The ELF Trophy may have a bad name as a nonsence competition but for those players and fans that get to Wembley it will be very special. It also gives young members of Premiership teams, their under 21’s, the opportunity to play against senior professionals who have points to prove. There is also the very young fan who gets the chance to visit his first large stadium game at a reasonable price. It was the latter that brought the three of us, grandson, father and me, grandad, to the Stadium MK to see MK Dons take on Aston Villa’s under 21 team.
Much has been written about how Milton Keynes Dons F.C. came about and how the old Wimbledon club ended up in this New Town, created in 1967. Changes of ownership, ground sharing and ground sale, clashes with the F.A. and an independent panel majority decission to allow the movement of a football team from one community to another was ended by Peter Winkleman helping to finace the administration and moving the club to play in the National Hockey Stadium in 2003. He then bought out the club from administration and with a backing group used the property company Inter MK to buy and develop the land where Stadium MK now stands.
What has been achieved struck me as very impressive as I drove up to the stadium on a dark Tuesday night in October, the hotel built into the ground with some rooms overlooking the pitch, the retail stores, national food outlets and people buzzing around. Rather than pay for parking I left the car at an ajoining Industrial Estate.
The ground was extended to 30500 spectators in 2015 which can be raised to 45000 in the future. Views are excellent and the padded seats were a joy. The movement into, out of and around the ground is first class. This is definately a modern well thoughtout experience that needs to attract more fans, an average around 9000 a game so far this season is disapointing. With Milton Keynes being central to the spiders web conurbation developing between Oxford and Cambridge there is the potential. Unfortunately their is little history which needs to come in time. My view is that it is time to drop the Dons from the name and truly proclaim that this club is specifically Milton Keynes. This might also finally end the sore that is the link to Wimbledon who have themselves built a fine new stadium and risen locally from the past problems.
Evening games always seem more dramatic and the lights seem to give off a magical atmosphere. It was another mild evening with little wind with a billiard table pitch.
MK Dons 2 Aston Villa U21’s 4
No programme at this game but the excellent screens have good team details. Villa were allowed two over 21’s but chose to use only one, Keinan Davis who is recovering from long term injury.
It was Keinan Davis who turned and outpaced the MK Dons defence to easilly slot home a one nil advantage for the visitors. Troy Parrot a loanee from Tottenham Hotspur levelled soon after and the Dons ability to get beyond the Villa defence and provide disruption meant the home side went 2.1 up when Troy Parrot turned provider with a back heel to Max Watters to fire home. Davis though continued to harrass and a played a perfect cross for in form Cameron Archer to head home to level the scores just before half time.
Villa’s at time lack lustre defence must have had a good talking to at the interval as they looked much more resolute and dealt with any threat until the tide changed when that man Keinan Davis again fired in a lethath long range shot that bounced off the cross bar for Aaron Ramsey to score from the rebound. Davis went off having been denied the chance to add to his tally and looked dejected as he walked round the pitch. It was finally seaed by Cameron Archer who flashed in a fourth near full time. Villa have won all three of their away games in some style and this crop of young tallent looks good for the future.
The important news was that my five year old son stayed engaged with the game for 80 minutes after which he became restless.
No chips at the food kiosk so my evening meal was a a very hot deep filled Pukka pie.