What a night!
Seriously – what a great night. Big thanks to everyone involved in the MKDSA 10th anniversary celebration last night – events of this kind take a huge amount of organisation, and I take my hat off to those of you who created it from nothing. We raised a lot of money, we had a lot of fun, and we did some rather fun reminiscing. My wife hates these sort of things and had a great time, so that’s really saying something (showaddywaddy).
Big thanks need to go to the club for getting involved so heavily. To have Winkie, Robbo and Lewie to come along and talk was fantastic and to have John Cove, Andrew Cullen and others come along and support was great too. I’m not sure there’s too many clubs where the club and the fans are able to get in and celebrate together like we do, and I’m rather proud of that. The fact that Robbo and his family stayed and enjoyed the evening really shows a wonderful mix of insanity and commitment. The fact that before he left he walked round the room and said goodbye personally to just about everyone makes me all warm and gooey inside. We seriously are very lucky to have this man as our gaffer.
The evening was kicked off by Brian Baker, the original chair of the SA. Brian talked about the journey from his original conversations with Pete and through those particularly difficult early months.
Winkie was up next, and was his usual charming self. He talked without the mic, but as usual managed to make himself heard well enough. He talked about the past, he talked about the future, he talked about trees, he talked about attackers and he talked about trees again. And then he talked about the trees again. He’s very excited about the trees you know. He talked a lot about the SA and how us as fans had taken the flack, particularly over the earlier years. I’m paraphrasing here, but he said that in years to come, when we’re filling the stadium, the fans to come will owe a great debt of gratitude to those of use who were here from the beginning.
Then Robbo took over the mic, and Luke Ashmead (local celebrity extraordinaire) interviewed him about the days match, about the past and about the future. Robbo didn’t mention trees once, which was disappointing, but he’s not as passionate as Winkie about some of this stuff – I’m sure in time he’ll learn. It was more of a chat than an interview, really relaxed and easy-going and it’s clear from how they talked that the two of them get on well. Luke made repeated reference to the fact that Robbo ‘gets it’ about the club – he understands us in a way that other managers perhaps haven’t (to which Winkie was nodding in the background).
I’d heard that the club had put together a film of highlights for the event, and wasn’t sure what it was going to be like. In the end, it was simply fantastic – a well-edited collection of stills and video set to the pounding sound of The Who’s Won’t Get Fooled Again (which suggests that a certain Mr Scriven may have been involved in the production – good job sir). It was fascinating to see players I’d forgotten about, some that I’ll never forget, and to revisit some of the key moments of the last ten years was a brilliant experience, particularly when surrounded by people who I’ve shared it with. Shots from the NHS, from THAT Tranmere match, relegation at Rotherham, the move to the stadium, Wembley, THAT FA Cup match, right up to the present day. Fantastic.
We then had a couple of recorded messages from previous managers – Paul Ince had taken the time to talk about his time with us, and how Milton Keynes Dons will always have a place in his heart. Martin Allen had also sent a message, and played up to his image as the bad guy – he also thanked us for the three points the other weekend, which raised a laugh or two.
Robbo then took to the floor briefly to introduce Lewie so he could say a few words – I don’t think anyone expected Lewie to be there, so we were chuffed to bits that he turned up. Luke asked him a number of questions, and he answered them all with honesty and humour – when asked what had stopped him from taking one of the offers he’d received from other clubs, he said “mainly my contract”. He talked about how he’d always loved it here, and that there’d never been an offer that had tempted him to leave. He mentioned moves that hadn’t worked out so well, such as Izale to Charlton, and also mentioned moves that would be too good to turn down, in particular Sam’s move to West Ham. As the only player who’s been here all the way through, he was asked for one word descriptions of each of the managers he’d served under – some he found easy – Martin Allen – mad, Stuart Murdoch, short. He thought longest about Robbo, then said simply leader. I have great amounts of man-love for him.
After a brief break for food, Tony Stratford took to the floor. Now for reasons that may or not be clear to you depending on how well you know him or me, I can’t really comment on what it was like to watch Tony, but I can tell you this. He was genuinely chuffed to bits to get such a great response, the fact that everyone was singing, shouting and chanting along will sit alongside some of the better memories of the last ten years. Tony had planned to play two songs – old favourite We’ve Got More Roundabouts was followed by brand new, written specially for the evening We Know What We Are, which as promised, did indeed include the words plane, bastards and boycotts. As Luke Ashmead had gone out for a cigarette rather than actually watch Tony, he was nowhere to be seen at the end of the second song. That meant that Tony was able to respond to the cries of ‘encore’ with his heartfelt plea to Winkie to never cut his hair in There’s No Need to Mullet Over.
There was a quiz next, which is usually the sort of thing that would be easy to dismiss, but with a 42″ plasma telly up for grabs, it was worth concentrating. It was all Dons or SA related, and John Samuel our resident quizmaster had done a cracking job in coming up with tough questions. The end result was a tie-break between Twilley and Twiggy, with Twilley eventually getting to take the telly home.
Now the auctions took over, with Luke taking on the role of auctioneer (and doing superbly if truth be told). I think pretty much everything went for more than was expected, with furious bids being thrown in from all round the room. Tony Hawkins successfully bid against himself on at least three occasions, with perhaps only one of those being accidental. By the time we reached the auction for the place on the team coach, we even had telephone bidders involved, with the lot eventually being won by author extraordinaire Dan McCalla for a whopping £600. He’s gonna have a sore head today 🙂 – all in all there was a significant amount of cash raised, and it was great to be able to take part in it (if anyone can recommend a good frame-maker for a shirt signed by this season’s squad, I could do with a number).
The raffle gave everyone who wasn’t drunk enough to bid £600 on a seat on the coach the chance to win something, with a cool range of prizes ranging from holiday vouchers to MOTs to bottles of booze.
The last bit of the evening before Luke kicked off the dancing had Tony Stratford being dragged back on stage to play We Know What We Are one last time, and it didn’t even seem to matter that he’d apparently forgotten how to play it. I’m sure that the chants of You’re just a fat Rick Astley will live with him for years to come 🙂 .
From here on in, it was serious drinking and dancing time to the tunes of Luke Ashmead. I left pretty soon after this bit started, so can’t comment on the rest of the evening, but I really had a great time.
Big shout-outs go to:
- Luke – you sir, are a gent and a scholar. You made the evening, and you don’t get enough credit for what you do for us
- Mark – fantastic event. You can be very proud of what you created
- John – great quiz – really good work
- Winkie, Robbo, Lewie, John, Andrew and anyone else I haven’t mentioned from the club – thanks so much for coming along. We’ll be talking about this one for many years to come
- Everyone else involved in organising, ticketing, setting up, breaking down or doing anything else – thanks 🙂
- Tony Stratford – thanks for letting me take your wife home with me.
A great night – roll on the next one.