FA Cup 2nd Round Proper.
Milton Keynes Dons (White/White) 2-1 AFC Wimbledon (Blue/Blue), attendance 16,459.
Admission £15, programme £3, coffee and mars bar £2.60.
Game rating 2.5/5.
I’d vowed never to return to Stadium MK unless they played Palace in a competitive fixture, having ticked the stadium in 2008 for a league cup tie v Sheff United.
But the pull and duel history of these clubs made this game too much for me to resist. And at just fifteen pounds for entrance into the neutral zone I’d thought they had priced the game appropriately, so off I set on a frosty Sunday morning to MK for game 9 of ‘My path to Wembley’ > https://hopticklist.wordpress.com/?s=path+to+wembley&x=7&y=11
With the game televised on ITV, and by the way, I thought they did a great job with the five to ten minute historical piece on the demise of Wimbledon FC and subsequent removal to Milton Keynes and emergence of fan owned AFC Wimbledon.
Charles Koppell, Wimbledon chairman at the time, sounded utterly foolish to claim that Wimbledon ‘will be’ the same club in Milton Keynes. The rights and wrongs of franchising the club from South West London to a new town 60 miles away in Buckinghamshire could be debated all day, and I’m sure not everyone would agree. You can tell from my tone what side of the fence I fall!
What I hadn’t expected until I arrived into the ground had been so many other clubs fans coming along to show support. Sitting to my right a lad wearing a Newcastle scarf, in front of us some Sunderland fans, a large and vocal group of Luton fans, and other club colours dotted around. Surprisingly some MK fans had also infiltrated the neutral zone, thankfully there were no problems. Although a middle-aged buffoon, in response to the song “Who are you?” shouted loudly ‘we are your owners’, receiving some very unsympathetic stares from all and sundry, if it hadn’t have been for the fact he and his two mates looked like night club bouncers, some words may have been placed in his ‘shell like’ !
We had a fly past by a light aircraft, a large banner proudly flapping behind,’ We are Wimbledon FC’ which elicited a cheer each time it came by, well, from our end of the stadium! The impressive turnout of about 3,000 Dons fans (there is ‘only’ one Dons isn’t there?), were as vocal as I’d ever heard them. The vitriol they feel for having their club stolen away is clearly still very deep and evident, as regular burst of the following chants created an electric atmosphere.
‘9 years, it only took 9 years’
‘You know what you are, you franchise ba*tards, you know what you are’
‘Where were you when you were us’
‘AAAAAAAAA….. F……CCCCCC….. Wimbledon’
MK fans at the other end displayed a very provocative banner saying ‘We are keeping the Dons, live with it’. And have also adopted the Millwall chant of ‘No one likes us, we don’t care’, hmm.
First half was a poor game, both sides seemed more intent on not conceding rather than scoring. That was, until just before the interval when MK Dons midfielder Stephen Gleeson hit a lovely 25 yard strike that the veteran (on loan) ex Wimbledon FC keeper Neil Sullivan had no chance of reaching as it hit the top right of the net. 1-0 HT, and for possession alone, MK had deserved this lead. Their short passing style had been pleasing to the eye, which probably explained their lofty position in League One compared to AFC’s season of struggle in League two so far.
Whatever was said in the half time dressing room to the AFC Dons players was highly effective as their game plan looked very clear for the next 45, as they, to a large extent, easily absorbed the MK advances and with long balls down the channels causing problems to the home back line. It was from this type of break, where they against the run of play equalised, as a lovely cross from the right was met by a diving header from Jack Midson, who headed into the bottom left corner. This caused delirium behind the goal amongst the AFC fans, with most in the neutral zone going up with them. A small pitch invasion occurred, met by loud boos from the MK end of the ground. For once I could understand why the AFC fans felt the need. But the stewards easily shepherded them back to their seats.
The game then ebbed and flowed, but was spent mostly at the other end, but with MK continuing to struggling to create to many clear-cut opportunities. It had not become a classic cup tie, but the atmosphere and intrigue of it kept it interesting. AFC had an opportunity to win it in the last-minute, but Midson played the ball just wide of the left post, a bit more power and height and we could have been looking at the big shock result of the round.
As it was, immediately MKs impressive right back Otsemebor set off on a run down the wing, and won a corner. From that the ball bounced around in and around the area, before the ball was scuffed towards the same player, who stuck out a leg, which resulted in the ball looping up off his ankle and into the neat over the head of Sullivan, 2-1.
It was a freak goal, probably deserved on the balance of play. But on sentiment alone, it would have been lovely for AFC to ‘welcome’ MK to their own ground. Like Frankensteins monster, MK have been created, and they are going nowhere. They will never be liked for breaking all the ‘English’ rules of the football pyramid, that is, start at the back, and work your way up or to the front, like AFC have just done. There is no doubt that the Milton Keynes people will have an appetite for Championship, or even Premier League football should they achieve it, the 16,500 crowd today gave an indication of that. But I’m sure I’m not alone in wishing that the progress they have made was done in a fair and just way, rather than be handed a league place, which even their current chairman, Pete Winkleman, if you believe him, now feels slight embarrassment about.
Personally, I’d like MK to drop the Dons from their name, which i think would go some way to recognising that they are nothing to do with the club that they were spawned from, and both sets of fans can just get on with supporting their football teams.
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