With South West Trains once again offering their excellent £15 return across the network, it seemed rude not to take advantage of such an opportunity. Friday, 3rd April (Good Friday to some, another day with football to myself) seemed like the ideal chance to go somewhere further afield, but where to journey was the question. A quick peruse of the fixture lists soon provided me with the answer, Kingsmeadow. A 3pm kick-off with AFC Wimbledon hosting Northampton Town in a play-off chasing League Two encounter. Lovely, one of those then please.
With ticket in hand (£11 to mingle with the supposedly more vocal support in the Chemflow End), I boarded the train from my third home, New Milton train station, over to Norbiton, with a quick change at Clapham Junction in the middle. I seem to be getting a name for enduring relatively tedious journeys to and from fixtures, and once more, I was subject to nothing of any particular note as I raced through the southern countryside towards London. That being said, the girl behind me swore she saw an Alpaca in a field somewhere near Basingstoke. I can’t lie to you guys, I too was momentarily interested for all of about half a second.
The walk from Norbiton station over towards Kingsmeadow (I’ve told you previously I hate corporate tags on stadium names) is short, and uninspiring for the most part, but at the same time it was something a bit different than what I’ve previously experienced on my adventures. With drizzle in the air, the ground was wet and I simply joined the throng of people walking in the same direction. The only noise to be heard was a few people chatting around me, and the faint sound of a few lads erupting into song a couple of streets ahead. It bared uncanny resemblance to the TV adverts of dad’s taking sons to their first games, and for a short while, I felt like a kid again.
I arrived at the ‘Cherry Red Record’s Stadium’ (never uttering that nonsense again) in plenty of time, and was able to meander over towards the turnstiles, taking in the club shop in the process. I’d spent the entire journey adamantly telling myself that there was no chance of me buying a scarf, but at the final moment I caved, wrapping the scarf around my shoulders as I left the shop, which was gleefully acknowledged by two or three people in my vicinity. At a cool £7, I have no regrets.
Kingsmeadow plays hosts to both League Two side AFC Wimbledon, the side I would watch battle with Northampton Town this mild Easter afternoon, as well as Kingstonian of the (Ryman) Isthmian Premier Division. There’s four stands to the place, two of which are seated (along the touchline opposite the dugouts, as well as the stand behind the far goal). I was based behind the goal in the Chemflow End terrace, with the away fans tucked into the far corner of the second standing area, which was to my right as I faced the pitch.
There’s no real charm about the place, and there’s nothing that immediately strikes you and makes you fall in love, but I did thoroughly enjoy it. There’s a friendly buzz surrounding the ground, and I felt as soon as I walked in that I was to enjoy an entertaining game of football. The standing terrace may have helped that, and I’m certainly surprised that the football league bigwigs haven’t jumped on the destroying football atmosphere bandwagon and forced an all-seater prison sentence. Sadly, the ‘Wombles’ fans were quiet today, and I wasn’t able to enjoy some of the incredible football league atmosphere you regularly read about.
Full-time; (Game 107/Ground 38)
AFC Wimbledon 2-2 Northampton Town (Att: 4,667)
(Rigg 58′, Reeves 60′) (Gray 66′ 69′)