Tag Archives: John Smith Stand

A Heartfelt Plea To Everyone Fortunate Enough To Have A Ticket For Saturday… And For The Season Beyond.

Entering this season, one thing I noticed about the poll I ran earlier in the summer (which has now been backed up by a similar measure of fans optimism in the South London Press) was how restrained we are in our hopes for our first Conference campaign. Most people are expecting upper mid-table, perhaps a decent cup run.

The danger is, once the season begins one or two of us get a little overexcited. I mentioned last season on several occasions how braindead and counter-productive vocal criticism of our own team can be. I will probably never understand what goes through the mind these people. After all, they pay money to watch their team, presumably they want the lads to win? They wear replica shirts and buy programmes. All that money is wasted as soon as they open their mouths.

We are watching young players who came to the club for the support a big crowd can offer. Since we started at Kingsmeadow, I have chosen to stand in the John Smith Stand. I started watching the game from beside the pitch back at Plough Lane, and was delighted for the opportunity to stand next to the pitch after years of hell in the Whitehorse Lane End and the Holmesdale Stand at Selhurst Park.

The abuse from the John Smith Stand has grown over the years, until last season when I finally grew fed up with it. Watching the game wasn’t fun at times. In what was a title winning year, I witnessed supporters loudly boo their own players, criticise the manager for picking them/bringing them on/not substituting them. On one occasion after a young player had misplaced a pass, a group of idiots began to chant ‘Off! Off! Off!’ at him.

I’m not a violent person, but that made me feel physically sick. I felt the anger rise in me, I clenched my fists and my teeth very hard and did whatever it took for me not to lose it with them. This wasn’t a one-off either… I felt that several times last season. Let’s remind you once again, this was a title winning season. That’s just not right.

On Saturday a new season begins, with the chance for all of us, as supporters, to turn over a new leaf. For example, I’m going to be more vocal in my support, I’m not going to use my note-taking for match reports as a reason not to sing, or shout encoragement. If you are a supporter who has in the past criticised our players, please, make an effort this season to stop. By being so negative you are doing nothing to help the club you claim to support.

The fast takeup of season tickets this year has led to certain areas becoming season ticket only areas for the entire season, in other words some supporters who previously held season tickets and stood on the Tempest are now overspilling into the John Smiths. More than anyone you are in an ideal position to change the poisonous atmosphere in this part of the stadium.

As newcomers to this area, not only can your positive support dilute the existing troublemakers, your behaviour will spread to more impressionable sections of the fanbase. Remember what I said about the ‘Off! Off! Off!’ brigade? Only a couple of people started that. These people stand close to the home dugout, and are of the opinion that they know better than our manager. I’m not sure how many Conference sides these guys have actually managed, but it must be a few to believe they are more knowledgable than Terry Brown. Sometimes Terry makes decisions that surprises me, but it only serves to trigger curiosity in me, especially when it seems like a bit of a gamble.

If it goes wrong? I may use my blog as a mouthpiece to criticise if required, if I didn’t have the blog I would mention it to friends after the game or post on the guestbook perhaps. There are outlets for criticism, and nobody is asking for freedom of speech to be removed. But loudly criticising during the game? These are grown men, who have presumably been watching football for quite a while now. Have you learnt nothing during this time?

We also have a section of our support (and these people are by no means young supporters) who haven’t been watching Wimbledon for long. They joined up in the Premiership days, or the early years of AFC Wimbledon. I absolutely believe that some people come to games with the impression that its ok to barrack their own players. Perhaps they have seen on the TV, the likes of Alf Garnett (that going back a bit, there are more contemporary examples, but none I can think of right now!) slagging off their own team, perhaps in those ‘football special’ versions of sitcoms or when a character is a football fan. Christ, even our own Alun Armstrong was featured moaning about a 0-3 home defeat to Spurs in a friendly!

This is, and alway will be used for comedic effect, it’s more a reference to a fault in character. Don’t ever believe it should be acceptable, or even normal for you to abuse your own players at a game. The player I mentioned earlier had made a number of mistakes earlier in the game. The first time he misplaced a pass, what do you think will be the most supportive way of helping him recover. Tutting? A long audible groan?

I can absolutely guarantee the player can hear you, if not every word then at least the gist it. These players are professional, they earn good money to play for us, and therefore abuse from opposition supporters slips off like water from a ducks back. However put yourself in their shoes… if you had just misplaced a pass, how are you going to feel if a hundred people shout ‘Awwww, bloody hell!’ or something stronger…

These new young players have talent, that much is for sure, but we are in a division where we will face a strong challenge week in, week out. They will make mistakes. More importantly a couple of them will make mistakes that cost us points. That is an absolute given. But these guys are very young, even the 22/23 year olds have a good four or five years learning left in them.

I got the impression that certain players with us last year had lost the passion for learning the game ahead of time. These are players who perhaps had been there before and thought they could walk through certain games. I guarantee Terry saw this as well, and thats why they aren’t with us this year. Tom Davis and Tony Finn were talented footballers, but Terry knew they weren’t in a position to take their game to another level this year.

The likes of Steven Gregory and Ricky Wellard are already good players. But with our support and their own desire to learn, they could become great players. They really could be the players who help us into the League. But a small part of their development will depend on how much they enjoy playing in front of us, at Kingsmeadow.

You may remember yesterday, I wrote an article about Luton, and how annoying it would be if any of their supporters had managed to get tickets in our section of the ground. Well, it certainly would be, but even if the most vocal of Luton fans gets in and manages to stay in, as far as I’m concerned it would be much better for us for one of them to be there than any of our own who dares criticise a player in a blue shirt. In fact, I’d much rather have an extra ten of them, at least then we could recognise them as the enemy.

Their behaviour is not only shameful but an embarasment to our great club. This abuse is like a cancer to the wonderful support the majority of our supporters give. It may happen at other clubs – but quite frankly what other clubs supporters do doesn’t concern me. It shouldn’t happen here. We are better than that. If you consider yourself a Wimbledon supporter you should be as proud of the team after the most dismal of defeats as you are during the good times. In fact you should be more so. Never forget AFC Wimbledon are a unique club, they are your club in more ways than just simple ownership. We are the club – so lets make sure we show just how special we are.

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AFC Wimbledon 0 Wycombe Wanderers 1 – A Match Report

img115Football is back! Kind of… Thinking back through my supporting life, I’ve probably been to a good sixty or seventy pre-season games, and they never fail to disappoint, so long as you have very low expectations to begin with. At least you’re normally alright for some good weather. I remember burning myself on jaunts to Bognor and Sutton a few years ago, although the Sutton incident was partly down to my own stupidity, attempting to sit on a piping hot barrier in shorts. Perhaps they should have put up a sign – Caution, barrier gets hot when exposed to direct sunlight.

No chance of that yesterday. Although warm, it was very muggy and wet, meaning I had to bring out my rainy day clothing, in other words the same old waterproof that I managed to collect a series of strangely coloured beetles on a trip to Cobham a few years back while attempting to take a short-cut back to the station. Not that it put me off. I need my football fix, becoming sick of waking up on a Saturday morning with no plans, spending hours asking each other ‘What shall we do today?’ before eventually settling on going down the pub.

Those new steps...

Those new steps...

But the Wycombe game held equal importance for me as it did for the players. Pre-season games don’t just help the players get up to speed, they help amateur reporters like myself get back up to speed. The last time I wrote a match report was my epic London Senior Cup effort on the short lived Control>Shoot blog, gratefully received by approximately a dozen Hendon fans, yet this was over two months ago. The season finished at a bad time for me, I was at the height of my writing powers, and two months of updates along the lines of ‘Erm, we signed someone today, I don’t know too much about him…’ have made me go stale.

So it was with great excitement I stepped into Kingsmeadow, partly because I’m an absolute football geek, and seeing an extra step in the John Smiths and the newly re-profiled KRE, as well as The Wall, drove my excitement levels to a factor even the release of the fixtures could not match. There was one downer – as I took my place on the terrace I noticed a portion of chips, barely touched, had been left on the ledge.

So which inconsiderate bastard left those here?

So which inconsiderate bastard left those here?

Now as those of you who know The Anonymous Don, even if just by sight will know, I have put a little bit of weight on. Now my wife has been ‘encouraging’ me to return to my formerly svelte physique over the summer, and I have been doing quite well, but the project has been hindered by the fact I need lager, curry and the like to make me feel good. Extended periods of healthy eating depress me, but I was trying to be a good boy yesterday, so I limited myself to one treat, a full fat bottle of coke. Seeing those chips sitting there, mocking me, was too much. I could almost hear them whispering to me ‘Come on fat boy, you want some of this don’t you’…

Now obviously I’m not from Bromley, so wouldn’t have dreamt of taking the cold unwanted chips, but it took a great deal of self control to not carry my podgy self round to the tea bar to pick myself up a portion. I suppose the moral of this tale is, ‘Throw your unwanted food in the blue bins in case it tempts fatties to eat unhealthily’. Although I suppose it could have been a masterful piece of marketing by the club to encourage higher food sales…

The new wall would have looked great if some vandal hadn't written on all the bricks... and who stole one?

The new wall would have looked great if some vandal hadn't written on all the bricks... and who stole one?

All thoughts of chips went out the window, as what appeared to be a game of football broke out on the pitch. Plus who was this lining up for Wycombe? Well it looked like former Dons prodigy Carl Cort, indeed the tannoy even announced him as such. But this couldn’t be our Carl Cort, surely? Our Carl Cort was a pacy, alert, agile striker, hungry for goals. This impostor just seemed to wander around, occasionally sticking his leg out at a loose ball, never really getting into the game and when he did, never looking threatening. In fact he was probably only given a trial for a laugh, as Peter Taylor attempted to field the largest team ever to set foot on a field. Seriously, Peter Crouch would feel normal lining up with some of these boys.

Not that they looked entirely dominating to begin with. In fact the biggest early threat to the Dons goal was triallist keeper Sebb Brown. I would imagine through the warm up Brown was telling himself internally not to panic, to stay calm and relaxed. Sadly he looked almost asleep when miscontrolling a back pass, before hilariously losing sight of the ball despite the fact it was just behind him. Brown was robbed of the ball after what seemed an eternity, and to his credit he refused to follow the secret goalkeepers directive in this situation of immediately giving away a penalty in order to take everyone’s mind off the error, instead smothering the ball at the feet of a Wycombe player, presumably with a great amount of relief. Brown would go on to make several fine saves, but found touch with a couple of kicks, to the point I was inspired to write ‘He’ll do for us!’ in my notebook.

Danny Kedwell strays just offside

Danny Kedwell strays just offside

Wycombe had the better of the first half, creating the games proper opening chance, their 24 slamming the ball over the bar. Now I have to confess, it was hard enough keeping track of our new boys, and we were only advised of Wycombe’s 1-11 before the game, meaning even some Wycombe fans near me couldn’t identify him. In fact, seeing my camera and notebook and perhaps mistaking me for someone slightly more professional, they even asked me who he was. Oh dear.

The Dons weren’t outclassed, they just weren’t creating chances. There was still some good interplay, especially when Hatton and Luke Moore combined down the right for Sam to knock a decent looking ball over that caused Wycombe keeper Shearer all sorts of problems, sadly the ball was ruled to have curled out of play. Moore really impressed me during his 45 minutes. He always seemed to want the ball, and knows what to do with it when he receives it. I don’t think he will really become a fans favourite if only because there’s something about him which reminds me of Martin Randall for some reason… perhaps just in the looks department? 

At the back, Wycombe had a better quality of ball in the final third, and with Browns lack of height preventing him dominating his area from crosses, Paul Lorraine had to stay alert to flick a ball away under pressure at the back post. Then on 28 minutes whoever the Wycombe number 23 was… lets just calls him Wycombe 23, slashed a volley across goal and wide at the second attempt. Plus the Wycombe number 2 (hang on, I know him, that was George Daly I think…) was giving Chris Hussey a torrid time in one on ones, always finding a way past the youngster to knock a decent ball into the danger zone.

wwfc 017Finally around the half hour mark, The Dons fashioned a chance. Young striker Peter Rapson was sharp enough to pick up on a Wycombe error at the back before skipping across goal, beating two men on his way. He laid the ball off to Lewis Taylor 25 yard out, who perhaps could have let fly but instead intelligently picked out Danny Kedwell with a chipped pass. Kedwell could have perhaps guided his header across goal, but instead planted it straight into Shearer’s arms. Sadly this was the only time Wimbledon even tried to break the Wycombe defence down in the first half despite looking good on the ball entering the final third, especially down the right.

Wycombe took the game back up the other end, Leon Johnson crashing the ball against the near post from 25 yards from the left channel, the ball ricocheting off Brown for a corner. Then from the same position a minute later, Wycombe 23 hit a rasping dipping volley that Brown did brilliantly to palm over. The keeper did his confidence no harm by pulling off a smart save from the resulting corner. I still think he’s a bit short though…

Towards the end of the half Wimbledon had a couple of chances, the impressive Rapson mishitting his volley wide from 20 yards, before Kenny Adjei tried his luck from further out only to see the ball fizz over the bar. This brought the half to an end, wholesale changes meaning the second half would be almost a completely different game.

Rapson strikes.... wide

Rapson strikes.... wide

The Dons could take plenty of positives from the half though. Lorraine and Judge looked impressive in the air at the back, plus the midfield three, plus Moore in a roaming role, looked good with the ball. The standout performance came from Lewis Taylor. He showed great confidence and awareness with the ball at his feet, rarely getting robbed and consistently picking out colleagues with a range of passes. No wonder Terry Brown has been waxing lyrical about his standards in training. Taylor was one of the few Dons completely unfazed by playing a higher standard of opponent, to the point we must start to think perhaps if Wimbledon don’t manage to make it to The League in the next couple of years Taylor will on his own. Next season will tell us all we need to know about the lad.

Another huge positive was the performance of Peter Rapson. He really didn’t look out of place lining up alongside Kedwell; with Moore just behind, and while not the extra striker Terry Brown has been looking for is certainly one for the future. We saw the kind of player Brown wants in his squad in the second half, the previously mentioned Kelvin Bossman. Bossman has been listed in the programme for the two games it covered (Brighton being the other) suggesting he is going to be on extended trial with the club. He took the field alongside Main, neither wearing a shirt number yet neither really needing one, with Elliott Godfrey just behind wearing his familiar number 20 shirt…

In fact the only player to survive the half time cull was Jay Conroy. The new new keeper was a guy called Kieran Thorp, and we saw debuts for Brett Johnson (partnering Inns at the back), Derek Duncan, Gregory, Wellard and Cheeseman as well as the aforementioned Bossman. The large striker found himself up against Wycombe triallist Michael Duberry, who you will be relieved to hear still has a massive head.

The lads stretch it out at half time

The lads stretch it out at half time

Wimbledon looked much the better side in the second half, creating a chance immediately when Jon Main found space in front of the Wycombe defence before striking for goal. Unfortunately he completely mishit it, only to see it turn into a defence splitting pass for Elliott Godfrey, clear on the right, to screw his effort across goal. Derek Duncan, at left back, seemed to be having few of the problems Chris Hussey had in the first half. Facing up to a Wycombe man on the right edge of his own area, he expertly stole the ball of his foot before haring forward down the left. He then had the vision to pick out Bossman, clear down the left but with no one in support, only to side foot at the keeper when lashing it high towards the near post would have been a better option.

In fact Bossman and Duberry seemed to cancel each other out in a series of aerial challenges, meaning unfortunately that was all we saw of the man they are already calling The Tank (perhaps because he seems to be wider than he is tall?). Although he did have a freekick unfortunately blocked later in the half by the unfortunate Derek Duncan, meaning we are still unsure of quite how deadly he is from set pieces. Bossman will probably get chances to show what he can really do against Brighton, but he blew his chance today to earn himself a contract. The more time that passes until he does, the more time Terry Brown has to pick out a better option.

Bossman keeps an eye on Duberry

Bossman keeps an eye on Duberry

Prior to that Jon Main had a call for a penalty turned down (although as Jon Main always seems to find himself on the floor in the box I’m not quite sure how good it really was). Main found himself sent clear by Godfrey shortly after only to see his effort well saved by the replacement Wycombe keeper. Wimbledon were well on top despite Johnson having to match Lorraine’s effort in the first half of heading away under his own crossbar.

Of course this was when Wycombe showed their class when they needed to. If you were only watching Brett Johnson and Matt Harold it would have appeared as though Johnson had stepped forward perfectly catching Harold offside. Unfortunately ‘a Wimbledon defender’ (possible Ryan Jackson at right back) had dawdled, allowing Harrold a clear run at Thorp, who almost did enough to push Harrold wide only to see the man who gunned us down in the FA Cup last year to net the winner from an angle.

It was tough look on Wimbledon and tough on Thorp, who really had little to do in his second half turnout. As far as goalkeepers are concerned I suppose it’s now down to Thorp to prove himself in training, as presumably Pullen and Turner will take their positions on the Isle of Man.

Ricky Wellard still had time for one more Dons chance when, 22 yards out and central, he smashed his effort over the bar. Elliott Godfrey made way for the reserve teams baby faced assassin Matt Harmsworth to enter for a short cameo, before the game ended. So an unfortunate defeat for Wimbledon set against the background of early preseason. Wycombe looked slightly stronger as you would expect due to their full-time status, but Wimbledon didn’t embarrass themselves. In fact there is much to look forward to. Jon Main looked dangerous, especially when linking up with Elliott Godfrey who himself showed he isn’t going to settle for a place on the bench for Luke Moore’s benefit.

Terry Brown has some tough decisions to make, but judging by the very little we have seen so far, this can only be regarded as a positive. Now for some team bonding in the Isle of Man before Brown faces the task of turning this group of twenty-odd footballers into a team. And I face the task of remembering how to end a match report properly… 

CORRECTION

As you all know, Bossmans nickname is not ‘The Tank’, that was allocated to Damian Spencer who trained with us last week and has now signed for Kettering. Thanks to Old Isthmian on the Guestbook for pointing that out. This is what comes of having no internet for a week and failing to do my own research by turning up at training…

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Ground Developments

Some of you may have noticed that the latest edition of ‘What’s The Latest From The Cherry Red Records Fan Stadium – Kingsmeadow’ featured a worrying problem in terms of ground grading – namely that if we fail to move the pitch 30cm (a foot in old money) away from the hoardings on the Strank Stand side of the field we will fail it. Apparently there are two solutions. The first being to move the pitch closer to the John Smith Stand, this being extremely expensive due to the fact a Perspex shield must be inserted in front of the supporters for fear that opposition wingers/linesmen (that’s right… opposition linesmen…) may be covered in spittle and pie crumbs sprayed in their direction should said winger/linesman irritate the incumbents of this stand.

Previous rumours the club would also have to install an elaborate air conditioning system to prevent smaller supporters asphyxiating, overcome by the dense, thick, acidic clouds that develop in this area (due mostly to the stale urine on supporters that stand here reacting in a sweaty environment to form toxic gases), have now been overcome by the over subscription of The Tempest, meaning this stand will be flooded with ‘normal’ folk next term, who mostly do not stink of piss.

That means we should be seeing the end of those horrible A-boards next year, which although ideal (but seldom used) for hanging flags on, did look a little strange compared with the rest of the ground. Taking these down and adding ‘proper’ fencing round will not only please the Health and Safety Officer, it will look more aesthetically pleasing too, thus satisfying those of us who like that kind of thing.

Finally, the KRE has been re-profiled to allow for better viewing from this terrace. Sadly it will largely be occupied by visiting supporters until the new turnstiles are built, meaning its going to get worn down by the knuckles of opposition fans by the time we get to occupy it. While on the subject of the KRE, have you noticed despite its name it’s got to be a good fifty yards at least from Kingston Road itself?

Back in the day when the AFC era was new to us all, it acquired the nickname ‘The West Bank’ in homage to our former home end at Plough Lane. This was quietly dropped after a few seasons due to the three pronged strike that was 1) It wasn’t on the west side of the ground 2) It couldn’t in any way be described as a ‘bank’, and 3) it wasn’t even the main home end anymore!

Plus as I see it now, it’s the only part of the ground that doesn’t have its own sponsorship deal yet (unless you support Kingstonian and wish to remain bloody minded, still thinking that the now covered end should still be referred to as ‘The Athletics End’… do they refer to the John Smiths as ‘The Allotment Terrace?). Now I’m sure Ivor and Keith are on the case here, and I’m sure they are doing the best they can to find a commercial partner willing to put their name to the (Not) Kingston Road End.

Now I’m one of those people who still find shirt sponsorship slightly distasteful, so it may seem strange to you that I’m hawking an idea around to have this terrace renamed. But I’ve had an idea – or rather I’ve stolen an idea from various other clubs who have done the same who I have conveniently forgotten the names of. The idea is you sell tickets for £25 (or £100 for four tickets minimum for commercial entries) and whoever gets pulled out of the hat first wins the naming rights. There should be no limits to the amount of tickets sold to any individual, so even in these uncertain financial times you should get even small firms buying them by the bucketful.

Bear in mind this part of the ground is going to be used mostly by visiting supporters, which means it will gain nationwide exposure. You could further tempt companies by adding a number of runners up prizes – a free programme advert, numerous free entries into the Dons Directory, every business mentioned in the programme. Plus the price will be cheap enough to tempt individuals to buy tickets in the hope the stand will be named after them, so again you could throw in a couple of shirts as runners up prizes for them too.

It seems to me as though the club are happy to allow the terrace to remain sponsor free – yet I’m no marketing expert, there may be a bloody good reason for this. For example how will Tempest and Paul Strank feel about their five figure deals knowing that the Fred’s Window Cleaning Terrace has only cost three figures for a season? Plus the marketing team will probably look like a bunch of mugs when they turn up at one of the big boys asking for Proper Money, only for these big time players to find one of the clubs key stadium sponsors are Bills Butchers….

Still, how cool would it be to have a part of the ground named after your business, or even you as an individual? We could even see ‘The Anonymous Don Stand’! (I can just see visitors turning up at the ‘Meadow now asking ‘Who the fuck’s the Anonymous Don?’ and home fans coming back with ‘Exactly…’. This could also open doors to other sponsors who don’t yet have a relationship with us. Am I the only person wondering why the South London Press has hoardings at Millwall, Palace and Charlton but not at Kingsmeadow?

There are probably those of you out there who think this is a reasonably good idea, and those of you who don’t. All I can say is, operating in a market where our budget is everything, if we are going to lift our skirts to be defiled by corporate cash, let’s at least make sure we rinse every penny out of it to make it worth our while. 

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