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Return to MK

Andrew Brookes recalls the previous visit to Milton Keynes...one of a litany of such miserable away days under the reign of Gary Megson.

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I’m really quite looking forward to going to Milton Keynes on Saturday.

For some, the lure of the home of concrete cows, roundabouts and a seemingly meaningless football match might not be particularly strong but I’m looking to put a ghost to rest.

No matter what the result, it’ll surely be better than the last time I saw Forest away at MK Dons.

That came on January 31 2006, back when the home side played at the National Hockey Stadium.

Now don’t get me wrong, this isn’t some piece about how awful it is that we had to go to that venue to play that club. The merits of MK Dons as a club are for others to debate but at the time they were on their way up and on the road to getting the ground we’ll visit on Saturday. Besides, the National Hockey Stadium is a fun addition to the ‘football ground CV’.

The problem with that miserable Tuesday night was squarely with the efforts of our club.

Many people, myself included, had already had more than enough of Gary Megson’s time in charge by then. This game, however, was a particularly rusty nail in the rotten coffin that was his tenure.

Under mounting pressure, Megson needed a result in Milton Keynes. His side had mustered just one win in the last six and had even contrived to lose 3-1 at Colchester despite equalising in the 90th minute.

Yet Megson instead opted for the ultra defensive. He played a 5-3-2 formation involving the following players:

Gerrard, Eaden, Morgan, Breckin, Thompson, Cullip, Perch, Clingan, Gardner, Lester, Grant Holt.

That’s six of the starting 11 who were defenders by trade and two more central midfielders who weren’t exactly ‘box to box’.

It was an anti-football mentality that showed we were frightened of being beaten with the laughable site of Wes Morgan acting as a left wing back at times. I love Wes, and he’s certainly shown his strengths this season, but I think even his biggest fans would agree that a marauding Meadows Roberto Carlos he is not.

We went down 1-0 on the night. Ex-Sheep – and current Magpie – Izale McLeod headed home from a cross. It was the sort of goal we’ve meekly conceded so many times in recent years, often repeatedly in games at Burnley.

It’s rare to watch a side sent out with such little intent to play football or score goals. I spent the evening bellowing until I was hoarse for Megson to go and I was far from alone. He stood forlornly directly ahead from my position behind the goal, powerless to add any spark to a pitiful excuse of a performance. I hope he was ashamed.

To be fair, the cavalry were sent on in the shape of Scott Dobie, Eugen Bopp and Martin Vickerton (the poor sod’s only league appearance). It won’t surprise you to know that it didn’t work.

Some people thought Dougie Freedman was negative. To be fair, they had a point on some occasions. But Dougie was Kevin Keegan-esque in comparison to this.

Luckily we were put out of our collective misery a few short weeks later. I’ve often thought during this season that, no matter how bad things have got, at least we’ve never plumbed the depths of ten years ago.

Hopefully I’ll have that crumb of comfort – and an end of season party atmosphere – to cling on to this Saturday.

Perhaps I’ll allow myself a mini ‘Megson Out’ chant to mark the occasion...anyone else up for it?

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Andrew is on the old Twitter and can be followed by clicking here.