Landmark for Lanning as he approaches 1,000 games

Part 1: The road to 1,000 games for Ian Lanning
Ian Lanning at trainingIan Lanning at training
Ian Lanning at training

There is a lot of experience in the dressing room at Stadium MK these days. From Dean Lewington to Russell Martin, Cameron Jerome to Andrew Surman, there are a lot of accolades and games under their belts. One man though is approaching his 1,000th game this Tuesday night, has been promoted from all four divisions and been a part of a Cup final - kit man Ian Lanning.

A part of the Dons fold since 2016 and the Robbie Neilson fold, Lanning has been a regular face seen around the first team fold, with a list of responsibilities as long as your arm.

A popular member of the dressing room, Lanning did not set out to be a kit man, but happened upon the opportunity when a contact at Cardiff City called him in for an interview for a job they felt he would suit back in 2001.

Ian LanningIan Lanning
Ian Lanning

He said: "I sat down, they asked me if I wanted a drink and I asked for a coffee and they all had a bottle of beer! I thought 'oh, so this is what first-team football is about!'"

Thrust straight into action, his first game was for Cardiff City against Brighton at the Withdean Stadium on February 9, 2001. With an almost photographic memory of the games he has been a part of, Lanning admitted if it wasn't for the first lockdown and another Dean Lewington landmark on the horizon, he would never have thought to look up his own stats and realised he was close to hitting 1,000.

"If it wasn't for the first lockdown, I think it would have passed me by," he said. "I saw Dean Lewington was coming up to another landmark, and I thought I'd have a look at how many games I'd done and I was very close to that number."

Of the 999 it currently stands at ahead of the trip to Rochdale, there have been plenty of highlights for Lanning. He has celebrated four promotions, from every division, but one, in particular, stands out.

“Winning promotion at the Millenium Stadium in the play-offs was something not many people get to experience, especially it being in the home town. Just leaving the hotel to get to the stadium was like a royal wedding, with people lining the streets to see the journey.

"Going on to win it as well was unbelievable."

Leaving Cardiff after 16 years, Lanning said he needed a change but his time out of the game didn't last long. After a stint at an energy drinks company, another former colleague urged him to take up the kit manager role at MK Dons. Fortunately, he was convinced to take up the role despite the game he stuck around to watch: the uninspiring 1-0 win over Oldham, which required a stoppage-time winner from Nicky Maynard - a player he had helped kit up at Cardiff just a few years earlier.

He said: "I'd seen a lot of Championship and Premier League football at that stage... I'd forgotten how bad League One could be sometimes!

“Having worked in that environment, it's what everyone in football should aspire to. It's where we all want to be, it's an amazing environment.

"For MK, we haven't got that 80 years of supporters the other clubs have. Fans aren't just going to show up and we have 30,000 coming every week, we have to wait and build up to that.”