Monday 20 April 2009

Kingstonian/AFC Wimbledon

Kingsmeadow is the current home of AFC Wimbledon. But to me it will always be, first & foremost, the ground of Kingstonian; the original incumbants, which is why I list the K's first. (As I did with both Welling United & Barkingside)
Forget how AFC Wimbledon aquired the stadium, I'm not going to get on my 'soapbox' here, this is about the ground, and the ground alone.
The one thing you cannot deny is that since the 'new' Dons started her in 2002 the ground has slowly & steadily improved, & it surely won't be too many seasons before they host Football League matches here.
On the day of my visit for these photos, Saturday 18th April 2009, I saw K's beat my team Dulwich Hamlet 2-1, to clinch the Ryman League Division One South title. On the same day AFC Wimbledon wrapped up the Blue Sqare Conference South title at Hampton & Richmond Borough. Has there ever been a more successful day for a pair of groundsharing clubs?

It is a good relationship between tenant & landlord, with signs in roughly equal number.

From the main road here is the entrance. that sign just doesn't look right, covering the Kingsmeadow arch signage.

An old sign, from the days when the ground was the sole property of Kingstonian.

The road into the ground, with the arched sign over it, is named after this man, who had a lifelong involvement in Kingstonian Football Club, until he passed away a few years ago.

A distinctive club crest for the K's.

Time to change that sign!

Both of these are on the outer wall of the main stand/bars area, which is where the car park is.

And this is the main entrance. I don't care what anyone says, I can't stand the name 'Fans Stadium'!

More signs!

At last! We're inside! This is the view across the pitch, from the main turnstiles, from where we'll be heading in a clockwise direction.

Before we do, we look right, down the main stand, which runs the length of the pitch. This 'shiny part' is the extension, added recently by AFC Wimbledon, where it was previously open standing, & a tea bar.

Behind this goal is open terracing & cover in the centre.

This is a group of Hamlet fans.

On the wall at the back was a home flag.

The teams come onto the pitch, with a 'guard of honour' from younger K's sides.

We crack on, moving round the ground, a small toilet block in the corner. Presumably added by AFC Wimbledon ,as it's in their colours.

Somehow I can't see the stewards implementing this, if there are over four thousand Dons inside! ;-)

Here we see the covered terrace that runs down the side opposite the stand.

I was about to move on, but I dashed back behind the goal as we got a penalty! Unfortunately saved...

The steps are more than adequate, but rather shallow.

At least the steps are wide, if not deep.

From the side we look back to behind the goal where we've strolled from.

Behind the dugouts, looking over to the main stand, note more warning notices to behave on top of them.

Past the dugouts we continue along the terrace.

Here we look down the touchline, dugouts in view, as well as the far goal.

Past the cover there is more open terracing.

And so to the other covered end, built by Kingstonian as the Athletics End; & roofed by AFC Wimbledon, now named the Tempest End.

Before we get there we look across from the corner flag to the main stand.

With the same corner flag still in shot we look at the massed, nervous home fans.

From the side of the terrace we look along this end. I'm no expert, but when we were up this end in the second half we made a fair bit of noise, which 'echoed' well. I would hazard a guess that the roof was designed with the deliberate help of an acoustics expert, as noise 'bounces' well at this end.

Another look along this stretch of terrace.

Another home banner, in praise of their manager Alan Dowson, & NOT the referee! Apparently he described the fans as being like a twelveth man for Kingstonian!

Moving along this end we see the tea bar in the corner, & te start of the main stand.

Here is a good shot of the full length of the stand.

And from this end, more to centre, we glance at the covered terrace down the side.

Another similar shot of the stand.

A closer view of the tea bar in the corner.

And so to the main stand.

But before we head there it's back behind the goal for the rest of the match.

The match is now over, and the home crowd are on their feet, to acknowledge the new Division One South Isthmian League champions!

Here is another section of the stand, further along.

Tunnel, & press box at the back, in view.

This is the way down the tunnel.

And the last part of the stand, which we saw as we entered the ground earlier.

That's the whole ground covered, but it wouldn't have been right for me to go home before taking a few pictures of the celebrations.

Getting ready for the presentations.

K's fans happily flying their flags.

Isthmian League secretary Nick Robinson hands over the championship trophy.

And it's proudly held aloft!

One last shot of the ongoing celebrations, before I head to the bar to 'beat the rush' & 'drown my sorrows' with a bottle or two of Lucozade Sport!

Now that's what you call planning ahead! ;-)

Still, if it couldn't be us, CONGRATULATIONS KINGSTONIAN!