One of the things I pride myself in as a Groundhopper is being organised and having everything planned in advance, being on time to all games etc. This is a skill that has started to become tested as a Chelsea follower, due to ticket availability I need to apply for tickets and this often leaves me tested for time. This was a similar situation for ground 43/92. From the start of the season I had planned to try and follow Chelsea through the rounds of the FA Cup in an attempt to go on a proper cup journey and give myself a fighting chance of attending a Semi-Final and/or Final at Wembley. Once the draw was made and I knew Chelsea would be facing Northampton Town or MK Dons it got me excited & anxious for a couple of reasons. I knew that if we drew MK Dons I would have a good chance of getting a ticket for my first Chelsea away day and would also give me a chance of ticking off the Franchise’s Stadium off the 92 without sitting with those plastic fans (more on that later). I was anxious because we could have been drawn with Northampton Town which would of given me no chance of a ticket. Luckily, the draw was favourable for me after the replay finished with a win for the side from Milton Keynes. Having a replay gave me hardly any time to arrange the day itself!
In some ways this was a good thing though as I don’t tend to spend much time thinking about MK Dons. Nevertheless it was an opportunity to tick a new ground off, continue my FA Cup journey with Chelsea and also my first ever away game with the Blues along with a strong contingent of 6,452 Chelsea supporters. They would of filled the entire stadium but due to the remainder of the stadium being filled by Dons “supporters…” the allocation was smaller than those supporting Northampton Town in the last round.
The journey to Milton Keynes was easy, we left Bristol at approximately 10:30 and were at the ground by 12:30ish which was good normally, until we realised that apart from a Nando’s, Frankie & Bennies & Pizza Express all there is that’s left is M&S. Not a pub within miles to soak up the pre-match atmosphere. I guess this is the main problem with new grounds being built in trading estates rather than in local areas surrounded by pubs & local fans.
Stadium mk itself is great, even for a new ground I like it which isn’t always the case. There is a big concourse all the way around the ground including the away end which has plenty of room for the pre-match drinking and typical away day preparations. For me though, especially at a new ground its a walk around the ground, a visit to the shop to get myself a programme & pin badge, then into the ground early to read the programme and put a couple of bets on to make it more exciting! This was made better when I found out that the seats were padded. Normally my bets are a complete waste of money however I was feeling confident today (the same as any other day but you know) and decided to stick a bet on Chelsea to Win and Diego Costa to score first & Chelsea to win and 4 or more goals to be scored. Fingers crossed these could come in!
The game itself was one of the most entertaining I’ve been to since starting the 92. MK Dons were the highest scorers in the Football League last season against the Premier League champions – goals, surely? For once, I was right! a 5-1 victory to the away side, so that is one bet in.
The game started well for Chelsea, attack after attack after attack but they couldn’t finish their dinner for the first 15 minutes. Costa had a couple of chances which could of secured my 2nd bet but he didn’t put them away. After 15 minutes Chelsea finally broke the deadlock. Now, normally I’m all for players being unselfish but not when I have a bet riding on it!! Costa was 1v1 with the goalkeeper and squared it to Oscar who put it into the back to the net. 1-0, I was pleased. Kind of. This goal was what MK Dons needed to get them up for the game that all of their “supporters” were here for. After 21 minutes they got their equaliser, a rather fortunate speculative effort from just outside the area which took a huge deflection and away from Courtois in the Chelsea goal. 1-1. No worries for the champions of England. We all know that players who play for these big clubs such as Chelsea, United, Arsenal etc can change a game with pieces of brilliance. And this was the day for one of those players. Oscar. 32 minutes in and he scored his 2nd goal of the game with a brilliant finish with a powerful strike past the goalkeeper at his far post followed by his hat-trick on the stroke of half time with an individual piece of brilliance. So 3-1 at half-time which all but secured my 3/1 shout for Chelsea to win and 4 or more goals. Easy second half to look forward to.
The second half was more one-way traffic for the Blues and after just 10 minutes they were awarded a penalty and this was to be taken by Eden Hazard, who last season was voted as the best player in England but this season is a different story. Without a single goal since the 3rd of May, the day he secured the 3rd Premier League title for Chelsea. I’ve never been in a football ground where the supporters wanted 1 specific player to score more than this penalty for Eden (See below video)
After Eden made it 4-1 to Chelsea it was time to relax and the Chelsea players started to realise that it was time to look forward to the 5th round. Substitutions were made and the young lad Bertrand Traoré came on and put Chelsea 5-1 into the lead. Time to coast, the passing game began and the stadium started to empty from the home end. What a day for Chelsea, they are back! The difference between the team 2 months ago to now just shows what a change in management can do. It was seeing Mourinho and the club parting company for a second time but it needed to happen.
This was another turning point for Chelsea for the good, however after the game there was a very dark cloud hanging over the club. News was coming out on Sky Sports that the captain John Terry, not loved by everyone outside the club, but adored by those in blue, wasn’t going to be offered a new contract at the end of the season. Now, this is where the debate starts. Should an ageing player be offered a new contract just for the sake of it because of his name and what he has previously done with a football club? No. Simple as that. However, this isn’t that situation. Admitted, Chelsea have been crap this season. However, the only two names I can think of who have continued with their high (ish) standards are Willian and John Terry. Without John this season Chelsea wouldn’t be in touching distance of where they currently are. He’s been their normal rock at the back and on that basis, and that basis alone he should be offered a new deal. He is the club captain, he’s been playing well and no contract? This is why there is no passion in football clubs anymore. Rant over. Next up is some non-league with Paulton Rovers & Frome Town on the horizon! (As well as some re-visits in this FA Cup journey!!)
What Were The Statistics?
MK Dons 1-5 Chelsea
Attendance – 28,127 (6,452 away fans)
Price of ticket – £30.00
Programme – £3.00
Car Parking – £8.00
Miles Travelled – 242
Paulton Rovers vs. Chippenham Town – 16/02/2016
Frome Town vs. Chippenham Town – 20/02/2016
Cirencester Town vs. Paulton Rovers – 23/02/2016
The rest of my photos and videos from this game can be found here –