delayed for 30 minutes due to the queues outside and our gallery of photographs above shows just how much the occasion meant to everyone.
The feel-good factor surrounding the match was enhanced with the announcement of a six-figure sponsorship deal with Sports Interactive and the 4-0 win for Sutton United counted for nothing in the eyes of Dons fans as they celebrated having a football club again.
Commercial Director Ivor Heller recalled: “We had a good feeling that a lot of people would come down for the match, but to see the queues of supporters waiting to get into the ground provided a massive buzz. Looking back, it brings so much pride. We kicked a ball in anger for the first time. It meant a great deal and our fans even invaded the pitch after we lost 4-0 - that tells you what it meant to everyone.”
Kevin Cooper, who would go onto become a true AFC Wimbledon hero, was actually in opposition on that memorable night.
He said: “I scored two goals and afterwards Terry Eames pulled me aside and asked if I fancied playing in front 4,000 supporters every match. I signed the next week.”