Dean Lewington is celebrating a ‘lifetime’s work’ after he led his team to the Championship on Sunday.
The skipper, who has been with the club since the move in 2003, scored twice and set two up as Dons were 5-1 winners over Yeovil, while Preston’s 1-0 defeat to Colchester saw Dons go into second place in League 1 and with it, the Championship next season.
“It’s a great feeling, and one that hasn’t sunk in,” said Lewington afterwards. “It’s a strange feeling.
“It’s a lifetime’s work. From where we started, from the Hockey Stadium days to where we are now. It has been 11 years, and so much has happened off the pitch, so it’s nice to get the stuff going on the pitch. We’ve got kids from Milton Keynes coming through the system and that’s what we’re about.
“It was a strange game. We didn’t feel nervous going into it. They’re usually nervy occasions, but the squad was really relaxed. It just felt like it was going to happen.”
When news of a second half penalty for Colchester broke, fans inside stadium:mk erupted with joy, only to quickly hear that it was missed. The mixed messages were confusing to the players out on the pitch, admitted Lewington, even though their game was effectively over at half time.
“Once the first proper goal went in, you could tell the crowd changes drastically. After that, we knew we had to make sure we didn’t do anything stupid and we were there.”
Last week, Lewington said the camaraderie among the squad was as good as he’d ever known it in his 11 seasons, and paid tribute to the loan players who fitted in with ease.
He said it’s a testament to the club that when people leave, they always feel they have a home in Milton Keynes.
“It’s a good squad,” he said. “The loan market has been superb, with good players and good characters as well, who have fitted in really well.
“The fact that Benik (Afobe) came today to watch a team he left five months ago says it all. That’s the kind of atmosphere we create about the place. People who aren’t here any more still feel linked to the place.
“I got a text from Nicky Rizzo from Australia! People feel happy when they’re here.”
And the captain said he was delighted for the fans, who get even more stick than the players for being part of the club.
He said: “I don’t really care what people say. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. But it’s great for the fans.
“They get so much stick wherever they go, being told they’re not proper fans and that we’re a franchise so it’s nice for them to enjoy some success.”