Crazy Gang still going strong
AFC Wimbledon celebrated their rise to the Football League with a trip to Las Vegas - and Max Porter says the club are ready to keep battling.
Last Updated: 04/08/11 11:10am
The Dons provided the feelgood story of last season when, just nine years after the old Wimbledon controversially upped sticks and moved to Milton Keynes, the team built from scratch to replace them made it to the big time.
They sealed promotion behind big-spending runaway champions Crawley after a penalty shoot-out win over Luton in the Conference play-off final.
The squad were rewarded with a holiday in the gambling capital of the world and you would not bet against them continuing their climb.
Midfielder Porter, a summer capture from Rushden & Diamonds, was 11 months old when Wimbledon famously beat Liverpool in the 1988 FA Cup final.
But the Crazy Gang spirit lives on at their Kingsmeadow ground and Porter is relishing the chance to play his part in Wimbledon's new fairytale.
"I think the club will go places, I really believe that," said the 24-year-old.
"The rise from where they have come from, in nine years, to get back into the Football League, is amazing.
"I want to be a part of taking that first step back into the league. From there we can establish ourselves this year and from there anything is possible.
"They are all a good set of lads here. You can tell they are a team who have been together for a few years, there have not been many changes and that shows, they are all very tight.
"Obviously they have had a nice summer holiday together in Las Vegas as well, so that has made them even closer.
"And when you win something together that makes you a very, very tight-knit group and they are a team of winners."
Since holding trials on Wimbledon Common in order to find a squad to join the Combined Counties League in 2002, AFC have been promoted five times.
They now find themselves just one division behind MK Dons, the team many of their fans refuse to acknowledge even exists.
The Dons face a baptism of fire in League Two with their first three matches against teams who, last season, were two leagues above them.
Relegated Bristol Rovers, Dagenham & Redbridge and Plymouth will provide an early gauge of how Terry Brown's side will fair.
Brown has lost captain and striker Danny Kedwell and key midfielder Steven Gregory but the canny manager still has a few aces up his sleeve and was able to draft in Porter, Jack Midson, Charles Ademeno, Chris Bush, Mat Mitchel-King and Gareth Gwillim.
Porter will replace the combative Gregory in the Dons engine room and is under no illusions about his role.
He is also desperate to make the most of his second crack at the professional ranks, having been let go by Barnet back in 2009.
"I always enjoyed playing against AFC," he said.
"There are a lot of talented midfield players here. My job is not too hard, I just have to give the ball to them.
"When I left Barnet I said to myself that in two years I wanted to have the option of getting back into the Football League. Fortunately I had a few of those and one of them was from Wimbledon.
"As soon as I knew Wimbledon were interested and as soon as I knew they had gone up, I wanted a deal to be done. My mind was made up."