Tag Archives: Kingsmeadow

Hereford Preview

This isn’t the Conference. There are no easy games at this level. Anybody can beat anybody else, anywhere. I know that, you know that. And yet, in the back of our minds, we’re looking at Hereford’s League position, the fact they haven’t gained a point, haven’t even managed to trouble the scoresheet, we’re looking at the goals Macclesfield scored on Tuesday night and noting goalkeeper Russell Hoult had the positional sense of a drunk monkey after a ride on the Waltzer and seems to have a glove deal with Utterly Butterly, and we’re thinking ‘How can we not win this?

And we’re doing this with a sense of regret, knowing we’re surely building ourselves up for a fall… this is Wimbledon after all, we know Wimbledon, we’ve been following them all our lives. No matter how well we might be playing, if there’s a striker looking to break his duck, he’ll break it against us; if there’s a side stuck rock bottom who are only going to win one game away from home all season, we’ll be the victim. That’s how supporting the Dons works…

On top of this, we’ve been in the division five minutes. It’s the curse of back to back away wins, all of a sudden things seem a lot easier than they seem… Don’t get me wrong, we’re all saying and doing the right things – I haven’t come across a Dons fan suggesting we’ll stride away with a two or three goal victory, but lets face it, if it doesn’t happen I’ll be disappointed, and all but the most pessimistic of us will go home and kick the dog/spouse/children.

Now I could be sitting here on Saturday night/Sunday morning (depending on whether I get a social life in the meantime) writing up a convincing victory, in fact it’s probably the more likely outcome. Just not as likely as our subconscious (the bane of all football fans) is allowing us to believe. Those of us who suggested the Dons might be lucky to get four points out of our opening league fixtures (and I am one) are feeling pretty chuffed right now – we would have taken something from the Bristol Rovers game if we hadn’t been hoist by our own petard, and the aforementioned maximum from our two road games has seen Dons fans focussing on the top, rather than bottom, of the table.

I actually have good memories of Hereford at Kingsmeadow. Back in 1998 I eschewed our opening fixture against Spurs in favour of Kingstonian’s first game in the Conference… In my defence this was during my student days, and I was far more interested in spending time drinking with my friends, and KFC provided a common denominator for a bunch of football loving lads who played for the same club side, followed various teams across London and beyond and who otherwise wouldn’t have seen eye to eye.

The video above documents the day, and will be of interest to Dons fans in just how much Kingsmeadow has changed over the years. Mainly cosmetic, no huge structural alterations, but these were the days when the Main stand barely held 600 and didn’t extend as far as pitchside (you can see supporters standing in the paddock, with the benches on this side of the field), the Tempest didn’t have a terrace, never mind a roof, and there was a strange brick structure right behind the goal at the KRE. And look at the state of the pitch! It might have appeared more like Bournemouth beach in our first couple of seasons, but judging by that video it seems K’s were saving money on a mower by simply setting fire to it…

Interesting days, I remember chatting to a Hereford fan outside the bar at half time, explaining to me how the long journey wasn’t helped by a long trek from the station… Thinking he might have come from Kingston, I pointed out Norbiton station was a few streets away, only to get the confused reply that his party had come via Surbiton – I never got to the bottom of whether this was police advice or an honest mistake… By the way, our current tenants won that one 2-0, it goes without saying a similar scoreline will do very nicely…

A victory will cement the Dons high placing in the early League table, but lets face it, until you get beyond six games its little use beyond a form guide, and three games in its barely that… Hereford might have lost three on the spin, but lets not forget the Dons promotion winning side did that in March last year, and things turned out alright for us. Losing three in a row at the start of the season is panic inducing, but we’ve got a long way to go even before promotion and relegation contenders can be determined… I saw the Hereford-Macclesfield game being described as a ‘relegation clash’ in the media, there’s no guarantee either or both will be struggling in eight months time.

Yet I can see how Hereford supporters might feel a little daunted travelling to a side having scored two goals in each of their four games played. The Dons are slowly but surely getting injured players back… Sammy Moore played a part in the Dagenham and Plymouth games, Fraser Franks is back in training, and I actually saw Mat Mitchel-King for the first time last Saturday (and for a Rio Ferdinand body double, I thought he might look a little more, erm, Rio Ferdinandy?). The Dons have got a few more options, especially in midfield… I kind of expected Max Porter would take the holding role, and in case of injury or loss of form Ricky Wellard would fill in. But now it seems Sammy Moore can do a job there, and thinking about it it makes sense – Moore has both range of passing and tenacious nature to make a success of the position.

When I was a kid playing up front and scoring goals was all the rage, during the late nineties it became fashionable to want to play ‘in the hole’, now it seems every footballer worth their salt wants to be a holding midfielder, even Toks throwing his hat into the ring this week. I’m half expecting to see enterprising coaches stick their most creative player in goal before the decade is out…

I’ve seen a few Dons fans comment that they want to see a settled midfield this season, I can understand why as football logic suggests a regular XI builds continuity, yet I would like to respectfully disagree and suggest our current crop of midfielders, having played together for a while, should be more or less interchangeable. This might not be important right now, but as midweek games and cup ties start piling up, the ability to shuffle his pack with no consequence in terms of strength could prove a real benefit to TB.

Yet this causes a problem for the Anonymous Don in attempting to predict TB’s starting eleven… we now have three players who could potentially play the holding role (Toks is more important causing chaos in the opposition half for the time being…), with question marks also over who is going to get the nod to start up front, and a suggestion Jamie Stuart is struggling with a knock. I’m going to go for the following…






Moore S



Moore L



If there is any possibility of Jamie Stuart starting, he’s going to start… I just can’t see TB either throwing Bush in or withdrawing Minshull from a midfield role unless his hand has been forced. If Stuart does break down during the game, TB can shuffle the pack knowing there is no midweek game to worry about, and Franks and Mitchel-King are back in full training so will be available soon.

As Sammy Moore started on Tuesday I’ll back him to go again tomorrow, despite still feeling his way back to full fitness. Charlie Ademeno made way for Christian Jolley at half time on Tuesday, and we don’t really know how Charlie is doing fitness-wise, I’ll still back him to start with Jolley reverting to impact substitute. A relatively ‘safe’ prediction I know, but as those injured squad members return, this game is starting to get more and more difficult…

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900 Seats

Its beginning to look as though we could conceivably break the 3000 season ticket barrier, if not quite this summer then for the season, and all of a sudden Kingsmeadow is looking small again… and it’ll certainly be feeling small next season. Lets not forget busting 3000 season tickets leaves little more than a thousand home tickets up for grabs on a game by game basis.That number could be improved if thoughtful fans (especially Strank Standers) return their vouchers if they can’t make it to a game. The same goes for those in the Tempest end. The fact is I’m looking to switch to the Tempest, but its likely to be oversubscribed, so I’m sweating over whether my application was submitted in time (I have to admit an element of tardiness…).  Terraces are one thing, after all I don’t personally have a problem with the John Smith Stand, but a lack of seats can be a real deal breaker for some.

So I wasn’t entirely surprised to learn the club are looking to add 900 seats in the KRE next summer. The precise wording in the DT Board Meeting Minutes was as follows;

ES (Erik Samuelson) believes that, should we achieve promotion, we should begin work on a new, all seated KRE stand. The additional seats and greater capacity (116 increase) would generate more revenue and
enable us to meet the membership criteria of the Football League.

Not a great deal of detail there, although that will almost certainly follow – if not in a WHAK then an early season programme. But what facts can be extrapolated from the morsel of information we currently know? Firstly, the estimated capacity rise of a mere 116 means the new seating area will replace, rather than complement, the existing KRE terrace. Now here’s where I continue the tradition of Dons commentators discussing ground improvements despite an obvious lack of stadium design and planning knowledge, by adding my two cents to the debate.

One widely referred to factoid is the Dons will not get planning permission for any structure taller than the current Strank Stand at the KRE end (one of the reasons the RBK were keen to move the Dons to a new stadium by the allotments, as per last years development plan for Hogsmill Valley…). If you’re wondering how 900 seats would fit into such a small space (remember the location of Jack Goodchild Way would interrupt spacing those seats regularly across the byline…), the obvious answer would be to build a taller stand, with either an extremely low roof, or no roof at all.

Rebuilding the KRE would leave the John Smith Stand as the only non-Football Leagueworthy structure in the ground. Fair enough, the north end is given over to visiting supporters… I have an inkling a few visiting fans who otherwise have a soft spot for the Dons are going to change their tune after finding themselves only able to see 40% of the pitch.

Kingsmeadow will probably never rise above merely a decent lower non-league stadium in most peoples opinion but ho hum… We know the club aren’t going to do anything beyond stick a barrier along the front to increase capacity slightly by way of improving access, and who can blame them with even the merest possibility of a new stadium on the horizon.

Unless of course it becomes worth our while to carry out intermediate development work during an estimated seven-year stadium development period. Removing the JSS roof, reprofiling and adding seats or extra terracing behind is going to set us back a high six figure sum, so even if we sell out the Dons areas of the ground sixteen or seventeen times next season it might not be worthwhile adding capacity if we were only likely to get a hundred or so extra in the ground. It would take something special for additional capacity to become a priority… we would need to sell out pretty much every game and have hundreds of fans knocking the doors down on a weekly basis begging for tickets. (Even then this is back of a fag packet calculation in action, and for those wondering why I have fag packets when I supposedly gave up, I kept some of the old ones for precisely this purpose.)

The stadium issue is always going to be a little up in the air until we either hear positive news regarding a new stadium or exhaust all medium term options. The other factor we need to bear in mind is we are sharing with a club who occupied the ground before we did and hopefully will have a history well beyond our departure. By all accounts Kingstonian fans aren’t universally happy their ‘home’ end is going to be seated, and are wondering what the long-term implications of this development are going to be for a stadium that will only be required to accommodate low to medium three figure crowds on our departure. The future of Kingstonian FC might not be high on every Dons fans list of priorities, and there are huge questions over how K’s might go about buying Kingsmeadow back, but the fact is regardless of what modifications we make during our tenure, the original and moral owners of the stadium will hopefully continue playing there long after we depart.

Having grown up and lived in or around Kingston most of my life, I’ve received messages from people I went to school with saying how great it is they’ll finally be seeing League football on Kingston Road – which says quite a lot about the floating supporter in the town – but the truth is Kingsmeadow’s Football League days will be either a short-term phenomenon or (and even this will be the vast majority of Dons fans worst case scenario…) in a drastically altered form.


News Round-Up 25/5/11 – Kennedy, WHAK…

Perhaps understandably, when reporting the outcome of TB’s initial list of released players, one of the Dons forgotten men was, erm, forgotten yesterday…

But Kennedy Adjei’s contribution to the Dons promotion from the BSS should not be underestimated. First coming to Dons fans attention during an episode of the Nuts TV documentary ‘Football Hurts’, Kennedy progressed through Marcus Gayle’s reserve team before stepping up during pre-season following promotion from the Ryman League. To the surprise of some, Kennedy started the first game at Newport, running the midfield in what was a superb team performance.

Kennedy remained a fixture in the side as the Dons swept through the BSS, as Terry Brown’s rebuilt side passed their way to the title. Life in the Conference National was perhaps too much too soon for Kennedy, and the arrival of Steven Gregory ultimately lead to a year-long loan at Sutton United. Kennedy has decided to return to Ghana to join his family business, and will be remembered by Dons fans as an important part in the transition phase of Terry Brown’s master plan to turn the Dons into the classy passing outfit we see today.

The O/S today published the second ‘What’s Happening At Kingsmeadow?’ feature of the summer. The latest in the popular updates didn’t really tell us too much we didn’t know already, work will soon start on the stadium control box above the KRE/Strank Stand exit, as well as improvements to the PA system and the long promised barrier along the front of the JSS. What the update didn’t tell us was whether the improvements to access and stadium management will see any kind of adjustment to KM’s current capacity of 4,720…

The update signed off with a reminder that the fixtures are published in three weeks time – thankfully we no longer have to put up with the non-league blazer brigades pencil and paper technique, which infamously left certain sides with free Saturdays over the last couple of seasons… Current dates for your diary this summer are as follows;

28th & 29th May – Stadium Cleanup Weekend

16th June – Carling Cup 1st Round Draw

17th June – League Fixtures Released

9th July – First PSF

16th July – Leyton Orient (H) PSF… (not sure the club have officially announced this yet – but Leyton Orient have…)

23rd July – Watford (H) PSF

6th August – League Two kicks off

w/c 8th August – Carling Cup 1st Round

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Borough Wars

So on one hand we have a borough that is bending over backwards to include us in their twenty year development plan, but unfortunately cannot identify a site for us at the current time. On the other hand there is another borough that wishes to make our stadium plans part of their medium term development… the problem being this borough is Kingston, not Wimbledon…

Of course this is a response to Steve Elson’s article over on Wise Men Say (http://www.wise-men-say.com/brains/wimbledon-or-bust) and I have to say it was the most thought-provoking Dons article I have read for quite some time. The fact that it has already generated more comments than I have since August speaks volumes about its importance. The comments themselves betray that this isn’t really just a straight choice between Kingston and Wimbledon…

A tasty debate, this is one that is going to run and run. After all, AFC Wimbledon were originally formed due to a ‘debate’ over where the club should play, this is something that every Dons fan should feel strongly about. As is understandable, there is also an element of panic in the air. There seems to be two groups forming – both are undoubtedly behind returning to our home town in principle but seem to have different priorities; one group seemingly insistent that a move back to Wimbledon should be our top priority and take precedence over league position, the other that a move to Wimbledon is impractical at the moment and we should accept the best medium term alternative until a site that suits us becomes available.

So the argument really is do we risk staying at Kingsmeadow in the medium/long-term, build a new stadium and potentially miss out on a suitable site in Wimbledon in the next 5/10 years or so, or do we save our money by not redeveloping Kingsmeadow more that absolutely necessary, but find ourselves in an unsuitable stadium for the foreseeable future?

Personally I wouldn’t mind staying at Kingsmeadow until that holy grail appears before us and we find the right site in the right location, namely SW19… I make no secret of the fact my proximity to Kingsmeadow is handy for me, being in the borough that has been my home for about 26 of my 32 years. Plus growing up here, having friends in New Malden, Raynes Park and Wimbledon and travelling between Kingston and Wimbledon regularly, I’ve always considered the two towns as the same place anyway. I first became a Dons fan after reading match reports in the Surrey Comet, Kingston’s weekly paper, and thinking ‘Oh, they are my local team!’. I used to watch Kingstonian when I was a boy when the Dons played away, so I was well used to Kingsmeadow before we even arrived. So naturally I am subconsciously drawn towards Kingsmeadow as the best alternative option, and am probably ignoring key weaknesses of the site. But to suggest that it’s ok for us to stay in Kingston forever is a bit like living with your parents when you grow up… yes it’s comfortable, but deep down it’s not really your home anymore.

Despite my links with the town and the stadium, there is something bugging me. I originally became a Wimbledon fan; a team that played not that far from the town centre, I could catch a bus there and my mum used to let me go with friends or on my own if I needed, and I kind of want to see my support come full circle at some point in my life. I used the word panic earlier for a reason, as one potential problem we may have is this – should we end up building a new stadium in Kingston we may see the local fanbase rocket. These people will gradually infiltrate the club, eventually buying season tickets and joining the Dons Trust. In every other aspect they will be like us, until one day in the future our Chairman will come out and say ‘We can move back to Wimbledon, but it’s going to cost us – we may drop a division or two as we wont have the cash to compete…’ Now I would be well up for watching a team of battlers attempt to remain well above their station for a couple of years… especially when the ultimate prize is so much more valuable.

But what about any Kingston-based newcomers? Would they have that same drive that we do? Could we find ourselves in a position that these ‘newcomers’ (who could have been DT members for 15-20 years by the time we find a decent site) aren’t happy to accept such a blow to our status and consider it a waste of money. Lets not kid ourselves that some of those that at the moment I would describe as ‘us’, would feel comfortable at a redeveloped Kingsmeadow and would be easily talked into supporting the ‘Stay at Kingston’ brigade to the point that such a vote could be lost?

It’s a nightmare scenario alright, and how bitter a pill would that be for those of us who sat patiently, promised a stadium in Wimbledon that never came to being partly down to the evolution of the club itself? It’s unlikely but possible, and can only come about through our own ambivalence. We may have to wait twenty years, and it is down to us to ensure perhaps not that we return home as soon as possible, but simply that we return home at all.

Ok, so that might be unlikely, but more importantly we must consider how history will view us. These days the line between ‘the club’ and individual supporters has been blurred to the extent it no longer exists, we own the club, we make the decisions (or at least vote for the people who get to make the day-to-day calls for us…), and we no longer have a seedy businessman to blame if things go wrong. We should consider our sons and daughters, future generations of those born to SW19 who hear the call of the Dons and follow it. Yes we have done something amazing by rebuilding a Wimbledon club from the ashes of the one so criminally taken from us. But ultimately if we find this so-called Wimbledon team are still playing in Kingston in fifty years time, surely we would have failed, right?

Writing this article has clarified a few issues about how I feel personally about the whole situation. Yes, we need to be sensible about how we plan for the future, and returning to Wimbledon will require some caution. But ask yourself, could you cope with not seeing a Wimbledon side playing back in Wimbledon in your lifetime? I’ve asked myself that question today, and I have to say I’ll die a slightly disappointed man if they don’t.

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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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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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The General Specific (Saturday 30th May ’09)

It’s been a confusing morning for the Anonymous Don. I was under the impression I had written a brilliant defence for staying at Kingsmeadow for the time being before I went to bed last night, only to find I must have been in the deepest of fevers imaginable. To be fair, the redevelopment I wrote about is technically possible, however its only likely to happen if it turns out the whole world is a figment of my imagination as I lie in a coma somewhere.

The whole article was meant to be a balanced piece, where I spoke about Kingsmeadow and my personal feelings towards the place, then moved on to examine our options around Wimbledon and the surrounding areas. It didn’t quite work out like that, so even though I made it pretty clear from the start that I’m pro-Wimbledon, I thought I better write this ASAP this morning in case word gets around that the Anonymous Don is actually a henchmen of Winkie, designed to gain the trust of the Dons fan base and steer them away from their ultimate destiny of a ground in Wimbledon. Which could ruin my reputation… if of course I had a reputation.

I think most people are in agreement that any new stadium will need to be closer to ‘Wimbledon’ than Kingsmeadow currently is. But people seem to have different ideas as to where that is. I like the idea we should centre our search on Camp Road, on the Common. Other supporters think it should be Plough Lane. So for arbitrary reasons, and to make this article simpler for everyone, I’m going to go with Wimbledon Station. 



The circle is roughly the distance between Kingsmeadow and Wimbledon Station, which makes any potential site within fair game. Leader of the Opposition Councillor Stephen Alambritis recently suggested three sites – Imperial Fields, the Greyhound Stadium, or land around the tennis club. His point was there are plenty of green areas around the borough, so why not build a stadium on or near to existing sporting facilities? This would make sense rather than wait for a Brownfield site to become available

Imperial Fields is probably a no go; we know from recent experience that the locals just don’t want us even when we planned to share the existing 3000 capacity facility. As well as this, I wouldn’t feel comfortable ground sharing again, so we will have to force T&MU out. We all want our own stadium, however it doesn’t need me to say just how controversial that would be. It was interesting to hear Alambritis mention the tennis facilities, however I’m not sure how that will work in practice. Plus it’s one thing for Alambritis to gain favour by mere words, its actions that we need now.

Council leader David Williams has always seemed supportive, even if he has been channelling us towards the Greyhound Stadium. He was quoted earlier in the year as saying ‘I think they know that there’s only one real option and that’s the greyhound stadium.’ Hardly encouraging words, especially as neither us nor the council owns the site, by all means the council could use their powers to squeeze us into any new development, but the current owners seem happy to hold the land, perhaps even until the economy picks up and land becomes a lot more valuable once more.

So if it’s going to happen, we are going to have to take the initiative ourselves. Following the suggestion that green space could be used near existing sports facilities takes us to another football club based in the circle – Colliers Wood United. We wouldn’t even need to force them out of their ground, we could build next to it, or further down on the extension playing fields. This wouldn’t be as easy either, as the only way in and out is from the A3, and it’s a fair old walk from the nearest train station, Raynes Park.

The fact is there’s nothing stopping us building on any of these sites if we fight a brilliant campaign. We only have to look towards Brighton fans, and how they secured their new stadium site on sensitive land. There are thousands of us in and around Merton, and its time we made ourselves heard. Its time the majority was put ahead of a NIMBY minority for a change. Wherever we chose to focus, we need to systematically destroy any selfish arguments, and take a stand against these sorts of people.

Yet, as I said yesterday, we shouldn’t allow a prolonged stay at Kingsmeadow to get in the way of our ambitions. And lets not be afraid to spend serious money on the ground (after all we have already spent millions on it) while still looking for a new facility. Our primary objective as a football club wasn’t to find a ground in Wimbledon (or Merton) as soon as possible, our objective was to rise up the divisions and reclaim what is rightfully ours. So lets not allow some petty squabble to go on all summer long and cause unnecessary divisions among the fan base, we are in this for the long run aren’t we?

Finally it may have escaped the attentions of a few of you, but we signed Steven Gregory from Hayes and Yeading yesterday. The two-goal hero from the Conference South playoff final joins an increasingly young looking midfield, hopefully Terry will get them playing without fear next season. Perhaps we will see a more experienced head join in July when contracts run down and expire, but is it even necessary if the plan is to bring through younger players who can make the step up the League football? 

I have a feeling we are going to shock a few of our own supporters with our performances next term, I’m not saying we are going to go up, in fact mid table safety and a couple of almighty cup runs will suit me down to the ground, but a player like Gregory can only improve over the next season or two. So wherever we finish, we can look forward to a much brighter future on the pitch.

Terry has gone back to Ashford with an improved offer for Ricky Wellard, including a big cut of any future fee we receive for him, meaning the Middlesex club will have a chance to cash in on our first million pound player! Current signs are good the deal will go through, but unlike Gregory the club are unwilling to go to tribunal for him, so if the offer is refused, the deal is dead. Stay tuned for more news next week…

Already from the limited contact (mainly forum and email based) I have had with other supporters in the BSP, I have a feeling we are all going to enjoy being in this division! Being in the BSP for 5/6/7 years won’t kill us, but neither will promotion in two seasons, so lets not fear that either. Accrington are the latest club with a winding up order over their heads, these clubs pulling in sub 2000 or even sub 1000 crowds will get replaced eventually by the likes of Cambridge, Oxford, Stevenage even. But I don’t think we will see a newly promoted BSP club go straight back down for many years yet…

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The General Specific (Friday 29th May ’09)

So the outcome of those newspaper reports was nothing more than starting an Internet based squabble over where precisely our new ground should be. Ignoring of course we still have no preferred site closer to Wimbledon, the Greyhound Stadium owners still won’t talk to us (which is strange and arrogant of them, surely by now they could have responded, even if it was just ‘your barking up the wrong tree, folks’). I’m fairly certain the non-rumour was much more likely to have been spread to the papers by someone close to the council rather than the club.

wimbledonold25So I hope all the good publicity was worth it for them – we now know they will back us to build on a site we don’t own and which may not be released for redevelopment for years (taking the current financial climate into account). By that time the local elections could have decimated our support on the council, unless the stadium issue becomes a hot topic closer at that time.

It’s at this point that I have to come forward and declare an interest, that as someone who has lived in Kingston and its surrounds for most of my life I am naturally going to show a selfish bias towards staying at Kingsmeadow. I take great pride in the fact that my football club currently play in my hometown. I always used to follow Kingstonian when Wimbledon were playing too far for me to travel, so I have been watching football for years here.

The truth is, my love of Kingsmeadow has very little to do with Kingstonian as a club – the ground was just somewhere a group of 15 year olds who supported the likes of Wimbledon, Fulham, Chelsea, Manchester United, Spurs, Palace, etc, could go on a Tuesday night for a Carlsberg Cup game, spend ninety minutes taking the piss out of Sutton players, get served a beer at half time, and generally just enjoy ourselves at football without the fear of club loyalties ruining everything. If it weren’t for Kingsmeadow we wouldn’t have had that. 

Yes I love Wimbledon town very much, perhaps because I have never lived there and yet support the club I even have a rose tinted view of the place even those that are based in the town wouldn’t share. My memories of watching football at Plough Lane were collected almost exclusively before my fourteenth birthday (a dozen or so reserve games don’t count surely? Its a bit too late to try and cover up the fact I normally bunked off school for the afternoon to go, unless my mum is reading in which case – Sorry Mum).

Yet – and this might stagger those of you who feel wanting the club to remain at Kingsmeadow and wanting the club to move back to Wimbledon are two mutually exclusive ideas – if you asked me what camp I’m in right now I’d say I’m pro-Wimbledon. AFC Wimbledon deserve to play in Wimbledon, as a fan base we can move mountains. I really believe that. A move back to Wimbledon might seem impossible right now to some, but we can make it happen, whether it’s in five years, ten years or fifty years. We will achieve our goal.

Until then? The club has become progressively more successful in the last few years and will continue to be regardless of where we play, be it Kingsmeadow or somewhere in Merton. But why should we spend millions doing up Imperial Fields for example, when that isn’t Wimbledon either? Surely once that has been done we will all be fine for a couple of years before another site comes up and we all get itchy feet again?

We may as well stay at Kingsmeadow for all the good we will do ourselves. Get the rebuilding work done, get up to 6000 capacity, and see where we go from there. I hear rumours that Kingston Council may not be as proactive as Merton are, well they certainly will be when we are knocking on the door of the Football League and selling out Kingsmeadow every week. How long will it take until small businesses from Kingston to New Malden are banging on our door to assist our expansion plans? The pressure for homes in Kingston – let alone affordable ones – is through the roof. What ten or fifteen years ago was a town surrounded by waste ground has now been built on every available square inch.

All except two sites. The old power station, due to its proximity to the river, is always going to be a sensitive one. The other is the filter beds. Now at some point in the future, there is going to be a development there. And that development will more that likely bring with it footpath access from Lower Marsh Lane/Berrylands station. With at least an extra two trains an hour arriving within easy reach of the stadium in both directions (and the likely hood of South-West Trains allowing the Waterloo-Woking service and perhaps even the Waterloo-Guildford via Cobham run stopping at Berrylands on match day being quite high – they already do this frequently during high passenger traffic periods) fans could find it easier to get to KM from there than from Norbiton.

So where will all these fans fit into our tiny 4700 arena? Well we know from the beauty of openly available trust reports that the extra turnstiles will push us over the 5000 capacity + 1000 seat limit to allow us at least a three year stay in the Football League. That’s not going to be big enough for us, so I will imagine that developments on the Kingston Road End are completed as per current plans. The safety bonus of having supporters enter and leave from the rear as well as the front will mean we could fit a few more in safely.

That only takes us up to 5,500, so the club implements the John Smith planning permission. Or maybe it doesn’t? Perhaps the club find out it would be more cost effective to join forces with the council owned running track, demolish the old stand there, and build a new one in front of the old one, moving that jump pit inside the track? Or even putting the stand on the other side of the track altogether… it would cost money, but again there would be improved grants available to a Football League club, and as it is improving the athletics facilities too may qualify for a separate grant for that part of the work. All of a sudden there’s 7,000 in the ground, and things are looking a little rosier.

km overhead

Finally the Strank Stand. Seemingly constrained by its own structure, the only alternative would be to demolish and rebuild. The only way we could possibly do this would be to find a ‘development partner’. Again grants would play a part, but if we cosy up to the right sort of investor at the right time, i.e. one who had noticed a lack of conference and banqueting facilities in the Borough.

I know I have banged on about this before, but as someone who once had to plan a Christmas party for a Surbiton based company knows only too well – there aren’t nearly enough of them! Most venues were telling me they are solidly booked throughout the year, let alone Xmas, and we had no chance (we eventually had to make do with a Monday early in December in Strada. Nice, but not what we had in mind…). This was before Ravens Ait fell dormant – the island site later fell into the hands of ‘community squatters’, before sadly they were turfed out last month.

Ok, a reality check now. I know speculators looking to grab a few hundred thousand pounds a year from the business community probably won’t snap up Kingsmeadow. I also know what ever happens to Ravens Ait there are likely to be similar facilities in the new Holiday Inn just down the Pompey Road. But what’s stopping us from making the most of our own site – and scooping the rewards ourselves?

Well, it would take a massive amount of investment and borrowing off our own backs, even if the inflated London construction prices were capped with the largest grants available. But those steps don’t need to be taken straight away, they can happen over the course of ten or twenty years, as a piecemeal development – always keeping our eyes open for a return to the Promised Land. Every new structure from now on – even those basic improvements we have to make to stay in the Conference/be eligible for the league – will need to be debated with the same ferocity as this one has.

Lets not be scared of argument. Ultimately as someone who attended coming on forty Dons games last season, my opinion counts the same as any Wimbledon supporters, whether they be based in Wimbledon, Mitcham, Croydon or Kent, if they attended every first team game or just a handful of home fixtures. As a long time Kingston-based Don I’m fairly certain I know my council. They resisted public criticism to build The Rose, the loss making theatre. They did everything in their power to get the family oriented Rotunda built. So I’m fairly certain if they were offered a Football League club for keeps, they’ll snatch our hands off. Bear in mind ten years ago Kingston Town Centre was a battleground on Friday and Saturday nights caused by pissed up young fools like myself… and fair enough it hasn’t improved a great deal after throwing out time now. But walk around the town centre of a Saturday night, you’ll see a lot more families, theatre-types, or people who only came to Kingston to sample the Jamie Oliver restaurant.

Kingston wants to build more hotels, to make more of its heritage, its closeness to Hampton Court and Kew and the launch pad to several dozen historic places nearby. Kingston wants to see new people, to be a tourist hotspot. For that reason, Kingston will want a football club in the League. And what about other institutions? I remember picking up a prospectus at Kingston Uni ten years ago that advised students ‘Premier League football is a short journey away, as Wimbledon FC play at Selhurst Park’. The message being that cheap football was nearby, and although the student demographic at the Uni has changed considerably over the years, there will still be plenty of students willing to come down, even based on our reputation alone.

Those of you who may have seen my posts on the guest book recently will know I hold no sympathies for Kingstonian FC. The reaped what they sowed and have finally found their level because of it. Kingstonian FC are a famous old non-league name, and that’s all they will ever be. They will have their minor success and their problems here and there, but ultimately it will be achieved in the Ryman Premier, perhaps yo-yoing between the division above during the good times and the division below during the bad. 300-500 people will turn up to watch them do it, and no matter how hard Wimbledon try for new supporters in the Royal Borough it will always be that way. Those words I mentioned yesterday, spoken by a neighbour five years ago, are still ringing in my ears. “Kingstonian blew it. AFC Wimbledon are our club now”

Certain webmasters who are all too keen to fire cheap shots over from the safety of their sofas while they aren’t watching TV 🙂 should bear that in mind. Yes, I’m not an expert on potential sites in Merton, I have never been to a council planning meeting in my life, and I’m talking as a Kingston based Don who has an obvious pride in his town, a pride that extends to the fact that our football club elected to play here to begin with, and therefore Kingston will always somehow be associated with its history.

I’m not sure whether a League club playing down the road will convert supporters on the Cambridge Estate in their droves from the evil empire that is Chelsea. As far as I’m aware the estate is a dumping ground for the unwanted anyway, or they would have got a nice house in Tolworth or Chessington, and the turnover is pretty high. What’s the betting that in ten years time we will see a number of young fans with no previous English allegiances swarming the ‘Meadow on match day, just because we happen to be down the road from where they live. And if they bring their Chelsea supporting dad, so be it, we’ll convert him too! Then all of a sudden we have a thousand or so more fans in K’tun, capable of affecting local planning and council policy.

This has gone beyond a rant now and is in danger of becoming a full on diatribe. I’ve never written a diatribe before, so it’s all very exciting. Obviously the article I was referring to above, Rob Dunford of SW19 fame’s eloquent summing up of recent events, probably makes this effort look like the rambling scribbles of a pre-teen suffering from ADHD locked in a room with only a pen, a crayon and an idea. I do have to say in my defence that Rob probably isn’t suffering from the early stages of full-blown man flu like I am, so I have neither the concentration nor inclination to go back and edit tonight.

So I hope you’ve enjoyed this edition of The General Specific – Unleashed. Some of the points I raised above may seem ludicrous to seasoned experts in their respective fields. Shoot them down in flames if you know different, not because I think you can’t, but because I want to know for myself what the likelihood is of improving the stadium in the manner I suggested.

And please don’t ever suggest that Kingston as a Borough is not suitable for our team. It’s as suitable as any location within a three-mile radius of Wimbledon station. Its suitable because it’s only a steroid fuelled javelin throwers best shot from the very place we first started – Wimbledon Common. I know none of us were born then, but the ghosts of the Old Centrals still kick those heavy leather balls around in the dead of night (I presume, I mean I know nothing of the paranormal. UFO’s and Cryptozooligy on the other hand I’m slightly better on). Perhaps the WUP could spend some money on a plaque sited on our best guess of where our first ever game took place. Because whether it was Wimbledon Common, Raynes Park, New Malden or wherever those Old Centrals also had difficulty finding a home ground. We owe the fact there is an AFC Wimbledon here today for us to support to them.

And whatever happens in future, we must all remember this (and I’m definitely including myself in this…). Whatever is best for the club is best for us all, regardless of where that may be. Although Milton Keynes is stretching it slightly too far…



It has been noticed that I failed to mention the signing of Steven Gregory today, and I will come back with a full introduction tomorrow, unless I am forced to spend the day in bed which will be a real bummer as I’m supposed to be viewing a flat in Surbiton at 10:20. On behalf of the Anonymous Don (which is a really stupid thing to write anyway, as I am the Anonymous Don) can I apologise for this oversight, and welcome you into the bosom of our family, AFC Wimbledon.

Also can I apologise to everyone else for the grammar… 

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Sold Out

For those of you not aware, Saturdays final game of the season is now sold out. Another 4000 plus crowd flocking into Kingsmeadow has been an exception during our first six years, but the excitement generated by our arrival in non-league football’s top flight will surely see this close-to-capacity sort of crowd become the norm next term, at least as far as Saturday home games are concerned.

The club are yet to announce ticket prices or season ticket details for next season yet, however Erik has been pretty open about the fact a small rise will follow promotion. Checking current Conference ticket prices, a rise to £12 will keep us as one of the cheapest in the division – a ticket in the all seated away sections at Stevenage and Oxford will set us back £17 for example. The low costs and current popularity of tickets suggests there may be a surge in season tickets overthe summer – its likely we will end up selling over 2000 for the first time.

Plus fans may have to get used to buying in advance, at least for high profile games. The way the St Albans match sold out almost unnoticed suggests Dons fans have got used to this following recent ticketed away trips. This could happen more and more next season, as the more you look for big games, the more appear. True, games against the likes of Eastbourne Borough or Salisbury City may not pull in much more than 3500 for a Saturday game, but visits from the likes of Luton, Oxford, Cambridge, even teams without a league background but a large following like Stevenage could see demand far outstrip supply.

Erik has been consistent to point out that no major development will take place while the club is in the Conference. With a capacity of 4700, would the temptation to erect even a semi-permanent structure prove irresistable if the board find themselves having to turn down requests from a thousand ticketless fans. How much would it cost, for example, to remove the roof over the Kingston Road End, and add a bank of seats raised behind the terrace as at Brightons Withdean Stadium, or several rugby clubs? Would we make our money back in two seasons? One season? The added benefit being you could carve up the Kingston Road End roof and pop it either side of the John Smith Stand, effectively covering those corners.

I suppose a lot would depend on the outcome of the Perimeter Lease, as far as I know talks are still ongoing, and I sincerely hope that Kingston Council are not using it as a ‘ransom strip’. I wonder how much thought has gone into the possibility of a temporary structure, I don’t know if anyone has mentioned this before? The thoroughness of the Stadium Working Group suggests to me it has been thought of and disregarded, perhaps due to costs, or even the possibility it could compromise the current planning permissions we do hold.

I am neither an expert on planning, nor costs of temporary seating (if I was I’d be on the Stadium Working Group!), the above shouldn’t be regarded as anything more than idle speculation. Perhaps it’s for the best if we don’t increase capacity for other reasons. In their first season in Major League Soccer, the Seattle Sounders have managed to sell out pretty much their entire home schedule at the vast Qwest Arena, mainly by restricting capacity to the 22,000 lower bowl in the 60,000 capacity stadium.

With games selling out quickly, the Sounders seem to have realised the marketing potential gained by having the hottest tickets in town, and seem reluctant to open even a few blocks of the Upper Bowl, presumably due to the increased costs of doing so. Could our club benefit from supporters turning up for less glamorous games as they couldn’t get tickets for the big games? While there is a whole world of difference between the way tickets are sold and marketed for a sporting event in the USA and a non-league game in England, have I stumbled onto a major new Dons related conspiracy theory?

No. Even if a marketing intern dreamed that one up, the chances of it actually working outside of this half-baked article are probably pretty slim. English people (Dons fans especially…) are far more likely to say ‘Sod it!’ and go home, than ‘Sod it! We couldn’t get tickets for Oxford, lets get a couple for the Tamworth game instead…’. Plus the board would be forgetting their duty as a fan owned club to make sure as many owners (actual or potential) have the opportunity to be in the stadium come matchday.

Back in reality, we’re all going to have to get used to either having a season ticket (which I haven’t yet done in the AFC era, but naturaly will for next year) or buying our tickets in advance, on the website. Perhaps I’m mistaking a short term ticket spurt caused by the urge to see a winning team, for actual long term growth. Stuck in mid-table (especially if the football doesn’t turn out to be that great…), we could see a couple of spikes when the big boys come to town, while the attendances against ‘normal’ clubs remains pretty much the same. Indeed if we play an Oxford or Cambridge on a wet Thursday night and the game’s on tv, is it even likely to sell out at all?

In these tough financial times, its going to be impossible to know whether and by how much the gates will rise. So if you aren’t a current season ticket holder, and you can afford a season ticket this year, do yourself a favour and buy one. If you can’t afford it, make sure you get your tickets well in advance next season. The only thing we can be completelycertain of next season is our own loyalty.

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