First and last at Kingsmeadow - Carl's Travels with Town

PUBLISHED: 18:52 12 February 2020 | UPDATED: 19:12 12 February 2020

The intimate feel of Kingsmeadow, where the fans are never far from the action. Here the two teams are walking onto the pitch before kick-off. Picture: CARL MARSTON

The intimate feel of Kingsmeadow, where the fans are never far from the action. Here the two teams are walking onto the pitch before kick-off. Picture: CARL MARSTON

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Football writer Carl Marston has visited 121 Football League grounds, many of them reporting on Ipswich Town. Here he recounts Tuesday evening's visit to Kingsmeadow

The press box at Kingsmeadow, before Tuesday night's clash. The blue seats are the away directors section, but also acted as the press overspill. Picture: CARL MARSTONThe press box at Kingsmeadow, before Tuesday night's clash. The blue seats are the away directors section, but also acted as the press overspill. Picture: CARL MARSTON

Ipswich Town, with me in tow, paid their first and almost certainly last visit to Kingsmeadow, in Kingston upon Thames, for a competitive match on Tuesday evening.

Well, that's not quite accurate - I had actually been to Kingsmeadow once before, or rather next-door at the Kingston Athletics Centre, behind the aptly named Athletics End, back in 2009.

The sporting competition was a Southern Inter-Counties athletics meeting, for under-13s (boys and girls), a rather specialist event, I know, but then my youngest step-son Harry was representing Suffolk over the 100m and 200m sprints, so I had a good reason to be in attendance.

We were holidaying in a caravan in the New Forest, at the time, so it was not too far to travel to Kingston upon Thames, in leafy Surrey.

The bright lights outside Kingsmeadow before kick-off on Tuesday evening. Picture: CARL MARSTONThe bright lights outside Kingsmeadow before kick-off on Tuesday evening. Picture: CARL MARSTON

- The night Jimmy Bullard scored on his Town debut

There was not too much excitement that day but, in truth, it was probably still more richly entertaining than the fare served up on Tuesday night, a few metres away, for a goalless 'cracker.'

Behind the scenes at Kingsmeadow, the home of AFC Wimbledon. It's not all glamour in League One! Picture: CARL MARSTON,Behind the scenes at Kingsmeadow, the home of AFC Wimbledon. It's not all glamour in League One! Picture: CARL MARSTON,

There are 0-0s, and then there are 0-0s.

Some are rip-roaring, incident-packed affairs, the deadlock unbroken but the supporters still treated to a performance of flair, passion and aggression.

Others are dull; dull in the extreme.

If push-came-to-shove, I would put Tuesday night's League One stalemate in the second category.

I will probably remember this most recent visit to Kingsmeadow as a mere footnote, in this 'Travels with Town' tour, just as 11 years earlier that under-13 athletics event does not shine brightly in the mind - for the record, Harry did not win, or medal, but, as we all know, 'it's the taking part that matters!'

The low-down

- Club: AFC Wimbledon

- Founded: 2002 (18 years ago)

- Ground: Kingsmeadow (Cherry Red Records Stadium) since 2002

- Early years: AFC Wimbledon have played at Kingsmeadow since they were founded, after former club Wimbledon's move to Milton Keynes was given the green light. They began life in the Combined Counties League, but made quick progress up the football pyramid, eventually winning promotion to League One in 2016.

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Quirky facts

Kingsmeadow was the home to Kingstonian until April, 2017.

Chelsea had purchased the leasehold from AFC Wimbledon in 2015, to use as a home for their women's team and youth teams.

The deal helped AFC Wimbledon finance the construction of a new ground (at Plough Lane), but also left Kingstonian homeless. They currently groundshare with Cornithians Casuals.

Town's visit/Carl's experience

I don't get to watch Ipswich Town much these days, due to the rival attraction of the non-league scene.

And I must admit that whenever I have seen Town perform this season, down in the third tier, I've considered them to be the better team, but certainly not world-beaters, title contenders or even play-off certainties.

I reported on the opening day 2-2 draw at Burton Albion, and endured last month's rain-lashed 0-0 stalemate at Oxford United's Kassam Stadium.

Town played quite well on both occasions, though nothing earth-shattering, and although never firing on more than a couple of cylinders at Kingsmeadow on Tuesday night, they were again the better team (marginally).

But then, as a League One club, I suppose they should be, certainly against clubs like Oxford, Burton and AFC Wimbledon, who have spent many of their recent years in non-league, or just above.

- From the Roker Roar to the Stadium of Light - Carl's Travels with Town

For me, the highlights of the first half were James Norwood rattling the underside of the bar, and the media rep asking me whether I wanted tea or coffee for the half-time interval.

On the pitch, Town blew several chances to score in the second half, but it was perhaps apt that, given their humble surroundings - there is obviously a real non-league feel to Kingsmeadow - they came up short, again.

Off the pitch, I was in the press box overspill, which was actually the away directors section. Town owner Marcus Evans, sitting just behind, was therefore also officially in the press overspill. Perhaps a first?

The stadium doesn't hold more than 5,000 (official capacity of 4,850, with 2,265 seats) but this means that the fans are crammed in, especially along the shallow terracing in the East Stand.

It's an intimate experience, one of the joys of League One.

And I had tea, not coffee.

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