… because it was easier than going down Gap Road and through Wimbledon itself.
So, the first Saturday pre-season friendly at Plough Lane since…. well, must be at least before 1988.
I don’t know when it was, or who we played, but seriously – can anyone remember going to one back then?
It was usually some pre-season tour of Scotland, or playing Brentford/Fulham at their place, as we were the top flight club and they were lowly.
And yes, typing that does bring out a wry smile.
As we reflect on Flying Ants 0 Bees 1, I think we all could have walked away from our new venue with a little bit of optimism.
Granted, we need to be a bit less ring rusty up front, and one hopes Aaron Pressley is as good as Marcus Forss proved to be.
But at least we got a little bit of an idea of how we want to play, and how we set ourselves up a bit.
I’d like to mention who was playing first half, and who was taking the field in the second. Problem is, there were no PA announcements nor were there any listings on our scoreboard.
So whoever played well, don’t expect me to identify them. Though as some will point out, that’s not unusual at the best of times.
I think our defence will need to tighten up a little bit, though it’s early days. Even so, their goal was a little bit of a fluke, coming off the crossbar and them heading (?) home.
Other than that, apart from a goal-line clearance late on that was mostly that. It was a good workout, against newly promoted Premier League opposition, and we weren’t humiliated one bit.
We all know what happens when you ignore the first warning signs in PSFs.
After today, I haven’t got that sinking feeling that I’ve had after some friendlies in recent seasons.
Whether that proves to be a false dawn, and we end up firing Robbo in December when we’ve lost eight in a row, remains to be seen.
I have been told that what we do on the training ground is, to quote, as professional as it’s ever been.
And while video clips on the Official Site will always reflect the most positive angle, one does get a good vibe right now.
I reserve the right to change my mind on this when we’re bottom after three games.
Anyway, it’s been a while since I did this, so….
Plus points: We looked OK. Some of our players looked decent. Sense we’ve been working properly over the summer.
Minus points: We lost. Not too special up front.
The referee’s a…: It’s a pre-season friendly in July, so to blame him for anything would be a tad too churlish.
Them: I’ve covered Brentford a lot professionally in recent years, and they’ve long been knocking on the door of the Premier League without actually making that final step.
I didn’t think much of their second half team, to be honest (even if it did have Sergi Canos), but their first half XI was more the side that got promoted this year.
It’s fair to say at times they did show there’s a gap between Prem/Championship and us lowly scum, although I think they’re going to need a good start when the season commences.
I note their manager Thomas Frank had a long pre-match conversation with MR. We can guess what it was about, but if the rumours of Matthew Cox going to Lionel Road are true…
Point to ponder: With the exception of Scunthorpe, this is the only PSF against a side in the 91 Club.
Now, there’s obviously a variety of reasons for the selection, some of it enforced, but one is left wondering if playing non-league sides is quite the buildup we need.
Then again, it’s long been the case that there’s never been a “perfect” pre-season set of fixtures.
Ignore this time last year, under Walter we seemed to have a game every other couple of days, sometimes in Europe.
That worked well.
Under NA, there was often a sense that we were half-baked going into the first proper game of the season.
Robbo’s selection of PSFs is more like the one preferred by the new Solihull Moors manager, although you would hope this time they’ll be used to make us fighting fit for Bolton.
A good couple of gubbings would be nice in this phoney war stage of the season, to get the confidence flowing a bit.
And no, I’m not churlish enough to suggest one of them should be at the Beaverdome…
Back To Plough Lane: An occasional new addition to the usual SW19 match report, because most people will be more interested in that right now.
It was very good to see people not only walking down the Haydons Road, but down Gap Road and towards Wimbledon Road afterwards too.
One can imagine it when there’s 9000 in there.
This was the first game I’ve been into with crowds, and while no concession stands was a pain in the arse, it seemed relatively well run.
Even if my scanned ticket QR code didn’t work on entry.
The place is mostly finished now, and it’s only the perimeter wall (picture above) and asphalting the concourses behind the N/S/E stands that needs to be completed.
It undeniably pisses over Kingsmeadow, but leaving aside our own bias here – it’s actually a decent stadium.
While it will require a fair bit of upkeep, what needs to work right now… works. The signs around the ground are nice and clear, for instance.
I would have expected the toilets in the west stand to be a bit bigger, but then there’s a lot more of them than we’ve previously had.
One thing I will say – when the Scunny test event comes around, the concession stands will need to be open. Methinks they might need a queuing system for them.
The main takeaway was how glad people were to be back at football matches, speaking to people they know who they haven’t seen since March 2020 (or earlier).
I saw quite a few today I haven’t spoken to for a while, and we’ve forgotten what that feels like.
I have said in the past that we’ll know we’re truly home when we go to a game at PL and think nothing of it.
We might not be there yet, but today felt like a typical pre-season friendly at home. That might be the most obvious and equally most profound statement for a good while.
Truth is stranger than fiction: 1) The ball getting kicked out of the ground (Toney?). First time this has happened at NPL. 2) Actually looking around the venue and realising that yes – it’s ours.
Anything else? When I did the update yesterday, I did say I would issue a few thoughts on the Broncos ground share.
I have to be honest, I’m in two minds over it.
Yes, groundsharing is an excellent idea, we need the money and we can’t afford to be precious over somebody else playing on our manor.
It does have a negative connotation with us, simply because of 1991 to 2002, but a proper arrangement can only be good for both sides.
The problem I have with it isn’t AFCW, or Plough Lane, but the Broncos themselves.
It’s not so much they’re in rugby league’s second tier right now, the way that sport seems to go they’ll work out a way of getting a team from the capital into the Super League.
Nor do I have a problem with it being a summer sport, and not giving the pitch much time to recover. It doesn’t seem to cause too many issues with Hull and Wigan sharing two sports.
My problem with the Broncos is that they move grounds a bit too often for my liking. And that’s a warning sign.
Just a glance through Wikipedia, since 1991, they’ve played at Crystal Palace NSC, Barnet Cophall, Hendon, the Stoop, Charlton, the Stoop again a season later, Charlton (again), Griffin Park, then the Stoop again.
Take a deep breath, they stayed there from 2005 to 2013.
Then they moved again to Barnet FC’s ground, before finally moving to the romantically named Ealing Trailfinders Sports Ground in 2016, where they’ve stayed until now.
And I haven’t even mentioned pre-1991.
I think it’s for ten years, there’s no formal mention of it on the OS, but I can’t help feel that they’ll be moving on again by the time 2025 comes around.
I definitely hope we’ve got the money up front for this, because we can’t afford for this to get messy.
Sure, all the guff about how they can build a fanbase here gets mentioned, and I do genuinely hope it finally works out.
After all, a nice summer afternoon watching them against some maraulding Northerners appeals.
The trouble is, your editor was working on a nearby local paper when they became Quins RL in 2005, and some of the marketing I see now has a familiar feel of deja vu…
So, was it worth it? Suppose so.
In a nutshell: Close season is over.