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Sheppey United manager and former AFC Wimbledon striker Jack Midson knows a thing or two about rivalries as Ites get ready to meet Sittingbourne

Jack Midson knows all about rivalries as Sheppey prepare to face Sittingbourne in a competitive game for the first time in more than 20 years.

Ites boss Midson was at AFC Wimbledon when they met bitter rivals MK Dons for the first time in an FA Cup second round tie a decade ago.

Sheppey manager Jack Midson. Picture: Marc Richards
Sheppey manager Jack Midson. Picture: Marc Richards

He scored the equaliser that day, only for MK to snatch an injury-time winner.

The ill-feeling that stemmed from Wimbledon’s relocation to Milton Keynes, leaving fans of the original Dons to set up a phoenix club, make it one of the fiercest rivalries in English football.

It’s left him well-equipped to handle derby days and, for Sheppey, they don’t come bigger than a home game against Swale neighbours Sittingbourne.

The sides meet in an all-ticket Isthmian South East fixture at Holm Park on Monday (3pm), the second leg of a busy bank holiday weekend that sees the Ites travel to Beckenham on Saturday.

Midson is relatively new to the Swale rivalry but is well aware what the game means now the Ites are finally in the same league as the Brickies.

“It’s more for the fans and stuff, they know more about it than me but I can see the rivalry,” said Midson.

“It’s the same as when I went to AFC Wimbledon, I knew of the rivalry with MK Dons but it only started to get into me when I was playing for them. For the fans, it goes back years.

“I played in the first-ever game between AFC Wimbledon and MK Dons.

“They’ve played a lot since and been in the same league but there was such a media frenzy before that first game.

“It was like the build-up to a Premier League game or the Champions League final.

“When we trained on the Thursday and Friday, it was just non-stop interviews and they were happy for us to do it because it was all part of the club’s history.

“I scored, too, the first-ever AFC Wimbledon goal against MK Dons, which looks good on my CV.

“It was a great atmosphere, one you can’t forget.”

Danny Leonard scored his first goal since rejoining from Dartford this summer as Sheppey won 2-1 at Newhaven in an FA Cup preliminary round replay on Tuesday night.

He hit the winner after Jefferson Aibangee cancelled out the hosts' opener, setting up a home tie against Lewes in the first qualifying round on September 3.

“The club have done well to get him back from Dartford," said Midson.

“We had a good chat before he went there, he asked my advice about playing at that level (National South).

“No one was going to stand in his way, he’s not a young lad, it was his last chance to try that level.

“He did all right but he’s got a decent job he enjoys and if they’d gone up and gone full-time he’d have left anyway.

“I knew he could do well in National South but the grass isn’t always greener.

“I don’t mean football, I mean mentality-wise.

“If you’re comfortable where you are and you’re happy and enjoying your football, there’s a lot to be said for that.

“He should be the main man at this level rather than in and out a couple of levels up and being battered on the line.

“Here, he can relax and express himself.”

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