AFC Wimbledon fans have looked back fondly as today marks 15 years since the club played its first match as a reformed club against Sutton United.

It is speculated that more than 4,000 Dons fans witnessed history at Gander Green Lane that evening in 2002, with supporters invading the pitch at full-time despite losing 4-0.

“There was a sense of having your family back by there being a football team called Wimbledon in south London,” said Gavin Calver who was there that night.

“There was a real belief that the fans would not be beaten by the machine that is modern football.”

AFC Wimbledon was founded in May that year by a group of fans following the FA’s decision to relocate the original club, Wimbledon FC, to Milton Keynes.

Ivor Heller, one of the club’s founding members, said: “You know something special was in the air, you just didn’t know how special.”

He recalls heavy media coverage on the day, which included around 50 journalists and eight television stations at the ground, and Sutton losing count of how many people were in the ground.

“We knew then that this was much bigger than just a non-league football club kicking off here, this is actually quite big.

“I can remember, after the press conference, stepping outside and hearing cheering and singing.

“There were people on the buses and pubs singing as well, and then you walk outside and the queues are right the way down Gander Green Lane,” he added.

Paul Jeater, who has been a supporter for more than 50 years, said: “I first watched Wimbledon FC as a boy in 1964, I have seen them as an amateur club progress to win the FA Cup in 1988 and then play in the Premier League for eight years.

“The FA has allowed Milton Keynes to steal my club, destroy the link with the area I grew up in and say that forming a new club was ‘not in the interest of football’.

“Their whole mindset was that fans couldn’t run a bath, let alone a football club.

“The summer of 2002 showed that the Wimbledon fan base had the commitment, skillset, enthusiasm and desire to do just that,” he added.

Now The Dons enter their 16th season as a club and their second in EFL League One since promotion from League Two in May 2016.

Last year it was announced that American author and AFC Wimbledon fan John Green, famous for writing The Fault in Our Stars and Paper Towns, was writing and producing a film about the club's formation and rise.

Writing on Medium he said: "Football is a game where adults can sing together and cry together, a rectangle upon which we can see in manageable scale all that is good and terrible about people, all the injustice and folly and joy of human life. And when that rectangle was taken away from Wimbledon, they built it again. That resilience represents the very best of us, and I am so excited to be part of the team working to share that story.”

AFC Wimbledon will face Premier League club Watford this Saturday (July 15), for more information visit