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A Tale of Two Brothers

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Who's this Nigel fellow? What happened to Delphy? I know he died over the last two seasons but still...

...apart from that, I'm waiting with bated breath.

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Just read all of this and I have to say it is absolutely amazing! You're a great writer and this story is brilliant! Hope that the brothers either join the same team or that they meet up again some point in the future, really looking forward to the next update, hope it is not too long!! :p keep up the good work mate!

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ashbag, Nigel Winters is a player I've put into the database - perhaps just for a bit of fun, or perhaps to base a storyline around him, we'll see in time ;) as for Delph, he's still around as well :)

Thanks for the comment and praise, torquayfmer, and welcome to the story :) hopefully it continues to keep you entertained and reading! I wouldn't want to disappoint so here's the latest update.

**********

Thursday 1st July 2010

“I was watching that!” Jennie shrieked as Clive flicked the channel over from the evening news to Sky Sports News.

“Who cares, it’s only the news?” Clive answered.

“And so is this? This is just Sports News?” Jennie said, looking confused. Clive let out an irritated sigh.

“I know that, but at least this news makes sense.”

Jennie simply looked at her dad with raised eyebrows. He wasn’t making sense. Silently, she probed for further explanation.

“Well, for example, on your news it always starts with ‘Good evening’,” Clive explained.

“And?”

“And it makes no sense! They say ‘good evening’, and then proceed to tell you exactly why it isn’t!

“You’re actually going mad, dad. That comes with age, you know,” Jennie said, laughing.

“So now you’re saying I’m old and I’m going to die soon?” Clive replied with more than a hint of sarcasm in his voice. Jennie simply laughed and slapped her dad lightly on the shoulder. “I have thought about it though. It can’t be far off. Death, I mean,” Clive continued, bringing the mood of the conversation onto a deadly serious level.

“I really don’t want to talk about this, dad,” Jennie said, looking down at her cup of tea.

“I want to die like my own grandfather. Peacefully, in my sleep,” Clive said, looking lost in memories before he put his own mug to his lips to take another sip of his tea. “Not screaming and yelling, like the passengers in his car.”

Jennie laughed and slapped her Clive once again. He had a few years left in him yet, Jennie knew it.

“Where are the boys anyway?” Clive asked, in reference to Colin and Robert.

“They’ll be back here soon. They’ve both been with their agents and Liam to go and speak to officials at MK Dons,” Jenny said, trying to remember the exact words Liam had used.

Half an hour later, Colin and Robert walked through the front door, closely followed by Liam and then by Colin’s agent, Josh Aldred, and then Robert’s agent, Martin Maynard. Both agents ran their company together, and both were good at their jobs. Josh Aldred was the oldest of the pair at 44 years old and he was known for touting his players to as many different clubs as possible to ensure a good deal for the player and himself.

35 year old Martin Maynard was also known for touting his players, but he was also a very patient man, who could negotiate deals for weeks without breaking a sweat.

As the agents and the boys sat down with Jennie to discuss the day’s events, Clive and Liam walked out into the kitchen.

“How did it all go, Liam?” Clive asked, eager to hear where his grandsons would be playing this season.

“They both liked the Dons, but Robert is still tearing his hair out over the Villa offer. I told him I think he should go there.”

“What if he went there and never got a shot at the first team? Do you not think that would be a waste?” Clive asked.

“Maybe, but you have to take risks to make it to the top. This could be his only chance, and I think he needs to take it,” Liam answered.

“Perhaps you’re right, but he’s young, I’m sure he’ll get many more offers over the next few years. If he goes to Villa and p*sses it down the drain, I’d be blaming you,” Clive smiled enthusiastically before going to walk back into the front room.

“Me?? He makes his own decisions, how could it be my fault if that happened?” Liam answered, surprised at Clive’s words. Clive stopped at the doorway and looked over his shoulder at Liam.

“Did you not hear me? I didn’t say it would be your fault, I just said I’d be blaming you,” Clive winked.

He definitely had a while left in him yet.

**********

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I have just realised my lack of comments in this thread. Reading the last three updates, I have realised why... I never read it from the start.

Which is annoying to say the least, because I am baffled and intrigued after reading the latest three parts - So, I'm going to go to the start and do a 'torquayfmer' and read it from the start.

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Glad to see that Clive is still awesome :D.

Even more glad to see you being true to your word and updating this frequently, Offy. You've saved me the trouble of having to stage Sugar's jailbreak on top of the whole finding-a-car-and-a-gun-to-kill-you-with affair :p. Keep it up, your life depends on it!

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Ha, that's pretty special Satio ;) hope you enjoy catching up, as there's a fair bit to do now! Oh and by the way, I finished reading 'Markus Olton; Waving Play On' the other day and I think it's a great little piece of work. I've never seen a story about a referee before and it opened my eyes a bit more to how the men in the middle feel, it was a really good story, great work :D

Glad Clive amuses somebody, it's fun to write for his character! Thanks Dalb, I don't fancy being shot at so I guess I'd better keep posting :thup:

Ashbag, all I'll say is that I try not to influence the game if it's possible, I let the game engine determine as much as is possible and that includes which team(s) they join :)

**********

“I liked it there. It might not be the best cash cow, but I’ll get game time against decent teams so I think it’ll help me improve,” Colin said, justifying his reasons for wanting to join MK Dons. He hadn’t mentioned that it would also mean he wouldn’t be miles away from Oxford or Danielle, but he daren’t bring that up. Both Liam and Jennie had gone nuts when Colin had told them that Danielle was pregnant, and he wanted to steer clear of that subject.

“Do you want me to get that sorted for you then, Colin?” Josh Aldred said, his briefcase on his lap.

Colin looked around at his parents and at Clive. None of them had pulled any faces and Colin knew that was what he wanted to do.

“If you could, Josh,” Colin said, finally able to relax. MK Dons would be Colin’s new club.

As for Robert, he was still trying to decide between Aston Villa, MK Dons and Watford. Everybody could see he was struggling to make his decision, and it had been a weight on his shoulders for a while now.

“Robert, nobody’s forcing you to go to Villa. Go to where you’ll be happiest,” Martin Maynard said to his client.

“Martin’s right, Rob. Which club do you want to join?” Jennie added.

“In all honesty?.... I don’t want Villa. I don’t feel ready to move that far away from everybody I know, not yet anyway. I know Fabian plays up there and he says he loves it, but I feel like I still have a lot to learn and that I learn best by playing games. For me, MK Dons sounds like the best idea,” Robert said.

“You don’t have to join MK just because I am, you know?” Colin said, silently willing Robert to stick by his words and come join him in Milton Keynes.

“I know, but I don’t want to move far away, I want to step up from the Blue Square Premier, I want to play first team football and I feel that I play better when we’re in the same team.”

They were all understandable points. It was agreed and the agents left the house to set about their work and orchestrate the transfers.

“Did you tell Robert to join whoever you join?” Jennie said to Colin once they were alone.

“No, of course I didn’t. He makes his own decisions,” Colin answered irritably. Jennie and Liam had been snapping at Colin for weeks now, and he was getting fed up with it. “What’s your problem anyway?” Colin asked.

“My problem? My ‘problem’ is that you have a kid on the way in the next few months and I don’t think it’s hit you yet that this is a massive thing. Can you not see the problems that could come from this?”

“There won’t be any problems! Me and Dani will be fine! I’ve got a career that will pull in enough money to support them and me and Dani will be fine, it can’t be that hard, raising a kid,” Colin replied.

“Won’t be any problems? We both know that this now has a massive input on your career. If Barcelona came in now, you’d reject them because you wouldn’t want to be apart from Dani – who is forbidden from even seeing you by her own parents, let alone living with you! You really think it’s fair to raise a child in that relationship? You honestly think you and Dani can last under these conditions?!? Or do you think it will end up as another broken family with a kid that never see’s his or her dad??” Jennie said, her volume levels rising as she finished off her rant.

The fact that somebody had even questioned his and Dani’s relationship angered Colin immensely, and he wanted to hit his mum, but he fought to control his actions.

“You mean like my dad? Because you’re really one for giving lessons on how to raise the perfect family, aren’t you?” Colin said calmly. “You screwed up big time. All I have to do is look at what you did, and do the opposite, basically. Don’t speak to me about raising a family if you can’t even do that yourself,” Colin said walking out of the front room, punching the door on the way.

Jennie put her head in her hands, crying. She was angry that Colin could speak to her in that way and she was also scared at the look she’d seen in Colin’s eyes. For a few seconds, he looked like Andrew and Jennie thought he was going to hit her. She’d been harshly reminded of the memories from that stage of her life and, perhaps worst of all, what Colin had said was true. Who was she to give lectures on how to hold together a young family?

**********

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Fabian loves Villa? What! Leeds was the best times of his life, man. In fact, if Leeds come in for the lads, make them snap it up straight away, get FMRTE or summat and make their contracts 80 year. Colin can be a bit of a Bremner while Robert, if he gets a power shot on him, can go Lorimer. If not, he can be the new Gray. Sorted.

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I guess only time will tell, ashbag ;) here's the next installment. The part of the season every football player loves - Pre-Season training.

**********

Tuesday 6th July 2010

Karl Robinson held his office door open as his new signings shuffled into the MK Dons managers’ office.

Karl sat down on at one side of his desk, gesturing for Colin and Robert to sit opposite him. The youngsters obliged, making themselves comfortable to hear what their new manager had to say.

“Welcome to Milton Keynes,” Karl said, smiling. “Let me start off by saying that I’ve seen both of you play many, many times and I think you both have the potential to be fantastic players.”

“You’ll fit right in, here. We have a determined set of players, and both of you have that in your character,” Karl continued. Both of the boys seemed nervous and Karl knew the remedy for that. He had to get them out onto the training pitch with the lads and put a football at their feet.

The brothers were given a quick a quick tour before they were handed their temporary training kits. Within seconds, Colin and Robert were fully kitted out and tying up their laces on their boots.

“Well, here we go again, time to prove ourselves once more,” Robert said, looking more nervous than Colin.

“That’s where the fun of it all is,” Collin said, slapping his brother on the back. “Now let’s get out there and tear this lot a new ar*e hole.”

As the brothers were lead out onto the training field, the MK players all stopped their activities and gathered to welcome their new team-mates.

As the brothers were introduced to the team, the current set of MK Dons players visually assessed the new arrivals. They’d all heard that the Rudyard brothers could play fairly well, but they were still no more than kids and many of them doubted that the new boys would be up to the challenge physically.

Gary MacKenzie was the first to try and probe the brothers, the huge Scottish centre back calling out ‘Fresh meat, boys!’ as Colin and Robert had approached. Colin made it his personal mission to kick MacKenzie as soon as he possibly could.

After being introduced, the brothers joined in with the pre-season training. They were pushed hard (some members of the squad had to take time out so that they could throw up due to having been worked so hard) but they held their own.

“They’re holding out boys, these two really are in the ‘Spring Chicken’ category,” Dons Icon and Captain, Dean Lewington called out as the team ran through another fitness exercise.

“Get used to it – you won’t be seeing either of us blowing chunks,” Colin replied. Despite the statement, he was beginning to feel sick, but he vowed not to throw up on his first day. He just hoped Robert, who had been very quiet, would hold out too.

Eventually, a practice match was set up and Colin and Robert had been put on the same side. Unfortunately for Colin, Gary MacKenzie wouldn’t be taking part as he was still on the mend from a knee injury.

This is where the brothers really shone though. In spite of some early physical challenges, Colin held his own in the centre of the park and linked up well with for Premier League star Dietmar Hamann. Colin repeatedly managed to surge through the middle with the ball and his expertise in passing left Karl Robinson in awe. It was almost as if his possessed heat-seeking passes as they all found their target – whether it was a delicate chip over the defence or a bullet pass to switch the play.

As for Robert – he introduced himself in style. Sporting a good first touch and his trademark ground-ripping pace, Robert dashed up and down the right flank, giving Dean Lewington a run for his money. Twice Robert skinned the MK Dons skipper, but on the third time Lewington refused to be embarrassed and rugby tackled the youngster to the ground, clapping hands with Robert as he picked him up again.

It was a good opening day as both of the boys showed what they were capable of, impressing the players and coaches at their new club. The jury was still out on whether they could handle the physical side of things, but their raw talent was there for all to see.

**********

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Sunday 11th July 2010

Danielle was approaching the end of her 9 month pregnancy and she was in good spirits because of it. Over the last couple of weeks, Danielle’s parents had begun to forgive Colin, and they’d relaxed their rules a little bit. Colin was now allowed round the Murillo’s house again, but for no longer than a couple of hours.

“Will you be playing on Tuesday then?” Dani asked her boyfriend. The pair were led in Dani’s bed, watching TV with Dani’s head resting on Colin’s shoulder.

“No, I don’t think me or my brother will be playing. Karl said that he wants to introduce us to his system before he puts us out there, so we’re working on a lot in training but once that is done, hopefully we’ll be good to go,” Colin said.

“Good, well let’s hope it works out,” Dani replied. “I’m so glad you didn’t move far away to join a team as well. I don’t want to leave this area, all of my friends and family are here.”

“Dani, you do realise I’ll probably have to move away some day if I want to play for one of the world’s greatest teams,” Colin explained. Dani simply shrugged her shoulders, and that wasn’t the reaction Colin wanted. It was unrealistic to hope that the couple could live in Oxford and still have Colin play football on the biggest stages.

“I’d better go home,” Colin said, standing up. He felt angry at Dani’s reaction to moving away from Oxford, and he knew he had to leave before it turned into another argument.

“Oh, okay. Well I’ll speak to you later?” Dani said. Colin simply nodded before bending down to kiss her on the cheek.

On his way out of the Murillo’s front garden, Colin bumped into Sam. He wore the hood of his big, grey hoody over his head. The look on his face as he approached Colin told him that Sam still wasn’t a fan. As Colin kept to the left to pass Sam, Sam stepped over to ensure that he remained in Colin’s way. He was looking for a reaction and, knowing Colin, he’d probably get one.

“You again? I’ll have to remind your parents to keep your cage door locked in future,” Colin said, seeing that he wasn’t going to get past Sam without confrontation tonight.

“Be careful what you chat, big man,” Sam said, looking down at Colin and smirking. “I was going to talk to you, but I’m sick of the sight of you already. Best get steppin’ before sh*t hits the fan.”

Colin considered striking Sam, but after a few moments of consideration he realised he’d get nothing from it but grief. Oh, and a huge sense of satisfaction, but the trouble it would cause outweighed that feeling of satisfaction. Instead, Colin just laughed and walked past Sam, brushing shoulders with him.

The time would come when Colin could set Sam straight, but it wasn’t tonight.

**********

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Start to finish in just over a day. Fantastic. Glad you have picked it back up and I look forward to more posts.

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Thanks Jay and Ishu, it's good to know that you're both reading and enjoying :)

**********

Tuesday 13th July 2010

MK Dons (L1) vs. Rotherham (L2) (Pre-Season Friendly)

Tuesday 13th July, stadium:mk

Neither brother was selected in the squad for the opener of the pre-season friendlies, but they were both in the stands to witness the match.

The opening 15 minutes was slow and sluggish as both teams tried to awaken themselves from the end of season break and polish off the rust for a new term. It was MK that managed to scrub away the first flecks of the break as they took the lead in the 13th minute.

Uncapped American Jemal Johnson picked the ball up on the right wing, just inside his own half before he made a direct run down his flank, carrying the ball all the way to the Rotherham penalty area.

Once he got there, he played the ball in at the near post. It was Angelo Balanta that met it and even though his first shot was blocked, the loanee poked home the rebound to give his team an early lead.

Next in line was Jermaine Easter. MK won a free kick out wide on the ride, just inside the Rotherham half. The set piece was pinged into the penalty area, where Angelo Balanta won the header and directed it at goal. His headed effort beat the ‘keeper, hit the bar and then bounced kindly into the palf of Jermaine Easter who rifled home from just yards out to make it 2-0, 20 minutes played.

20 minutes later, MK’s Stephen Gleeson called for the ball just inside his own half, facing his own goal. Without taking a touch and while still facing his own goal, Gleeson showed tremendous technique and vision to craft a long ball which dropped in behind the Rotherham defence to Angelo Balanta to run onto.

Balanta latched onto the pass and rolled it past the ‘keeper to make it 3-0 to MK Dons just before half time. They were cruising.

At the start of the second half though, Rotherham showed that they did want a game of football today, scoring just 24 seconds after the restart. It was a simple, yet effective passing move that put Le Fondre through against MK’s ‘keeper, David Martin. There was nothing Martin could do though to stop Le Fondre tucking the ball into the net as he gave Rotherham a chance of getting back into the game

A couple of minutes later though and Rotherham were 3 behind once again. The ball was put into the 6 yard box from a corner and Rotherham’s Johnny Mullins slid in to make a clearance. He fluffed it though, sending the ball spinning over his own goal line and making it 4-1 to the home side.

Fans were made to wait a while for the next goal sighting, but the wait proved to be worth it. It was still 4-1 as the 80th minute ticked over, but the scoreline changed once again a few minutes later as Rotherham’s Ben Snee managed to sneak in at the back post to tap hom a cross and make it 4-2 with 7 minutes of regular time left to play.

Another goal came in the 86th minute. David Martin thumped a goal-kick over the half way line, only to see it returned first time by a Rotherham head. The header cleared MK’s defensive line and Rotherham’s Marcus Marshall was the man to jump onto the chance, carrying the ball into the box before nutmegging David Martin to make it 4-3 with 4 minutes left.

Then, in the 88th minute, another goal.

This time, it was MK’s turn as Sam Baldock ran onto a long clearance from his teams’ defensive line. His finish was poor though, striking the ‘keeper on the knee and bouncing away from goal.

MK Dons’ Jabo Ibehre proved the lucky man this time, as the ball bounced into his path. The 27 year old wasted no time in tapping the ball into an empty net to make the scoreline 5-3 and secure the win for MK Dons.

It had been an entertaining game for the fans and the Rudyard brothers in particular had enjoyed it. Neither of them could wait to pull on that white jersey for the first time and step out in front of these fans for the first time, but they had to train well in order for that to happen.

But they both knew they had the ability to succeed at this club, and they couldn’t wait to show their new fans what they were capable of.

MK Dons – 5

Angelo Balanta (13, 43)

Jermaine Easter (20)

Johnny Mullins OG (49)

Jabo Ibehre (88)

Rotherham - 3

Adam Le Fondre (46)

Ben Snee (83)

Marcus Marshall (86)

Man of the Match: Angelo Balanta (MKD)

Att: 3189

**********

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I'll be honest, Offy, and say how well you've done to turn this around from the loss of a game. I've had the same problem before, and tying things off/moving them along without it being rushed and haphazard is hard to do. You've done it nice and neat, :thup:.

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Thanks Gav :) I thought it was going to be more difficult than it actually was, but due to the nature of the game it has turned out to be quite an easy process. Thanks again Gavina :D

**********

Thursday 15th July 2010

MK Dons (L1) vs. Watford (CH) (Pre-Season Friendly)

Thursday 15th July, stadium:mk

Once again, both brothers would be watching from the stands as MK Dons progressed to their second pre-season game on a fine summers evening.

The Dons started sluggishly though, allowing a simple left-to-right, 5 pass move from Watford pull gaps into their back line and put Will Buckley through on goal. Buckley wasted no time, taking one touch to control the ball before sliding it into the back of the net, putting Watfor 1-0 up after just 8 minutes.

Jermaine Easter evened things up 10 minutes before half-time though as he collected the ball 10 yards outside the penalty area with his back to goal. He turned well, leaving his marker for dead before smashing the ball across the line to cap off a wonderful solo effort and grab his second goal of the pre-season.

Marvin Sordell made sure MK’s celebration’s were short lived though. A low cross from the left found Sordell unmarked, and he tapped the ball underneath the ‘keeper to nudge Watford back into the lead with just 6 minutes until half time.

After suffering a set-back just before half time, MK responded well, coming out determined to get themselves level once again. Angelo Balanta would be the goal-scorer this time, ghosting away from his marker to slide and connect with the ball from the edge of the 6 yard box after a cross had been rolled back from the by-line.

It was 2-2 when all of the substitutions started occurring, ruining the rhythm of the game until the 71st minute when, for the third time, Watford took the lead. From a corner, Watford’s Dale Bennett powered a header at goal. It was saved well by substitute French ‘keeper Willy Gueret, but Gueret failed to hold onto the ball and could only watch as it squirmed loose to be tapped in by Dale Bennett, who’d done well to follow up on his own effort.

It was to be MK’s turn to reply quickly though as, from a cross coming from deep free-kick, Jermaine Easter rose brilliantly to deliver a bullet-header which crashed against the back of the net and dragged his team level once more.

The game would end 3-3, both sets of fans happy at the performances they’d seen from their teams.

MK Dons – 3

Jermaine Easter (35, 73)

Angelo Balanta (49)

Watford - 3

Will Buckley (8)

Marvin Sordell (39)

Dale Bennett (71)

Man of the Match: Jermaine Easter (MKD)

Att: 4358

**********

Monday 19th July 2010

MK Dons had flown out to Belfast on Saturday, two days after their last friendly to play Northern Irish team Crusaders in their first away fixture of the year.

Colin had been left back home in Oxford as he hadn’t been named in the team, much to his disappointment. As for Robert; he’d be making his first start for the Dons and he was looking to impress.

Crusaders (NI) vs. MK Dons (ENG) (Pre-Season Friendly)

Monday 19th July, Seaview

It was easy for all to see that Robert was trying to stake his claim for a first team place already. On his first appearance, by the end of the match he’d put 14 crosses into the area (more than 3 times the amount that anybody else managed to put in – even if only 3 of those crosses were met by an MK Dons player), he completed most of his passes and he even almost claimed himself a goal, hitting the post from a corner of the 6 yard box.

He also managed to pick up a yellow card. After having one of his many crosses blocked, Robert chased down the loose ball and cut across the back of an opponent, tripping him over to gain an advantage.

The only goal of the match came in the 71st minute after Charlie Collins played Sam Baldock through on goal during an MK Dons counter-attack. Baldock carried the ball into the penalty area and waited until the Crusaders’ ‘keeper committed himself. As soon as he did, Baldock squared the ball to Luke Howell, who calmly side-footed it into an empty net to give MK Dons a deserved win.

Crusaders – 0

MK Dons - 1

Luke Howell (71)

Man of the Match: Luke Howell (MKD)

Att: 818

**********

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Wednesday 21st July 2010

Colin counted his 20th push up before springing to his feet, sprinting to the next cone, and starting his count on star jumps. With the sun scowling down on them, the MK Dons players really were feeling the heat during this intense session of pre-season fitness training.

By the time Colin reached the final cone and started doing his 20 sit-ups, he could barely feel his body through the aching but he daren’t show it. Instead, he ploughed on at the same pace he’d started the session, grunting every time he rose pulled his upper body away from the floor. Colin could have sworn that his back and the ground were magnetic.

Eventually, he finished his sit-ups. Matt Hillyer, the Dons’ fitness coach, saw Colin about to lay flat on his back and screamed at the youngster to get up and sprint back to the starting line.

Swearing, Colin jumped up and broke into a sprint towards the line at which he’d started the exercises just a few minutes before.

As soon as he crossed it, Colin fell down onto his knees, panting. He’d put everything he had into the exercises and now it was showing as some of the coaches showed concern. Then, Colin threw up. It was a messy business but it provided the morning’s entertainment for both the players and coaches.

“He’ll be fine,” Matt Hillyer said to his fellow coaches, “A few seconds of blowing chunks never hurt anybody.”

Having washed out the remnants of his sick with a bottle of fresh water and taken a few minutes out to relax, Colin was ready to join in with training once again. He was desperate to impress and he wanted to play in the Dons friendly against Crystal palace at home on Friday.

The players were relieved to hear Matt Hillyer announce that that would be all of the fitness work for the day, and that their next exercise would be a match.

A lot of players were tired from the fitness work they’d done just minutes before, but Colin refused to let it catch up with him. Ignoring the cries of his body, Colin charged around the field like a bull chasing a red rag, having to be calmed down and reminded that it was just a kick-around numerous times.

His best moment came near the end of the session though. By this time Karl Robinson had come down to watch the mock match.

Colin received the ball just in the centre circle, facing his own goal with his marker right behind him. Colin dropped his right shoulder as a fake, switching and turning infield at the last second and giving him a few yards of space from his marker.

With his head down, Colin built up speed and drove through the centre of the pitch with a direct run. He carried it past one player as another bounced off of him, his determination spurring Colin on towards the goal.

Eventually, with the defence backing away from him, Colin took the shot on. It was a thunderous, rising drive which crashed into the top corner, drawing applause from a few players and coaches.

“What was that?!?” Karl Robinson shouted at his two first choice centre-backs, Sean O’Hanlon and Mathias Doumbe. Both just laughed and shrugged their shoulders.

“That was like watching Moses versus the Red Sea live! He split your whole team in two and just waltzed straight through the middle!” Karl said, still laughing.

“He must be Moses then!” Sean replied. From this, Colin earned the nickname ‘Moses’ which would stick with him throughout his career. Many people said it was fitting because of his direct running, which split the centres of many teams and opened huge gaps in poor defences. Others said it was more because of his ability to pass the ball through tiny gaps in the defence. Either way, it could only be a good thing and Colin accepted his new nickname with a good sense of humour.

**********

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That description reminds me of that excellent Paul Gascoigne goal for Rangers in the Champions League, except I don't remember if he quite put it in the upper 90. Love the regular updates, Offy! :D

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I had a look on youtube but couldn't find it :( still, comparisons to Gascoigne are good for Colin as long as it's on-the-field comparisons ;) glad you're still reading Sto, I'll make sure the regular updates keep on coming!

**********

Friday 23rd July 2010

MK Dons (L1) vs. Crystal Palace (CH) (Pre-Season Friendly)

Friday 23rd July, stadium:mk

Robert sat down and pulled his socks up above his knees, wrapping tape around the fold-point. He could feel himself shaking, the adrenaline kicking in before his first match for MK Dons at their home ground in front of their own fans.

Colin was also set for his first start for MK Dons. He pulled his sleeves up above his elbows, as he always did when playing football in warm weather.

The players strolled out onto the pitch to a warm reception from well over 4 and a half thousand fans – the biggest crowd the brothers had seen attend one of their friendly matches. The stadium:mk could hold 18,000 people in total and the thought of the noise that it would generate if this ground could fill itself sent shivers down Robert’s spine.

He got a small taste of how it might sound when MK went one ahead just 5 minutes in. Luke Chadwick drilled in a corner kick to the near post, and it just happened to strike Palace’s Neil Danns on the shoulder, pinging it past his own ‘keeper to put the home side 1-0 up.

20 minutes later though, Crystal Palace found an equaliser. After Angelo Balanta lost possession in the middle of the park, Palace broke down the right before chipping a cross in to the Dons’ penalty box. The cross floated over everybody’s head and Palace’s Kieran Djilali controlled it before side-footing it home from close range.

The next goal was about as simplistic as they came. From a goal kick, MK’s Sam Baldock picked the ball up just inside Palace’s half of the centre-circle. He was given plenty of time to turn and pick a pass, and his pass rolled straight through the middle of the Palace central defenders, where it married up with the on-rushing Angelo Balanta.

Balanta carried it into the box, poking it underneath the ‘keeper as he dived at Balanta’s feet.

The next goal would be an equaliser for Palace, and Colin would have to take a fair proportion of the blame. With the ball out on Palace’s right wing, Colin relaxed, waiting in the centre circle for the outcome of a scrappy dogfight between Dons and Palace players. Had he looked behind him, or been listening to the calls of young Dons centre-back Harry Milton, Colin would have seen that Milton was trying to mark two players at once.

Instead, Colin continued to ball-watch and when Palace broke down the right with possession, the young midfielder could only watch in anger as Harry Milton tried desperately to mark two moving players out of the game. He failed, and there was nothing Milton could do to prevent a soft Palace equaliser.

Karl Robinson had seen Milton calling for Colin to get back and pick up one of the spare men. Instead, Colin had stood in the centre of the pitch, doing nothing useful and picking up nobody. He made a note of it, vowing to pick his new signing up on the issue in training on Monday.

MK Dons – 2

Neil Danns O.G (5)

Angelo Balanta (51)

Crystal Palace - 2

Kieran Djilali (25)

Nathaniel Pinney (68)

Man of the Match: Sean O’Hanlon (MKD)

Att: 4663

**********

“I thought we were going to spend the night in, catch a movie or something? I’ve got the latest Twilight movie for us to watch?” Danielle pleaded with Colin.

“Can’t we do that another night? I told Ryan I’d go to his house party after I missed the last one, I really want to go.”

“Okay then. Well I’ll talk to you tomorrow,” Danielle said, walking away from Colin, putting her DVD into the DVD player before going to sit down on her bed, not even glancing at Colin.

“I’m sorry, I just really want to go,” Colin said, sitting on the bed next to Danielle, putting his arm around her and pulling her close to him. Still, after staying sat in the same position for almost 10 minutes, staring at the Twilight title screen, she said nothing.

“Okay well I’m going to go and get ready now, leave you to watch your movie,” Colin finally said, giving Danielle a kiss on the cheek. “I’ll talk to you later maybe.”

Colin left the room, pulling the door closed behind him. A few minutes later, Danielle heard the front door open and close, and could hear Colin walking up the pathway in the front garden. She heard the gate whine as he opened and closed it, and then she felt the first warm tear of many fall from her bright blue eyes. It would be a long and lonely night for Danielle.

**********

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great story cant wait for more!

I started reading the aaron healey story and quiet enjoying it, do you think u will ever go back to it?

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Thanks Fergie, and thanks for reading some of my other work as well :) I'm not sure whether I'd re-post in that thread, but it has crossed my mind and I would like to go back to Aaron Healy sometime and rejoin him later on in his career (A bit like I did with this story, where we skipped a year and a half) and continue that story.

On another note, this will be my last post in this thread until after the new year. No, I haven't gone cold again ;) I'm going to spend the new year in France and will be unable to post again until I'm back. So, thanks to all of you for reading and thanks to those who've dropped a few comments in as well, it's appreciated :) Hope you all have a great Christmas and New Year,

Offy :)

**********

“No, I used to play for Oxford. I play for Milton Keynes now,” Colin slurred to the group of girls that had surrounded him. There must have been at least 5, but Colin couldn’t count them to be sure, he’d had too much to drink.

“I’ve heard that you’re going to be some big superstar someday – everybody around here is always talking about you,” said one girl. Her name was Toni, but Colin had forgotten that. He remembered her by mentally labelling her ‘The Fit One’. She had straight, long, black hair, she was just a few inches shorter than Colin, and she had a busty figure .

“Well let’s not get carried away now!” Colin laughed, putting his arm around Toni’s shoulders.

It wasn’t long before things started to kick off at the house party, and few were surprised to see Colin in the thick of it when things got going.

2 cars full of teenagers had turned up on the street outside and, when they tried to get into the house to join the party, Ryan asked them to leave. The group argued that they wanted to stay, voices were raised and more people were attracted to the scene.

Seeing that his friend was trying to get the new arrivals to leave, Colin and a few more friends started to lightly push a few of the new guys away from the house. As Colin tried to push away one of the bigger guys, he saw somebody in the corner of his eye striding towards him. He knew it spelt danger, even though he was drunk.

Colin turned to face the new threat and, after a few seconds, he could see that it was Sam Murillo.

“There you are, you f*cking dry lunch,” Sam said, squaring up to Colin once again.

“Aww you came looking for me? Coulda dressed a little better though, you look like a f*cking ice cream,” Colin said, going nose-to-nose with Sam.

“Mate, I’ll hit you so hard, your kids will be born with black eyes,” Sam said, pushing his forehead against Colin’s.

“Get real, you couldn’t hit water if you fell out of a boat,” Colin answered, drawing laughter from his friends.

That was all that was needed to draw Sam out. He grabbed Colin by the neck and hit him hard in the face twice without reply. Once he’d gathered his wits, Colin charged at Sam and knocked him down before climbing on top of him and sending his fists crashing down into Sam’s face.

He only landed a couple of half hits before he was pulled off and dragged back indoors, away from all of the commotion.

Colin stumbled upstairs to the bathroom to observe the damage done to him by Sam’s shots. They’d been good hits and Colin could taste blood. His lip had been badly cut.

Colin spat into the sink, washing away the blood before taking a few mouthfuls of water to wash his mouth out. He curled his bottom lip over with his fingers and he could see the cut straight away.

“Are you okay?” said a voice behind Colin. He turned to find Toni in the doorway.

“Yeah I’m fine, just a little cut,” Colin answered. Toni approached Colin to look at the cut on the inside of his lip.

“You’ll live, just wash it out a little bit,” Toni smiled. “Lucky for you that other people were there to end the fight,” she added, laughing.

“Dunno what you’re talking about, I could have taken him,” Colin said after rinsing his mouth out once more. Toni laughed again and went in to hug the footballer.

“You’re almost the perfect guy.”

“Almost?!?” Colin joked, pushing Toni away from him, “What stops me from being the perfect guy then?”

“You’ve got a girlfriend, and she’s pregnant with your kid,” Toni answered, “But, then again, football teams have a goalkeeper – doesn’t mean you can’t score.”

Toni moved closer to Colin and went to kiss him.

Colin, fighting all of his urges, turned his head sideways, meaning that Toni’s lips met with his cheek.

“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have let it get to this,” Colin said, stepping away from Toni. Without another word, he walked out of the bathroom, down the stairs and out of the house.

He shouldn’t have felt guilty, as he stopped anything from happening. But he still felt bad for Danielle. He’d had a better time with Toni on that night than he’d had with Danielle for ages. He wanted to go back inside and spend the night with Toni, but he knew he couldn’t.

Instead, he walked home; alone and full of regrets.

**********

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This last post just sounds like a night out down South with Offy. :D

Have a good Christmas mate, and have a drink or two for me.

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Nah Gav, that's a lightweight version of a night out down south ;) haha. Thanks a lot mate, hope you had a good Christmas and New Year as well :)

And the same to the rest of you! Hope you all had a great Christmas and New Year and best wishes for 2011 :)

Wednesday 28th July 2010

Farnborough (BSS) vs. MK Dons (L1) (Pre-Season Friendly)

Wednesday 28th July, Rushmoor Stadium

The team formed two separate lines and began to jog alongside eachother, both inside their own set of cones. When they reached the end of the line of cone, the players had to turn around it and jog back to the beginning to run through again.

It was a pretty light-duty warm-up and it would take a fair amount of bad luck for a player to be injured during this exercise. However, today it was Robert that found himself in Bad Luck’s clutches. As he went to turn to jog back to the beginning, Robert lost his footing and he felt a sudden, dull pain around his ankle.

That, accompanied with the speed at which his ankle managed to swell told the physio’s all that they needed to know. Robert had sprained his ankle and definitely wouldn’t be taking part in today’s match.

At first, the fans had given a light ‘Wheeeey’ when Robert fell to the floor, but once the saw him in pain they realised that damage had been done and concern spread between both fans and players alike. Eventually, Robert was helped up by Colin and the Dons head physio Simon Crampton to some light applause from the home fans.

“Any ideas on how bad it is, Si?” Robert asked through gritted teeth.

“I can’t say without having properly examined it, but it’s definitely a sprain. If you’re going to ask me for a timeline, I can’t give you one. It could mean anywhere from a few days out to a few months out, I can’t be sure yet,” Simon Crampton answered.

Robert cursed as Colin was called back to the warm-ups. It was the final friendly before the season kicked off and Robert wanted to put a good shift in so as to place his bid for a starting spot in the team. Now he wasn’t even sure if he’d be ready for the start of the season.

“So you have no idea at all?” Robert asked as he was helped onto the physio table. Simon Crampton carefully pulled Robert’s sock off and examined his ankle once again.

“If you want me to hazard a guess, I’d say that it’s a Grade Two ankle sprain. In general, we work on grades with these types of injuries, and with ankle sprains you can have Grade One, Two, or Three with Three being the most severe and One being the least.”

Simon slowly tried to get some movement going in Robert’s ankle, but he could see that he was in pain and Simon stopped so as to prevent further damage.

“Again, it’ll need further inspection but I wouldn’t be surprised if an Ankle Brace was suggested. You might even be required to walk with crutches for a few days – but I could be completely wrong, let’s just wait until it’s been properly evaluated and then we can make decisions.”

**********

MK Dons started well and managed to keep their non-league opponents pinned in their own half for most of the first half, but some spirited defending from the hosts prevented MK Dons from taking the lead as early as they’d have liked.

However, the inevitable breakthrough came on the half hour mark thanks to some brilliant work from Angelo Balanta. After picking the ball up on the left wing, just inside Farnborough’s half, Balanta sped off. He beat one player with his pace and managed to hold off another before attempting to clip a cross into the box.

The cross was deflected and led to the ball spinning to the edge of the area. As everyone else stepped out towards the ball, Colin continued to run towards the Farnborough goal.

The gamble paid off as Sam Baldock won the header on the edge of the area, nodding the ball into the box and towards Colin Rudyard. Unmarked, Colin took the ball down and turned to face goal with his first touch. He could hear the stampede of defenders clamouring towards him as he looked up and took aim at the goal.

From a slight angle, 10 yards out, Colin finished coolly to give his team the lead. For his celebration, Colin jogged to the spot where Robert had injured himself and fell to the floor, holding his ankle with one hand and covering his eyes with the other in a jibe at his younger brother.

Robert would definitely be getting some stick from the boys in the changing room.

**********

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By the time the teams went in for the half time break, MK Dons were leading 2-0. The second goal was largely similar to the first in that it was Angelo Balanta that had broken down the left with a good run. This time, his cross made it into the area.

It was to be Sam Baldock that would once again win the header, but this time he would manage to direct it at goal himself from the edge of the 6 yard box at the near post. His flick was saved well, but the Farnborough ‘keeper could only push the ball out to the feet of Jermaine Easter, who practically walked the ball into the net on the stroke of half time.

By the time the Dons players had gotten in, Robert had already been taken to hospital to have his ankle inspected.

There wouldn’t be any more action for Colin either, though. After praising his young midfielder for a cool finish, Karl Robinson opted to pull him off at half time and rest him before the start of the season. The Dons manager was happy with what he’d seen from Colin and, though nothing could be guaranteed, things were looking bright for the promising midfielder.

**********

In the second half, Farnborough threatened a lot more. MK Dons held tight though and with Dean Lewington leading his team and his defence, the Dons never really looked uncomfortable.

The game was effectively killed off in the 67th minute though, thanks to a freak goal from Stephen Gleeson. Gleeson pulled away down the right wing and raced towards the by-line. When he was little over 10 yards away from the by-line Gleeson cut across the ball and delivered a cross that would swerve in past the Farnborough goalkeeper at the near post and make it 3-0 to MK Dons.

It topped off a fairly good pre-season for the Dons and, with no losses in all of their 5 pre-season games; they looked ready to take on Bournemouth in their first game of the season on the 7th of August.

Farnborough – 0

MK Dons - 3

Colin Rudyard (30)

Jermaine Easter (45)

Stephen Gleeson (67)

Man of the Match: Sam Baldock (MKD)

Att: 1359

**********

“Five or six weeks, they reckon,” Robert said to Jennie. She hadn’t been at the game, but she’d heard about the injury and Jennie, just like many others, was hoping it wouldn’t be a long-term thing.

“Well, that’s not too bad is it? Just make sure you recover properly, otherwise it could become a nagging problem.”

To Robert, it felt like the injury had maliciously picked its moment. He’d been looking forward to the start of the season with his new club. Not only that, but the England Under 21’s had some important Euro U21 Championship Qualifying games coming up and Robert was looking to establish himself in that team.

He’d been given an ankle brace and crutches, just as he’d been warned, and he was already finding it uncomfortable. The brace was itching and it was a general nuisance to have to hop around everywhere, but he had to keep his ankle protected. All he could do was wait and try to recover in time to find some form and try to force his way on to the international scene.

**********

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Sunday 1st August 2010

The club had made its first signings since bringing the brothers to the club. Liverpool’s young centre back Chris Mavinga joined the Dons on a year-long loan deal, while Chelsea’s 17 year old central midfielder Josh McEachran also joined the Dons, though his deal was only a 3 month loan.

With the Dons’ ranks swelling, the competition for first team places would be upped and with no friendlies remaining, it meant that the players had to impress on the training ground alone if they wanted to play against Bournemouth in the first game of the season.

While Josh McEachran and Chris Mavinga were being welcomed to the club, the Rudyard brothers were being interviewed by one of the club reporters.

It was a simple ‘Question & Answer’ session that would be put into the pre-season magazine, which was sent out to every MK Dons season ticket holder.

Karl Robinson has chosen to build for the future during this transfer window, and he started by signing two of England’s hottest young talents.

Colin and Robert Rudyard were signed near the beginning of the transfer window for a combined fee of £5 Million – a hefty fee, but one that Karl Robinson felt was necessary in order to secure the signatures of the young stars.

Colin Rudyard:

Full Name: Colin James Rudyard

D.O.B: 9.4.1993

City of Birth: Oxford

Height: 182cm

Weight: 67kg

Favourite Club: Oxford United

Robert Rudyard:

Full Name: Robert Ryan Rudyard

D.O.B: 23.7.1994

City of Birth: Oxford

Height: 175cm

Weight: 63kg

Favourite Club: Oxford United

Q. Let’s get straight to the important stuff – your favourite food?

RR. I think I can easily speak for both of us here – Spaghetti Bolognese!

CR. I can’t argue with him on that one.

Q. Favourite band or artist?

CR. I’d have to say... the Red Hot Chili’s are my favourite band of all time and my favourite artist is probably Asher Roth.

RR. My favourite band would probably have to be Linkin Park. As for artist; I’m really not sure, there are so many that I like, it’s impossible for me to choose.

Q. Best crowd you’ve played in front of?

CR & RR. Oxford.

CR. So far the Dons fans have been amazing and made us feel so welcome here, but we just had a link with the Oxford fans that was special. Hopefully we’ll get the same thing here in time.

Q. Which player in the Premier League do you look up to the most?

CR. There are loads to pick from for me because there are so many great central midfielders... You’ll have to come back to me in a bit!

RR. Again, there are so many to choose from, but as a winger, I can look no further than Ryan Giggs. My dad gave me the middle name ‘Ryan’ because of Giggsy and how well he’d played during the season before I was born. The man is a living legend and hopefully he’s still got a few years left.

CR. I’m torn between Paul Scholes and Frank Lampard. They’re top professionals as well as players and I hope to achieve half of what those guys have done. If I had to pick one, it would probably be... I can’t choose! Paul Lampard.

Q. What do you most want to achieve before you retire?

CR. There’s so much I want to achieve. I want to win the Premier League, the FA Cup, the Champions Cup – there’s just so much. At the top of the list is probably the World Cup. It’s what everybody dreams about, isn’t it?

RR. My list would be pretty much the same to be honest. To win the World Cup would be incredible. I know we’re both going to give everything we’ve got to help England win it back again. It’s been too long since we held that trophy.

CR. Oh and one more thing. I’d love to play in a Champions Cup Final against Robert and beat his team on penalties!

RR. He’s a dreamer, isn’t he?

Q. Here’s the big one: where are MK Dons going to finish this season?

CR & RR. Champions.

Bold words from our young starlets. Can they deliver? Time will tell, all we know is that they’re super-talented and super-confident.

Come on you Dons.

**********

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Asher Roth? Well, I certainly know one man with a love that rivals stalking for that man. ;)

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Well what can I say, I had to give them good tastes in music ;)

7th August 2010

MK Dons would be going into the game against Bournemouth as underdogs, and it would be played out in front of over 8000 fans at Bournemouth’s Dean Court.

As Colin warmed up, he thought about Robert. He’d have loved to have played today. The pitch was virtually untouched, the sun was out with a bright blue sky, and there was even a little breeze around. With the sprinklers going as well, it would mean that the playing surface would be wet. To Colin, this was perfect conditions for football.

Bournemouth (1st) vs. MK Dons (13th) (League 1)

Saturday 7th August, Dean Court

“This is what it’s all about,” said Karl Robinson, “turning up on a Saturday afternoon, the sun shining the fans out in force on the opening day of the season.”

Colin pulled his laces tight on his new boots. The club had supplied him with a pair of £90 football boots free of charge. White Adidas adiPure’s. Colin liked the look of them and appreciated the thought, but he really wouldn’t have been able to tell whether they were the £90 pair or whether somebody had popped to the local market and bought them for £20. Either way, they were free boots so who cared?

As Karl Robinson continued to dish out his orders on where he wanted his players at which times, Colin pulled his sleeves up to his elbows as he always did, and his legs began to shake uncontrollably as they always did. With the adrenaline kicking in, Colin didn’t care much for what Karl had to say. He just wanted to get out and play.

**********

MK Dons seemed to sleep straight through the noise of the 8000 fans for the first few minutes, as they went a goal down to Bournemouth virtually straight away from a set-piece.

From the half-way line, the free-kick was hoofed into the Dons’ penalty area. Jason Pierce rose to head Bournemouth into the lead after just 2 minutes of play, and Karl Robinson went ballistic.

Sprinting to the edge of his technical area, Robinson spat curses at his ‘useless’ bunch of players, waving his arms around and going red in the face. Thankfully, his assistant John Gorman was there to translate.

“That’s a shocking start boys, we haven’t turned up yet, have we? Wake it up and lets get back into this, what happened to all our preparation!”

The early goal acted as an alarm clock for MK though, as the players soon woke up.

From the kick off, the ball was played out onto the left wing. There, Balanta went off on one of his trademark runs towards the by-line. As Angelo Balanta dribbled out into a wide position, Colin ran forward to fill the gap up front, just as he’d been taught in the training sessions, that had been left by Balanta.

Predictably, Balanta made it to the by-line with the ball still at his feet. Without looking up, he pinged a low cross into the near post.

Colin was the man to receive the cross. With his back to goal right on the corner of the 6-yard box, Colin swivelled and connected with the cross with his left foot, sending a low, hard volley at the goal. The ‘keeper couldn’t get across in time to block the shot and the ball flew in past the near post to pull MK Dons back level just minutes after going behind.

It was a technically brilliant finish and he was congratulated by his team-mates.

“Moses! That’s a cracking finish, son. Let’s see more of it,” smiled Dean Lewington as the ginger captain put an arm around Colin.

After that, Bournemouth gathered themselves and began to pop the ball around in the MK Dons half. Colin and the young Josh McEachran were made to work hard in the middle of the park, repeatedly having to close opponents down to try and press Bournemouth away from the Dons’ goal.

The shots did come, but Bournemouth were disgracefully wasteful. Almost every attempt bobbled 5 or 10 yards wide as they tried to put themselves back in front.

At one point, MK hit the homeside on the break, but Colin joined in on the clown act that was finishing chances. As the ball rolled towards him on the edge of the area, Colin swung a right boot at it and had to endure the laughter of the crowd as the ball almost flew out of the stadium. Would you believe him if he told you that the ball bobbled?

On the half hour mark, play was stopped for Josh McEachran. He’d fallen over after going up for a header and was now sat up, clutching his wrist in pain. The debutant was unable to continue and was replaced by Jemal Johnson.

The last chance of the first half came in the 41st minute, and it summed up the whole of the match so far.

After being put through on goal, Bournemouth’s Michael Symes went one-on-one against MK Dons ‘keeper, 24 year old David Martin. Martin came off of his line and made himself look big, but there really had been no need.

Symes scuffed the shot and, from just inside the penalty area, sent the ball 20 yards wide of its target. The match had started off brilliantly, but it was now almost a showcase of who could make the biggest tit of themselves.

The only player coming off the pitch with any credit at all, was Colin.

**********

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Aplogies for the delay. I've started up a Sign-Up story which involved a lot of editing (hence the lack of updates). However, that story is almost running freely now, so there will be a return to regular postings here as look to run both stories alongside eachother. Many thanks again :)

It was a nervy start to the second half, as both teams look to get themselves back in front early on. Bournemouth’s McQuoid came close, narrowly chipping his shot into the side-netting from an angle. 10 minutes into the second half though, the game took a turn for the worse from Dons’ point of view.

A long ball over the top had once again released McQuoid, who was now in a one-on-one race with MK’s Sean O’Hanlon to get to the ball. McQuoid won the race and proceeded towards the goal. Right on the edge of the area, O’Hanlon slid in from behind, flooring McQuoid and giving away a freekick.

O’Hanlon then picked himself up and dusted himself off before proceeding towards the sideline. He knew he’d be sent off for that – he’d clearly illegally denied a goalscoring opportunity and a red card was what he expected. He’d gone for the ball, but McQuoid had seen the challenge coming and positioned himself appropriately and there was nothing O’Hanlon could do about it.

This forced Karl Robinson to make changes to the team. Luke Chadwick was brought off for Daniel Powell in a straight swap on the right of midfield, and Jermaine Easter was the man sacrificed because of the red card. The striker came off for Mathias Doumbe, a 30 year old French centreback, meaning the new formation was 4-4-1.

“Moses! This is where the curse of having young legs kicks in!” Dean Lewington shouted, “you’ve got to get up and support Angelo now, but you also have to make sure you get back in when we’re defending!”

Colin nodded and took a deep breath. Being a man down was never a good thing in football, but Colin planned to make it work for him. He was determined to help his team beat Bournemouth, by whatever means. And so, in what would have been a familiar site to Oxford fans, Colin psyched himself up and was ready to charge around endlessly, fly into tackles and headers, and thrash shots at goal as he had done so many times at his hometown club.

5 minutes after the sending off, Colin saw his first shot fly wide. After that, a sustained period of pressure came from Bournemouth as the repeatedly passed the ball around outside MK’s penalty area, unable to get through the human shield that was the MK Dons’ defence.

Every time Bournemouth took a shot, it flew high, wide, or both. Their finishing was extremely poor, but they were given no easy chances because of the stubborn Dons’ defence.

Bournemouth done well to keep possession, but it wasn’t done easily. Colin was flying into challenges and had been warned by his captain and the referee to calm down. But it was working. Even though he couldn’t get the ball, Colin had bullied Bournemouth’s midfield out of the game, hence why they were always taking rushed shots – they knew that if they didn’t take the shot straight away, Colin would stick a hard challenge in and win the ball back.

It was a tremendous display of desire from the youngster. Eventually, 5 minutes from time, MK Dons finally managed to launch an attack of their own. After Colin won the ball back in the centre of the park, it was worked over to the left hand side where Angelo Balanta picked it up.

In moving over to the left flank, Balanta had left a huge gap where he should have been playing. Colin needed to second invitation and he surged forward towards the striker position.

Balanta jived and dodged down the wing as he always did, almost making it to the byline. With his path blocked from going any further, Balanta back-heeled the ball to Jemal Johnson, who’d ran with him.

Johnson put a cross in first time, and it was Colin who collected it. 15 yards out and on the outside of the near post, Colin controlled the cross on his chest, turning to face the goal all in one move. He let the ball bounce down before striking through it as it came back up again.

It flew past the ‘keeper and thumped against the back of the net to give MK Dons the lead in the 86th minute. It had been a fantastic display by Colin, and he’d managed to score a double on his debut, with the winner coming just minutes from full time. He couldn’t have written a better ending to his first competitive match himself.

Bournemouth – 1

Jason Pearce (2)

MK Dons - 2

Colin Rudyard (5, 86)

Josh McEachran inj 34th

Sean O’Hanlon sent off 57th

Man of the Match: Colin Rudyard (MKD)

Att: 8096

**********

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It's back, again \o/. Better late than, eh, very late, I guess :p.

Great to see Colin rocking in his debut.

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Ha, the thought of falling victim to a drive-by was enough to swing it back into action :p

Thanks for the comments guys, as I said, it's back to regular updates again now that my sign-up is rolling freely. Hope you continue to enjoy :)

**********

“Well, he just wanted to show everybody what he was capable of today, and he certainly done that. He was outstanding today and he capped his debut with a near-perfect performance,” Karl Robinson said to the reporters.

“At only seventeen years of age, Colin Rudyard has a lot of time to develop his skills further. Is he somebody you are looking to build the team around over the coming years?”

“Both Colin and his younger brother Robert have a tremendous amount of potential and we’re glad to have two of the country’s brightest talents at this club. I think they’ll both go on to become favourites with the fans as they are both fantastic players. We certainly hope they’ll be here for a while, and that they can help form the spine of a team that will eventually get us to the Premiership. That is our goal.”

At this, Colin was then led out in front of the media to sit down next to his manager, who gave him a look of reassurance.

“Colin! Two goals and a man of the match performance on your debut, you must be delighted?” said one reporter.

“It was good for me, but most importantly we took all of the points. That’s how we wanted to start the season,” Colin said, taking a deep breath to try and calm himself as a few photographers took pictures of the new boy.

“What do you want to achieve here at Milton Keynes?” asked another reporter, his pen at the ready.

“This season, we want to win the league and gain promotion, without losing a single game. Then we want to continue our unbeaten run into next season and replicate it, gaining promotion to the Premier League,” Colin said, smiling. “After that, we want to replicate it again – stuffing teams like Man United 6-0 at their own ground. Then, after that, we want to go to places like the Nou Camp and run teams like Barcelona into the ground on our way to a historic Champions Cup victory.”

The light ripple of laughter ran across the room.

“And what after that?” said the same reporter.

“After that, I’m going to take over from Fabio Cappello as the England manager, except I will be a Player/Manager. Then, we’ll go on a magnificent unbeaten run to beat Argentina in the World Cup Final, finishing the tournament having scored over fifty goals while only conceding one dubious goal in the final. Hows that for ambition?”

**********

Monday 9th August 2010

“Well what car are you going to buy then? You’re a footballer, so it has to be a good one!” Darren said as Colin continued to browse through cars for sale online. He was old enough to start learning to drive and he planned on making a start with his Uncle Paul, who was a driving instructor, in the next few weeks.

“I don’t know yet. I’ve got a couple of thousand saved up but I’ll have a bit more by the time I’ve finished learning.”

“Yeah well make sure it’s a good car and that you get some upgrades on it. You can pull the girls in for me after that – you can’t have any though, you’ve got Dani.”

Colin gave a half-hearted laugh. He envied the fact that Darren was single and had no ties to a girl. He seemed to pull quite a few girls using the ‘I’m mates with the Rudyard brothers’ line. For some reason, that seemed to make him more attractive to girls.

Quite a few of them made moves on Colin and Robert as well. Neither of them were bad in the looks department, and obviously they were local celebrities. However, Colin could never make anything of it because he was with Danielle. At first he didn’t care for the attention of other girls.

But then the relationship with Danielle got old and she fell pregnant. She’d also developed a minor state of paranoia that Colin had trouble putting up with, but he put that down to her raging hormones.

Colin then thought of the child that would soon be his. It was too early for him, and he knew it. Yet it was his own fault and he knew he had to face up to it, even though he tried to keep it all off of his mind.

“Why do you look so miserable all the time lately? Have you not seen the position you’re in?” Darren asked, slapping Colin out of his daydream. “Here, Clive, make Colin laugh will you?”

Clive was sat in the corner of the room with his glasses on, reading the local paper. He was relaxing in a recliner that Colin and Robert had bought him for his last birthday. Clive peered over the top of the newspaper to look at the two boys sat in front of the computer across the room.

“What do you call a dog with no legs?” Clive asked, still looking at the boys and keeping a straight face. Both of them shrugged. “It doesn’t matter what you call him – he ain’t gonna come.”

Darren burst into laughter and even Colin cracked a smile at the joke, even though he could have sworn he’d heard it before.

Clive simply looked back at the paper opened in front of him, still with a straight face. Ice cold.

**********

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Tuesday 10th August 2010

Dani’s name flashed up on Colin’s phone once again, and Colin rejected the call as he had done to her 4 previous attempts to get hold of him. He knew he’d get whinged at for it, but he wasn’t in the mood to listen to Danielle moan about everything once again. ‘Where are you? What are you doing? Who are you with? Do you want to do anything tonight? We never do anything anymore’, he’d had enough of it all and he couldn’t be bothered to listen to it again.

He could see his dad’s grave now. Colin turned his phone off and dropped it into his pocket. He wore black jeans with a black zip-up hoody. His hood was up in an attempt not to get recognised by any of the locals. It had worked so far, and he hadn’t been bothered by anybody.

He eventually reached his dad’s grave. At first, he stood and just stared at the name engraved upon the stone. It read ‘Andrew James Smith – Beloved Son, Brother and Father’, yet all that accompanied the stone was a set of long-dead flowers. Colin had never ran into anybody else while visiting his dad’s grave. Not many people missed him.

As he stood there, staring at the stone, the memories of his violent dad pierced his chest once again. Colin was never sure whether he hated the man or whether he loved him. Andrew had mercilessly beaten his mother, Jennie, sometimes until she was barely conscious. Colin hated thinking of his mother led on the floor with Andrew knelt over her, physically battering her into a nervous, depressed wreck. As he thought of that, he wanted to spit on the grave and demolish it.

He remembered years ago that Jennie, during an argument had once screamed that she was glad Andrew was dead, and that she hoped he burned in hell for what he’d done. At the time, that hurt Colin but he could now understand it.

But then, whenever Colin remembered the times when he was alone with Andrew, he never once recalled Andrew even getting angry with him. There was no sign of the vicious, psychopathic bully at all, he always felt safe around Andrew and he’d even go as far as to say he enjoyed the time he spent with his dad, even if that feeling did leave him feeling ashamed of himself.

Andrew never had much money because he hardly worked due to his drinking problem, but what little money he had; he always spent it on Colin. Looking back, Colin knew that Andrew must have given up many a meal just to pay for a birthday present to give to Colin on his birthday.

It was an incredible mix of emotions. He hated the man for what he’d done to his mother, but he couldn’t claim that Andrew never cared about him. But then Colin would put it in perspective. Andrew had chosen drink over being a father, and Colin would never forgive him for that. The year after Andrew had died due to liver failure was the worst year of Colin’s life.

He recalled being at school, crying during assembly and trying to stay as quiet as possible so that nobody could see him crying. Colin was a proud guy, and for somebody to see him cry would embarrass Colin enough to make him angry. He felt that, because he was male and because he didn’t want Jennie to worry about him, he wasn’t allowed to cry.

Eventually, after it reached the point where Colin would refuse to go into lessons for fear of breaking down during them in front of all of his friends, Colin was taken to counselling with Jennie. In total, he saw 4 different counsellors as all of them tried to help him with his depression. None of them could and in the end, time proved to be his saviour.

Colin dragged himself back out of those horrible memories and sat down next to Andrews’ grave for the first time in months.

“Morning, dad,” Colin said. “I’ve changed clubs since I was last here. I play for MK Dons now, though you probably already knew that. It’s going good so far – I scored two on my debut and I was selected in the team of the week. We’ve got a League Cup match tonight against Burton. Hopefully I’ll be playing again and I can have another good game.”

“I’m gonna be a dad as well soon. If you were still here, you’d soon be a granddad. It scares me a bit though. I wonder if it scared you? Maybe that’s why you acted the way you did,” Colin said, tearing up pieces of the turf beneath him as he spoke.

Colin sat there for a while, speaking about how scared he was of becoming a dad and how unhappy he and Danielle were at the moment. He didn’t know if Andrew could hear him or if he even cared, but it seemed to help Colin relax a little more. After a while, he rose and walked out of the graveyard and back towards the bus stop, to catch a bus back to Barton.

Unfortunately though, Colin was recognised as he walked back towards a bus stop. He heard a bunch of kids call his name out, and turned to see a group of about 5 boys and girls, all around 15 years old.

“Mate, you’re a quality footballer,” one of them beamed at him. Colin smiled and nodded, muttering ‘thanks’ before he turned to continue walking towards the bus stop. He didn’t want to have any pictures taken today.

“Mate, is it alright if we have a picture with you yeah? Just so we can prove to our mates on Facebook that we did see you in town. Some of them are right tw*ts and won’t believe us unless we have a picture.”

“Not today mate, I’ve got to get home. We’ve got a match later and I really need to get going,” Colin said, speeding up. The group continued to follow Colin though, and they were still hanging around him by the time he reached the bus stop. As he sat down on the bench to wait for the bus, the group gathered around him again.

One of them stood back with her phone, ready to snap some pictures once everybody was in place.

“Listen, will you lot just f*ck off? I’m not a f*cking animal in a zoo, just p*ss off, I’ve already told you that I don’t want any pictures taken. I couldn’t give a sh*t whether your mates believe you or not, just leave me alone,” Colin said, snapping as they all lined up for a photo with him.

A couple of the lads gave out an ‘Ooooh, someone’s touchy!’, but Colin ignored them as they continued to take pictures of him anyway. Luckily, the bus then turned up. Colin boarded it, glad to get away from the group of youngsters. Normally, pictures wouldn’t be a problem, it’s not as if Colin was in demand everywhere he went. But today wasn’t a day for meeting and greeting fans. Today, he just wanted to be left to himself.

**********

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Upset that they're with Milton Keynes. They're not a real club. Makes me sad. RIP Wimbledon. But hey. If the Rudyards get a leg up on their careers, then all well and good. Nice to see this gem of a story still going :)

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Agree with the poster above about mk dons not being a proper football club but its a good well written story looking forward to the next instalment !!!

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Ha, I guess that just means they can make history with the Dons!

Dammit, I hate playing story games. I've forced myself to stop playing for a while so that I can catch up with the writing. Thankfully, my new job leaves a fair amount of time for playing FM :D thanks for the comments guys, even if you were knocking the Rudyards' club ;)

MK Dons (L1) vs. Burton (L2) (League Cup 1st Round)

Tuesday 10th August, Stadium:mk

Just under 5000 people came to watch MK Dons take on Burton. The ground was buzzing with the excitement of a fresh season and the weather was perfect for football. The sun was out but it wasn’t too hot and there was a nice breeze flowing through the stadium.

Robert sat down in between Clive and Liam. He looked down onto the pitch and watched his team-mates warming up, wishing he could be out there with them. Instead, he was sat in the stands, absorbing it all – which he didn’t mind. He loved the match-day atmosphere in football stadiums; there was nothing else quite like it. The sound of footballs being punted around the pitch with music playing over the stadium speakers in the background was fantastic. Married together with the excited pre-match murmur of the crowd, Robert couldn’t wait for it to get started.

Another sound that Robert could hear, was the sound of his granddads voice complaining out Michelle, Roberts’ younger sister. Michelle had recently decided that she wanted to be a vegetarian because she didn’t like the idea of eating an animal that had been killed. Liam and Jennie had no problem with that, but Clive saw things differently.

“...if animals weren’t made to be eaten by us, then why do so many of them have so much meat on them? Mankind did not spend millions of years clawing themselves to the very top of the food chain, just so that we could turn around and say that we want to be vegetarians...”

Clive continued to rant on and on. Until the football started. Then he shut up.

**********

In a game of few chances, Colin was dominating the centre of the pitch. He made interceptions and tackles to win the ball back for his team, and his distribution was impressive as well, but the dons seemed to be lacking the movement up front for any real penetration.

Their first shot on target cam in the 8th minute. Dean Lewington stood over the ball, preparing to take a free-kick 35 yards from the Burton goal. After the whistle had been blown, Lewington walked towards the ball and put his foot on top of it, repositioning it slightly. Then, he rolled it to his right, trying to catch Burton off guard and set Colin up for a shot on goal. Colin struck it well, put the ball whistled into the arms of the Burton ‘keeper.

It drew applause from the crowd and Colin knew that if he’d managed to direct it towards one of the corners of the goal, the ‘keeper was getting nowhere near it.

The Dons were simply coasting. They were in no trouble at all, but at the same time they didn’t look as if they were going to score. On the occasions that Angelo Balanta and Jermaine Easter had been put through on goal, they’d casually rolled the ball wide of the post.

5 minutes before half-time, American winger Jemal Johnson had possession on the right flank. Colin had been followed around for the whole game by Burton’s dogged midfielder Russ Penn. Penn was a player known for loving tough challenges, and the bald-headed Englishman had already let Colin know that he was about.

He was impressive physically, so Colin changed tack and decided to test his positional awareness. Colin drifted from the left of centre midfield towards the right, along the edge of the area. Sure enough, Penn followed Colin like a bad habit. Then, Colin changed direction quickly, as if to make a darting run into the box around the back of Penn. The Burton midfielder put his head down and spun around to keep track of Colin and would have managed it, had Colin continued to run into the box.

Instead, Colin spun around again and managed to get free from Russ Penn, who had run into the box only to find that he’d left Colin behind, outside of the penalty area. Johnson passed the ball into the feet of Colin, who could hear Penn scrambling towards him to try and close down his space. But Colin had already decided what he was going to do. With his first touch, he knocked the ball to Jermaine Easter, who was on the edge of the area with his back to goal.

Easter’s first touch was a crafty little chip around the corner, and Angelo Balanta was the first to react to the improvised pass, beating his marker to the ball and passing it into the net to give his team the lead.

Balanta and Easter ran off to celebrate together. Colin would have joined them, had he not been floored by Russ Penn, who’d flown in with a late challenge that had at least warranted a yellow.

“Ref, did you not see that challenge?” Colin called over to the young referee.

“I saw it, thirteen. Would you rather have the free-kick or the goal?” remarked the referee.

“The goal obviously ref, but have a word, he’s been putting challenges like that in all day.”

The referee nodded and raised his hand. He’d taken note of Colin’s words. Colin knew that if Russ Penn was booked, he’d nullified his strongest asset (his hard challenges) and he’d be ableto get more space and time both on and off the ball. Shortly after, the half time whistle was blown and the teams headed inside for the break.

**********

Five minutes after the restart, Russ Penn was shown a yellow card. As Burton had tried to set up a counter-attack, Colin had intercepted a pass that was headed for Penn just inside the Burton half. As Colin turned to drive at the heart of the Burton defence and cause problems, Penn grabbed Colin’s arm and pulled it round behind him, forcing him to the ground and halting the Dons’ attack.

Penn still followed Colin closely, but he wasn’t so eager to stick the foot in any more. Instead, Burton placed another one of their three central midfielders on Colin, meaning that he was being followed closely by two opposing players wherever he went. It meant that Colin couldn’t attack as effectively as he might have liked, but it opened up a lot of ground for his team-mates and he was still managing to see a lot of the ball and knock it around the pitch.

The next real occasion of note took place within the final 10 minutes of the game. Johnson put a cross in from the right which was brought down well by Jermaine Easter at the far post, using his chest. As the ball dropped to his feet, Russ Penn dived in, missing the ball and bringing Jermaine Easter crumbling to the floor, winning himself a penalty.

For some reason, Russ Penn never saw a second yellow. He was given a talking to, but got away with it overall.

Jermaine Easter placed the ball on the spot after having a quick chat with Angelo Balanta. Angelo had already managed to get on the scoresheet today after Jermaine had set him up earlier, so it was now Jermaine’s shot at getting a goal.

Easter stood just a few paces from the ball and at an angle. His run-up involved a lot of short steps and he never took his eye off of the ball. He struck through it with all of his might, and he well and truly had the ‘keeper beaten. However, the ball crashed against the upright, pinging itself into the stands with a loud ring. With 5 minutes remaining, it was still only 1-0 and Burton took heart from the missed penalty.

They threw themselves into the final 5 minutes, steaming into challenges on the floor and in the air. They were battlers, but they lacked a magic spark. Over the final 5 minutes, Burton saw a lot of the ball but never managed to get it into their opponents’ penalty area. The match hadn’t been a classic, but MK Dons had progressed to the next stage of the League Cup.

MK Dons – 1

Angelo Balanta (40)

Jermaine Easter missed penalty (84)

Burton - 0

Man of the Match: Angelo Balanta (MKD)

Att: 4854

**********

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Weyyyy, the yearly ATOTB post. <3

As good as ever.

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haha, thanks Gavlan, glad you enjoyed it :D

NF, that's quite a lot of reading you've managed in two days! Now you'll have to put up with my laziness and wait for posts just like the other readers ;) thanks for reading and for the kind words :)

Mak, she was pretty shocked, but you should have seen her dad. He was... less than impressed.

Wednesday 11th August 2010

Colin swore once more as he stalled the car for what must have been the 5th time in 20 minutes. His Uncle Paul had him driving in a ‘Figure 8’ in a deserted car park to try and get him acquainted with how a car handles. It was exciting for the teenager, but it was also frustrating. Once he’d gotten the car going, he was fine. But when his uncle asked him to stop the car and star again, he struggled with the sensitivity of the clutch – which he hadn’t expected, as he’s normally extremely quick and light on his feet.

“Just keep calm!” Paul laughed, “You’ll stall a lot of times before you pass your test – and after as well.”

Colin said nothing as he concentrated on keeping control of the car. Paul could see Colin’s tongue poking out of the corner of his mouth and he recognised it instantly. That is what his dad, Clive, always does whenever he’s concentrating on something. Paul laughed lightly to himself at the sight. The likeness between Colin and Clive was uncanny, despite the massive age gap.

After a little while, Paul let Colin drive on one of the main roads. He only let him go up to 3rd gear, but that was enough for Colin anyway. He didn’t need to be told to get the car up to 60mph either. As soon as the road opened up for him, Colin was on the gas and enjoying himself. He was definitely a confident lad... and Paul was definitely scared for his life.

While Colin had been out almost killing himself and his uncle, MK Dons had brought in another player on loan. 20 year old Gavin Hoyte had joined the club on a season long loan deal from Arsenal to provide the club with more cover at the back.

Gavin, younger brother of former Arsenal/current Middlesbrough defender Justin Hoyte, could play at right back or at centre back, and the Dons management had plans to get him familiar with the left back slot as well. A defender that can play anywhere across the back line is a manager’s best friend: that is a well known fact. Unless that defender is William Gallas, who happens to be everybody’s worst enemy.

Having said that, Gavin Hoyte didn’t make the greatest first impression upon his arrival. During his first press conference after completing his loan move, Gavin stated that he ‘thought he was too good to be loaned out to this level’ and that he ‘only agreed the deal because it would improve his first team chances at Arsenal’.

As was to be expected, Gavin was given a rough welcome into the team by Sean O’Hanlon, who made a point of playing on the wing during a training kick-about so that he could play up against Gavin Hoyte. Sean didn’t hold back in the tackles and Gavin knew by the end of it that he wouldn’t be given any special treatment at this club.

The final big piece of news for the club was with regards to the League Cup 2nd round. They’d been drawn at home against Reading and the match would be played on the 24th of August. Unfortunately for Robert he’d still be injured for the fixture, but Colin was instantly looking forward to the occasion and couldn’t wait to get up against championship opposition and test himself against them.

**********

Saturday 14th August 2010

MK Dons (7th) vs. Carlisle (12th) (League 1)

Saturday 14th August, stadium:mk

GK: D Martin (1)

DR: D Woodards (15)

DC: M Doumbe (4)

DC: C Mavinga (30)

DL: D Lewington (3) - C

MR: J Johnson (28)

MCR: S Gleeson (7)

MCL: C Rudyard (13)

ML: L Chadwick (26)

STR: J Easter (8)

STL: A Balanta (11)

Once again, the weather was glorious, and so was the atmosphere. With just under 12,000 fans watching on, Robert wished once again that he was out there on the pitch rather than sat in the stands again. Once again, the crutch-bound footballer sat in between Clive and Liam, and he wished he’d brought his headphones along.

As always though, as soon as the teams marched out onto the pitch the conversations stopped. Liam felt a bead of warm sweat fall from his brow. It was 23 degrees C and he was feeling the heat, just like Clive and Robert. For a second, Robert was almost pleased he wasn’t running around under this merciless sun.

The game itself wasn’t as good as some had hoped for. It was gritty and hard work for both sides, as they sluggishly knocked the ball around the pitch without causing too much actual danger.

Carlisle had also taken on a ‘if it moves, kick it’ policy. For once, Colin wasn’t the sole aim of the brutal tactic. This time, it seemed to be aimed at Jermaine Easter, who could barely get on the ball for fear of having one of his legs broken.

It wasn’t the most respectable tactic, but it worked and Jermaine Easter didn’t make a single real contribution at any point during the game. By the end of it Carlisle had managed to accumulate 5 yellow cards and had also injured Stephen Gleeson, who had to be taken off after being given a dead leg from a heavy challenge.

Chances were few and far between, but the best effort of the first half came from Colin. From 25 yards out, the young Englishman worked a one-two with Angelo Balanta before clipping off a shot. It had no real venom, but it look as if it might drop over the ‘keeper and into the net at one point. However, the ‘keeper managed to get a strong hand to it and knock it out for a corner kick, which nothing came from.

By half time, it was still 0-0 and the Dons were in need of a bit of luck or a bit of magic to nick them a goal. MK Dons had actually done okay and looked the more likely team to score, but they were lacking that killer touch and couldn’t put the ball in the back of the net.

The only one that seemed to have any confidence in his own ability was Colin. He repeatedly won the ball back in the middle, disrupting Carlisle’s attacks and setting up chances for his team to advance. But everybody else seemed to panic when they received the ball. They spent more time worrying about being taken down than they did worrying about what they were going to do to try and create and finish a scoring opportunity.

**********

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Karl Robinson spent most of the half time team talk trying to get his players to believe more. They were easily outplaying Carlisle and were keeping possession well, with Colin spraying passes all over the pitch. They just needed one lucky break to get themselves ahead, and then Karl knew they would win the game. Carlisle had come to Milton Keynes in search of a draw. That’s how they were set up and that’s how they’d been playing. If the Dons could grab one goal, it would probably be all over.

The second half started well as Jemal Johnson received a chipped pass from Colin, turned with the ball and then rolled the ball just wide of the post from the edge of the area.

The Dons continued to keep the pressure up, but in the 65th minute, Luke Chadwick fell to the floor, having twisting his knee coming down from an aerial challenge. He was able to play on for a little while, but Karl Robinson sent Daniel Powell off down the touchline to warm up.

A few minutes later, Powell was ready to take the place of Chadwick, as soon as the ball went out of play. At the time, Angelo Balanta had the ball just outside of Carlisle’s penalty box. He was looking for the opportunity to shoot or to play a team mate through, and he was granted the latter as Luke Chadwick hobbled away from his unattentive marker.

Balanta chipped a beautiful little pass through to Chadwick, who let the ball bounce out in front of him. Just as a Carlisle defender threw himself at the ball, Chadwick put his foot through it, rifling it past the defender and goalkeeper to give his team that vital goal that they’d needed.

He wanted to celebrate, but couldn’t do much because of his injury. Instead, he accepted the congratulations from his team mates before proceeding to the edge of the pitch to be replaced.

From then on, it was all about keeping it tight at the back and then playing on the counter attack for the Dons. To concede a goal in this match would be a disaster, especially given that Carlisle had barely managed to put more than 3 passes together at a time.

However, Dons captain Dean Lewington decided that the game was a bit too one sided for his liking, and that he’d gift Carlisle a golden opportunity to get themselves back level.

A long ball was played from the Carlisle midfield, which flew over the Dons’ back line. Dean Lewington was the first to try and deal with it, but he misjudged the bounce of the ball. He tried to nod it back to David Martin, but his header was poor and the ball bounced short, right to the feet of Carlisle’s striker, Francoise Zoko.

With Martin off of his line, all that was left for the Ivorian forward to do was just lift it over the ‘keeper and his team were level once again. However, in a minute of mistakes, Zoko made one himself, lifting the ball over the whole goal as well as the ‘keeper. Quite how he’d managed to missed it was unbelievable, and Karl Robinson went ballistic at his captain for almost giving away the lead that had been so hard to gain.

After that, it was plain sailing. Carlisle struggled to even hold any kind of shape, let alone craft out a goal. MK Dons had picked up their 2nd win out of 2, though at the cost of a month out injured to Luke Chadwick.

MK Dons – 1

Luke Chadwick (69)

Carlisle - 0

Man of the Match: Luke Chadwick (MKD)

Att: 11923

**********

Tuesday 17th August 2010

“Thanks a lot Uncle Paul, I’ll see you next week,” Colin said as he left his instructors car. Paul sat down in the driver’s seat, said his goodbyes to Colin and then drove away. As Colin turned to walk into his house, he heard somebody call his name out from down the street. It was Sam Murillo.

Colin approached him cautiously. He hadn’t seen or heard from Sam since their fight almost a month ago at a party. But something was different. Sam had called Colin by his actual name, rather than insulting him. As well as that, Sam seemed relaxed, with his hands in his pockets. He didn’t look like he was looking for a fight.

“You alright,” Sam said, nodding at Colin.

“Yeah. Why are you here?” Colin asked, wanting to get straight to the point. He felt vulnerable, and he expected Sam’s cronies to jump out from somewhere any second now and lay into him.

“Just wanted to apologise. I’m sorry for giving you a rough time. You’re with my sister, that means I’m supposed to look out for you - not go after you.”

Colin just stood there, unsure of how to react. Normally, Colin could read people pretty well, but he couldn’t understand Sam at all. He seemed genuine, but Colin couldn’t figure out why he’d all of a sudden flip mentality and start liking Colin.

“I was speaking to my sister earlier. She’s been upset, and says she’s worried about losing you. She said that I wasn’t helping and that I am one of the people that are pushing you away from her. So I want to change that; if you’re good enough for her, you’re good enough for me,” Sam said, seemingly reading Colin’s mind. He was still unsure on how to react.

“What about Sugar? You’re supposed to be one of his main boys? Surely he’d go nuts if he heard that you were doing anything other than trying to kill me?”

“I know, but I care about my sister more than I care about him. And it’s about time I grew up anyway. I can’t be part of his ‘gang’ all my life; otherwise I’ll end up behind bars like him.”

Colin still couldn’t read Sam, but he was beginning to relax. What Sam was saying seemed to piece together. Maybe he had turned a corner. Or maybe this is an order from Sugar. Maybe Sugar wants Sam to grow close to Colin, so that he knows more about the young footballer – where he’s going, what he’s doing, who he’s with, what his weaknesses are, when they can get him alone etc.

“How do I know that Sugar hasn’t put you up to this just so that he can... get somebody on the inside, if that makes sense?”

“Well, that was another thing I came to see you about. Sugar has put an order out that he wants to have you hit. He’s got people watching the streets, and when they see you alone, they’ll send out a mass text to some of Sugars boys to let them know where you are and which way you’re going, so that they can catch you.”

“How kind of him,” Colin smiled.

“Seriously Colin, this one will be heavy if they get you alone. If you don’t believe me, try it out. Tomorrow, walk down the shops. His boys will see you, the text will go around, and then they’ll come for you. Take this phone,” Sam said, handing Colin an old Motorola phone.

“Everybody in Sugars gang has at least two phones; one for personal, and one for... ‘business’. They buy you a phone as a kind of ‘welcome to the gang’ present. That’s my business one that they bought me back when I joined – it was the latest thing out back then. When they send a text around to let everybody know where you are, that phone will receive it.”

“Thanks. So you want me go out and receive a text on your phone and then get jumped? I’m not sure you’ve grasped the whole ‘friendship’ thing, Sam-”

“No you dickhead, didn’t you hear me? I’ve got two phones. When you go out, let me and some of your boys know. We’ll back you. Then will you believe that I’m leaving Sugar’s lot behind?”

Colin nodded, putting Sam’s phone into his pocket before taking the number for Sam’s other phone. He still wasn’t sure whether he could trust Sam or not, but what he’d come out with was fairly believable.

“Thanks... I’d better go home and speak to Dani anyway. Make sure she’s okay and all that,” Colin said. The pair, who’d hated each other only earlier that morning, parted ways without any punches flying either way.

Perhaps a leopard can change its spots. Maybe.

**********

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Wednesday 18th August 2010

Colin hadn’t spoken to Danielle the night before, like he’d told Sam he would do. It was probably just Danielle being insecure again, and that got on his nerves. She was constantly worrying that he’d find somebody else, and no matter how many times he told her that he wasn’t looking for anybody else, Dani was always convinced that they were on the verge of breaking up. From Colin’s point of view, she just seemed to dramatise everything, as if their relationship was some kind of TV soap. He just couldn’t be bothered to listen to it all anymore.

Having explained the situation to his close friends and then sent a text around announcing he was just about to leave, Colin put Sam’s phone into his pocket and left his house.

It was a nice day, and Colin knew that in just a few hours, all of the kids would be up and outside, because it was still the school summer holidays. However, at the moment, there wasn’t that many people out and about, as it had only just gone 9:30am.

As Colin kept his eyes peeled for people that he thought might look like they’re associated with Sugar and could be his eyes on the street, Colin could hear the sound of a football banging against a garage door.

It took him back to before he was playing professional football. Back when everything was easier, when Colin and Robert would run down to where the garages are and play 1 vs 1 matches for hours on end. Sometimes they’d spend the whole day down here, only ever going home to get food before coming back down again.

As Colin rounded the corner, he came to a group of kids who must have been around 10 years old, playing a little 4 vs 5 match.

“You’re Colin Rudyard, right?” one of the kids called out. Colin nodded back. “You want to play? We have uneven teams at the moment, but we’re expecting a few... mates to come down in a minute.”

Colin was tempted, football was his life and normally if he saw a football being kicked around in front of him, you wouldn’t have to ask Colin to join in. But he was busy at the moment and he needed to get this whole situation with Sam sorted. He didn’t like not knowing whether Sam was his friend or his enemy. At least when they were enemies, Colin knew what to expect. Now, he felt vulnerable.

“Sorry lads, not now, I’m a bit busy. Maybe later though,” Colin said, walking on past the group.

“You going down the shop?” called out another of the kids.

“Yeah, why?”

“Buy us some sweets and then you can play on the way back. If you don’t buy us anything, you’re not playing!”

Colin laughed before heading off towards the shops. Once again, he started scanning the street ahead of him, seeing if he could see anybody who looked like they might be a part of Sugars gang. He kept an eye out in the windows of houses as well, to see if anybody was watching him, but it was difficult to look in every window that he passed. Then, Sams phone went off.

‘Just seen Rudyard. He’s going 2 shops, down Knight Street. I tried 2 gt him 2 stay with us so that you guys could get him easily, but he said he cudnt. He’s on his own, get the d***’

That was a surprise. The kids playing football had been Sugars guys, and they had their own sly reasons for wanting Colin to stay on and ‘play football’ with them. The biggest shock had been that kids that age were associated with somebody like Sugar and his cronies. It was something that Colin had not been expecting, yet it was totally obvious looking back on it.

Colin continued to walk down the street, pulling out his phone and letting everybody know where he was and that Sugars guys had received the text. As he put his phone back into his pocket, Colin saw who’d been sent to get him.

A group of 7 came out of a house about 50 yards away from Colin, and started walking down the street towards him. Then, he heard a front door open behind him and he turned to see another group coming from that house. He hadn’t anticipated that there’d be this many of them. And there was still no sign of Sam, who would be driving the car to get the rest of his mates to Colin quickly.

Colin had nowhere to go. He wouldn’t run. He’d never ran from a confrontation before, and he wasn’t about to now, even though he knew he was about to get a royal kick-in. Colin sat down on a small garden wall as the two groups approached him from either side. He looked at his phone, and there was still nothing there. Sam had probably taken another group of Sugars guys to go and get Colin’s friends. Colin swore under his breath. He knew something had been wrong. He knew he shouldn’t have trusted Sam.

The group surrounded Colin, but not in a threatening way. They greeted each other with hugs and hand slaps, while Colin stood in the middle of it all.

“You’re going to walk with us,” said one of the men, putting his left arm around Colin’s shoulders and forming a tight grip around his neck. To anybody else on the street, it looked as if Colin was just part of the group. Colin could also feel something being pushed into his side, below his rib cage and above his hip bone. He knew it was a knife and, although it hadn’t pierced him yet, he knew it would do if he made any sudden movements.

Instead, he followed his orders. He decided it would be better to get beaten into the ground than to get stabbed, so he walked with the group as they took him away from the street and towards an underground pass that ran underneath a big roundabout. Now he knew he was screwed. Even if his friends were going to turn up, they’d turn up on Knight Street where Colin had said he was.

They wasted no time in getting to work. As soon as they entered the underground pass, two of the men grabbed both of Colin’s arms and another sent his knee thudding into Colin’s gut. It winded him instantly, and his struggle to get air into his lungs was not helped when the man that had just hit him, pinned him against the wall by his throat.

Colin went red and felt dizzy. His attacker had his face right next to Colin’s and was muttering something into his ear, but Colin couldn’t hear him. All Colin could hear was a loud ringing sound inside his head, which felt as if it was at about 1000 degrees C. Pinned up against that concrete wall, Colin felt a feeling of terror overcome him that he’d never felt before. It was horrible and made him feel sick. He started to panic, and try and pull his attackers hand from his throat, but he was too strong. Colin tried to swing for him, but his reach was not long enough and he hit nothing but air, his arm feeling like lead as it came back to his side.

The man eventually let go of Colin and the whole group cheered and he slapped down against the cold floor, coughing and spluttering for air. He couldn’t swallow, and then he felt a gurgling rise inside him before he eventually vomited. During all of this, Sam’s phone had fallen out of Colin’s pocket.

“Look at that, it’s Sam’s phone. He should be here in a minute, so we’ll keep that for him,” said one of the boys, picking Sam’s phone up from Colin’s side.

Sure enough, Sam soon appeared at the far end of the underground pass, but none of Colin’s friends were with him. As Sam approached the group, Colin picked himself up from the floor. He was still shaken and surrounded by a dozen guys, but he wasn’t going to cower away on the floor.

Sam greeted a few of the men with hugs and by clapping hands and he was given back his phone. Colin felt like hitting himself for being stupid enough to trust Sam, he should have known it would be a setup.

The group of men then turned their attention back to Colin. All of them had smiles on their faces and seemed to be looking forward to giving Colin a beating. He’d made some stupid mistakes in his 17 years, but he was sure this would be the most painful one yet.

**********

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What's my latest excuse for the latest delay, I hear you ask? Well, you can blame our beautiful FMS Mini-Mod, Gavrenwick for this one. The hero that is Gav got me playing FM10 once again in an online game, but when I installed it, it done something to my FM11 and I couldn't run it anymore. Now though, the problem has fixed itself once again and I can access this save once again.

I would say 'Normal Service is now resumed', but what is 'Normal Service' for this story?

“Sorry mate, you know how it is,” Sam said to Colin, shrugging. Colin tried to charge Sam, but was held back by Sam’s friends before being thrown against the concrete wall once again. Colin could taste a tinge of copper in his mouth and he knew he was bleeding. He spat it out, before pulling himself back to his feet once more, all the while keeping his eyes locked onto Sam.

Then, Sam winked at Colin. The only problem was that he wasn’t sure whether Sam was goading him or whether he actually had some kind of plan.

“Right boys, you’ve done your job. Go home, chill,” Sam announced to his group. “The only ones I want to stay are Lawsy, Josh, TT and Jay. The rest of you can go, you’ve done your work, and I’ll make sure Sugar knows it.”

A large portion of the group dispersed until there was only 4 of the gang left, plus Sam and Colin.

“What’s all this about?” said one of the gang members. “I thought Sugar wanted us to give this p*ick a proper going-through?”

“He does. But why do we need fifteen men to do it? Sugar trusts us five the most, shouldn’t we be the ones doing the honours for him?” Sam answered. By now, the rest of the gang had left the underpass. A young couple had almost used the underpass to cross underneath the roundabout, but they turned back the way they came after being aggressively warned away by a few of the remaining gang members.

Colin was then pinned to the wall once again. The back of his neck touched the cold surface of the graffiti-covered wall and made his neck hairs stand on end. He loved the adrenaline rush, even if he wasn’t looking forward to getting a kick-in. As his attacker pulled back his arm to strike Colin, one of the other gang members called out at something.

“Didn’t you hear me? F*ck off out of here, otherwise we’ll kick you the f*ck out ourselves,” shouted one of Sugars boys.

At one end of the underpass, 4 boys had entered all wearing hoodies. Colin didn’t need a second look to tell who it was. It was his friends, Ryan, Darren and Craig. They were being led by Dale.

“Come on then you c*nts, time to even things up,” shouted Dale, his arms spread out wide as he quickened his walk into a jog. Before Colin could blink, his attacker had let go of his throat and Sugars gang was heading for Dale’s group at full speed.

With the two groups sprinting at each other, Colin started running to attack Sugar’s gang from behind. Just before the two groups reached each other, one member of Sugar’s gang set upon another and Colin knew that it was Sam. He’d stayed true to his word that he’d help Colin.

The two groups clashed, and Colin wasn’t far behind either, immediately setting himself for the one that had chocked him earlier. He flung himself at the older man and took him to the ground. Once he’d got him down, Colin climbed on top of him, grabbed him by the throat with his left hand to pin him to the floor, and then let fly with his right hand.

His shots connected a couple of times before the older man regained his wits and wrestled Colin off of him.

He didn’t hang around though. As soon as he’d pushed Colin off of him, the man got up and broke away from the fight with the rest of Sugar’s gang.

“Sam? Do you realise what you’ve just done, man?” one of the gang members shouted back at Sam Murillo.

“I’m done with all that s*it. It’s time I put my family first bro, it’s time I thought about my little sister and my parents and what they want. It’s time I grew up and thought about what I actually want,” Sam answered.

“Mate, Sugar hates those Ruyard tw*ts. But you? You’re a traitor. He’ll hate you ten times more than he hates them. He’ll fu*cking hunt you down like an animal son, good luck with it, I wonder if those guys will be there for you when Sugar comes knocking on your door.”

With that, the gang members left the underpass, leaving Dale, Sam, Colin and Colin’s friends behind.

“Thank f*ck for that,” Colin said to Sam, clapping hands with him and hugging him. “I thought you’d screwed me over!”

“Naaah I told you I’m here to look out for you now!” Sam answered. Colin laughed before turning to Dale. Dale was off the drugs now and living back with his mum.

He was no longer the frail shadow that he used to be. He had meat on his bones, he stood an inch taller and his shoulders were broad, as opposed to being as slumped into depression as he was not so long ago. Dale had done well to turn it around, and Colin hadn’t seen his cousin for months.

“Dale, how are you mate? I haven’t seen you in ages!” Colin said, clapping hands with his cousin.

“I’m good mate. Yeah not since I moved away! I live in Headington now. Got myself a job haven’t I, I don’t hang around Barton anymore, this place is rough,” Dale smiled. Colin hadn’t seen his cousin smile in what felt like years, and it was a relief to see it once more.

“And how are you boys? Thanks for helping out, where’s everybody else?” Colin said to Craig, Darren and Ryan.

“We’re all good mate, you should have known we’d be here,” Ryan said, laughing. “As for the others; well, they feel like you don’t have their back anymore, so why should they have yours?”

That stunned Colin a little. He’d been mates with people like Stuart and Tom for years and years, and in all fairness he had forgotten about his mates after getting all caught up in football and spending most of his free time with Danielle. He hadn’t really given his mates any thought and he’d only just realised it. It was a horrible feeling.

“That’s the reason I had to come in alone first and get rid of most of their gang before we came to help you. The five of us wouldn’t have been able to help you against fifteen of them,” Sam explained.

“I see. Thanks Sam, I appreciate it. Guys, I’m sorry I haven’t had much time for you lot recently. It’s just that with all—“

“Colin, shut up mate,” Craig said, interrupting Colin. “Being sorry doesn’t suit you. We’ll sort it all out another time anyway. For now, we need to get a shift on before Sugar’s cronies get back here.”

Colin nodded, guilt still weighing down his conscience for having forgotten his friends. Throughout school, he’d always been one of the most popular kids around and everybody had wanted to be his mate. Now, during his moment of need, only a handful of his friends had turned out to help him.

If he really was on his way to the top, he swore to himself that these guys who’d helped him out tonight wouldn’t be forgotten on the way.

**********

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Glad you're still around TFMer, thanks a lot mate :)

Saturday 21st August 2010

Hartlepool (1st) vs. MK Dons (4th) (Pre-Season Friendly)

Saturday 21st August, Victoria Park

Hartlepool United had started the campaign well, in spite of what had been predicted for them by the media. In general, they were considered big relegation candidates, having narrowly avoided relegation last season on the final day. That day, they managed a goalless draw against Brentford which kept them in the league on goal difference.

Victoria Park was a historical place as well, having been home to Hartlepool for over 100 years now. Back in 1916 during the first world war, the main stand was hit by bombs dropped by a German Zeppelin. A ‘temporary’ wooden stand was built so that they could continue to take capacity crowds, but a permanent structure wasn’t built until 1995.

There had been a fair few characters call Victoria Park their home as well. After his playing career was finished due to injury, the great Brian Clough was given his first break in management by Hartlepool in 1965. At the time, he was only 30 years old and was the youngest manager in the league.

Clough’s stay at Hartlepool was fairly brief though. After two years, Brian Clough moved on to Derby County. The rest, as they say, is history.

To get back to the present day though, Robert was still missing from the team and from training. However, he no longer required crutches to walk and was expected to return to training in just a few days. Colin was included in the team however, and he wanted to make sure that Hartlepool knew it.

**********

Karl Robinson was confident that the quality of his team would undo Hartlepool eventually. He had no doubt about it. His instructions to Colin were that he wanted the youngster to be industrious. He doubted they need any attacking heroics from their kid today; just somebody to keep possession, win the 50-50’s and make sure that the team keeps its shape and ticks over as it’s supposed to.

That was exactly what Colin did. He did not enjoy playing with shackles placed around his ankles and wrists, but he tried to understand the instructions and do as he was asked.

The first chance for the Dons came just before the half hour mark. Colin centred a free-kick, which Mathias Doumbe rose to meet in between the 6 yard box and the penalty spot. The delivery from Colin was very good and the ball had a nice bit of pace on it, all Doumbe had to do was redirect it. He did so and he hit the crossbar, much to Karl Robinson’s annoyance.

Rather than throw a paddy about it, Karl praised his players for working the set piece well. His teams’ confidence rose and a few minutes later, Colin got his first attempt in. It was a routine save from a long-distance shot, but it was positive play from the Dons.

5 minutes before half time, Hartlepool’s Michael Woods picked up the ball 35 yards from goal but with his back to the target. As he tried to turn, Colin threw in a hard challenge which brought Woods to the floor and sent the ball flying off in a random direction. It was an honest, hard challenge just as all of Colin’s many tackles had been, but the ball had broken for Hartlepool’s winger Leon McSweeney on the right wing.

McSweeney dropped a looping cross in at the far post, only for Adam Boyd to head over from 5 yards out. It was a golden opportunity and the Dons were lucky not to be behind going in at half time.

In the second half, Hartlepool began to throw more and more punches. Colin was dominating Woods completely – so much so that Michael Woods swapped central midfield positions with his central midfield partner Sweeney.

Even as Colin controlled his new opponent, Hartlepool were finding joy down the flanks and it was a mystery as to how the score was still level with half an hour left. Colin won the ball from Michael Woods once again and, as he went to set up a counter-attack, he was brought down from the side by Woods who’d evidently had enough.

Colin landed on top of Woods and pinned him down with his knee across Woods’ chest. Woods pushed Colin away and then proceeded to get into Colin’s face, muttering words that Colin couldn’t quite hear, as he himself repeated ‘what you gunna do?’ to his opponent.

The referee eventuall pushed the two apart before booking Michael Woods. The Chelsea youngster had been the only one to raise his hands and, luckily for Colin, the ref hadn’t seen the Dons youngster initially pin Woods to the floor.

5 minutes after the scuffle, MK Dons won another corner and Colin went across to take it. He put a lot of power into the delivery and it was impossible for Doumbe to miss this time. The French centre back rose in the 6 yard box and thumped home a close range header to finally give his team the lead.

“How’s that, Woodsy? What’s the score son?” Colin called out to Michael Woods as he passed him to get back into his half for the restart. Woods simply stared straight on and took no notice as Colin laughed to himself. It was a dangerous game though, seeing as the Dons were only one ahead.

Whatever the final score would be though, Michael Woods would have no say on any more goals that might go in. A few minutes after the goal, he was pulled from the pitch, clashing shoulders with Colin on his way off. Colin hoped it wouldn’t be their last meeting.

After that, things got rather boring for Colin and MK Dons. Hartlepool never managed to raise themselves once more after going behind, and any time there was a sniff of confidence returning to their play, it was crushed – mostly by either Doumbe or Colin.

The Dons held out well without too much trouble with Colin chalking up his first assist of the season. His team moved top of the table, and Colin impressed his growing number of admirers with another combative display.

Hartlepool – 0

MK Dons - 1

Mathias Doumbe (65)

Man of the Match: Mathias Doumbe (MKD)

Att: 4877

**********

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Monday 23rd August 2010

Robert cushioned the ball down using his chest before knocking it past the youth player that was trying to mark him. He put his head down and zipped past his opponent, loving the feeling of being back at full speed once again. His low cross was poor though, and he could tell it might take a few days of training to get his touch back to where it should be. Even so, he was delighted to be playing football once again.

It was perfect timing as well, because the Dons had just signed a new right winger; 19 year old Madagascan Stephane Raveloarijaona, formerly of AS Monaco... don’t worry, nobody in the Dons side had dared to make an attempt at speaking the new kids’ surname out loud either. Instead, he’d simply become known as ‘Ravioli’, or ‘Ravi’, for short.

Another signing made by the club came in the form of 37 year old, ex France International Steve Marlet, who had formerly played for clubs like Fulham, Lyon and Marseille. Colin had been called aside to meet the new player.

“Colin, this is Steve Marlet. Steve, meet Colin Rudyard,” Karl Robinson said, introducing the pair before they shook hands and exchanged pleasantries. A few seconds later, Marlet was ushered away to the training ground changing rooms andColin was left with Karl.

“Colin, we want you and Steve to try and develop a good understanding. He has been around the block a few times at some big clubs and he certainly knows how to play- you could end up forming a deadly partnership,” the Dons manager explained.

“I don’t see why we can’t give it a try,” Colin said in reply.

“Good lad. As it stands, we want Steve to be dropping off of our mainline striker – probably Angelo, for this season at least – and try to pull the strings in that pocket between the oppositions defensive and midfield lines. That is your area at the moment, so if you can both exploit it together, we will find ourselves laughing our way into the back of the net.”

Colin could see what Karl was trying to get at and it sounded like a good idea. The Dons had made a good start to the season and things were definitely looking good if they were improving even more.

Tuesday 24th August 2010

MK Dons (L1) vs. Reading (CH) (League Cup 2nd Round)

Tuesday 24th August, stadium:mk

Robert found himself watching from the stands once again. Management had decided that it was too soon for him to make his return from injury, and that grated on Robert. In just a few days, the England squads were to be announced for some international matches. How could Robert hope to keep his place in the England U19’s side if he wasn’t playing for his club.

Colin would be playing, as was to be expected. He would be partnered in the centre of the field with Stephen Gleeson, who was asked to do the donkey work so that Colin could get forward and have a positive impact on the game.

He would also get the chance to link up with Steve Marlet, who’d gotten straight into the side in place of Jermaine Easter. Marlet had shown some very nice touches on the training ground the day before and looked good on the whole. Now it was just a case of fitting into the plan.

**********

The Dons started brightly. In the first 10 minutes, they managed 3 attempts on goal as they repeatedly caught Reading by using their pace on the counter-attack, with Balanta, Marlet and Colin forming an effective three-pronged attack.

In-fact, it only took 11 minutes for the Dons to get the first goal of the match, and it was vintage Balanta. The young striker picked the ball up on the half-way line, out on the left wing.

He accelerated away from his marker, dribbling infield and drawing another defender towards him. From 30 yards out, Balanta faked a shot. Both Reading defenders bought it and stuck a leg out, awarding Balanta with an extra yard to us to speed away from them. He took advantage of it and carried the ball forward into the box. From there on in, it was school boy stuff.

Balanta slowed down and lifted his head to see where the ‘keeper was. As soon as he saw that gap down low to the Federici’s left, he simply opened up his body and side-footed it into the corner to put Milton Keynes 1-0 up.

It was a magnificent solo effort and it was the start of a great performance form the young loanee. His mazey runs had the Reading back line dropping houses from their rear-ends, meaning that they’d constantly back off away from him and award Colin Rudyard and Steve Marlet more and more space to operate within.

After half an hour, all the defenders could think of to stop Balanta was to foul him, and Matt Mills was the first to be booked after sliding in late on the forward. Truth be told, it was only a matter of time before Reading were punished again for their inability to deal with Balanta.

35 minutes in, Balanta went on another one of his runs from the left flank, skinning Reading’s right-back Griffin and making it to the byline before pulling it back to Colin, who was on the edge of the area, slightly to the left of the goal.

His first instinct was to thrash at the ball and send it flying home to make it 2-0. Instead, he trapped the ball with the sole of his boot before looking up into the box to see what was on. As Reading’s defensive line stepped up away from their own goal, the Dons’ winger Daniel Powell went the other way and was released through on goal thanks to a clever pass from Colin.

He received the ball on the penalty spot and took one touch before hitting the back of the net with his first goal of the season. It was a good finish and Powell celebrated his goal with Colin, whose pass was timed perfectly to release the winger and keep him onside.

By the end of the first half, the Dons still lead Reading by 2 goals to 0, and the match looked over. All Reading had mustered was one or two shots that went straight at David Martin and cause him no trouble at all.

Things were looking good to progress through to the 3rd round, where the Dons might be able to nab themselves a match at somewhere like Old Trafford or Anfield – the perfect stages for Colin and Co to show what they’re really made of.

**********

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Many thanks tfmer; enjoy :)

“Colin, you’re doing well in the middle there, supporting the attack. Keep it going, they can’t keep up with you. Just make sure you continue to track back as well – be wary of them hitting us on the break,” Karl Robinson called out as Colin pulled off the tape that he’d tied around his sock, underneath his shin pad to stop it from sliding down.

“Don’t forget that these guys are a Championship level football club. They can hurt us if they actually wake up today,” said John Gorman, Robinson’s assistant manager.

“Basically, don’t let your guard down, guys. The moment we think we’re already through to the next round is the moment Reading hit back at us. We must respect them and keep our concentration. They may not have Ridgway at the helm, but they can still hurt us. Don’t you dare let that happen,” Robinson finished.

The whole team stood back up again and there were claps and shouts from some of the more vocal team members, including Colin. He tucked his shirt back into his shorts and prepared to get back out onto that green rectangle that was his life.

**********

Reading came out snapping and snarling, just as Karl Robinson had feared they would. Within two minutes of the restart, David Martin had been called upon to make two top class saves. As he clung to his clean sheet, Martin berated his defence.

“Deano! Push the line higher, stop f*cking backing away from their attacks! Moses, wake up in the middle there son, get them going!” David Martin screamed out to Dean Lewington and Colin Rudyard. Immediately, the captain started barking out orders to his defensive comrades and Colin moaned at Stephen Gleeson for not communicating enough. He’d had no call from his central midfield partner to drop in the middle after Gleeson had tracked his man out onto the wing, leaving a big gap in front of the Dons’ defensive live that Reading flew into.

Karl Robinson was out on the edge of his technical area as well, frowning with his arms crossed and all. The Dons knew they had to pick it up if they wanted to retain their lead.

They settled things down by passing the ball around, numbing the stinging attacks that had been coming at them from Reading. 10 minutes into the second half, the Dons worked the ball forward to right winger Daniel Powell, who was on the edge of the penalty area with his back to goal.

As he held his man off, Colin made a run from deep and called out for the pass. Powell rolled it nicely along the floor to Colin, who controlled the pass using his studs, rolling it back the way it had just come to give himself half a yard on goal before unleashing a thumping drive.

The ball rose about 2 foot from the ground and stayed at that height for the remainder of its immediate travel. It flew past Reading’s ‘keeper Adam Federici, who didn’t even move for the shot down low to his left. However, Colin found himself frustrated as he heard the dull thud of the post and watched the ball cannon away from danger.

The crowd let out a unanimous ‘Oooh’ before applauding the fantastic effort. It was a shot that really did stay hit after it left Colin’s boot, and it would have been a fantastic goal, had whoever decided the length of the goal in football chosen to make it an inch wider.

Alas, it wasn’t to be and the score stayed at 2-0 to MK Dons. The close shave gave Reading heart though, and they began to show threat once more.

With 20 minutes remaining, MK Dons won a corner kick. It was lofted in to the far post, but Reading’s Jimmy Kebe rose to head it clear to his team-mate Howard who was just outside of his own penalty area.

Howard lofted the ball over his own head on the volley, and luckily found Jobi McAnuff sprinting down Reading’s left flank. He controlled the clearance fantastically and then knocked the ball over the half way line, attempting to set up a counter.

It was exactly what the Dons management had said to watch out for and half a dozen Dons players (including Colin) could be seen busting a gut to get back to defend. But it wasn’t enough, not when matched up against McAnuff’s natural pace and the head start he’d had on the rest of them thanks to his ability to read the game.

McAnuff carried the ball forward into the Dons penalty area, still ahead of everybody, before calmly sliding the ball past David Martin to put the score at 2-1 with just under 20 minutes remaining.

To say that the Dons would need all hands on deck for the remainder of the game would have been an understatement, but the team reacted well. They stayed calm and focussed and tried to knock the ball around with short and simple passes and maybe even open a hole up in the Reading defence once more to finish the game off.

With little over 5 minutes left, Steve Marlet found himself on the right wing, level with the edge of the penalty area and unpressured by any defenders. His pace may have declined over the years, but the quality was still there as he demonstrated by curling a Beckham-like cross into the penalty area.

Jermaine Easter got the run and jump on his defender at the near post and added a glancing header onto the cross, sending the ball into the net at the far post. It was a fantastic header and it proved to be the goal that confirmed that MK Dons would be in the third round of the League Cup.

Colin didn’t know it yet, and the Dons didn’t know it yet, but the third round of the League Cup would present them with a chance to knock out one of the best clubs to have graced the English and European stage over the years. It would provide Colin a chance to shine in front of everybody against some of the best players in the Premier League.

It could even provide Colin with a chance to go toe-to-toe with one of the best English central midfielders to have ever come through the ranks – and Colin was never one to shy away from a tough test.

MK Dons – 3

Angelo Balanta (11)

Daniel Powell (36)

Jermaine Easter (84)

Reading - 1

Jobi McAnuff (73)

Man of the Match: Angelo Balanta (MKD)

Att: 7819

**********

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Friday 27th August 2010

Robert took his top off to form one goal post, and almost instantly felt his skin begin to tingle as the sun’s rays touched it. Barton Recreational Ground had no actual goal posts – they were taken down shortly after they were placed due to vandalism. Kids used to climb the nets and sit on or hang from the crossbar. Eventually the net was ripped to the point of becoming useless, and the crossbar was snapped on purpose by bored youths.

Sam Murillo was now a solid fixture within the Rudyard’s group of friends, and he was pleased about it. With Sugar and his group, everything was about making or collecting money, or violence. For the first time in years, he felt that he could actually relax and let his guard down.

But, in the back of his mind, he knew that Sugar would not let his turn go unpunished. Sam knew that Sugar would come after him and try to hit him where it hurt. In Sam’s mind, that made his sister Danielle a target for Sugar. If he could get at Danielle, then he’d get both Sam and Colin in a bad way. Sam had to warn Colin, so that they could both protect Danielle should Sugar stoop that low.

**********

“Handbrake...out of gear... ignition. Good work Colin, that was a good lesson, you’re improving a lot mate – but we do definitely have to work on roundabouts. That’s what next week’s lesson will focus on,” said Paul as Colin parked up the learner car.

His driving was steadily improving and Colin was happy that, in a few months, he would legally be allowed to drive alone.

“Thanks a lot then Uncle Paul,” Colin said, undoing his seatbelt and stepping out of the car, “I’ll see you again next week.”

Paul gave a quick wave before undoing his own seatbelt and exiting the car to go and sit in the driver’s seat. As Paul pulled away, Colin made his way towards the recreation ground where he was due to meet his brother and a couple of mates to have a quick kick-around.

He hadn’t been there long before Sam signalled for Colin to come over. Colin was still wary of Sam – it was only a few weeks ago that they were rolling around on the floor trying to knock each other out – but for now, he had no reason not to trust him.

“How are you?” Sam asked as Colin sat down beside him on the grass.

“All good thanks, what’s up?”

“I’ve been thinking about Sugar, and we both know he won’t be too happy when he finds out that I’ve turned on him and I’m now buddies with you and your brother,” Sam answered. Colin too had given it some thought, but he’d tried to keep it out of his mind so that he could just enjoy the summer in peace now that he was beginning to win his girlfriends’ family back over. But it seemed Sugar was still haunting him, even from behind bars.

“I know. But there’s not much that he can do for a while, is there? He’s locked up, so let’s just enjoy it while we can. We’ll deal with him when we have to, Sam,” said Colin.

“Colin, you’re not stupid enough to believe that he has to be outside to hurt us are you?”

Colin looked down at the grass and began pulling it from the ground. He knew Sam was right. Sugar had plenty of followers to do his dirty work for him. Just because he was inside, it didn’t mean that he had no influence on what happened on the streets of Barton.

“Colin, I know that you and I could both take whatever Sugar threw at us. Don’t take this the wrong way, but I’m not worried about Sugar targeting you. I’m worried about Sugar targeting Dani, as a way of getting at both me and you.”

“Surely he wouldn’t touch Dani? She has nothing to do with any of this!” Colin said, looking up in shock, hoping to find doubt in Sam’s eyes. It wasn’t there.

“I know Sugar, Colin. There’s not much that he wouldn’t do to get at you, and I guess I’m in the same ring as you now. Going after Dani is exactly the type of thing he’s likely to do. We have to watch her, but I don’t want her to know. As you said; she has had nothing to do with all of this. She shouldn’t spend her days looking over her shoulder for an enemy that she never made.”

“Okay. I won’t let anything happen to her, Sam. This is not her fight, and if Sugar even sends so much as a bad text to her, I’ll kill him, I swear.”

**********

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