While tidying up some filing I found an interview that I did in the early days of The MooCamp forum – I think it was for the MKDSA, so may already be out there somewhere, but it could have been for The Bucks Fizz or something else. If anyone knows, then let me know. Anyway, I thought it was interesting enough to want to share – this is seven years ago, which almost counts as history!
Questions for Mr Brando – September 2006
- What made you want to create The Moocamp?
I wanted to create an alternative to the Cowshed (R.I.P.). I was a newcomer to the rather odd world of the Dons on the web (I have a feeling it was sometime in October last year when I first found the Cowshed) and none of the forums gave me what I wanted as a poster. I tried making suggestions on the existing forums as to what I wanted from a forum, then threw my toys out of the pram and starting shouting about how fed up I was (for which I have since sheepishly apologised to those involved) and ended up being told that if I didn’t like it, then I should clear off and start my own forum.
So I did.
- So just over six months since it went live how do you think it is going?
I’m very pleased with the way it’s gone so far. I remember excitedly posting that we’d just gone past 1000 posts and we’re now heading towards 70,000. It was always supposed to sit alongside the Cowshed (R.I.P.) so I genuinely didn’t expect it to become the main discussion forum for Dons fans on the web. It’s far harder work than I ever imagined, and I get a lot of stick from people who disagree with the way the forum is run or moderated, but all I can do in those situations is listen, then tell them to sod off and start their own forum. There’s room for more than one forum out there, so if you don’t like The MooCamp, then I’d be happy to provide advice and publicity for anyone looking to start their own.
- The forum has over 800 users at the moment are you surprised by how popular The Moocamp is becoming?
I think you need to have a look at the number of people who actually post to get a more realistic figure. At present, we have 862 members, but more than half of them have never actually posted. When you factor in the number of multiple accounts, the number of AFC Nr Wimbledon fans and other fans with a grudge who’ve signed up too, then I think there’s actually only four or five MK Dons fans who post on The MooCampJ. Honestly, on the one hand I’m delighted with how popular we’ve become, but it does take up an awful amount of time (and cash) to keep it running smoothly, so it’s a bit of a double-edged sword.
- As a fan were you happy with what happened in the off season? The appointment of Martin Allen and the signings he brought in?
I’m still in a bit of shock to be honest. I was one of the handful of people who were standing outside Denbigh on the day of MA’s announcement, mainly because I didn’t really believe that MA was coming here. We were still expecting to see Adie Shaw come out with Winkie’s arm round him, so it really was a pleasant surprise when MA was confirmed (no offence Adie). I think the signings that he has brought in are very positive and a sign of what can be done without spending vast sums (although I dread to think what our salary bill is like this year). The fact that players have dropped down a division or two to come here shows that they aren’t just here to pick up a salary – they’re here to take this club forward and that’s exciting for all of us.
- The Moocamp up till last week was sponsoring Gareth Edds but now with him leaving the club are you hoping that you can pick up someone else?
If Gareth leaves, then of course we’d like to pick up someone else and I’m sure that the club wouldn’t have it any other way. Having said that, it was great to see Gareth coming on as sub against Notts County, as I thought we wouldn’t be seeing him again. I hope he’s been able to change MA’s mind a bit and I’d be delighted to see him working his way back into the squad on a regular basis.
- Are you going to try and get the player to be part of the whole Moocamp Experience?
Absolutely. Whoever we end up sponsoring will be expected to wash our cars on Sunday mornings and watch our houses when we’re on holiday. We’ve drawn up a whole list of tasks they can help us out with, so that they really get to feel part of the whole MooCamp vibe. Dog walking, babysitting, holding our water bottles on a Wednesday night and many more exciting things await Gareth or whoever is lucky enough to become our own personal property.
- We also have Moocamp O Rama the Moocamps very own Football night; tell us about that.
I take no credit for the phenomenon that is MooCamparama – Mr Surrey Don deserves all the applause for making Wednesday nights such fun. Basically a group of us play football every Wednesday night at Stantonbury. We have such a wide range of ages and abilities that it’s amazing that it works at all, but everyone has a great time. Just to give you an idea of the age-range, last week the youngest player was 15 and the oldest player was 59. It’s open to everyone, so come along if you fancy a kickabout and don’t take the idea all that seriously. It’s the first time I’ve played football in 20 years or so, I ache like hell for a week afterwards, but it really is great fun.
- Do you think the main man himself Pete Winkelman has an account on the Moocamp?
I wouldn’t be surprised, but that’s one of the great things about the web. No-one knows who anyone is. I could be PW. You could be PW. We could both be PW. I don’t think I’m PW, but I wouldn’t bet any money on it.
- Would you like him to give a designated seating area for the Moocampers when the new stadium opens? Moocamp Corner perhaps?
It would be great to have a box made available to the SA/Bucks Fizz/MooCamp people for use as prizes in raffles and competitions – can someone sort that out for us? I know they need to maximise revenue in the new stadium, but between us we’re probably responsible for bringing large numbers of newbies through the turnstiles, so anything the club can do to make that easier for us would be brilliant. We could be a wise investment for the club from that angle.
As for us all sitting together, I like the fact that we come from all over the stadium and wouldn’t change it for the world – this season my wife and daughter have season tickets too, so the South Family works just great for us.
- So as time goes on then the Moocamp will obviously go from strength. As the owner will you be looking at making any significant changes at all?
The structure of the site will remain fairly similar, although I think a few more separate sections might be an idea. When I think we’ve got the moderation right, we’ll open the site up so that you can view without registering, but we’re not there just yet.
As for other changes, It’s difficult to say. I’ve got lots of ideas that I’d like to try and do something with, but we’ve got other sites who already do lots of other stuff really well (The MKDSA site and The Bucks Fizz in particular) so you’ll just have to wait and see what happens. I do have one particular idea which I’m going to do fairly soon, as soon as I can find the right company/person to work with. It’s only a small thing, but it makes me laugh out loud every time I think of it, so if there are any businessmen or individuals with a bit of spare cash reading this who are willing to contribute a small amount of cash to the club (not The MooCamp – all money will go to the club) in exchange for some good publicity amongst Dons Fans and the chance to see me giggling for the rest of the season, then let me know.
The one thing I do see happening is more of the social side developing. More than anything else, I’ve made some great friends on The MooCamp and I’d love for that to continue. I don’t see it as being something that I or the MooCamp does itself, I just see it as something that will happen through us. The fact that there are now a fairly large number of people who I know to talk to, and a far larger number that I know to nod to, makes games a more fun and pleasant experience.
For the record, the player we sponsored after Eddsy was Sam Baldock, and he still cleans my car every Sunday.