Martin thanks MK Dons faithful for their support as fans make long-awaited return
Supporters were back inside Stadium MK for the first time in nearly eight months on Wednesday night, and boss Russell Martin was delighted to see them.
A crowd of more than 15,000 turned out for the pre-season friendly with Tottenham Hotspur, and although 6,000 were cheering on the visitors it was a still a great turnout of fans backing the Dons.
Aside from a couple of games in December when around 2,000 supporters were allowed in, it was the first time fans have been inside Stadium MK since March, 2020, and the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.
It has been a long time for all footballers playing in front of empty stands, and Martin made a point of applauding the home faithful prior to kick-off against Spurs.
After the match he was keen to explain why he wanted to thank them for their support for him and his coaching staff, as well as the team and the club over what has been a trying time.
"It was a show of gratitude from all of us, and how they have been with us since we have taken over," said Martin.
"It was a really tough position, and even though I am sure there were plenty of doubters at that point they never showed it.
"The way we lost the first four games, they were great in the stadium.
"I think they saw slowly but surely there were signs of what we wee building and trying to grow, and they were so important in that.
"The season got cut short, and if we hadn't done what we needed to do then we would have been back in league two again.
"But they played such a big part, and the players feels it as well.
"The players love the connection they have with them, and we really missed them last year, it hurt us.
"There is no doubt we would have gained more points if they were in this stadium.
"I am sure of a lot of teams will say that, but it does feel different, the relationship they have with the team.
"I think they are proud of the identity we are trying to build, so to just feel it again, and experience it again was really nice."