2020 Love Island winner Finley Tapp reflects on leaving Milton Keynes in lockdown
Finley now lives in Manchester with his other half and fellow series winner Paige Turley
The 21-year-old is keen to return to Milton Keynes once restrictions are lifted and is looking forward to his next trip to Stadium MK.
When asked what aspect of Milton Keynes life he missed the most Finley mentioned his new found appreciation for the city centre. He said: "I didn't realise how good our shopping centre was. It was interesting talking to Luke T, from the show, as he'd come up from Luton to go here.
"I used to like going out, going for lunch, knowing you're not going to buy anything, but just being able to hang out and be with mates."
Since leaving the island Finley has moved into an apartment with his famous Scottish girlfriend and believes winning the show during the pandemic has helped rather than hinder their relationship.
Reality tv winners from major programmes, especially on shows that dominate conversations among a younger audience, often enjoy and endure absurd press tours. Rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous, television appearances and parties in VIP sections are typically the norm, but this is no normal year.
When asked whether there are any regrets on missing out on major parties by the MK Citizen, Finley responded: "Me and Paige are really positive people, so we've seen it as a great opportunity to spend time together.
"We had this three-four-week period of uncertainty, when we first finished Love Island. Where we weren't sure whether we might be over the worst of it and we might be done with lockdown. We were being pulled in all sorts of directions, it might be she had to do something here and I might have to do something for another company. In a normal year we mightn't have been able to spend anywhere near as much time together."
Finley and Paige's relationship is still going strong and next on the agenda is buying a house together. The two are searching for the right home at the moment, with Paige insisting they get a dog once they're settled. Finley joked the landlord was doing him a favour by saying no to pets. Giving Finley an out from committing to household dog despite his other halves' persistence.
Finley is one of the original MK Dons fans with the club being formed when he was five. He misses going to games and had planned to take in a Dons game with autistic children from local schools as part of an initiative organised by Stadium MK officials. He added: "I always liked going to games, I can remember going to games when I was little at the hockey stadium.
"We always liked the rivalry with Wimbledon. At first I wasn't really aware of it, until I started going through the youth ranks, but the rivalry was something we liked. We were like 'bring it on'. Everyone loves a rivalry in football."
Prior to going into the Love Island bubble, Finley was an accomplished player in his own right. He signed a professional contract at Stadium MK, he never turned out for the team in a league outing, but did play for MK in cup competitions.
He was playing for Oxford City in the National League South, before his life turned in another direction. When pressed on whether playing football again was a priority. Finley commented: "I'm really looking forward to just going out with my mates down the park and playing.
"I've missed football, I've missed the activity, but I want to get back to enjoying football, getting fit, and then we'll see [about playing semi-professionally again]."
He has used football as way to help people, taking kids through training sessions and lessons, before lockdown restrictions halted group activities. Working with educational charity, Football Beyond Borders, he helped teach youngsters from disadvantaged backgrounds to learn social and emotional skills through the beautiful game.
Finley believes through sport you can teach people, without them realising their learning in a much more relaxed environment than a classroom.
At this point Finley isn't sure when he'll next be back in town to see family and take in a game at Stadium MK. He's gutted he hasn't been able to show Paige a proper night out in the city yet, and remains a big supporter of his hometown.