The tale of Dons' Championship promotion with origins in Colchester

Alex Gilbey has fond memories of the day Dons got promoted to the Championship
Alex Gilbey, then at Colchester, celebrates at full-time in their win over PrestonAlex Gilbey, then at Colchester, celebrates at full-time in their win over Preston
Alex Gilbey, then at Colchester, celebrates at full-time in their win over Preston

Alex Gilbey was still two years from signing for MK Dons, but he helped play a role in their promotion to the Championship in this day five years ago.

Kicking off 100 miles away, Gilbey was part of the Colchester side which upset the apple cart not only be defeating Preston to hand Dons the final Leauge One automatic spot, but also kept the U's up in the process.

Dons took on already-relegated Yeovil at Stadium MK, and cruised to a comfortable 5-1 win, but when Darren Potter fired in Dons' third of the afternoon after just 35 minutes, all attentions turned to Essex.

George Moncur scored the goal which kept Colchester up and got Dons promotedGeorge Moncur scored the goal which kept Colchester up and got Dons promoted
George Moncur scored the goal which kept Colchester up and got Dons promoted

Finely poised at 0-0 at half time, Colchester won a penalty in the second half, with the roars heard in Buckinghamshire.

Gilbey said: "Chris Porter missed that penalty and I cannot repeat some of what I said to him – it was rude, to put it nicely! But then George Moncur popped up from a Chris Porter assist so it all worked out in the end!"

Moncur's goal with eight minutes to go meant Dons were suddenly in pole position to take the final automatic promotion spot at the expense of Preston, who would have to roll the dice in the play-offs, while Colchester survived the drop to remain in League One.

"I'm still waiting for my cheque from Dons in the post for that," Gilbey continued. "It was a massive game for us. We had a really good team that season, and I feel like we wasted the year.

At one stage I think we were six points from safety, but somehow managed to get back into a position where we needed to win and other results to go our way to stay up. But we were playing a Preston team who were really good.

"No-one, and I mean no-one gave us a chance in that game. But it was one of the best games I've ever been a part of. It was packed and the celebrations afterwards were amazing."

It would be another two years before Gilbey would eventually pull on a shirt for the club he helped get promoted that day, he almost signed a year earlier alongside Moncur, who opted to go to Peterborough instead. Gilbey was en route to Wigan to sign for the Championship side but would make the switch to Stadium MK when Robbie Neilson plucked him out in 2017.

Gilbey said: "I'd heard George was going for talks with Dons before he signed for Peterborough, and I was on my way to Wigan for talks when Karl Robinson phoned me to see if I was interested in coming to Dons, but the lure of Championship football is what made my mind up. But then I signed a year later, and I've had three great years with the club."