THE FA CUP still has a very special place in our football calendar and, for Town fans, the third round draw in a couple of weeks will be essential viewing.
It’s the oldest club knockout in the world game and always throws up a host of interesting stories, rivalries and potentials for giant-killings.
The third round is often described as the most talked-about day in English football, but it’s a second-round tie which is capturing all the interest at the moment.
MK Dons v AFC Wimbledon brings together the two clubs formed after the old Wimbledon club from Plough Lane were moved away from London.
That club was elected to the League as recently as 1977 but they rapidly moved up the standings, won the FA Cup in 1988 and were respected in the Premier League.
They left their Plough Lane home to share with Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park in 1991 after the publication of the Taylor Report, which recommended that all top-flight sides should play in all-seater stadiums.
Wimbledon were relegated in 2000, prompting the then chairman Charles Koppel to announce the intention to move to Milton Keynes in 2001.
The fans weren’t happy, it’s fair to say. Crowds fell away, matches were boycotted by a large section of fans and they decided to form their own club – AFC Wimbledon – in 2003.
A year later, the ‘old club’ was renamed Milton Keynes Dons and played their first match at the National Hockey Stadium. They now play at stadium:mk, of course, where we won in last season’s play-offs.
There is still, clearly, a lot of bad feeling among some who follow AFC, because they believe their club was removed from where it belonged.
They now own Kingsmeadow, the ground of Isthmian League Kingstonian, which is much nearer to Plough Lane than when the old club played at Selhurst Park.
The depth of feeling just shows how much a football club means to their community, and that’s something we fully recognise at Town with all the work we do.
It’s not just about 90 minutes on a Saturday afternoon, and that’s why we are winning awards for our work in all aspects of life in this area.
A LOT of our supporters are already starting to look towards the next home Championship game against Leeds United here at the John Smith’s Stadium.
But before then we have two cracking away trips to Charlton, on Saturday, and Middlesbrough a week tomorrow – and I’m really looking forward to them.
With the squad we have, I’m looking forward to every game at the moment in a very positive frame of mind, and I think most of our supporters feel that way as well, even though we didn’t produce our best against Brighton.
Charlton have picked up a couple of good results recently and The Valley has never been a particularly easy place to go to and, of course, Boro have been flying with our former loan man Scott McDonald leading their line.
That said, I think we are capable of very professional performances on the road – just like the one we produced at Barnsley.
I don’t often get the chance to sit with our travelling supporters, but I did at Oakwell and thoroughly enjoyed myself, especially with us winning the game.
Having got the lead with that excellent header from Jermaine Beckford, I thought we closed out the game with a lot of know-how and skill.
We do have experience to do that away from home and I think our game allows us to be confident on away grounds. When you look at the attacking options we’ve got, there is every reason to be confident.
There have been seasons in the past when people have just predicted doom and gloom away from home, but that’s not the case now.
IT’S been a very tough start to the tour of India for England’s cricketers.
And I don’t think we helped ourselves with the team selection.
Going in with three seamers was not what I expected and it left Graeme Swann with an awful lot of work to do as the only frontline spinner.
Samit Patel, useful all-rounder that he is, cannot really be thought of as a frontline spinner. At international level, he is a one-day operator more than a Test match wicket-taker.
While Patel helps with the strength of the batting line-up, I would definitely have played Monty Panesar – and I hope he gets his chance in the second Test in Mumbai.
It’s hard enough playing Test cricket in the sub-continent, but to go in with the wrong team just makes it even harder.
And to win a Test match, you basically have to aim to take 20 wickets.