Outside The Box: A sign of the times as petition urges MK to drop 'Dons' tag

 

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The Independent Online

After receiving some unusually favourable publicity in midweek for their valiant effort in the FA Cup defeat by Queens Park Rangers, Milton Keynes Dons are now the target of a petition launched by a local newspaper in Wimbledon urging them to drop the "Dons" tag.

It is already within sight of 1,000 signatures. AFC Wimbledon supporters believe that with their own club having reached the Football League, and the original Wimbledon's memorabilia having been returned to the London borough of Merton five years ago, it is time for Milton Keynes to sever all remaining ties. Some have claimed that the use of Dons is a sign of respect to the original club, but AFC's former manager Dave Anderson said: "That's the equivalent of slaughtering a tribe and putting the chief's head on a pike outside the city gates." Milton Keynes declined to comment.

Rivals united in support

While there will never be any love between the aforementioned clubs, other supposedly sworn enemies can sometimes surrender arms in a good cause. Supporters of Brighton and Crystal Palace play a Robert Eaton Memorial charity match every season in memory of a Brighton fan who died in the World Trade Center. The memorial fund has now made a £5,000 donation to Sutton Eagles, an organisation similar to Brighton's Special Seagulls, which teaches and helps disabled children to play football.

Meanwhile, a West Bromwich Albion follower has organised a sponsored walk to Molineux for the Black Country derby against Wolves on 12 February in aid of Acorns Childrens' Hospice, which has been treating his young daughter for a brain tumour.

An unwanted Cup run

That victory for Queens Park Rangers over MK Dons, thanks to a goal from Danny Gabbidon has been widely noted as the club's first in 17 FA Cup games stretching back to 2001, which included the ignominy of a home defeat by Vauxhall Motors. The FA's historian David Barber says it equalled the worst run in the competition proper, set by Leeds United between 1952 and 1963.

Stoke's 'hurling' club grows

Having first drawn attention last spring to Stoke City's Ryan Shotton and his prodigious long throws, subsequently unleashed on the Premier League, this column feels obliged to mention the emergence of another Stoke contender. As the Potters beat Brentford in the FA Youth Cup, Jordan Richardson, a 17 year-old midfielder from Merseyside, astounded the crowd with the length of his throw-ins, and then scored a fine winning goal in stoppage time. We are reminded that Tony Waddington, the great old Stoke manager and champion of artistry, once bemoaned the functionalism of modern football and the fans' low expectations by complaining that they applauded when Stoke won a throw-in. They certainly do now.

Stoking the debate

Waddington was three years into his time as Stoke manager (1960-77) when the club commemorated their centenary with a match against Real Madrid that memorably brought Stanley Matthews into opposition with Alfredo Di Stefano and Ferenc Puskas. But were they, like Notts County (Outside the Box last week) celebrating a few years too early? The club say not and are planning for a 150th anniversary next year, but football historian Dr Graham Curry told us: "There are no formal records or reports surviving about Stoke in 1863, as they admit in 'The Encyclopaedia of Stoke City' which says 'little evidence exists as to whether or not any organised matches ever took place.' The so-called Charterhouse founders did not even exist on the rolls of the school from 1769 to 1872 so they could hardly have founded a club in Stoke in 1863."

s.tongue@independent.co.uk

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