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Wolverhampton Wanderers v MK Dons
League One
Saturday, December 14th 2013, 3pm

Dan McCalla
(MK Dons fan)

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

To be honest, I wasn’t really looking forward to the Dons’ first trip to Molineux as much as most other fans I know were. As someone who goes to every away game, I much prefer the trips when you can have a relaxed, fun day out and have a good-natured chat with the home fans in the pubs before and after. Everything I’d heard about trips to Wolves from various people in the run-up to the game suggested this wasn’t going to be the case, but I was more than happy to be proved wrong by the end of the day!

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

The journey up was a simple 80-minute direct train from Milton Keynes Central, at the bargain price of £7 return (or £4.60 if, like me, you had a railcard). After our usual breakfast at Wetherspoons, a group of 12 of us grabbed the train at 11:15am and arrived in Wolverhampton around 12:40pm.

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

We’d been advised by West Midlands Police the day before the game via Twitter that the Walkabout on Queen Street, a couple of hundred metres from the train station, was the only bar open to away fans. Although no-one in our group was wearing colours, we decided to play it safe and headed there after getting off the train. We reached the Walkabout to find bouncers on the door checking tickets to ensure they were for the away section, and once we’d entered the service was good and the drinks not too expensive. We stayed until around 2:15pm before the 10- to 12-minute walk to Molineux.
4. What you thought on seeing the ground, first impressions of away end then other sides of the ground?

Both outside and in, I was very impressed by Molineux. It has been extensively redeveloped over the years and has pulled off a trick that many other grounds haven’t; offering decent modern facilities while keeping traditional old-style character (and yes, I am aware of the irony of an MK Dons fan saying that!). The only slight criticism is that all four stands look quite different and imbalanced as the ground has been redeveloped in stages; although the new Stan Cullis Stand at one end is impressive to say the least, it really does dwarf the rest of the stadium.

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

We entered Molineux at 2:30pm to find ourselves on a reasonably spacious concourse (we’d been given part of the lower tier of the Steve Bull Stand despite only taking around 750 fans) to watch the final stages of Manchester City ripping the entrails out of Arsenal. I enjoyed another drink there, although the prices of £3.50 for a can of Banks’s Bitter or £4 for a bottle of Carling were extortionate. After finishing my bitter, I made my way up the stairs to join the other fans already making some noise in the stand.
The stewards tried to enforce allocated seating on everyone, but this quickly unravelled before kick-off. Considering we’re hardly the most disruptive set of fans around, the stewarding was quite heavy in the early stages in terms of trying to get around 200 Dons fans to sit down when around 4,000 Wolves fans were able to stand without challenge in the end to our left. A couple of families behind me were unable to see, but I managed to arrange for everyone around me to move back a row so that the family could take the seats in front of us and watch the game seated. After that, and a friendly chat with one of the chief stewards, we were left alone to stand for the rest of the game.
Given that we’d lost seven away games in a row, expectations of Dons success at Molineux were low. But after weathering an early storm, we gradually took control of the game, with Stephen Gleeson and Darren Potter dominating midfield. After half an hour, a superbly timed pass from Samir Carruthers put Patrick Bamford through on goal, and the Chelsea loanee slotted in for his 14th goal of the season. Delirium from the Dons fans, and frustrated silence from the fans in gold.
We expected a Wolves backlash in the second half, especially with the struggling Leigh Griffiths being taken off at half-time, but our control continued. It only took five minutes after half-time for us to double our lead, with a peach of a 25-yard strike from Ben Reeves that Wolves ‘keeper Carl Ikeme had no chance of keeping out. 2-0 up away at Wolves and the ‘Jingle Bells’ songs soon got going! Wolves correctly had a goal disallowed for offside with around 20 minutes to go, at which point significant numbers of home fans were already heading for the exits. I don’t want to criticise the Wolves fans, as they’ve suffered a tough couple of years with successive relegations, but it really was surprising to see how empty Molineux was by the end of the game.
My nerves were jangling towards the end, seeing as we'd suffered heartbreak away from home so many times before, but the final whistle went and the Dons party really could begin. Our players seemed to be celebrating just as hard as we were, and after a bad run of form during which he’d come under a lot of pressure, you could tell that manager Karl Robinson was particularly proud of the win.

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

We left the ground happy, but decided against any songs outside as we felt there was no need to antagonise any Wolves fans unnecessarily. I stopped to buy a badge for £3 as a memento of the day (I recommend the van at the bottom of the steps as he sells some match-specific badges with both teams’ badges on – ideal to remember a win!). We then walked along the Ring Road and back to the train station with enough time to buy a couple of cans out of the Sainsbury’s nearby. We all piled onto the train at 5:45 and were back in MK for 7pm after a happy, song-filled ride home.

7. Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:

We don’t win away very often, so it was very much a day to savour – for me, it was not far off that incredible day last season when we put four past QPR at Loftus Road in the FA Cup. We had no problems with the Wolves fans at all, although it’s impossible for me to say if this would have been different if we’d been wearing colours. But Molineux was a good, impressive stadium to visit and I’ll certainly look forward to my next visit to Wolverhampton much more than I did this one. 

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