Ten seasons ago United were in the Premier League and AFC Wimbledon were four years old and in the Isthmian League, the seventh level of the pyramid.
Now the two clubs are in the same division, which says a lot for the way Sheffield United have been run in the past decade and the fantastic achievements of the supporter-formed, supporter-run club from south-west London. They started from scratch in 2002 with open player trials on Wimbledon Common. Look where they are now.
In some ways it was like going back in time to the Fourth Division season - but all the better for it. Standing up against the front wall, close enough to smell the linesman’s aftershave (or was it the nearby sewage works?), we got a wonderful close-up view of a Wimbledon defender, Matt Done and said linesman in a tangled heap by the corner flag.
We were also close enough to see that the linesman didn’t make a wrong decision all day, but we were giving him plenty of advice. To his credit, he clearly listened and took our expertise on board.
The only downsides were standing in continuous rain and the head steward’s futile attempts to get everybody to move back as we were standing on the yellow gangway lines. Had we done so we wouldn’t have seen anything, so nobody moved. So they brought in the three largest stewards they had, who were partially successful, but as soon as they turned their backs people returned to standing against the front wall of the stand.
The large stewards gave up and departed. There was no trouble, no obstruction.
For a time there was a mutual love-in as the two sets of fans sang joyously about Alan Cork and Dave Bassett, who was among the crowd. There was no abuse, no goading of each other and an all-round good atmosphere. Everybody in football (apart from maybe one club 70-odd miles to the north) wishes AFC Wimbledon well. They deserve it.
ALL TODAY’S BLADES NEWS