Dons pulling at the threads of football

Ben Reeves
Ben Reeves
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Football history has a rich tapestry. Folklore speaks of local heroes representing their towns, the dynasties of the Busby Babes, the mighty Liverpool teams of the 70s and 80s, Fergie’s Fledglings and the Special One.

A decade ago, there wasn’t really anything like that in Milton Keynes when it came to talking football. Fast forward 10 years though and another chapter is about to be written.

Simon Church scored the third against Northampton

Simon Church scored the third against Northampton

Tuesday’s win over Northampton Town won’t make the highlights reel in the long term, but the ramifications of that 3-0 win certainly will.

Knowing the prize at the end of the rainbow dashed the replay with an extra layer of spice, not that it really needed it.

While fans may prioritise their league position over a frivolous run in the world’s most famous cup competition, there are seldom more relished games than those against your neighbours.

The game at Sixfields was an old-school match in driving rain, a tightly packed ground with little in the way of attractive football being played from either side. A place in the fourth round awaited, destination unknown. Then the draw happened.

Simon Church scored the third against Northampton

Simon Church scored the third against Northampton

At stadium:mk, conditions were far more polished, the football from both sides was more pleasing on the eye, and the stakes, well, they were even higher. To the winner, the spoils: they would play host to Chelsea in the fourth round.

Dons did the business in uncompromising fashion, side-stepping the banana skin that had taken shape of Northampton Town to set themselves up with the Hollywood clash.

The Premier League champions are fraught with problems of their own at the moment.

Deemed the best team in the land just eight months ago, the mercurial Jose Mourinho has gone, the team are still floundering at the wrong end of the Premier League and there’s talk of a dressing room revolt, with the big names seemingly unhappy at Stamford Bridge.

A game against MK Dons, struggling themselves at the wrong end of the Championship, might not even register on Chelsea’s radar yet. They have bigger fish to fry.

But Manchester United may have had the same approach when they paid stadium:mk a visit in August 2014. Remember how that one turned out?

After a hugely successful Rugby World Cup stint, which saw stadium records tumble three times in as many games, earning universal praise for their ability to put on a great show, the big hits keeps on coming for the grid-roaded metropolis, famous for roundabouts and Concrete Cows. And, slowly but surely, their football club.

No stranger to the spotlight now though, Milton Keynes will undoubtedly turn out in force for one of the biggest games in Dons’ history.

If the people of this town like nothing better, it’s to see the initials MK flown proud. The result against Chelsea won’t mean as much as the heart of the performance. Dons must do Milton Keynes proud again.

Whether it is as culturally significant as beating AFC Wimbledon was, whether it has long term consequences of winning promotion or whether it makes ripples all over the world like the win over Manchester United did will be seen a week on Sunday.

But what it will deliver is another chapter in the ever-growing history of Milton Keynes Dons.

And whether everyone else likes it or not, they’re starting to make a serious case for themselves to be sewn into that rich tapestry now, and it’s for all the right reasons.