REMEMBER those wind-swept games at the National Hockey Stadium in Milton Keynes?

City had to play there three times in the aftermath of the host club’s controversial move from Wimbledon.

A Saturday tea-time defeat, bizarrely chosen for live telly, effectively put paid to Nicky Law’s managerial reign in 2003.

A last-minute win the following season under Colin Todd was followed by an equally late setback in February 2006 when Dons stalwart Dean Lewington strode unopposed into City territory to whack one in the top corner from 30 yards on a freezing February afternoon.

Long-forgotten games at a venue that must still rank as one of the coldest because there was so little protection from the elements. It was certainly up there in the unwelcoming stakes with the dreaded Don Valley in Sheffield that used to house Rotherham.

But those days on the hockey pitch strike a chord with one member of the current squad.

Adam Chicksen can recall doing plenty of fetching and carrying during MK’s earliest days while on ball-boy duty. “It was always windy there,” he said with a grimace, “it wasn’t a great place for football.”

Few may be aware but the 26-year-old holds a claim to fame with a club who are still viewed with scorn by many traditionalists.

MK Dons are mocked for having no history but Chicksen can offer a decent argument against that. He is, after all, the first player to have been born in the city to go on and play for the team.

Chicksen was still a month short of his 17th birthday when he came off the bench at Leicester in August 2008. A week later, he played the full game against Cardiff.

As a local lad, that established a strong bond with MK that no amount of nay-saying can deny.

He said: “That first game against Leicester was incredible for me. There were over 23,000 in the crowd and it’s something I will never forget.

“Moments like that set you up for the rest of your career. Being the first one born in Milton Keynes to play for the club was a great achievement for me personally and I can’t thank MK enough.

“There was such a sense of pride growing up being a part of something that suddenly blossomed.

“I know it was new and people have their grievances but being among the first couple of youth players to come through was a great feeling.”

Chicksen, who played 93 times for the Dons before leaving for Brighton in 2013, can see both sides of the divide as he returns to his home town this afternoon for a mouth-watering clash between two of League One’s fancied teams.

He understands the “franchise” criticism that MK Dons continue to face in so many quarters but he also witnessed at close hand how the club began to develop year on year as their identity grew.

“It was difficult because there wasn’t a club there when we were growing up. You just picked who you watched on telly or who your parents might have supported.

“But you could see it change after things like a cup run. All of a sudden someone would be wearing the MK Dons shirt in the city centre and then the next person.

“It was that slow process but that’s what builds history. Those fans will remember those moments that you created as players and will tell their kids and the kids after that.

“With Bradford City, you’ve got the two opposites. The fans are new there and you’ve got such a good following behind us here.

“It’s what MK need but that comes over time. Bradford have the numbers in abundance.

“As a player, I’m happy now because obviously you don’t want to wait for that following to grow. You want to feel the thrill of playing in front of that big crowd every week.”

Chicksen is convinced the MK Dons will get there one day considering the huge strides they have made in the last decade and a half under owner Pete Winkelman – a man he will always have plenty of time for.

“I can see where people are coming from with all the franchise stuff, thinking you could just pick up a club and move it to somewhere else,” he said.

“But if you take those issues aside, he wanted to carry on the club in his own way and progress. It had to be a new way because he was moving the club to an entirely new home.

“I get all the grievances that the Wimbledon fans have and everything else surrounding it. But he saw this different future with the club, he had his own reasons for it.

“Look at them now and how far they have progressed. Whatever you think, you’ve got to hold up your hand and say they’ve got an identity and they’ve got a style.”

City have recently found Stadium MK, the club’s home for the past ten years, to their liking. But many, including Chicksen, expect the Dons to be serious challengers this season.

“It’s going to be a tight division and a lot of teams fancy it,” he said. “But they will definitely be up there.”