There’s no place like home and - for all its imperfections – Kingsmeadow has been ours for the past 18 years, witnessing some of the most precious moments in our club’s proud history.
Yes, we need to be back in Wimbledon inside a ground with a far bigger capacity and modern facilities and, yes, the good ol’ Cherry Red Records stadium still leaks when it rains!
But Kingsmeadow isn’t just about the bricks and the mortar and the roof and all the things we wish were better.
It’s where we crushed West Ham in the FA Cup and left Manuel Pellegrini shell-shocked in the dug-out. It’s where we gave mighty Liverpool the fright of their lives; it’s where we won our last match of the season to stay in League Two; it’s where we beat AFC Hornchurch in the Ryman play-offs and popular striker Jon Main scored one of the truly great goals, almost running the entire length of the pitch to slot home a George Best-style winner.
It’s the electrifying atmosphere when our fans are in full voice; it’s feeling like you’re so close to the players they’re practically mates; it’s congregating outside the ground before every home game, pints in hand, mixing with friends and getting ready for the next match.
The years have made Kingsmeadow our own unique fortress and to celebrate that we’ve already issued a special commemorative shirt which is available online and in the club shop.
On top of that, we’ve now compiled a brilliant and emotional video that encapsulates everything that’s been special about KT1.
Our club captain, Will Nightingale, recalls seeing his first-ever game as an eight year old – and then eventually making his Football League debut at Kingsmeadow. “I remember walking out as mascot here - and I remember pulling out weeds and painting parts of the stands. So much I relate to this club is through Kingsmeadow.”
Beating West Ham remains his outstanding memory – but it wasn’t just the epic result that stuck in his mind. “I remember looking into fans’ faces, seeing the passion within them and then feeling it run through me as well. It was electric,” he adds. “That’s what Kingsmeadow is all about; that tight-knit, homely feel that somehow creates such a powerful atmosphere.”
Former left-back Michael Haswell recalls a similar experience during the Hornchurch game: “The fans were the 12th man that night. The feeling was everything a player would want but, more importantly, it was about belonging to Wimbledon and the club. It felt like Kingsmeadow would be part of our family for a very long time.”
Adebayo Akinfenwa rates his equaliser against Liverpool as his personal highlight – but also fondly remembers the 2016 play-off semi-final against Accrington Stanley. “When Tom Beere scored, the place just erupted,” he says.
One of our club’s founders, Ivor Heller, reveals how other locations – like Dulwich, Sutton, Tooting and Leatherhead - were all considered before we committed to Kingston, a moment that he insists “is a massive part of the Wimbledon story. I truly believe if we hadn’t come here an awful lot of our history would have never happened.”
He adds: “I can’t wait to get to Plough Lane but, without a shadow of a doubt, this place has still been very special for us.”