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Wednesday 25th July 2012 ko 7.30pm

Pre-season Friendly

WOLVERTON TOWN 0

MILTON KEYNES DONS XI 1 (Osei-Addu 13)

Att 165 (h/c)

Entry £2

Programme FREE

I spent far too much of this evening listening to a well known hopper whingeing about this game. Firstly he whinged that the game kicked off later that advertised on the Wolverton website (but was advertised as 7.30 on the MK Dons website, and on the programme), then he whinged about how poor he felt the game was. If of course, he have stopped whining and looked for the back-story, he may have had as enjoyable time as I had.

Wolverton have roots as far back as 1887 playing in the Southern League as Wolverton L & NWR FC. Plying at Wolverton Park, the club worked their way up via the Spartan League, Athenian League to the Isthmian League finishing runner up in the Second Division in 1986/7. The costs involved crippled the club and the sank back down the footballing pyramid changing their names firstly to MK Wolverton Town and then AFC Wolverton, eventually folding in January 1992.
In 2004 Wolverton Town FC was reformed in the MK Sunday League and in 2005 the Saturday team entered the North Bucks League. Wolverton Park has long since been demolished and its iconic wooden stand, once believed to be the oldest football stand in the world dating from 1899, is in “Storage.” There’s a “replica” stand on the original site to mark the significance of the original construction, painted green as it used to be, but the club needed a home.

That came in the form of the former Milton Keynes rugby ground  in nearby Greenleys. The ground was derelict, but the fledgling club obtained £160,000 in grants to removate New Park, and the committee worked wonders to get the club back on its feet, even going as far as to get donated bottles of drinks to get the bar started. They’re a friendly bunch too, finding time to photocopy the line-ups for the 10 or so hoppers present. With the unexpected time I did a spot of people watching, easy to do in a carnival atmosphere like this. A player had his tattoos examined by two girls and children played happily in the warm evening sun.

It was obvious that the club saw this as their big day, with seats placed in a VIP area, with guest of honour Peter Winkleman taking the prime spot. Of course Mr Winkleman is the chairman of the MK Dons, and the chief instigator of the club’s move from Wimbledon to Milton Keynes in 2003. Whatever the rights and wrongs of that move, everything the club has done since the move has been impressive, from the excellent stadiumMK to the club’s efforts to encourage young people to attend games. For many though he remains public enemy number 1, and I did spot an AFC Wimbledon shirt in the crowd.

The Silver band entertained as we waited, a burger van did a roaring trade, and the whingeing hopper was briefly silenced by his burger. The ground is basic,with a rope barrier on 3 sides and a temporary metal affair on the near. The concrete bases for dug-outs are being laid, so I suspect the ground will be transformed in time. Perhaps the old stand will be found, but that’s probably wishful thinking on my part.

The game saw the visitors youth team take on Town, newly elevated to division 2 of the Spartan South Midlands League. The hopper complained that they were too young, but it provided for an interesting match. Could the less skilful step 7 outfit, keep pace with the slick passing of the visitors? Kelvin Osei-Addu’s excellent free kick suggested they couldn’t but hard work, profligate finishing, and at times luck kept the scoreline to just the one goal. Wolverton spent the vast majority of the first half in their own half, but as the second half wore on they had a couple of chances, but after that the game rather petered out as the sun set.