Milton Keynes Dons F.C.
|Full name||Milton Keynes Dons Football Club|
|Short name||MK Dons|
|2015–16||Championship, 23rd (relegated)|
|Website||Club home page|
Milton Keynes Dons Football Club (/ /; usually abbreviated to MK Dons) is a professional association football club based in the town of Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, England. The result of Wimbledon F.C.'s relocation to Milton Keynes from south London in September 2003, the club officially considers itself to have been founded in 2004, when it adopted its present name, badge and home colours.[n 2] As of the 2016–17 season its first team plays in League One, the third tier of English football.
Initially based at the National Hockey Stadium, the club competed as MK Dons from the start of the 2004–05 season. After two years in League One it was relegated to the fourth-tier League Two. The club then missed out on promotion in the play-offs before it moved to the newly built Stadium mk for the 2007–08 season, when MK Dons won the League Two title under the management of Paul Ince. MK Dons also won the Football League Trophy that year. The team remained in League One until the 2014–15 season when it won promotion to the Championship under the management of Karl Robinson; they were relegated back to League One a year later.
MK Dons have built a strong reputation for youth development—between 2004 and 2014 the club gave first-team debuts to 14 local academy graduates, including the England international midfielder Dele Alli.
- 1 Origins
- 2 History
- 3 Stadium
- 4 Supporters
- 5 Community
- 6 Youth Academy
- 7 Players
- 8 Technical staff
- 9 Senior management
- 10 Managers
- 11 Notable coaches
- 12 Honours
- 13 Club records and achievements
- 14 Kit history
- 15 See also
- 16 Footnotes
- 17 References
- 18 External links
Milton Keynes, about 45 miles (72 km) north-west of London in Buckinghamshire, was established as a new town in 1967. In the absence of a professional football club representing the town—none of the local non-League teams progressed significantly through the English football league system or "pyramid" over the following decades—it was occasionally suggested that a Football League club might relocate there. There was no precedent in English League football for such a move between conurbations and the football authorities and most fans expressed strong opposition to the idea. Charlton Athletic briefly mooted re-basing in "a progressive Midlands borough" during a planning dispute with their local council in 1973, and the relocation of nearby Luton Town to Milton Keynes was repeatedly suggested from the 1980s onwards. Another team linked with the new town was Wimbledon Football Club.
Wimbledon, established in south London in 1889 and nicknamed "the Dons", were elected to the Football League in 1977. They thereafter went through a "fairytale" rise from obscurity and by the end of the 1980s were established in the top division of English football. Despite Wimbledon's new prominence, the club's modest home stadium at Plough Lane remained largely unchanged from its non-League days. The club's then-owner Ron Noades identified this as a problem as early as 1979, extending his dissatisfaction to the ground's very location. Interested in the stadium site designated by the Milton Keynes Development Corporation, Noades briefly planned to move Wimbledon there by merging with a non-League club in Milton Keynes, and to this end purchased debt-ridden Milton Keynes City. However he then decided that the club would not get higher crowds in Milton Keynes and abandoned the idea.
In 1991, after the Taylor Report was published recommending the redevelopment of English football grounds, Wimbledon left Plough Lane to groundshare at Crystal Palace's ground, Selhurst Park, about 6 miles (9.7 km) away. Sam Hammam, who now owned Wimbledon, said the club could not afford to redevelop Plough Lane and that the groundshare was a temporary arrangement while a new ground was sourced in south-west London. A new stadium for Wimbledon proved hard to arrange. Frustrated by what he perceived as a lack of support from Merton Council, Hammam began to look further afield and by 1996 was pursuing a move to Dublin, an idea that most Wimbledon fans strongly opposed. Hammam sold the club to two Norwegian businessmen, Kjell Inge Røkke and Bjørn Rune Gjelsten, in 1997, and a year later sold Plough Lane to Safeway supermarkets. Wimbledon were relegated from the Premier League at the end of the 1999–2000 season.
Starting in 2000, a consortium led by music promoter Pete Winkelman and supported by Asda (a Walmart subsidiary) and IKEA proposed a large retail development in Milton Keynes including a Football League-standard stadium. The consortium proposed that an established League club move to use this site; it approached Luton, Wimbledon, Crystal Palace, Barnet and Queens Park Rangers. In 2001 Røkke and Gjelsten appointed a new chairman, Charles Koppel, who was in favour of this idea, saying it was necessary to stop the club going out of business. To the fury of most Wimbledon fans, Koppel announced on 2 August 2001 that the club intended to relocate to Milton Keynes. After the Football League refused permission, Wimbledon launched an appeal, leading to a Football Association arbitration hearing and subsequently the appointment of a three-man independent commission to make a final and binding verdict. The League and FA stated opposition but the commissioners ruled in favour, two to one, on 28 May 2002.
Having campaigned against the move, a group of disaffected Wimbledon fans reacted to this in June 2002 by forming their own non-League club, AFC Wimbledon, to which most of the original team's support defected. AFC Wimbledon entered a groundshare agreement with Kingstonian in the borough of Kingston upon Thames, adjacent to Merton. The original Wimbledon intended to move to Milton Keynes immediately but were unable to do so until a temporary home in the town meeting Football League criteria could be found. The club remained at Selhurst Park in the meantime and in June 2003 went into administration. With the move threatened and the club facing liquidation, Winkelman decided to buy it himself. He secured funding for the administrators to keep the team operating with the goal of getting it to Milton Keynes as soon as possible. The club arranged the temporary use of the National Hockey Stadium in Milton Keynes and played its first match there in September 2003. Nine months later Winkelman's Inter MK Group bought the club out of administration and announced changes to its name, badge and colours—the team was renamed Milton Keynes Dons Football Club.
2004–06: Struggles and relegation
The first season for the club as MK Dons was 2004–05, in Football League One, under Stuart Murdoch, who had managed Wimbledon F.C. since 2002. The team's first game was on 7 August 2004, a 1–1 home draw against Barnsley, with Izale McLeod equalising with their first competitive goal. Murdoch was sacked in November and replaced by Danny Wilson, who kept MK Dons in the division the final day of the season — but only because of Wrexham's 10-point deduction for going into administration. The following season, MK Dons struggled all year, and were relegated to League Two; Wilson, as a result, was sacked.
2006–10: Promotion and first trophy
Wilson's successor for 2006–07 was Martin Allen, who had just taken Brentford to the brink of a place in the Football League Championship. MK Dons were in contention for automatic promotion right up to the last game, but eventually finished fourth and had to settle for a play-off place. They then suffered a defeat to Shrewsbury Town in the play-off semi-finals. During the 2007 summer break, Allen left to take over at Leicester City.
For the 2007–08 season, former England captain Paul Ince took over as manager. MK Dons reached the final of the Football League Trophy, while topping the table for most of the season. The final was played on 30 March against Grimsby Town — Milton Keynes Dons won 2–0 at Wembley to bring the first professional trophy to Milton Keynes. The club capped the trophy win with the League Two championship, and the subsequent promotion to League One for the 2008–09 season. Following his successes, Ince left at the end of the season to manage Blackburn Rovers.
Ince's replacement was Roberto Di Matteo. In the 2008–09 season, they missed out to an automatic promotion spot by two points, finishing third behind Peterborough United and Leicester City. They were knocked out of the play-offs by Scunthorpe United, who defeated MK Dons by penalty shootout at Stadium mk. Di Matteo left at the season's end for West Bromwich Albion.
2010–present: Karl Robinson
On 10 May 2010, Karl Robinson was appointed as the club's new manager, with former England coach John Gorman as his assistant. At 29 years of age, Robinson was then the youngest manager in the Football League. In his first season in the club MK Dons finished 5th in 2010–11 Football League One. They faced Peterborough United in the play-off semifinals. Although they won the first leg 3–2, a 2–0 defeat at London Road meant they missed out on the play-off final.
The 2011–12 season brought similar results to the previous season with the Dons finishing 5th in 2011–12 Football League One facing Huddersfield in the play-offs. Losing the first leg 2–0 followed by winning 2–1 at The Galpharm saw MK Dons lose 3–2 on aggregate against the eventual play-off winners. The away leg was John Gorman's last match in football after announcing his retirement a few weeks beforehand. Gorman's replacement was announced on 18 May 2012 as being ex-Luton manager Mick Harford along with new part-time coach Ian Wright.
MK Dons experienced their best ever FA Cup campaign in the 2012–13 season by beating a spirited Cambridge City (0–0 and 6–1), League Two fierce rivals AFC Wimbledon (2–1), Championship Sheffield Wednesday (0–0 and 2–0) and Premier League Queens Park Rangers (4–2) to reach the Fifth Round of the competition for the first time ever in their footballing history. Their record-breaking run ended in the Fifth Round at stadium:mk on 16 February 2013, losing 3–1 to Championship side Barnsley.
Following a disappointing end to the 2013-14 Football League One season (10th, after being in the top five for much of the season), Karl Robinson made some shrewd summer signings to take the football club forward in 2014–15, including Danny Green, Kyle McFadzean, Benik Afobe (on loan from Arsenal), Samir Carruthers, Jordan Spence on a free transfer and Will Grigg (on loan from Brentford).
The 2014–15 season began well. The highlight event of the season's first month was being drawn against Manchester United in the League Cup second round (having dispatched A.F.C Wimbledon in the first). The Dons recorded a stunning 4–0 victory over United in front of a sell out crowd at stadium:mk. After the game, MK Dons Manager Karl Robinson stated: "I'm a little in shock. It's the stuff dreams are made of." A few weeks later, the Dons recorded their record win, a 6–0 thrashing of Colchester United at home. That record did not last long as it was broken once again with a 7–0 demolition of Oldham Athletic on 20 December 2014. Just over a month later, on 31 January 2015, the Dons recorded a joint record 5–0 away win against Crewe Alexandra, earning a short-lived top spot. On 3 May the club secured promotion to the Football League Championship for the first time, beating Yeovil Town 5–1 and leapfrogging Preston North End (who lost 1–0 at Colchester United) on the final day of the season. However, they returned to League One a season later.
The club's first stadium was the National Hockey Stadium, which was temporarily converted for football for the duration of the club's stay. Their lease on this ground ended in May 2007.
On 18 July 2007, the club's new 22,000 seater, stadium mk in Denbigh hosted its first game, a restricted entrance event against a young Chelsea XI. The stadium was officially opened on 29 November 2007 by Queen Elizabeth II. The stadium features an open concourse at the top of the lower tier, an integrated hotel with rooms looking over the pitch and conference facilities
The complex was to include a 3,000 seat indoor arena, where the MK Lions (now London Lions) basketball team would be based. The completion of this arena was delayed due to deferral of proposed commercial developments around the site, leaving the Lions to find a new home away from Milton Keynes.
The South stand of Stadium mk is known as the Cowshed by Dons' fans, as Milton Keynes is known for its Concrete Cows. This nickname was also used for the home end at the Dons' previous ground in Milton Keynes, the National Hockey Stadium, now demolished.
MK Dons biggest rivals are considered to be Peterborough United: they have vied for promotion to the Championship, the rivalry between the two exists in other sports (e.g., there is also a MK Lightning-Peterborough Phantoms rivalry in ice hockey which pre-dates the rivalry in football), and they are both (substantially) New Towns. Wycombe Wanderers are the only other professional team in Buckinghamshire, and therefore contest the Bucks Derby. Northampton Town, Stevenage F.C. and Luton Town are also considered rivals due to geographic proximity, though those rivals have rarely been in the same League as the Dons.
vs AFC Wimbledon
MK Dons fans have a rivalry with AFC Wimbledon, who they pejoratively call AFC Kingston, due to the fact the new team has not played in Wimbledon since its inception but in Kingston upon Thames. Although it is a fierce rivalry the fans do not consider them as their number one rivals. Most MK Dons fans regard their club as a renamed Wimbledon F.C.. The chairman, Winkelman was unequivocal when answering readers' questions in FourFourTwo magazine in November 2004: "MK Dons and AFC Wimbledon share the same heritage, but we're the real child of Wimbledon", he wrote. One reader asked if Winkelman agreed that, in light of his "renaming and thorough rebranding of the relocated club", AFC Wimbledon now carried "the true spirit of Wimbledon"; Winkelman replied that AFC Wimbledon's founders had betrayed their club, and had "left their team before their team left them". In another answer, he poured scorn on suggestions that he might give Wimbledon F.C.'s trophy replicas to AFC Wimbledon, writing that the fans had "abdicated their right to it when they all walked away." "The fans who have continued to support us from London—they're the ones who've had to put up with this shit for so long", he concluded.
The first fixture between the two sides took place in the second round of the 2012–13 FA Cup, where they were drawn to play each other at Stadium mk. MK Dons won the match, held on 2 December 2012, by two goals to one, with a winner scored in injury time, scored by Jon Otsemobor and dubbed by the MK Dons fans as "The Heel of God" (a spoof of the Hand of God). In the second game when Kyle McFadzean scored the opening goal with his heel it was immediately dubbed "The Heel of God II".
The sides will meet for the first time in league competition in the 2016-17 English Football League One season, as AFC Wimbledon gained promotion from League Two for the 2016-17 season, while MK Dons were relegated from the Championship.
|2 December 2012 FA Cup R2||MK Dons||2–1||AFC Wimbledon||Milton Keynes|
|12:30 GMT (UTC)||Gleeson 45'
|Report||Midson 59'||Stadium: Stadium:MK
Referee: Scott Mathieson
|12 August 2014 League Cup R1||MK Dons||3–1||AFC Wimbledon||Milton Keynes|
|19:45 BST (UTC+1)||McFadzean 19'
|Report||Tubbs 90+4' (pen.)||Stadium: Stadium:MK
Referee: Dean Whitestone
|7 October 2014 League Trophy R2 South||MK Dons||2–3||AFC Wimbledon||Milton Keynes|
|19:45 BST (UTC+1)||Powell 2'
Referee: Tim Robinson
The most popular chants include "Can't Help Falling in Love", "No one likes us, we don't care", "When The Dons Go Marching In", "We're the real Wimbledon", "We're the Dons", "Hoist up the MK flag", "We all follow the MK", "Wimbledon!", "MK Army", "Allez Allez A-O" and Don't Take Me Home. Most chants are footballer specific, and almost the entire squad has a chant attributed to each player sung to popular tunes, for example club hero Dean Lewington has a song named "We love you Lewie" to the tune of "Can't Take My Eyes Off You".
Supporters' club recognition
On 4 June 2005, at the 2005 Football Supporters' Federation "Fans' Parliament" (AGM), the FSF refused the MK Dons Supporters' Club membership of the FSF in a debate that, among other arguments, questioned why the Football League had yet to introduce any new rules to prevent the "franchising" of other football clubs in the future. In addition, the FSF membership agreed with the Wimbledon Independent Supporters' Association that the Milton Keynes Dons Supporters' Association should not be entitled to join the FSF until they give up all claim to the history and honours of Wimbledon FC. With this in mind, the FSF began discussions aimed at returning Wimbledon FC's honours to the London Borough of Merton.
Shortly afterwards, following heavy criticism for allowing the move, the Football League announced new tighter rules on club relocation.
At its AGM on 5 June 2006, the FSF again considered a motion proposed by the FSF Council to allow MK Dons Supporters Association membership if the honours and trophies of Wimbledon FC were given to the London Borough of Merton. In October 2006, agreement was reached between the club, the MK Dons Supporters Association, the Wimbledon Independent Supporters' Association and the Football Supporters Federation. The replica of the FA Cup plus all club patrimony gathered under the name of Wimbledon F.C. would be returned to the London Borough of Merton. Ownership of trademarks and website domain names related to Wimbledon F.C. would also be transferred to the Borough. The Borough subsequently transferred all trademarks to AFC Wimbledon. As part of the same deal it was agreed that any reference made to Milton Keynes Dons FC should refer only to events subsequent to 7 August 2004 (the date of the first League game of Milton Keynes Dons FC). As a result of this deal, the FSF announced that the supporters of Milton Keynes Dons FC would be permitted to become members of the federation, and that it would no longer appeal to the supporters of other clubs to boycott MK Dons matches. On 2 August 2007, MK Dons transferred the replica trophies and all Wimbledon FC memorabilia to the London Borough of Merton.
The Dons' most famous non-football related supporter was Jim Marshall, the founder of Marshall Amplification, who were one of the earliest shirt sponsors. Dan Wheldon and his family was also reported to be keeping fingers crossed for the Dons before his tragic death, after which a minute's silence was held in a game against Scunthorpe in his honour. June Whitfield was a Wimbledon F.C. supporter and continues to support the MK as well as AFC.[not in citation given] Former cricketer and talkSport radio presenter Darren Gough, despite being a Barnsley F.C. fan attends Dons games from time to time, as he lives nearby, and also frequently speaks fondly of the Dons when presenting on the radio.
Other notable fans who are either Dons fans or regularly attend games are: Gabi Downs, a London 2012 Paralympic Fencer; Andrew Baggaley, table tennis Commonwealth Games double Gold Medallist; Gail Emms, Badminton World Champion; Frank Bruno, Boxing World Champion; James Hildreth and James Foster both England cricketers; Mark Lancaster, Member of Parliament and Government Minister in 2012; Craig Pickering, 100m sprinter – Bronze Medal at World Championship in 2007; Craig Gibbons, London 2012 Olympic 100 metre swimmer; Mikey Burrows, Sky Sports Radio Presenter; and the late musician and Radio Broadcaster George Webley.
Through the work of MK Dons SET (Sport and Educational Trust), the club works locally (Milton Keynes and the neighbouring towns) in the fields of education, social inclusion, participation and football development. It works with schools, has 14 disability teams playing in regional or national competitions, works with BME (black and minority ethnic) community groups and runs many activities for women and girls. MK Dons also supports the "Football v Homophobia" initiative (one of only 25 premiership and football league clubs supporting the programme in 2012 and only 30 in 2013).
MK Dons' work in the community was recognised by the award of Football League Awards Community Club of the Year for London and the South East for 2012, and in the award of an honorary doctorate to chairman Pete Winkelman by the Open University in June 2013.
In recent years Milton Keynes Dons are gaining a growing reputation for their youth academy, partially due to former head of coaching Dan Micciche.
Striker Sam Baldock was the first notable academy graduate who, after making 102 appearances, moved on to West Ham for a 6 figure sum. Since then he became captain of Bristol City and now plays for Brighton. As of February 2015[update], Daniel Powell, Tom Flanagan and George Baldock, brother of Sam, all play regularly for the MK Dons first team.
On 2 February 2015, Milton Keynes Dons academy graduate and first team midfielder Dele Alli was sold to Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur for a fee in the region of £5 million. Alli became the first Milton Keynes Dons academy product to make their full England senior team debut on 9 October 2015.
- As of 3 July 2016
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
Out on loan
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
Player of the Year
For a list of all Milton Keynes Dons players, past or present, see Category:Milton Keynes Dons F.C. players.
Other notable players
There have been many other notable players at the club, who have either gained fame elsewhere or for other reasons before joining the Dons, or have been remembered at the club for notable appearances.
Mark Wright finished the 2007/08 season as the club's top goalscorer, helping the Dons win both the League Two title and the Football League Trophy. Jon Otsemobor, although only made 44 appearances for the club, had gained almost cult-hero status for his winning goal in the first match against arch-rivals AFC Wimbledon scored with his heel, which was later dubbed the "Heel of God".
Milton Keynes Dons were former Premier League player Jimmy Bullard's last club before his retirement from football, making only 3 appearances for the club, similarly Dietmar Hamman made 12 appearances as a player-coach before retiring and going onto becoming a coach at Leicester City.
Like many other clubs in the league the club relies heavily on loan players from bigger clubs, most notable of which were strikers Patrick Bamford, scoring 18 goals in 37 games, Benik Afobe, becoming league's top scorer in just 6 months, and fans favourite Ángelo Balanta whose loan spell lasted 3 years. Former Ireland international Clinton Morrison and former Premiership players Paul Rachubka and James Tavernier also noted short loan spells.
Alan Smith, most known for his time at Leeds and Manchester United joined the club on loan, signing from Newcastle before making the move permanent totalling 67 appearances for the club. Other international players who have worn the Dons shirt include Tore André Flo, Ali Gerba, Michel Pensée and Richard Pacquette.
The first manager of Milton Keynes Dons was Stuart Murdoch, who had previously been manager of Wimbledon. Murdoch only lasted three months before being sacked — his assistant, Jimmy Gilligan, managed the club for a month before Murdoch's replacement was revealed to be Danny Wilson. Wilson managed to keep the team up during the inaugural 2004–05 season, but failed to repeat this feat during the next season. Following relegation, Wilson was shown the door and replaced with Martin Allen. After Allen's team fell at the play-offs, he left to manage Leicester City. Paul Ince was appointed manager for the 2007–08 season, and proved to be a shrewd appointment as MK Dons won the League Two championship as well as the Football League Trophy. Ince too left after only a season, to become manager of Blackburn Rovers.
Former Chelsea player Roberto di Matteo was then appointed in July 2008, his personal first ever managerial position and left after a season to manage West Bromwich Albion. Ince was reappointed in his stead on 3 July 2009. Paul Ince resigned as Manager on 16 April 2010, stating "a reduction in funds for next season was the reason behind his decision to leave", although he will remain with the club until the end of the 2009–10 season.
Karl Robinson was appointed manager of League One team Milton Keynes Dons on 10 May 2010, having previously been the club's assistant manager under previous boss Paul Ince. At 30 years of age, he was the youngest manager in the Football League and former England coach John Gorman was named his number two. He was also the youngest person to ever acquire a UEFA Pro Licence at the age of 29. At the end of the 2011–12 season Gorman retired and was replaced by former Luton player/manager Mick Harford. At the same time, ex-Arsenal and former England international Ian Wright was also enlisted in a part-time role to provide assistance with coaching duties.
In January 2013, Robinson turned down an offer to manage Blackpool FC, a well established Championship and former Premier League team, in favour of his continuing commitment and loyalty towards MK Dons, something which has endeared him to the fans of MK Dons. Robinson has also been linked to other former Premier League clubs including Birmingham City, Sheffield United and Leeds United
Former Manchester United and England international Alan Smith was signed as a player, however was often assisting manager Karl Robinson during matches and would manager the reserve side on occasion, and went to take on a player-coach role at Notts County in May 2014. Similarly Alex Rae, former top-flight player, joined the Dons in July 2009 on a temporary basis with a view to a permanent deal, as first team coach working under his former Wolves team-mate Paul Ince, however he did make 3 appearances as a player for the Dons. Rae left 29 October 2010, following Paul Ince to Notts County, as an assistant manager, a role which he fulfilled until 3 April 2011 when he left the club following the departure of manager Ince.
Club records and achievements
Record Home Attendance: 28,127 vs. Chelsea, FA Cup fourth round, 31 January 2016 (stadium:mk)
Highest finishing position: 23rd Championship, 2015–16
Best FA Cup progression: Fifth Round, 2013 (lost 3–1 to Barnsley on 16 February 2013 at stadium:mk)
Most appearances: Dean Lewington – 499(up to 31 January 2016, still playing, only including games when team known as MK Dons)