The club was at something of a crossroads when the Dons first travelled to Barrow 11 years ago this month, writes Stephen Crabtree.
Having come up through various regional leagues, Terry Brown’s still part time side were facing their first year in the Blue Square Premier and that meant a trip to Holker Street. Just days after more than 3,500 fans had travelled to Millwall for an FA Cup 1st round tie, only the hardy few made the trip to the Furness peninsula. That first match at Barrow ended in a 2-2 draw, Wimbledon earning a point through goals by Elliott Godfrey and Jon Main after the Dons had been two down.
While the team were holding their own in the National Conference, those who ran the club knew that in order to compete for promotion the team would have to go full time with all the extra costs that involved. “We have been on an incredible journey in the seven years since the club started and we want to keep progressing so we play clubs like Millwall every week,” first team coach Simon Bassey commented. “If anyone here is happy just to stand still and stay in the Conference, they are in the wrong club.”
The Dons Trust took the hint and the following summer they agreed to fund a full-time squad. Despite losing 2-0 on what proved to be their last visit to Holker street in November 2010, the team responded brilliantly by winning promotion to the Football League. A decade later Barrow have joined the Dons there and now the two clubs lock horns again. Both clubs have come a long way since those days in the Conference.