There weren’t quite enough slices of cake for 21,545 people to each get one, but MK Dons hosted the biggest birthday party to celebrate Milton Keynes’ 50th birthday on Saturday.
The Gift of Football offered up a free ticket to anyone with an MK postcode to go to Stadium MK and watch Dons take on Bolton Wanderers - and the game didn’t disappoint.
While Jay Spearing’s goal on the stroke of half time threatened to spoil the party, Kieran Agard’s equaliser and the one-sided affair in the second half had home fans on the edge of their seats - including the man who gave the tickets away.
“Saturday was a great moment in time for us, it’s just a shame we couldn’t get the win late on - it would have been the perfect day,” said Dons chairman Pete Winkelman.
“It’s what we wanted - to get as many people in as possible and get an atmosphere. It was a big game against Bolton, and it had everything. I hope everyone had a great time. All in all, it was a great success ,and a stadium league record. We can’t ask for more than that.
“Sometimes, when you offer someone something for free, they don’t value it. Just because it’s free, it didn’t mean everyone wanted to go.
“What was great about Saturday is the latent interest in Milton Keynes, and people wanting to see how the club is growing and where is it going.”
The attendance of 21,545 was the highest Stadium MK has ever seen for a regular, league match, and is around 11,000 higher than the average gate.
And Winkelman hopes the game, the occasion and the atmosphere will encourage people back to Stadium MK again, though he admits he probably won’t be dishing out quite as many free tickets next time.
He added: “It’s really good to see the team getting better, stronger and a lot of people in Milton Keynes got to see that on Saturday.
“We hope it’s not the only time people come. It’s not a one-off thing, but I don’t expect to give a game away for free again!”