Its always great to hear how our fans got connected with the club, and in a sense have bit of a catch up with some well known faces around the ground. Today’s article though is bit more than that for some of us as we talk to the MKDSA Vice Chair & Treasurer Aiden Gray who had us all a bit more than worried as he contracted Covid and was extremely unwell, so we are pleased to see him on the road to recovery and been able to share with us his story.
Where do you sit at Stadium MK?
With my family, we are season ticket holders in the Cowshed, top of Block 13 & part of the MK choir with the legends Adam Faiers and Kyle Clapton-Matheson along with a good few others every home game.
Tell us a little bit about how you became a Wimbledon / MK Dons fan and what was your first game?
Well a bit of a family tie as my Uncle was a Wimbledon fan & would take me along to some games as a kid, my first game I remember going to was the 87/88 season to watch Wimbledon beat Man Utd 2-1 when I was 6, my memories of that game are seeing my uncle screaming & cheering at us beating Utd. It was like we’d won the World Cup! Little did we know that we would go on to beat a little known team called Liverpool in the FA Cup that season too!
When we became MK Dons, I was at the first game against Barnsley. I remember that game well, we created chances and worked hard, most notable for me were the skilful legend Izale McLeod, also Malvin Kamara on the right side of midfield and Shola Oyedele playing out wide all impressed me. The moments that stick in my mind the most from that game were first seeing McLeod’s effort in the 12th min that went wide, but the best memory for me was that Oyedele tried a Beckham like lob from the halfway line that nearly embarrassed Nick Colgan, standing off his Barnsley line. Izale got us a share of the points that day in the 76th min was a spilled ball to poke home. Great memories!
You are the MKDSA Vice Chairman & Treasurer, what made you decide to get involved with the MKDSA and play such an active part?
A great question. I have to say a mix of the great people who had just joined the committee when I became part of the team, along with my passion and love for our wonderful football club and wanting to play an active part in helping the rebuilding project.
It’s never an easy task getting involved in something that more often than not can be seen as a thankless task as so much effort goes into it that rarely gets seen or heard about, but I saw like-minded people fresh to the MKDSA who I’ve known for a while and, like me, really want to make a difference to help give the fans of all ages, something to be proud of and a strong voice within the club.
It feels like we’ve come a long way even in such difficult times with the Covid crisis. We’ve spent time liaising with our amazing fans, players, the staff, and Board to get some great things done, most notably the new fans bar & getting a website fit for the 21st century up and running for all our fans to be able to feel more exposure and be part of the journey too.
It’s a really rewarding feeling to be able to put something back into the club I love and work with some exceptional talent on the committee too. I have to shout out the legend Colin Butler, who has been nothing short of brilliant as our Chair and worked so hard with us to build the MKDSA back up as a regular and active part of not just our club, but the wider footballing community.
What were your expectations for us pre-season, and have you changed your mind on what you have seen so far?
For me initially anything above the drop zone after the previous seasons great escape was always going to be a positive, as I expected there to be changes with Russ being able to build the team he wanted & that can take some time. I think most of us felt a little unsettled with the in’s and out’s initially as it’s always tough seeing some important players move on, coupled with the Covid crisis, I felt staying up and consolidation were the main priorities this season. That said, the signs were there from the beginning with what Russ and the team were trying to achieve and whilst the results were at times frustrating, as the team began to click and getting used to a different style of play, we have really started to settle in recent weeks with some outstanding performances both as a team as well as individual players too. I’m hopeful if we keep on playing as we have been we should be comfortable in mid table this year, which for Russ’s first full season in charge and with the rebuild would be a solid foundation and one I would be pleased with.
Which Dons player, or players have really impressed you so far this season?
There have been a fair few to be honest, I really have enjoyed seeing Matty Sorinola break into the 1st team, watching him in the EFL Trophy last season he looked a handful and I’m glad to see that continue for him. Scott Fraser has been a revelation in midfield and a joy to watch and Cameron Jerome has defied his years to score some great goals for us too. Also I have been impressed with Andy Fisher in goal too, who has made some vital saves for us over the season so far and looks to be another solid addition to the squad.
Which opposition team have you been most impressed with?
I don’t think there are many teams we could say have really played us off the park this season, but out of the teams we have played Hull are a class above for me and whilst they may not be exciting, they seem to be one who can get the job done, I fancy them to bounce straight back up and thought they took their chances well at SMK.
Other than Hull, for me Portsmouth are another team with a good squad that has strength in depth, and they have been on a pretty good run of form of late too, I think come the end of the season they will be up there with Hull fighting it out, but you can’t write off Lincoln who to my mind have overachieved this season. Will their bubble burst? We will have to wait and see on that one.
What is your favourite Dons moment or game?
There are so many to choose from, but one that always sticks in my memory is from the 17/18 season in which we went down, when we beat Peterborough 1-0 with 9 men. The game had everything! A red card for Joe Walsh on 9 minutes, Aneke popping up in the 27th minute to drill home to give us a 1-0 lead, Osman Sow sent off on 33 mins for a high footed challenge. Then seeing us hold out for not just the full 90mins but the ridiculous 9 minutes of injury time added on too! It felt like we had everything chucked at us by the ref and Peterborough, but we came out on top.
Seeing the Posh fans and players absolutely bewildered made it all the sweeter. Shame the season didn’t pan out the way we’d have liked, but a great memory all the same. Our fans were electric all game, I don’t think I stopped singing or shouting either!
Who is your all-time favourite player and why?
Well as a WFC come MK Dons fan, for me it has to be the one, the only, my idol, “Captain Fantastic” Dean Lewington. No question on that one at all.
The fact he has been a one club man, which is a very rare thing these days, his service to our club, the dedication, he is Mr MK! I remember when Robbie Neilson exiled him to Charlton and after his sacking, when Dean came back and he ran onto the pitch, the entire crowd inside SMK just popped with excitement.
He really is one of the greatest servants our club has and will ever see and for that he has my total respect & thanks. I hope he can carry on playing for many years to come. You will always see me on a matchday with Lewington printed on my shirts, he is an absolute legend for me.
Who is a good tip for promotion and relegation in League 1?
As I mentioned in the opposition questions, for me Hull, Portsmouth and I can see Charlton also bouncing back in the playoffs.
For relegation I would have to say, Burton, Swindon, AFC Kingston, and Northampton. I can see Wigan getting out of it, but only just.
Home games, or away games?
As much as I love home games & catching up with the MK family, you just can’t beat the atmosphere of away days. Like many I follow the club home and away every week (Well prior to Covid) but away days are special, you get to see a fair few familiar faces and have a really good laugh. Plus it’s nice to get to see other parts of the UK you wouldn’t normally see, with the best fans in the land, the MK Army.
Supporters coach, train, or car to away games?
A mix of all 3 usually, but mainly car, either with my family in our car, or jumping in with Colin Butler & the gang for a wet rainy Tuesday night match somewhere. Wouldn’t have it any other way.
All fans love a good awayday, are there any grounds you look forward to visiting again, a favourite away ground, grounds you dislike, or perhaps one on your bucket list?
I do like the old grounds, so Fratton Park is always a good one to visit. Blackpool away is always a good one, especially if it’s a Saturday game as most of our fans stay over for a night out.
Shrewsbury away has always been a good one and Rochdale away, as the chippy over the road from the ground is so cheap and the food is pretty decent too.
I really don’t like Bristol Rovers, that place is really horrid along with Gillingham which is another one that’s not the best of places.
Where do you think MK Dons will finish up this season?
Mid-table so I am going for 14th.
Andrew Fisher or Lee Nicholls?
A tough one as this season Lee played so well when he’s come in, most memorably against Burnley in the FA Cup. However, Andy has come in and been solid most of the season, so on that basis I have to go with Fisher.
White shirt, red shirt, or black shirt, and perhaps, dare we ask which is your favourite ever Dons shirt, as we understand you have a bit of a collection?
Hahaha, a bit, that would be the understatement of the century, I have so much MK Dons merchandise I could start a museum!
I do love the black shirts; they always look stand out, and this season is no different. That said I would have to say white is my favourite, you can’t beat your home colours and the last few years I have been really pleased to see the gold back on the shirt.
My favourite Dons top of all time so far would have to be the first kit 2004-2006 home shirt. Simple but smart. Although I really liked the 2016-2017 kits after we came down from the Championship. The White, Red & Black were all really impressive, and reminded me a little of the original kits.
Your preferred matchday grub?
Has to be the Caz Bar at home and a double cheeseburger for me. If it’s an away day up north then a good Balti pie, sausage roll, or fish and chips will be my pick.
Lastly, we wanted to know how are things going with your Covid recovery?
It’s been a really tough time and I am still resting up after 5 weeks back from the hospital with the Covid pneumonia & also the addition of having long Covid also. It really did hit me like a tidal wave and has played havoc with my health, but I am building back day by day. Having come from being on a ventilator and oxygen to home, I count myself as one of the lucky ones, everyone in the NHS are absolute heroes & I cannot thank them enough for literally saving my life.
When you have no underlying health conditions, follow the rules and it still hits you, that’s pretty sobering and brings home just how deadly this can be.
I also want to say a massive thank you to everyone from the MK Family who took time to wish me well and check in on me, you guys are phenomenal, and it means a great deal to have all your kind thoughts and well wishes.
I know we are all missing family and friends and it’s been hard on us all; I am wishing you all stay safe and well and that no one else has to go through this.
Looking forward to thanking you all in person when we all get back to seeing our beloved Dons hopefully not too far in the future.