SweetFA caught up with MK Dons fan Nick Atherton prior to the historic FA Cup 2nd round game this Sunday.
Thanks for answering these questions Nick. First of all, you’re a new MK Dons fan since they started playing at MK stadium, what made you start following them as opposed to other local teams such at Northampton Town, St Neots or even Cambridge and Coventry a little further out?
I was impressed by the commitment of the club to produce a world class stadium.
At the time of deciding to watch my son was 8, he and I started watching with my dad who lives in MK. We visited the club for a few games initially and were really impressed with the family feel of the club. it is really friendly and welcoming to children. My son now loves the club and is an avid fan.
What was it like like getting a new club in the area, was there any backlash from the other local clubs?
There was no problem with backlash. Although, often clubs chant AFC Wimbledon at football games. The home fans in response to this have recently started singing we are the real Wimbledon and are strongly loyal to the roots of the club, which I feel shows a strong commitment to remembering the history of the original parent club.
How many fellow MK fans do you think were from South London in those first few seasons, as opposed to the majority of the crowd made up of new fans from the local areas?
I think there are very few original Wimbledon fans watching home games now, due to the distance of travel. Although, when we attend away games in London a number of Wimbledon fans with original Wimbledon clothing and accessories attend the games.
What do you think is the view of the MK Dons fans towards the AFC fans? Any fan rivalries or is that just reserved for AFC fans against the MK board?
I don’t think the MK Dons fans are bothered about rivalry really, it is just banter towards the AFC Wimbledon fans. Both clubs have enough distance between them to be able to exist and compete in their own right and deserve the right to do so. I hope it is a clean and friendly game on Sunday and lives up to everyone’s expectations.
Do you think MK Dons will drop the “Dons” from their name, The club have already given up claim to Wimbledon’s previous history & trophies?
I don’t believe the present MK Dons fans or the club wish to drop the name. Since 2004 the club has evolved into a team in its own right and as such should now have the right to exist under their present name.
What was the feeling around the place when it was announced Stadium MK would be a candidate to host World Cup 2018 games, should England win the vote?
There was a feeling of real pride in the achievement of Pete Winkleman and the bid committee, this was a really special moment in the clubs history. We as a family were delighted with this and are sure that Stadium MK will soon become a national stadium to be proud of as it richly deserves.
What is MK Dons’ priority this season?
The priority this season is to continue securing a stronger and reliable fan base, whilst at the same time extending the Dons ambition to play Championship football. This feels within grasp this year, there is a sense that the Dons are fast becoming a difficult team to beat. One that could really compete in the next division.
I was excited and pleased that a clash which didn’t occur when Stevenage beat the Dons a few years ago would finally happen. For fans of both clubs it is an important way of recognising the existence of the two clubs in their own rights.
Who do you want to win? Who will win?
I of course want MK Dons to win and believe that they will.
Who are your key players?
Our key players at the moment are Luke Chadwick who is having a remarkable season playing in the hole, Stephen Gleeson and Darren Potter in midfield, who demonstrate week in week out their quality and our fast becoming consistent and reliable defence.
Will this ever be a league fixture?
It is unlikely to be a league fixture in the next few years, since our long term aspirations are in the Championship. But, I would be excited and delighted to see the two clubs face each other on an annual basis.
What’s in the future for MK Dons?
The new, soon to be finished refurbishment really deserves club involvement in the 2015 Rugby World Cup. The new shops and economic infrastructure will bring stability, longevity and employment to the region. This is a great club, with a bright future. Long live the Dons.
Thanks very much, enjoy the game and good luck for the rest of the season.