This week, SeasideEssexXile has a look at the delights of The National Hockey stadium, home (albeit temporary) of Franchise FC (Ok then, MK Dons!).
A Part Of The Health Service?
Whoever said that good things come in threes had never followed the Pool to every football fans` favorite club Milton Keynes.
Its December, it`ll be cold and it`s a trip that has ended in Pool displaying arguably their worse performances in each of the two previous seasons.
Love them or loathe them Milton Keynes are trying their hardest to make what was Wimbledon their own town club.
A spanking new 20000+ all seated is being built, although the countdown clock on the stadium website has been restarted more times than Carol Vordermans attempts at proving she`s not a 1 trick pony, it`s the NHS again for us on an unexpected stop on this seasons tour.
Dons have used the NHS since 2003. It`s a bit like the advert, in that it does exactly what it says on the tin, ‘it`s a hockey stadium`. It`s a mish mash in that it consists of one large covered stand, one stand has had a roof added and is called the cowshed (about the only thing appropriately adopted from Tranmere) and two Gene Kellys.
There is confusion over where we are going to sit. It doesn`t make any difference, in that if it rains we are going to get wet.
It`s another buy ticket before entry ground.
How To Get There
By car – Leave the M1 at Junction 14 and take the A509 towards Milton Keynes. At the first island turn right onto the H5 Portway (signposted A509 (A5) Central Milton Keynes). Keep straight on this road crossing eight roundabouts. You will eventually see the stadium.
By train it`s a 5 minute walk. There is plenty of pay and display car parking around the stadium, although I have always parked on the retail park behind the goal and have had no problems.
Where To Drink
There is a club accommodated within the ground but is strictly for home fans only. A short walk away, heading towards the town centre is good old Wetherspoons. 2 seasons ago it was shut, last year however it was in full flow and got busy from half 1 onwards.
Located behind the big Abbey building there is also a selection of food outlets where alcohol can be drunk, we used the Mexican when Wetherspoons was shut and had no problems at all.
The Plod And Stewards
I`ll go on record as saying that the MK stewards are the friendliest and most helpful bunch I have ever encountered. Polite is their middle name, calling you sir and even wishing you a safe journey home as you leave. Now that may have been down to us getting a good hiding on the pitch on our previous visits and whether we get a result or not I can`t imagine that it has changed too much.
Plod are virtually invisible.
I expect not too many Pool fans were impressed when our name came out of the hat for this game. On the selfish side I`ll be home by 6pm. The prospect of a ‘big club` draw in the FA Cup 3rd round awaits the eventual winners of this tie, and this should be incentive enough to try and improve on our previous showings to the MK public.
Ironically the NHS was the ground where Scott Taylor`s love affair with the Pool finally ended with his last goal, in his last game wearing tangerine before he went to a club where he could be nearer to his ill father in London, Plymouth! Here`s hoping that the rest of the Dons` forwards have Taylor`s sense of geography in finding Pools goal area come Saturday.
Fear Factor Rating – 1.