I said earlier this week that I preferred to go to the less glamorous FA Cup ties, but I couldn’t miss out on the chance to go and watch my beloved Chelsea’s first ever trip to the Stadium MK. This is also the first time I had made the trip to Milton Keynes, even though is only a couple of hours in the car.
I must say despite the fact the stadium is new and surrounded by a new shopping centre, it is in a rather difficult place to get to. There is very little parking around the ground itself, and we ended up around half a mile away, on a rather run down estate. Given that there is such a demand for car parking spaces at grounds more than ever these days, it’s quite bizarre that MK Dons haven’t come up with a better solution for the problem. This doesn’t really leave you with the nicest walk to the ground, through a couple of dark paths and alleyways. Places you wouldn’t wish to bump into Diego Costa.
As a Chelsea fan, you will probably be expecting me to talk about the announcement John Terry made after the match that he is to leave Chelsea at the end of the season. If I start talking about it, I will get into a massive rant and I will say very little about the day itself. I did say a lot about that, and a lot more about the game in detail in this week’s Chelsea Review. Also I really don’t want to have to talk about Terry again as it really annoyed me and I completely disagree with the decision.
In terms of the ground itself, I was actually pretty unimpressed. It was a rather impressive structure, pretty much what you expect from a modern day 30,000 capacity stadium, but it just seemed to lack character. You go to newer stadiums like Arsenal’s Emirates and you always get the impression that it is Arsenal, and it is has been built solely for their use.
At MK Dons you go to a sports ground, that’s all it really is, albeit a rather big one. This probably isn’t helped by the fact that it is an all-black Stadium, but when you’re inside, you get the feeling it could belong to anyone. In all fairness I can’t really complain, given that I paid only £7 for an U18 ticket. To put that into perspective, I paid £12 to watch York City v Yeovil earlier this city for the same age group, and I didn’t even get a seat or a roof.
Given that the Dons’ average attendance is only around 11,000, most of the fans their probably haven’t been to see the club since they played Manchester United last season, so there was a lack of atmosphere. This was improved however by the 6,000 or so Chelsea fans who were given the whole of the North Stand, upper and lower tier.
Like I said, I’m not going to focus too much on the game given I have already done that. I must say however I was very worried when MK Dons equalised given that I was there on that terrible day in 2008 when we lost away at Barnsley. I still haven’t got over how bad we were that day. In the end we pretty much put the tie to bed in the first-half with Oscar’s superb hat-trick, something which probably ruined the game for the neutrals. This is why I never go to these games as a neutral fan because there is always the possibility of something like this happening.
It is more fun when you actually support the club handing out the beating however, and it was pretty much party time when Eden Hazard stuck home his penalty after about 50 minutes. There was obviously no lack of the typical ironic chanting you get from football fans. There was constant singing of “Wimbledon” and “you’ve had your day out, now f**k off home”. Pretty much your usual football banter.
There isn’t really much more to be said about the day itself. In terms of away days I’ve had in the past, this was probably one of the better ones; it normally is when your team wins. With the two Chelsea FA Cup games I went to before this in 2012, this win makes it the third consecutive time I have seen the Blues score five in the FA Cup, the others being Leicester at home and Tottenham in the semi-final at Wembley. For the record I completely disagree with the semi-finals being played at Wembley, as it just takes away that magic of getting there for the final.
Rating out of 10: Good atmosphere created by the Chelsea fans, and it’s always good when you win. 8/10