AFC Wimbledon fans’ tongue-in-cheek GoFundMe raises vital charity funds following Harry Pell’s FA charge

4 min

After AFC Wimbledon’s Harry Pell was charged with misconduct by the FA following his unique warm-up ahead of the 1-0 home win over MK, little did he know his actions would result in raising thousands of pounds for local residents in need.

Ronan Curtis’ last minute winner may have stolen the headlines but images of Pell kicking footballs into a jeering away crowd went viral and saw the midfielder slapped with a one-match ban and £1k fine.

And while the incident is just the latest chapter in the bitter history between the Dons and their franchise foes, it caught the attention of a group of lifelong fans determined to show support for their beleaguered star.

A GoFundMe page, ironically entitled ‘Balls to the FA’, was quickly set-up in response with the tongue-in-cheek aim to have a ‘whip-round’ to pay Pell’s fine with any additional money raised donated to the Dons Local Action Group (DLAG).

Set-up in 2020 by a group of Wimbledon fans in response to the coronavirus pandemic, DLAG has since grown to become a vital charity in the fight against poverty – providing food parcels, household goods, furniture and appliances to Merton, Wandsworth and Kingston residents in need.

Their work has also seen the organisation go on to be recognised at both a local and national level, winning the ‘Best Sports Community – Football’ Award at the 2023 Sports Business Awards.

READ MORE: Tony Blair’s plan to move Wimbledon to Belfast is not the first time football has been used for political gain

“There were four of us who set-up the fundraising page (‘Balls to the FA’) and we have all spent time volunteering with the DLAG at some point or another,” organiser Rob L exclusively told London Football Scene.

“It felt somewhat ridiculous for the FA to determine intent and fine Harry Pell £1k for missing the goal in the warm-up and chipping a few balls wide, into the crowd.

“But the most important thing out of it all is that it looks like we will raise over a thousand pounds for DLAG, who are under more pressure than ever. 

“With the cost of living crisis, reduced supplies and increased demand, providing food packages for those in need in South London has become more important than ever.”

The GoFundMe has so far amassed over £2k donations with some of this money already being used to pay for new mattresses as increasingly more people are being forced to sleep on floors and sofas as the cost of living crisis continues to bite.

“Recipients from DLAG service come from referrals, which could be from social services, charities or other organisations,” Rob explained.

“One thing we will never recycle is mattresses, we buy them new as policy and they are heavily in need and expensive.

READ MORE: AFC Wimbledon’s Jack Currie on beating MK, Johnnie Jackson and Wembley dreams

“We hear so many stories of people sleeping on sofas or floors, so the money will be spent specifically on mattresses for families or individuals who have fallen on hard times and do not have access to a mattress to sleep on.”

The fundraiser, which will remain open until the end of the season, demonstrates the strong community values that run throughout the club, fanbase and South West London.

It is a community that was at threat of being lost forever when the FA controversially sanctioned the relocation of the club to Milton Keynes – something that, like most Wimbledon fans, still rankles Rob today.

“To the FA, I’d ask why have they never apologised for the decision to move the original Wimbledon FC?

“Nobody in football likes that decision and it must be awkward for the FA – especially after seeing our remarkable rise up the leagues and return to Plough Lane.

“And especially after telling us not to bother starting a new club in our own community as it wouldn’t be in the wider interests of football.

“And to Harry (Pell), on behalf of all who have donated – we are more than happy to pay your fine, and we’ll pay it again.”

AFC Wimbledon declined to comment when asked about the remarkable fundraising exploits of supporters and the incredible work of the Dons Local Action Group (DLAG).

With the initial target of £1K for Harry Pell’s fine now being reached, all further donations to the ‘Balls to the FA’ GoFundMe Page will go directly to the DLAG.

For more information and to donate, click HERE.

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