PETE Winkelman wants to draw a line in the sand with AFC Wimbledon, but he also doesn’t mind the fact that MK Dons are part of a unique rivalry in English football.
With the FA Cup second round tie between the two clubs now just a few days away, the Dons chairman insists that he has enjoyed the last couple of weeks leading up to the game, regardless of some criticism.
And the conclusion he takes from the experience – albeit before a ball has even been kicked – is that it’s good to be a part of such a special occasion, even if not everyone concerned shares his enthusiasm.
“There will be a line in the sand after Sunday,” said Winkelman. “You can only do the first meeting once. What we’ve got is the newest rivalry in football. I think it’s a potentially great rivalry.
“It’s added so much spark to what is a tremendously exciting second round FA Cup tie. We’re loving the attention it’s putting on the club, and the stadium.
“The stadium is of course getting finished, so our timing is really good. What I just hope is that we do ourselves proud on Sunday.
“At the end of the day it’s a football game. We’re a very good football team, and I really want us to show that.”
With a crowd in excess of 15,000 set to rock stadium:mk at Sunday lunchtime, Winkelman describes the occasion as being a ‘celebration of football’ and he’s pleased that around 3,000 AFC Wimbledon fans will be joining in the fun.
He praised Dons’ fans for their immaculate reputation, and is adamant that both clubs can come out of the game as winners, no matter who actually progresses through to the third round.
He also said there will be a significant police presence to make sure the day passes peacefully.
“I’m absolutely keen to make sure that this game is a welcoming environment,” said Winkelman. “We’ve got a fantastic bunch of supporters who welcome every team that comes here, and I want us to put on that Milton Keynes welcome for AFC Wimbledon as well.
“Yes we will make sure that we have extra police on duty, and the horses, and all the paraphernalia that can help control, and make sure that the safety we hold in such high regard can be delivered on the day.
“We’re a family sport in Milton Keynes and it’s our families I want to feel safe coming to the game, so they can give MK Dons their support.”