The second incarnation of a football club from Wimbledon, South West London, is steadily gathering momentum. Outside Write popped down to Kingsmeadow to watch AFC Wimbledon and see how things are taking shape.
Going to watch AFC Wimbledon at the ground it shares with non-league Kingstonian is like going back in time. A hand-written, franked letter delivers the tickets, and the ground is compact, low-rise with some standing. Even the thin yellow ribbing on the famous dark blue shirts are a nod back to the Crazy Gang era.
For those unfamiliar with the AFC Wimbledon story, the original Wimbledon FC left its Plough Lane home in 1991 after a rapid rise through the leagues to ground share with Crystal Palace. After being relegated from the Premier League in 2000 the owners relocated the team 60 miles away in Milton Keynes in 2003, prompting the founding of AFC Wimbledon by fans.
While the original Wimbledon FC rebranded as MK Dons – still known by some fans as ‘Franchise FC’ – AFC Wimbledon started again in the ninth tier of English football, rapidly rising to the Football League.
Bright future for AFC Wimbledon
The club now has a surprise celebrity backer in the form of American author and YouTuber, John Green. Indeed, the stand I sat in is sponsored by Green and is, unsurprisingly, named the John Green Stand.
Here’s Green watching AFC Wimbledon against the team he supports, Liverpool, in the FA Cup in early 2015.
How to get to AFC Wimbledon
AFC Wimbledon is in negotiations with Merton Council over a return to the club’s spiritual home at Plough Lane with a new stadium plan.
In the meantime, AFC Wimbledon look to continue to fill the compact and homely Kingsmeadow, or the ‘Cherry Red Record Stadium’, as it’s known for sponsorship reasons. The attendance for the League One visit of Hartlepool United when I visited was 3,638, including a couple of hundred of dedicated ‘Pool fans, but can hold up to 4,850. [Continues]
Complete with Wombles, polite and friendly fans and staff, AFC Wimbledon is a great place to visit and, at £20 for adults, is pretty good value.
With the possible exception of some people from Milton Keynes, I reckon deep down, everyone’s an AFC Wimbledon fan. The story of the fan-owned phoenix club really sums up football’s romance and I’m sure we all would like to see the club succeed.