Wimbledon FC were known by most as the Crazy Gang, the team that defied the odds, far more than any Blackpool this season. It was a team made up of bargain buys from way down in the league and yet survived and had a core group of fans that worshiped and adored the team that started on Wimbledon Common in 1889. After the trials and tribulations of Wimbledon’s demise and franchising, the team created by the fans has made their way into the Football League, nine years on.

As football’s reputation continues to be tarnished by soaring debt, political scandal and superinjunctions, proof is needed that the sport retains a soul. Step forward AFC Wimbledon. Under dark Manchester skies, the club formed by supporters for supporters produced a golden moment on Saturday, overcoming Luton on penalties to win the Blue Square play-off final and seal their place in the Football League.

It just had to be a penalty that would seal the new fate of this Wimbledon side, didn’t it, after the moment that so many Dons fans dream of when the club beat the all conquering Liverpool in the FA Cup Final of 1988 where Lawrie Sanchez’s header is remembered less than Dave Beasant’s penalty save, the first by any keeper in a FA Cup Final from John Aldridge.

“It only took nine years,” bellowed the delirious fans in blue, moments after Wimbledon’s captain and top scorer, Danny Kedwell, had crashed in the spot-kick that gave his team a 4-3 victory following the 120 minutes of stalemate. The chant rose in volume and fervour from the end where the drama had eventually unfolded and told of the story that has captivated football romantics.

Nine years. That is how long it has taken AFC Wimbledon, formed by fans 12 days after the original Crazy Gang was stolen away from them and relocated to Milton Keynes, to rise from the Combined Counties League to League Two, taking in five promotions and many more plaudits along the way, notably from the heroes of the club’s 1988 FA Cup final win over Liverpool. It is a remarkable achievement that also mirrors the amount of years, nine, that it took Wimbledon FC took to reach the top flight from League 4, back all those years ago. Who wouldn’t bemoan the club repeating that in the next nine years?

“This is a phenomenal achievement,” the Wimbledon manager, Terry Brown, said. “We’ve done it in nine years but could have done it quicker with proper finance from a multimillionaire. Instead the club has been driven on by pure fan power. We have 35 volunteers who do every job around the club. We look after them and they look after us. That ethos won’t change now we’re in League Two, when we’ll have the smallest wage bill in the division by a mile. But that is what Wimbledon has always been about; being the underdog and fighting for everything they can get.”

Should that spirit of defiance lead to Wimbledon achieving another promotion next year then they could well be in the same division as MK Dons, the club that the victors claim not to recognise and would rather never have to face.

That is for the future. For now Wimbledon’s players will rejoice in their triumph, including a summer trip to Las Vegas promised to them by the club on the proviso they clinched promotion from the Conference along with the runaway champions, Crawley Town.

Some great moments from the past and players:

Dickie Guy: Was a member of Wimbledon's incredible FA Cup run in 1975. Kept a clean sheet as the non-league side knocked out First Division Burnley at Turf Moor. But shot to fame with a heroic display against Leeds at Elland Road in the fourth round. Guy famously saved a Peter Lorimer penalty to earn a replay against the reigning champions, which they lost 1-0 to a deflected own goal.

John Fashanu "Fash the Bash", Gary Mabbutt will know all about that nickname

Ben Thatcher, hard tackling left back that made his debut as Beckham scored the masterful goal at Selhurst Park

Robbie Earle, a truly brilliant attacking midfielder who was as nice a guy, as he was a player

The FA Cup winning heroes of 1988