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MK Dons are in town on Friday
Monday 30th October 2017 @ 09:33 by Mark Phillip
Football Sports

Excitement is steadily building ahead of the FA Cup first round clash between Hyde United and MK Dons on Friday.

The game, which is taking place on BBC Two and is now sold out, will provide Hyde with a windfall of £67,500.

What’s more, if Hyde win the tie, they will pick up an additional £18,000.

With the clock ticking down ahead of kick-off, Martin Frost takes a look at the history of both sides:

 

The strength of non-league football in the Reporter and Chronicle circulation area may be a well kept secret to those who prefer to catch their sport by way of the small screen but there can be little doubt that its profile has been boosted over the last 12 months. Not only have local teams made the early rounds of the FA Cup they have featured on national television. Few who watched Curzon’s tie with AFC Wimbledon last December, whether on the bitterly cold terraces of the Tameside Stadium or from the comfort of their armchairs, will forget the drama that unfolded. And Friday evening will provide another chance for the quality of Tameside football to be displayed to the nation in a game which will be witnessed by the biggest audience ever to watch one of our local teams.

And the quirk of the draw, held amongst scenes of great excitement in the Hyde United Social Club a couple of weeks ago, is that it has brought to Tameside the bitterest rivals of AFC Wimbledon. To say that the creation and evolution of MK Dons was and has been controversial is a master of understatement. Cup winners in 1988, Wimbledon were homeless within a handful of years, playing for a time at Crystal Palace, and eventually were forcibly moved half way up the M1 by the new owners. Disaffected Wimbledon fans, outraged by what they perceived as nothing more than a mirror of the franchise type of system prevalent in professional American sport, set up a phoenix Club, which made its way up through the non- league hierarchy, and reached the Football League within 9 years. The whole episode is little better than unsavoury to a huge majority of football followers, and has been described as a truly shameful decision by the football authorities, to whom poor governance is no stranger, as the recent revelations relating to the England Women’s team bear witness. But whatever the rights and wrongs it is MK Dons who will take on the Tigers of Hyde United under the Ewen Fields lights.

MK Dons currently play in League One. After the initial move to MK in 2004 they were based at the National Hockey Stadium, which in all honesty was a pretty soulless place to watch football. The Club moved to the newly built Stadium mk for the 2007–08 season, when they won both the League Two title and FL Trophy under the management of Paul Ince. Remaining in League One until the 2014–15 season they were then promoted to the Championship but returned swiftly following relegation and last season ended up exactly in mid-table in 12th position.

For a club with only a 13 year history there hasn’t been a great number of famous players although they can boast that they provided Dele Alli with his first taste of league football. The Tottenham and England star notched 24 goals in his 88 appearances for MK Dons. Dean Lewington, who graduated through the Wimbledon Academy, is the only player to have been with the Club since it was formed in 2004 and has racked up close to 650 appearances during that time. They are managed by Robbie Neilson, who has been in the job for just under a year, having had a really successful spell in charge at Heart of Midlothian.

After last Saturday’s 2-0 loss at Bristol Rovers MK lay in 16th position with 19 points from 16 games. They are in a particularly poor run of form, having picked up only 2 points from their 5 league games in October. The comparison with the Tigers is stark. Darren Kelly’s side have lost only a single game in the last 26; are unbeaten in the league this season; score goals freely, (41 in 20 competitive games) and have a really sound defence, (having conceded only 11 in those 20 matches).

The stage is therefore set for the big game … and for a potential upset. The closeness of a partial crowd, rooting for the Tigers, at Ewen Fields will undoubtedly put the pressure on visitors used to the surroundings of a 30,000 capacity stadium; a tie on an artificial surface; and unquestionably MK could well be feeling the weight of the knowledge that the nation will be looking on hoping for an upset. Three relegations in three years for Hyde were heartache. Darren Kelly has fashioned a team which is clearly going to reverse that downward slide. It really does feel that now is Hyde’s time. Let’s hope so and let them show the public generally that football in Tameside is alive and well – and thriving.