The Opposition

Milton Keynes is only 84 miles away so there may be reasonable travelling support visiting Nailsworth for this 3pm kick-off.  MK used to average crowds of 10,000 when they were in League 1.  This has dropped to an average gate of 6,500 this season.  But MK fans will be expecting their side to at least make the play-offs this season.  They are currently in 4th place, 2 points short of automatic promotion, but having played 2 games more than the teams above them.

How are they doing?

It has been something of an up and down season for MK Dons so far.  A good start was followed by 9 games without a win – a run that cost manager Graham Alexander his job in October after 5 months in charge.  The club then appointed current manager Mike Williamson, who was previously in his first managerial position in charge of Gateshead.  Williamson is the 6th MK manager in the last year (albeit they have had 2 interim managers in that time).

Williamson’s appointment has meant a steady upturn in fortunes for the side.  The team has had a steady rise up the table under his tenure.  They now sit 4th in the table.  They are 2 points off the automatic promotion places but they have played 2 more games than their rivals,so may now be thinking of the play-offs perhaps?

MK’s home record used to be especially poor – at one point they had the worst home record in the league (a position now held by FGR!).  However, this has now changed dramatically.  MK now have the best home form in the division.  It’s their away form that is a bit patchier – 4 defeats, 1 draw and 2 wins in their last 7 away games.

MK fans will now be expecting a quick return to League 1 – quite a change from their early season worries about survival.  They joined FGR in being relegated last season from League 1, albeit by just a single point.

Perhaps MK’s most significant signing this season has been their manager.  Mike Williamson was appointed in October after the dismissal of former Bradford boss Graham Alexander.  Williamson was previously in charge at Gateshead and was admired for the passing style of play that MK have always traditionally tried to play.  Williamson’s determination to keep the ball on the floor and create ample goal-scoring opportunities for his strikers has transformed MK’s season from also-rans to promotion contenders.

Mike Williamson nominated for Manager of the Month honour - News - Milton Keynes Dons

Mike Williamson, the MK manager, has transformed their season.

Their Home

Stadium MK - home of the Milton Keynes Dons - aerial image… | Flickr

Stadium MK

MK’s stadium was built as a multi-purpose centre with a top-flight football team as its foundation.  But top flight football has eluded Milton Keynes so far.  The club figured in the Championship for one season in 2015 and this is their 3rd spell in League 2 following relegation last season (the other 2 spells in League 2 have been pretty short).  Other than this they have consistently been a League 1 club for the rest of their 20-year existence.

Who to watch

Rovers fans will remember Sudanese forward Mo Eisa (number 10).  Eisa played for Cheltenham in 2017/18 before moves to Bristol City then Peterborough.  This is his 3rd season at MK.  Injury held him back in 2022 but he is back and has 5 goals for the season so far.  But Eisa hasn’t scored since September and has been a peripheral player for MK this season.

One of their goalscorers in form at the moment is teenage striker Max Dean.  Signed from Leeds, the 19 year-old has begun to really hit his stride, with 12 goals for the season so far.  He is usually MK’s penalty taker.

Alex Gilbey has 10 goals for the season and is having, arguably, one of the best seasons of his career.  The 29 year-old midfielder played for MK for 3 seasons (2017-2020) before a move to Charlton for 3 seasons.  He returned to MK this season.

Club Captain Dean Lewington (number 3) is a left back with an interesting football CV.  Now 39 years old, Lewington played for Wimbledon between 2002 and 2004 (the only former Wimbledon player in the MK squad).  Since then, Lewington has now stayed at MK for 20 seasons.  He won League 2 Player of the Month in December 2023, so is clearly still a force to be reckoned with.

Daniel Kemp - Midfielder - Men's Team - Milton Keynes Dons

Daniel Kemp (above) joined MK in 2021.  After failing to impress he spent a season on loan at Hartlepool followed by a half-season loan at Swindon.  During these loan spells he seemed to find his scoring boots and was recalled from Swindon in January this year.  He scored 14 goals at Swindon and another 3 since his return to MK.

Dean completes switch to MK Dons from Leeds United

Max Dean is MK’s striker in form.  

Alex Gilbey - Midfielder - Men's Team - Milton Keynes Dons

Alex Gilbey, MK’s number 8 midfielder is also in fine form.

What are they thinking?

Check out the thoughts of MK Dons fans on the forum mk dons forum

The Club

MK Dons were formed in 2004 in controversial circumstances.  Wimbledon FC relocated to Milton Keynes, having had to play their league games at Selhurst Park for a while, following them going into administration in 2003.  Wimbledon fans mostly refused to follow the club to Milton Keynes and the acrimony has increased over the years with many urging the EFL to do something to prevent the ‘franchising’ of clubs out of their local area.

MK and the resurrected AFC Wimbledon were both in League 1 last season before Wimbledon were relegated to League 2.  The London club refused for a long time to recognise the ‘Dons’ part of MK Dons (only ever publishing or announcing their name as ‘Milton Keynes’).  Eventually, the EFL stepped in to insist that they used the full name.  Stadium announcers at Wimbledon seem to have found a workaround recently.  When half-times and results are being announced, and you hear that ‘Doncaster are winning 2-0’, you’ll have to work it out for yourself that they must have been playing MK Dons!  Bitter memories run deep!

MK Don’s greatest Academy product, Dele Alli, was sold to Spurs for an initial £5m in 2015.

Pin di Don Skilbeck su English Football Club Mascots. | Mucche, Hockey su prato, Vitellini

Donny & Mooie, the MK Don’s mascots.  Stadium MK’s South Stand is also known as the Cowshed.  Milton Keynes is also known for an artwork of 6 concrete cows installed on one of its roundabouts in 1978.

The City

The only other professional football club in Buckinghamshire is Wycombe Wanderers.

Milton Keynes was formed as a ‘New Town’ in the late 1960’s and has now grown to have a population of 250,000 people.  The town, which became a city in 2022, is built on a grid system of streets surrounded by ring roads and (many!) roundabouts.

The stadium is very close to the village of Bletchley and less than a mile from the WW2 codebreaking location of Bletchley Park, now home to a wartime museum.

Bletchley Park, where the enigma code was broken in World War II.

Milton Keynes - Home of the Mini Concrete Cows

Concrete cows in Milton Keynes!