Before I get started on my experience at Kingsmeadow, I want to explain why I wanted to do this challenge. As a fan of football I have always been interested in trying to visit all 92 football teams in the top four leagues in England (Premier League, Championship, League 1 and 2). Also, I like travelling and photography so this is a great way for me to explore places I have never been to before and get some great pictures. In this series of blogs, my aim to share my experiences when I visit each team starting with AFC Wimbledon
So, why did I choose AFC Wimbledon first? Well, I was in London having a nice little break from everything and I wanted to visit a football game while I was there. My only problem was money. I don’t exactly have £50 to buy a cheap seat to watch on of the big four play. But I did end up visiting some of the grounds in London just to photograph the stadiums to say that I had been there. Looking around I found out that tickets at AFC Wimbledon were priced at £16, which to me is affordable. So with that in mind, here is what I thought on my trip to Kingsmeadow to see AFC Wimbledon take on Tranmere Rovers
When I arrived at Kingsmeadow, one of the first things I realised was how small the ground was. It does only hold a maximum of 4,850 fans with 2,265 of those fans seated. Then again, I’ve grown up living next door to Elland Road Stadium which holds just short of 39,000 fans. I ended up in the Your Golf Travel Stand which is an all standing terrace. When I got there I met some fans who were talking about the game and going through the programme.
What I found funny was that they had hope and luck on their side as they used results at other games in London as a boost of confidence. They were very confident as the night before Fulham had beaten Charlton Athletic 3-0 and earlier during the day West Ham had defeated Manchester City 2-1 and Millwall had beaten Cardiff City. Also, Tranmere had only been with their new manager Micky Adams since October 16 after sacking previous manager Robert Edwards three days prior to Adams’ appointment.
All I knew about AFC Wimbledon going into the game was that they hated MK Dons and their striker, Adebayo Akinfenwa, is nicknamed “The Beast” which fans would chant during the game. These fans were also keen on the club signing loanee Matt Tubbs to a permanent contract with the club. Tubbs was on loan from Bournemouth at the time. They also called Harry Pell “Rio” as they saw him as the next Rio Ferdinand.
The game started and fans in the Chemflow End were chanting and singing from the opening whistle to the last. And after 16 minutes Wimbledon took the lead after a goal from Jack Smith. But four minutes later Tranmere equalised with Armand Gnanduillet’s first of two goals he scored to make things level after 20 minutes. Just before the halftime whistle Wimbledon took the lead with a goal from “The Beast” himself, Adebayo Akinfenwa. Second half started and Wimbledon went all defensive rather than trying to increase their lead. This would end up not working as Tranmere would equalise again after 65 minutes from Gnanduillet’s second goal of the game.
After that, both teams remained defensive and the game ended 2-2. That didn’t matter the fans as they were still singing after the game was over. One thing they did like to do is criticize the referee a lot as they felt like the referee had cost them a game previously this season. They were nice enough to the away fans that had travelled 237 miles to get to the game.
I left the game knowing that I had a fun time and would more than be happy to return to the club again as staff and fans made me feel welcome. It also made me want to continue with the challenge looking forward to what lies ahead. One question that I was asked by one of the fans I talked to at the game was “Why did you choose to start with AFC Wimbledon? Why didn’t you choose the team from the city you live in?” For me, the closest team to me would be Leeds United.
The reasons why I didn’t choose them first, and as of writing this still haven’t visited them, is because (although I have seen matches there in the past) the club insist on charging their fans around £35 to watch the team struggle to avoid the relegation area. This is one of my main problems when doing this challenge, especially with a limited budget and not having a car and having to rely on public transport. Even public transport is expensive even with train and coach passes!
I hope you have enjoyed this and I hope to bring out more of these in the future.
Here are the full stats about the game
Team Visited – AFC Wimbledon
Taking on – Tranmere Rovers
Venue – Kingsmeadow
Date Visited – October 25 2014
Overall Attendance – 4195
Score – AFC Wimbledon 2 – 2 Tranmere Rovers
Goal Scorers – AFC Wimbledon – Jack Smith (16), Adebayo Akinfenwa (44)
Goal Scorers – Tranmere Rovers – Armand Gnanduillet (20 & 65)
by Dan White