When asked to make a contribution to this particular blog, I was asked to try and include a humorous story or anecdote that might appeal to other fans. Over the years, I’ve found that the events on a football field rarely typify the excitement of the terraces and the banter that’s shared between supporters.
One of my favourite stories comes from a fantastic day out at Edgeley Park near the end of the 2007/2008 campaign. As a follower of Milton Keynes Dons, I’ve become fairly thick-skinned to the customary anti-franchise comments that follow us around the country, but playing at Stockport always has a bit of an edge to it.
They bloody hate us up there with a passion. The Fans Trust up there has achieved wonderful things in the past, and owes much of their existence to the help they received from the Fans Trust at AFC Wimbledon when starting out.
Unless you’ve been living on another planet for the past seven years you’ll know that the lads down at Kingsmeadow see us as an abomination. We don’t mind too much. We even try to understand their anger sometimes. Personally, I’m delighted at their rise through the pyramid and wish them well.
Our brief history with Stockport is built purely around them hating us by proxy on the behalf of AFC Wimbledon fans. Although County fans have never been aggressive towards us, they tend shun us in pubs and are pretty vociferous inside Edgeley Park.
When they come to Stadium:MK, they do so in large numbers and treat every point they take away from us as a moral victory against franchised football. Good luck to them! They entitled to their opinions and I respect that.
But getting one over on Stockport is always a satisfying experience and nothing was sweeter than that magical afternoon near the end of that wonderful season when we visited Edgeley Park needing a win to guarantee promotion into League One.
The thought of getting promoted in the back yard of our fiercest opponents was a fantastic proposition anyway, but the game itself was a classic with the Dons equalising within a minute of going behind on two occasions before Keith Andrews settled the game with a delightful 25 yard lob that handed us a 3-2 victory.
The depth of Stockport’s hatred for us was epitomised by the fact their stewards wouldn’t let our players come to celebrate with us after the final whistle. We didn’t care. Within minutes we were outside the ground and dancing in the street as the celebrations began. We got a few choice comments from County fans making their way home but most of it was harmless enough.
It wasn’t until we were sent back to our coaches by the police that the fun really began. One of the lads on the coach had already made a celebration CD with all the usual tripe that gets played when a side wins something, and we’re having a whale of a time on the coach singing along to rubbish that we’d never go anywhere near on a normal day.
As we came back past the away end, the entire coach was bouncing off it’s axles with delighted supporters as it headed towards a police escort that was waiting to take us out of Stockport and onto the motorway. As we neared the escort, several uniformed officers spread out across the road to prevent other traffic leaving the area from the many side roads that run past the ground so we could be on our way and out of their hands.
It was at this stage we noticed a car full of County fans pull out onto the main road determined to get in front of the police escort instead of being stalled by a set of fans they absolutely despised. As the car screeched past the startled officers, the driver leaned out of the window and made a very common hand gesture towards the departing coaches with a huge smile on his face while his passengers followed suit with a foul-mouthed tirade and an inspired selection of hand movements.
Whether or not the driver had ever tried to rush away from Edgeley Park on a less busy day is open to question, but he clearly wasn’t aware of the queuing traffic that backed up a couple of hundred yards from a set of nearby traffic lights. I can still fondly recall the sound of breaking of glass and the crunch of metal as the vehicle ploughed into the back of a waiting car containing another set of County fans. The reaction of the driver in the waiting traffic was understandably irate and a heated exchange between the two drivers was still very much in progress as a series of coaches packed with jubilant away supporters drove past with their noses up against the window. Boy! Did that fella get some stick!
Needless to say, the chap who had been giving us untold abuse only moments before kept his head down in shame as we laughed our backsides off. The front end of his car was absolutely battered, but probably nowhere near as much as his pride was.
I still wonder what he told his wife when he got home that night…