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So once again, it looks like we’ve been rebuffed in returning to Merton. Last night at Crown House, the planning application which would allow AFCW to play at T&M was comprehensively rejected by about 6-1 (or 7-1, whatever it was). Basically, around that arse end of SM4 traffic is a nightmare anyway, and parking is predominantly shite, the local residents were quite adamant that it shouldn’t go ahead and reportedly T&M didn’t make a very good case for it. The phrase “sentences”, “two”, “stringing” and “couldn’t” were bandied about.

So now what? Firstly, it makes the SGM on the 24th a bit pointless, it seems more than likely that we’ll be at Ks now for the forseeable future. Secondly, it will hopefully refocus our ground efforts, which to be honest have been more dormant than a Franchise supporters club meeting. It will at least show us how exactly to approach Merton, how to deal with the residents etc, or rather how not to deal with them.

Thirdly, and most importantly, we are in a stronger postition than we may think. Once again, we have been “wronged” or “twarted” in our attempts to return to our own borough. Although SW19’s views on T&M are well known, to strip last night’s decision down to it’s bare bones practically means that the London Borough of Merton have stopped us returning to our own home. And that for them is not good at all – they got lucky with MK coming just before the elections, which probably saved them and now they’ve had to do the first bit of actual manoevering, they’ve failed us. No, I know that it was T&M doing the moving and shaking, but we can twist this to our advantage. We’ve backed a plan and they’ve rejected it.

What we now know is what we need to do : it is quite clear to all and sundry that major (and I mean, MAJOR) cultivation will be needed. We’ve done very well on that score since we were formed, but now really is to take it to the next level. Already, the Joseph Hood site for the Academy will be the first time in a long while (ever?) where a team called Wimbledon will have put their own application in for anything and meant it. If LBM reject that, expect hell to pay – it could be a fatal blow for Merton. They certainly won’t be able to be trusted again. If it suceeds, it will deffo give us encouragement.

The Stadium Working Group has claimed that it had identified at least three sites, and obviously anyone with half a brain will respect them when they won’t tell us anything. I will however state this – I suggest that we go no further in the search for a ground than Ks itself : go down the A3 by all means, but AFAIAC even as far as Tolworth could be considered a little bit too far. Remember what SP did to us. If Ks really does become our only option, so be it, but we really do have to let the SWG do their stuff, get motivated etc before we admit defeat over Merton. Been there, done that, got the shrink-wash t-shirt. I don’t know anyone who wants to repeat all that.

In many other more perverse ways, having this rejection is a blessing. It is still SW19’s ultra-paranoid hunch that T&M was all ready to be signed and sealed given planning permission, and the SGM was a rubber stamp for it. I don’t care how many people baulk at that last comment, it is sincerely held and I bet it wasn’t just me thinking it 🙂 Obviously, that can’t happen now and a lot of potential uproar has been now thankfully averted. Ks is popular, even if only on a temporary basis. When people were looking around T&M forcing themselves to liking it, there were only going to be problems.

Some may consider last night a setback, I don’t. If anything, it will give us fresh impetus over the ground thing. The ball is in our court yet again, but then was it ever any different?