League Two side AFC Wimbledon — the club built from the ground up by fans in 2002 after Wimbledon FC were relocated to become MK Dons — hosted Liverpool in the FA Cup third round in front of a record crowd of 4,785. Even without the requisite Magic of the FA Cup, the match was a reward for more than a decade of hard work and passion from a group of fans betrayed by the game they love who had the determination to turn that into something positive.
As a result, there was a unique atmosphere at Kingsmeadow even before kickoff. And it fueled a wonderful brand of madness that lasted until the final whistle. Let’s take a look…
Mario Balotelli continued breaking all the rules from the moment he arrived.
Wimbledon mascot Haydon the Womble started off his Man of the Match performance with a bit of goodwill, expressing solidarity in Liverpool’s fight for justice for the 96 victims of the Hillsborough tragedy in custom shirt form.
Once the match began, Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard followed his announcement that he will leave the club to play in MLS this summer by opening the scoring in the 12th minute and putting a finger to his lips as if to say, “I’m the club’s top scorer this season but Brendan Rodgers still won’t play me as much as I would like, so let’s just quietly let that fact marinate for a bit.”
The Womble then did a bit of crowd surfing because he is the fuzzy, oversized embodiment of punk rock.
In the 36th minute, there was a moment of cosmic perfection when Liverpool fan and concentration of all human strength Adebayo Akinfenwa scored an equalizer after turning Simon Mignolet into dust.
In the second half, Gerrard scored what would be the winner. His teammates then attempted to physically restrain him from ever leaving them.
Liverpool ended up winning 2–1 in a match that was tense and thoroughly entertaining until the very end. And once it was all over, Akinfenwa claimed his consolation prize.
— Sam Elliott (@Sam_Elliott_) January 5, 2015
Gerrard then took the opportunity to fulfill his lifelong dream of hugging the Womble.
Meanwhile, Burnley’s 1–1 draw with Tottenham had a decidedly different atmosphere…