Liverpool cup tie could be one of AFC Wimbledon’s greatest days according to chief executive Erik Samuelson

AFC Wimbledon chief executive Erik Samuelson believes the FA Cup third round tie against Liverpool in January has the potential to be one of the greatest dates in the club’s short history so far.

The Dons will host the Premier League giants in the first weekend of January at Kingsmeadow in what will be their first game against top flight opposition since they formed in 2002.

The fixture also invokes memories of the famous ‘Crazy Gang’ victory against the Reds in the 1988 final – a triumph widely regarded as one of the greatest FA Cup upsets.

Samuelson said: “I am delighted for all sorts of reasons.

“It is one of the most important milestones in our development – from finally getting out of the Ryman Premier League to getting the rights to our stadium.

“To be playing against a Premier League team for the first time – it has to be up there with them.”

Liverpool FC v FC Basel 1893 - UEFA Champions League. Credit Getty Images

The club’s meteoric rise since its foundation in 2002 has fostered from the current ground-share with Kingstonian in Kingston-upon-Thames which secured a temporary home.

Since then the club has been promoted five times in nine campaigns to reach their current status in League Two and this season beat arch rivals MK Dons in the Football League Trophy.

Samuelson, however, admitted he wasn’t glued to his television while the draw was being made.

“The moment I heard the draw we were actually at a youth team game,” he said.

“We quickly went from the excitement to thinking about how it is all going to work on the day.”

The chief executive also moved to suggest the financial benefits of a replay are secondary to the team getting through to the fourth round.

“It obviously depends a lot on whether we get the TV rights, but ultimately I want the team to progress,” added Samuelson.

The Dons’ chief executive has fond memories of the 1988 victory over Kenny Dalglish’s ‘Culture Club’ and pinpointed the sportsmanship of the Liverpool fans on what was a momentous occasion.

He said: “The first thing I remember is that it was a really hot day.

“I also remember as we left the stadium a Liverpool fan offering to buy me a drink.

“They were very magnanimous. I am not sure I would have been as generous.”

Wimbledon pulled off an upset of sorts in the previous round by beating Wycombe Wanderers, a team who sit top of the League Two table and 15 places above the Dons.

Neal Ardley’s side were also outplayed by the Chairboys in the league fixture at Adams Park in October in a 2-0 defeat.

Sunday, however, proved a different outcome, as Sean Rigg’s fourth goal of the season was enough to win a scrappy game and extend the Dons’ rich cup pedigree and set up the dream clash with Brendan Rodgers’ Reds.

Feature image shows Eric Young, Lawrie Sanchez, Dave Beasant and Terry Phelan celebrating Wimbledon’s 1988 FA Cup final triumph. Inset image shows Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard, who may be on his way to Kingsmeadow. Pictures courtesy of Getty Images, with thanks

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