D3D4 Football interviews MK Dons fan Max Friend regarding life as a fan of a team still regard by some as abhorrent …
Let’s get one thing clear from the start, what happened to Wimbledon was outrageous and should have never happened. It went against everything British football stands for and saw Milton Keynes steal another clubs place in the Football League yet this was nigh on 15 years ago now and a grudge can only last so long.
When reading the When Saturday Comes Magazine pre-season preview they always ask fans of other clubs how the previous season went and what their expectations for the new season are yet next to MK Dons it reads “no questions asked”. This irks me for the simple reason that it punishes the fans of the club who were probably still potty training or perhaps were not even born when the move occurred.
Most fans of MK Dons now are young fans supporting their local side and this has to be commended in a time of armchair fans supporting one of the big four of five clubs. To hold an attitude against these fans, which is essentially what is happening, is unfair and comes across as petty considering the time now lapsed since it all took place. Considering AFC Wimbledon are now back in League One and look to be returning to the borough of Merton many fans across the League are increasingly sharing my view about the club now firmly entrenched in Milton Keynes.
I asked Max Friend, an avid MK Dons fan about his views and this is what he said:
As a general thought I think the notion that we are avoided by visiting fans has been dispelled. This can be shown through the stats provided by the EFL, in the 2014/2015 season in League 1 when we won promotion we were the best visited ground for away fans with an average number of 980 away fans turning up to Stadium:MK every week, this again continued in the following season when we suffered relegation from The Championship, this season we were the 2nd most visited ground in the league behind Fulham with and average of 2400 away fans visiting. Obviously the stats for this season haven’t been released yet but I expect us to be right up there again this season in terms of the numbers visiting the ground.
Here are the links to the EFL website pages on this so you can have a look for yourself:
1.What year/when did you start supporting MK Dons?
I properly started supporting MK Dons in 2009 and went fairly regularly towards the end of the season, I got a season ticket for the 09/10 season and have had one ever since. I had to give this up when I went to university though but the club offer a uni season ticket where you can attend any 6 home games for £60 so I have done this and did have a season ticket on my placement year which was the unsuccessful season in the Championship. I have secured my season ticket for next year and think Robbie Neilson will prove to be a good appointment and lead a charge for promotion.
2.Why did you choose to support them?
I chose to support MK because had gone to a couple of games with my dad before this, but the first game I went to on my own was MK Dons v Leicester in League 1 when both clubs were challenging for automatic promotion. The game finished 2-2 with Max Gradel scoring a freekick for Leicester in the 100th minute. Despite the disappointment of this I was hooked and started going more regularly and have had some form of season ticket ever since. I also wanted to support my local team, I had never supported Luton who are also local because to be honest as a club and place I don’t particularly like them and this was formed before I supported MK. My dad had never taken me to a Luton game when I was younger and so I never had any affiliation with them.
3.Are you local to Milton Keynes?
I am local to Milton Keynes, to drive from my house in Bedfordshire to the ground takes around 25 minutes but maybe a bit longer on a matchday.
4.How to you feel other clubs treat you as fans due to the fact you support Milton Keynes?
I feel that fans of other clubs views are starting to change, this first started to happen after the first FA Cup meeting with AFC when they threatened to boycott the game as they didn’t want to give us any money but ended up bringing just over 3000 fans. If the club who hate us most couldn’t even stay away from the stadium to watch a game why would fans of other clubs who the move didn’t affect? I personally have never suffered any abuse as a fan above the normal level of banter you expect at the football so I honestly think most fans are starting to move on and accept MK Dons. I also think fans views of AFC will change over time and with this the views of MK Dons will change too. AFC are presented in the media as a holy club who can do nothing wrong but in their bid to move back to Plough Lane they have made Kingstonian homeless and effectively killed them as a club which has been reported in the media and people have been talking about with people starting to see that they maybe aren’t as nice as they like to think or are made out to be. After this answer I will provide you a link to the Guardian who have a well balanced piece on this exact subject so you can have a read and make up your own mind as I accept that my views are biased towards MK.
5. Do you think that Milton Keynes should drop “Dons” from their name to appease other fans who feel that this was unfairly taken from Wimbledon?
No I don’t think we should drop the Dons from the name and neither do the majority of fans. There are fans of the old Wimbledon who followed the team and support MK and the number of these is probably higher than people think, it’s around 300-400 which isn’t a massive number but as a percentage of both MK Dons and AFC’s gates is a fair proportion. I also think that the Dons name serves as a reminder as where the club came from, whether they have it at the end or not I don’t feel it will make a difference. I think it’s important to remember what happened because no matter what people say I don’t think what happened should happen again, but looking at the actual facts of the move and not the twisted truth you may read in the media I feel that the outcome now is better than could have been. AFC Wimbledon was formed in 2002 with the move actually not happening until 2003 so there is a feeling within our fan base that the truth is sometimes twisted and that if the fans who now attend AFC matches had tried as hard to save the original Wimbledon as they have with AFC maybe the situation would never have happened at all.
Below is a link that has the facts about the move from Wimbledon to MK which may not always be reported but again I have included it so you can have a read yourself and form your own opinion as I don’t want to force anything upon you.