THE nerves are kicking in, but John Brockwell still reckons MK will be okay this year.
Going into the play-offs, the chairman of the MK Dons Supporters’ Association remains convinced his side should have been taking on Huddersfield Town in last season’s final.
“We were 3-1 up and well on top in our semi-final first leg at home to Peterborough,” recalled the 53-year-old BP sales support manager who has lived and worked in Milton Keynes since the Seventies.
“Then they were given a penalty that wasn’t, and to make matters worse, we had Stephen Gleeson sent off for the supposed foul.
“It was a double whammy, because they scored and we were left with 10 men, and it certainly gave Peterborough a huge boost ahead of the second leg.
“We didn’t turn up for that one, and there was no arguing with the 2-0 scoreline that night, but had we been 3-1 up from the first leg, it would have been a different game altogether, and we might well have ended up getting to the final.”
Now MK have the opportunity to do just that, and Brockwell, a supporter since the old Wimbledon’s controversial relocation to Buckinghamshire in 2003, believes Gleeson could have a big role.
“Along with Darren Potter, he forms a midfield partnership which really kicks the team on,” he explained.
“In addition to that, we have the experience of Alan Smith. He has the ability to dictate play and these are the kind of games he will really want to shine in.”
As well as key individuals, Brockwell believes MK’s team unity will be a major help ahead of what he acknowledges will be a tough test against Town.
“There’s little to separate the sides, both in terms of the league games between them and their overall records,” he added.
“Our squad is small, which is a negative if you are hit by injuries, but the positive is the togetherness and the fact that they are all pulling in the same direction.”
While both Town and MK have yet to prove they deserve a place in the Championship, there’s little doubt the respective stadia are suitable for higher level football.
“I always enjoy visiting Huddersfield,” said Brockwell. “And it’s great to be able to say that we have a home which matches the Galpharm.
“It’s a superb facility for Milton Keynes, and in many ways a model development, because it came about on a relatively shoestring budget as a result of co-operation between all the political parties within the council and local businesses.
“They are 100% behind the stadium and the club, and the facilities that have been built in, such as a hotel and banqueting hall, means the venue can make money seven days a week.”
While the stadium gets the thumbs up, there are still those who term the club ‘Franchise United’ and claim Wimbledon should never have moved.
However Brockwell insists: “A lot of people don’t understand the facts behind the issue.
“The club was moved to Milton Keynes by the administrators, with the backing of the Football League, at a time when there was a major question mark against their continued existence and when a large percentage of the support base had transferred their backing to another club, AFC Wimbledon.”