AFC Wimbledon boss Downes explains why he never thought about a weakened side against Millwall

BY MAX HALL

The thought of weakening his team for the FA Cup fifth-round tie against Millwall never crossed Wimbledon manager Wally Downes’ mind.

When asked about his attitude to the world’s oldest cup competition in a season when his side are mired deep in relegation trouble in League One, the Dons boss gave an unequivocal response.

“We had some great times here when I was playing for Wimbledon,” said Downes after Saturday’s 1-0 defeat to Millwall. “We played Nottingham Forest two years on the trot and they’d just won the European Cup a couple of years beforehand.

“Now I remember those games, and I’m sure the fans here remember those games, but if you were to put a gun to my head I couldn’t tell you what division we were in.

AFC Wimbledon v Millwall, Emirates FA Cup, The Cherry Red Records Stadium, 16 February 2019.
Photograph by Keith Gillard

“It’s nights and days like this that fans remember. If you’re supporting a club for 30 years, when you look back – unless you’ve been in the top flight for all of that time – there’s going to be promotions and relegations, and they sort of dim. But days like today, if we’d have got the result and gone through – or the day we beat West Ham – those are the days that fans remember all their lives and they pass down in folklore.

“If teams don’t want to give their fans that sort of a rush that’s, ultimately, up to them but I think I know football fans and they want those sort of legendary nights because there’s a drudgery of relegation and there’s a glory of promotion but a lot of time you’re just ploughing on and then you’re going to away games and you’re getting a 0-0 and you do that so you can get those glory nights.

“Anyone who doesn’t put their best sides out and try to win a cup for their fans I don’t think is doing the club justice, whichever club they’re at.”

AFC Wimbledon v Millwall, Emirates FA Cup, The Cherry Red Records Stadium, 16 February 2019.
Photograph by Keith Gillard

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