As a Milton Keynes resident and loyal Spurs fan, I’ve never felt comfortable supporting our adopted MK Dons. Uprooting a club steeped in history and stripping it clean was wrong on so many levels while keeping the ‘Dons’ was not only pointless but patrionising. Hated and rightly so.
How could I support a club who I had no connection with other than geographical convenience? To me they were like a bag of flaming excrement dumped on my doorstep. It didn’t matter that only four miles separated us; I wasn’t going to put my principles aside.
And since 2003 when as Wimbledon they rocked up at the now demolished National Hockey Stadium, that mentality has stuck.
I did have my moments though. But like a Dad dancing at a wedding, chants of ‘MK Army’ were so cringey I almost left. Throw into the mix an atmosphere as flat as Keira Knightly’s chest and a stand named after a cow, and I was about ready to punch myself in the face.
But in typical glory supporting fashion, something changed when they smashed Manchester United 4-0 in the Cup. As I sat at home watching, I was inexplicably proud that my local side were trouncing a club of such stature many they say they are the greatest in the world. Then it hit me. For whatever reason, and it could have been any opposition that day, I no longer hated the club or the controversial circumstances surrounding its birth.
Perhaps I’ve mellowed and become more receptive as I’ve got older but with ticket prices costing a small fortune, gracing the terraces of White Hart Lane like the good old days are a thing of the past. As a consequence I’m itching for something more personal; something I can touch and be a part of. I miss watching football in the flesh and the excitement you feel in your stomach.
I might get lucky and watch the odd game once in a blue moon but factor in travel, food and drink and I’m forking out hundreds of pounds. I don’t want to be held to ransom and forced to pay through the nose and, although I love Spurs with all my heart, they don’t represent value for money.
I guess I’m growing tired of the Premier League and its money and monopoly over everything else. I’m fed up of watching my team on television and I’m sick of genuine fans being priced out of watching their clubs and replica shirts being sold at astronomical prices, only to be changed a year later. I might have my rose tinted spectacles on but I yearn for when football was accessible and for the masses and when supporters were valued and appreciated.
Whatever people think about the Dons, and there are some who consider their name as blasphemy, they provide that access in which I can satisfy my cravings for live football and, most importantly, be part of something local. After years of stubbornness, I’ve seen the light and the penny has dropped and I feel ready to get behind them.
Are they a franchise? Of course not. What they are is a young football club with a new kit, a new badge, new fans, new players, a new stadium and are, like everyone else, trying to succeed. Look closer and you’ll see a club devoted to their local community and one that makes a difference.
I’ll never stop supporting Spurs but as a passionate football fan, I need to invest in a club within reach to keep the spark alive.
The MK Dons will always be fighting against the current wherever they go and that will never change. But they have a new fan in which to fight that battle – me.