What do the following events have in common: the creation of the first rules of Rugby football; the formation of the world’s oldest cross-country running club; and Queen Victoria scoring a bulls-eye at the first meeting of Britain’s National Rifle Association? Answer: they all took place in Wimbledon.
These are just some of the notable local sporting events that are celebrated at a unique museum situated inside AFC Wimbledon’s new stadium in Plough Lane.
Wimbledon in Sporting History (WiSH) was created by a group of AFC Wimbledon fans who wanted to preserve the tumultuous history of their football club, after the Football League franchise was snatched away from them and moved 70 miles away to Milton Keynes. The story of the club, including its “kidnapping” and subsequent resurrection as a fan-owned, community-based club, is told through an impressive collection of artefacts stretching back to the origins of football in Wimbledon in the 1880s.
But the museum has expanded way beyond those initial modest ambitions, and it now hosts more than £1m worth of sporting memorabilia charting Wimbledon’s role in the development of a host of sports, including rugby, tennis, running, shooting and hockey.
WiSH is a registered charity and is run by a dedicated group of volunteers in their spare time – no-one is paid a salary or even reimbursed for their expenses.
The volunteers organise regular stadium tours (details on the WiSH website) and there are plans to create an online virtual museum to complement the physical one in the stadium.