AFC Wimbledon fans’ returned to Plough Lane for the first time on the weekend after being away from the club for three decades.

The historic match saw emotion across the stadium as fans cheered on their home team following 30-years away from Wimbledon. 

The Plough Lane return was marked with a thrilling 3-3 draw with Bolton.

Formed in 2002, AFC Wimbledon is a phoenix entity established by supports of Wimbledon FC in response to the decision to move their club to Milton Keynes.

The club's path to League One since then is near miraculous, achieving a total of six promotions, including EFL status in 2011 and a Leage Two Play-Off Final win.

But despite achieving on the pitch success, the second goal of coming home to Plough Lane has taken far longer.

The club launched their bid to return to Plough Lane in 2012, but it took over two years before they could even submit a planning application.

The old Plough Lane is now a housing estate, so the Dons decided to redevelop the Greyhound Stadium but ran into financial difficulty last year.

The club announced they needed £11m by January to complete the build, and fans rallied, raising over £5.4m.

The Dons’ first Sky Bet League One game took place last year on November 3, in the midst of the pandemic which led to a game full of empty seats. 

MORE: New Plough Lane stadium visuals released

A test event took place against Liverpool’s under-23 team in May, with 2,000 supporters socially distanced.

In an opening statement of their match against Bolton, AFC Wimbledon thanked their past and present fans who have supported them on their journey back to Plough Lane.

Wimbledon Times: AFC Wimbledon ( PA )AFC Wimbledon ( PA )

The opening statement read: "As we gather here today, about to witness Wimbledon’s football club play a home game in front of fans for the first time in 30 years, we would like you to join us as we take a moment to remember those who cannot be with us on this historic day. 

"We’re talking about the players, the staff, the volunteers and most of all the fans who played their part in making sure Wimbledon still has a football team to call its own for future generations to enjoy in the years ahead.

"They didn’t get to be here to see us make that dream come true, but friends, family and fellow fans live on in our hearts."

Emotions played their part for manager Mark Robinson as AFC Wimbledon fans marked their return by drawing with Bolton.

Robinson said of a full complement of fans being back at the ground after three decades: “It was emotional. I’m not going to make excuses for the players, I promised myself I wasn’t going to get emotional and it’s tough, it’s really tough to keep the emotions in check and I thought we looked nervous, even before we got the goal.

“It’s a great occasion, but in many ways I’m glad it’s happened now and I think the players will be better for that.

“I think you’ve probably got to say yes, it was a point gained.

“Not after going 1-0 up, but then when you look how the game’s transpired and at 3-1, you’ve got to say it probably does feel like a point gained if I’m honest.

“We weren’t great, there were some moments, but off the ball we were nowhere near where we need to be.

“I think it’s a big learning curve for us, we probably needed it in some ways.

“Today we never looked comfortable, so I think we’ll be all the better for it in some ways.”

He added: “For now, there’s a long, long way to go but I think we’re a really good team.

“We have to, in the face of adversity, learn our lessons and how we learn from those and that adversity will define who we are as a team.

“For now, it’s going to hurt and it’s silent in there – they’re devastated – but for large parts of that game we’ve done a lot things right, so keep positive.”