The sports blog: E-I-E-I-E-I-O

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IT’S nearly that time again. Nearly time to wake up early; nearly time to get in the car and drive hundreds of miles for 90 minutes of potential misery on your day off; nearly time to dust off that extensive knowledge of M1 service stations; but most importantly, it’s nearly time for the football to return again.

It’s funny really, I’m not sure what I’ve done with my weekends since that night at London Road ended Dons’ season back on May 19, writes Toby Lock.

I filled one with the British Grand Prix... but the rest seem to have gone amiss. But that’s not to say I haven’t desperately missed something to do, or somewhere to go, on Saturday.

One of the best things about pre-season though is the unfounded optimism that comes with it. All of a sudden, teams who finished in the lower half of the table are claiming they’ll be in the hunt for the play-offs, and fans will have heard about their latest signing from the Premier League youth academies and think they’ll be pushing for promotion. It’s all unsubstantiated and 46 games premature of when it actually matters, but that’s the reason we keep going to watch our sides – because if we admitted the truth, most of us wouldn’t bother.

Amy Winehouse’s death has been widely covered this week, and the topic of addiction is particularly prominent. But while football isn’t an illegal substance as such, there’s no other reason why anyone would want to put themselves through misery and despair for those momentary highs they get from a game of footie, than being addicted.

OK, I get paid to go and watch Dons play football, but if I didn’t I’d end up going to most games anyway, and we’d be one closer to that all important 5,000th season ticket. And I’m happy to admit that I’m optimistic about the season coming.

It could well be one of the best seasons yet for Karl Robinson’s men. Why do I think that though? The defence has three recognised first teamers in it, two young lads from the academy and a central midfielder playing as a make-shift centre half. Dons have two strikers who spent much of the season on the sidelines through injury, they lost the best set-piece taker at the club for nothing, and lost wingers on both flanks as they returned to their Premier League parent clubs.

So why am I optimistic? Because Dons shipped five goals against Tottenham? Or because they lost to League 2 Oxford? No. It’s because I’ve been craving the highs of winning a scrappy game away from home, of mauling a poor side at home, or nicking a point at the death. Football has made me an unjustified optimist.

But seriously though, Dons are going up automatically. Robbo told me.