Twenty nine years… 10,776 days…. 258,628 hours.
Wimbledon fans have waited the best part of three decades to see their team kick a ball back on Plough Lane.
So what’s a couple more months of holding on?
Their time will come. The struggle of being shut out, not being there to witness the completion of one of modern day football’s great tales, just doesn’t register compared to what they have overcome.
Everyone knows their story, a triumph for those who believe in the power of supporters. A middle finger to those at the Football Association who advised against their 2002 formation.
Welcome to the resurrection.
There's something all very Wimbledon about the whole thing.
Point-blank refusal to give up, beating the odds and just doing it all their own way.
The sense of justice in returning against Doncaster later, sitting eight places above those who packed up their club in the back of a Ford transit and scarpered up the M1, not lost on any of them.
Back in 2002, in the offices of Ivor Heller’s now defunct print company, he and a few other founding fathers created the blueprint for their club.
They designed the kit, the badge, and decided who would steer the whole idea forward.
AFC Wimbledon was born in between printers, tatty files and day-old cups of tea. The club hasn’t stopped climbing since.
Heller said: “It is utterly unbelievable, it’s one of the great stories and we're all so proud.
"If you said back in 2002 when we had to reform this club would be in League One, owned by the fans and back at Plough Lane I would say you would have totally lost the plot.
“It’s what I dreamt of. It’s what a lot of people have dreamt of. But I’m not sure anyone ever actually thought this was going to be real.
“Nobody believed it could happen. We were told we were mad for trying it, but here we are.
“My sole ambition for the club when we started was to have a team called Wimbledon, playing in yellow and blue, somewhere near Wimbledon. That was it.
“Getting back to Plough Lane is full circle. It’s every boxed ticked for what we set out to do.”
Since leaving the tumbledown old Plough Lane ground in 1991, a long hoof ball down the road from the plush new 9,300 stadium, they have ached to go back.
Heller and any of the League One club’s fans hardly need telling, but it certainly hasn’t been an easy road.
A shortfall was discovered in 2019, and to get the stadium built money – and lots of it – would need to be found.
The supporters turned out their pockets, rummaged down the back of the sofa and came up with the best part of £10 million between them.
Even with no sign of being allowed in until the Spring, season tickets continue to fly out the door.
“Lots of people have put their hands in their wallets and their purses,” the club’s commercial director added. “In just over a year, £10 million has been raised to make this happen.
“I also think we are going to prosper and become the football club we always knew would could be if the powers that be would have let us.
“We’ve been in the wilderness for 30 years. Finally we get to lead the tribe home and guess what? We can’t go!
"We’re being held at the gates – we can’t enter the Promised Land just yet, but we will – now the Promised Land is safe.
“This time nobody is taking our home. We will never be conquered again.”
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