This weekend brings the commencement of the Emirates FA Cup Fifth Round, with just 16 clubs now remaining in the competition as the business stage of the season rolls around. Having eliminated both Hull City and Everton after late drama at The Den, Millwall must now navigate an away tie, with a short trip to south-west London to take on AFC Wimbledon this Saturday (kick-off 3pm). As The Lions prepare to do battle for a Quarter-Final place at the Cherry Red Records Stadium, we take a look back at the record of Wimbledon in the world’s oldest cup competition.
Having been passed the baton in 2002 by the former Wimbledon FC, AFC Wimbledon first entered the FA Cup as a new club in 2004. This season has been a record-breaker for The Dons since their reestablishment, having only previously reached as far as the Third Round.
Wimbledon are one-time FA Cup winners, with the iconic ‘Crazy Gang’ lifting the trophy in 1988 under Bobby Gould, as Lawrie Sanchez headed home Dennis Wise’s cross for the solitary goal at Wembley against strong favourites Liverpool. The Final was also famous for Dave Beasant’s penalty save to deny John Aldridge – the first ever penalty stop in an FA Cup Final. The south-west Londoners eliminated Luton Town, Watford, Newcastle United, Mansfield Town and West Bromwich Albion en route to Wembley, just 11 years after competing in the Southern Football League.
Aside from the club’s successful triumph of 31 years ago, Wimbledon have reached one Semi-Final, along with two journeys to the Quarter-Final stage. Their place in the last four came in 1997, a season in which they were also Semi-Finalists in the League Cup. The Dons knocked out Crewe Alexandra, QPR, Sheffield Wednesday and none other than Manchester United on their Cup run, before losing out to eventual winners Chelsea at neutral venue Highbury.
One year prior in 1996, Wimbledon reached the second of their two previous unsuccessful Quarter-Final ties. Each round faced by the team saw them navigate through via a replay – namely against Watford, Middlesbrough and Huddersfield Town – before being defeated in the same fashion by Chelsea after an initial draw in the last eight. Wimbledon’s other run to the Quarters came in 1989 whilst holders of the trophy, knocking out Birmingham City, Aston Villa and Grimsby Town before their journey ended with a slender defeat to Everton.
AFC Wimbledon’s Fifth Round tie against The Lions this weekend represents the seventh under the Wimbledon name, having last reached this stage of the competition in 2001 where they were eliminated on penalties by Wycombe Wanderers.
Millwall have met Wimbledon sides in the FA Cup on two occasions, winning both ties. The first came in 1986, as The Lions came out on top by a 3-1 scoreline at The ‘Old’ Den in the Third Round. A First Round tie in 2009 paired Millwall with AFC Wimbledon at The Den, as The Lions ran out 4-1 winners with Neil Harris among the scorers.