At one stage in the season, MK Dons Ladies sat 24 points behind table-toppers AFC Wimbledon. A remarkable 11 consecutive wins later, James Honeyman’s side were crowned Champions after a display of together, heart and commitment.
The Ladies that turn out weekly to represent MK Dons aren’t on full-time contracts, some finish training at 10pm before starting a night shift, some finish work before making the 90-minute journey to training, while others leave their kids on a Sunday to pull on the shirt.
After the dust settled on a historic campaign for the Ladies, manager James Honeyman reflected on the journey his side have taken over the last two years.
“When we came in a couple of years ago the foundations were already in place but we’ve enhanced that,” Honeyman told iFollow MK Dons.
“We’ve spent two years building up to this point, we said it was a two year plan and it was great to get the rewards at the end of that but we knew it was coming but it’s really great to get out of this league, we needed to get the monkey off our back and now we have.
“It’s been a great season, we’ve certainly hit all the objectives that we wanted to hit. We aimed to win the County Cup back, win the league and have a good FA Cup run and managed to do all three.”
Having picked up just one point from their opening two games the Ladies regrouped and went on to drop just four points from then onwards. Honeyman’s side put together an unbelievable run of 11 consecutive wins, a streak that saw them earn promotion to the third tier of Women’s Football.
“We had 11 games left to play and AFC Wimbledon had four and at that point we were 24 points behind them, on game three of our winning streak we beat them to cut it down to 21 points. We won the league by five points as they drew on the final day which shows we had to win every single match to get there.
“The scheduling was a bit hectic as we won 30 points in 35 days, it was intense as we were going, game, recover, game recover, game, recover as matches were three days apart. When you’ve got that momentum you’ve just got to keep going and winning.”
He added,” I think the Ladies started to believe it was possible when we beat AFC Wimbledon and then won away at Leyton Orient the following game. That was the turning point in their minds, we played the bottom two three times in our last four games so we knew if we could get to them we’d be okay. Our three toughest away games came in that 11 spell run and we won all three.”
It’s not just a one-man effort though, Honeyman was quick to praise the commitment shown by every member of not only his playing squad but his fellow coaches too.
“The Ladies deserve so much praise as they’ve given us four days a week which is commendable on top of their full-time jobs and families – they’ve been fantastic and the credit has to go to them. We’ve asked a lot of the girls, they have a gym programme they need to stick with, they do their own recovery on their off day - the reason we’ve been able to win all these games is because of them,
“We have myself, Charlie Bill, Lucy Du Plooy and Ethan Wallbank all coaching with Andreas Liassis being our physio. In the development team, we have Owen Evans who works with Jordan, Dave and Jake who does the medical.
“We have a lot of staff and volunteers that help us and of course Karen Dean who helps us out so much."