Cherry Records Fan's Stadium - AFC Wimbledon
Saturday, August 19th 2011,
V Hereford United, League Two 3pm
By Myles Munsey
1. Reason for visit:
Having covered very league club in the South I needed the two newcomers A.F.C. Wimbledon and Crawley Town to add to my list. Ideally I would have like to have been there for Wimledon's opening fixture against Bristol Rovers but as that game was sold out, I was forced to wait another couple of weeks.
2. Getting there:
This was dead easy. Train from Reading to Twickenham, then round the Kingston Loop to Norbition. I then followed the instructions as detailed on the website and found the ground without any trouble.
3. Before the game:
As I am not a lunctime pub person (preferring to watch my football 'compos mentis'), I simply availed myself of a light lunch at a sandwich shop. The Fat Boy Cafe whilst spotted was given a miss! (Nice though I'm sure it is). There was a downpour about an hour before kick-off so I exchanged pleasantries with the locals under the welcome cover of a large tree. I complemented them on reaching league status which seemed to be genuinely appreciated even though they admitted it hasn't sunk in just yet.
4. First impressions:
Without being disrespectful it is clearly a 'non-league ground' which is evident even from long-range and you can see why AFCW have set their sights on better things.
5. The game:
I viewed the game from the John Smith's Terrace. One of the best I've seen for a long time. Good fast-flowing attacking football from both sides jam-packed with endeavour. Lots of enterprise from the away side. An unmarked headed goal from Hereford's Delroy Facey after 8 minutes was cancelled out after 24 by another close-range header this time by Jack Midson following a corner . Plenty of chances and goalmouth action from both sides after that. Hereford were clearly intent on going for all three points, bossed the latter stages and could have nicked it. A most refreshing attitude (for a side the wrong end of the table) which was good to see. A draw was fair though.
6. Getting away:
A 5 minute delay in getting away from the ground as in a 'shared terrace' the police insisted on the away support exiting first. Easily made the 17.22 from Norbiton.
7. Whilst I wasn't expecting an architectural gem, the ground really is a stop-gap until they find a better venue. Of note is the metal archway proclaiming 'Kingsmeadow', but I'm afraid I Iooked in vain for any other distinguishing features.
The roofs over the terraces must be the lowest on record which made viewing the action a bit like being at a wide-screen cinema. I found it very cramped and rather uncomfortable. On a lighter note the roof was punctuated by drain holes which were letting in water badly over the bloke in front's head. Being tall I was able to reach up high and effect a temporary repair by stuffing the offending hole full of tissue. It worked and he stayed dry after that!
All in all though a very good day out. Good game and plenty of lively banter between rival sets of suppporters. The stewards were engaging, chatty and very helpful. 10/10 for that.
Do go to Kingsmeadow, you will get a warm welcome to a friendly ground which is hassle-free. Without being harsh I think it fair to say though that the projected new stadium in Merton is eagerly anticipated.
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