Well how apt.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who considered that penalty shootout as perhaps one of the most nervous I’ve ever experienced. AFC Wimbledon are a massive part of my life, second only to my wife in my affections (unless she doesn’t read this, in which case its actually 50/50…), yet there is still a destructive side to my personality. A hateful, cheated part of my brain, which after a Dons game immediately forces me to look up the MK score before anything else. People talk of having second teams, I was hearing today about a friend of a friend, a Manchester United season ticket holder who was a regular visitor to Altrincham. Well I have that second team as well, and it’s not our friends at FC United, nor Bucheon FC of Korea, the team we are linked with. Neither is it the team that bears my hometowns name, Kingstonian, nor my wife’s local side New England Revolution, not even Corinthian Casuals, who were so nice to invite us to their 125th birthday party at Wembley last season.
I’m quite open about the fact that my second team have been for a long time, and probably will be well into the future, ‘Anyone who happens to be playing MK that day’. Its the same sort of feeling when I hear they have lost that many normal down to earth people feel when they hear that a scumbag mugger who robbed a frail old pensioner then ran into the road and got mown down by a bus. It shouldn’t really make you happy – but it does.
I think we have to accept even as we move towards the ultimate goal of an intellectual age, where the spirit of hope and goodwill shall overcome all mankind’s problems, that there is still a prehistoric caveman side to our minds that sees a neighbour has stolen some of our belongings, and is prepared to cave his head in with a rock to get it back. That’s why I felt the sense of nervousness and dread as the shootout headed towards sudden death. Why I couldn’t look at the screen when Jude ‘Bottle’ Stirling strode forwards with a chance to win it for MK. It was why I felt a sudden sense of kindredship with the Scunthorpe fans biting their nails, while the MK ‘masses’ stood there open mouthed, gormless, waiting for a booming disembodied voice to tell them what was going to happen next.
I’m sure the majority of neutral supporters were cheering on Scunthorpe tonight, and felt pretty similar to me when it came down to the shootout. I’ll be eternally grateful to Scunthorpe for ending the scum’s hopes tonight, and can go to bed and sleep easier knowing that at least the League One playoff final will be contested between Scunthorpe, who hold a league place on merit, and Millwall, who also hold a league place on merit. In other words, a proper football club will be promoted to the Championship this season.
You have to wonder what the future holds for MK, led by their thieving bastard leader Pete Winkleman (a guy who looks like he takes a bath in discarded kebab shop grease). Are they really up shit creek financially next term? Will they be making cutbacks? And how will rookie manager Roberto Di Matteo adjust to not being given bundles of cash to spend, especially as he doesn’t seem capable of obtaining the prerequisite coaching badges that dozens of other managers further down the league system seem to have had no trouble acquiring?
What about the likes of Flo, whose penalty miss proved so costly, who must be on a decent wedge and seemed like the vanity purchase of an inexperience manager hiring one of his mates. Plus MK seem to have a fair few decent players (albeit scumbag mercenaries) who could find themselves pursued by larger clubs in the summer. How will Di Matteo cope with trying to rebuild a squad on a budget?
So many questions, enough that I can be satisfied they wouldn’t be able to answer them all. Yes there is talk of Winkleman selling up in the future, but how sure can they be of obtaining new funding in the current financial climate? There may be speculators interested in the stadium, but will they be getting into bed with local businessmen with an affinity for the town or nut jobs like John Batchelor who see a side with no history or hardcore support and see pound signs while dreaming of Harchester United/Celebrity FC soccer franchises?
The more I put my mind to it the more questions appear. What about Charlton, Norwich, Leeds? We have no idea how strong a post takeover Southampton could be next year, if they exist at all. Can MK be confident of even a top half finish? I don’t know. And now I know they won’t be polluting the Championship next season (a division in which they originally stole a league position from the people and supporters of Wimbledon…) I’m not sure I care that much. Until I’m exiting places like Gateshead and Barrow next season, desperately trying to find out the League One scores…