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Milton Keynes Dons v Preston North End
Saturday March 2nd 2013, 3pm
League One

By Joe Cooper
(Preston North End fan)

1. Why you were looking forward to going to the ground (or not as the case may be):

This was a very impromptu visit as I received a phone call off a mate at 9:30am on Saturday morning saying he wanted to go down to watch the game and he was willing to drive. The away day excitement got the better of me and I agreed to make the trip with him. I had been to MK Dons the season before and I developed a dislike for the club as I disagree with making a football club a franchise and I canít help but think that is what the club stands for. I did, however, want to see the stadium again as I didnít really pay that much attention on my last visit having had a few too many beers.

2. How easy was your journey/finding the ground/car parking?

The journey was easy and it was fairly traffic free for the whole journey we took the M6, M6 Toll, M1 which I imagine is the route of choice for most football fans from the North West. We got there in about two and a half hours having set off at 10:45am.

3. What you did before the game pub/chippy.... home fans friendly?

We went round many a roundabout and eventually got to the retail park that is the home of Stadium:MK. We parked in the stadium car park about an hour before kick-off. We were unsure as to where we could purchase tickets for the away end so we asked a steward in the car park (who was wearing an MK Dons luminous vest) where the away ticket office was. He was a bit eccentric and he said he thought it was round to the left of the ground, we didnít have that much confidence in his answer and we chose to go to the right of the ground and this in fact was the right way. As far as I could see there are no pubs around the ground, just lots of fast food outlets and an Ikea.

4. What you thought on seeing the ground, first impressions of away end then other sides of the ground?

From the outside the stadium looks very corporate and not like a venue that would host football. The turnstile is a gate controlled by an electronic scanner that scans the barcode of your ticket. Iím sure this is very efficient and possibly cost effective, but the fact it required two stewards behind it to inform some people of how to use it did make me wonder why they didnít just use a normal turnstile. The concourse itself was very spacious and the fact you could see the pitch was good. We went to the bar where I bought a pint for £3.50. The view from my seat was excellent and unimpeded, and the chairs were the comfiest and largest I had ever sat on at a football ground.

5. Comment on the game itself, atmosphere, stewards, pies, facilities etc..

Now I like to think that North End has quite a good, noisy away following and for the most part I reckon this is the case. We took 700 down to Milton Keynes that day and I have never heard us so quiet, to be fair we were allocated quite a large section and due to the size of the seats it felt like we were scattered all over the place! I think the comfy seats probably made people feel more compelled to sit down rather than stand up and cheer on the lads. Iím assuming this was the same for the 8000 MK Dons fans because they didnít make much noise either.

The game itself was very lively to begin with, a costly error from our centre back Bailey Wright allowed MK Dons to score after only two minutes! Preston responded well though, and five minutes later a cross from Lee Holmes managed to sneak past three Dons defenders for Will Hayhurst to slot the ball home from a tight angle. The game then descended into a dreary affair after that, and it became very clear both teams were content with a draw. The game finished 1-1.

6. Comment on getting away from the ground after the game:

We got back to the car very quickly, there was a bit of congestion getting away from the car park. I canít help but think this was down to the directional ability of another MK Dons steward who sported a pair of ripped suit trousers!. With the actions he was using to direct the traffic he looked like a poor manís John Travolta which we all found highly amusing.

7. Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:

As stated in its title Stadium:MK is a stadium built for other things as well as football, such as Music Concerts and other sporting events. If youíre a traditionalist who likes a proper football ground I donít think you will enjoy as much as other away days. Donít get me wrong, the facilities are brilliant and there are some aspects that I thought were good, but you can tell the place doesnít have much by the way of history and I didnít get the feeling there was that much passion surrounding the stadium either. I would follow my team anywhere so I would go again if I had to.

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