422A Jack Goodchild Way,
Kingston upon Thames,
First Visit: AFC Wimbledon 0-Burton Albion 2 (09/02/2019)
Action from AFC Wimbledon v Burton Albion in February 2019, taken from the John Green Stand and looking out towards a very small part of the RyGas Stand (left), the Chemflow End (centre) and the Paul Strank Stand (right).
As of 2019-20, Kingsmeadow is the smallest stadium in the 92, but this is certainly one of those grounds where the saying ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ comes into play.
Known for sponsorship reasons as the Cherry Red Records Stadium, it has been the home of AFC Wimbledon since their founding in 2002. The club were formed by supporters of Wimbledon Football Club after the FA allowed that team to be relocated to Milton Keynes, taking the name Milton Keynes Dons in 2004.
Kingsmeadow had originally been home to Kingstonian since it was first opened in 1989. AFC Wimbledon’s owner, the Dons Trust, bought the stadium in 2003 and changed its name to the 'Fans’ Stadium' which remains its nickname today.
In November 2015, Chelsea Football Club bought the ground, and it has been used for home matches by Chelsea Women since May 2017. Kingstonian left that same year and currently groundshare with Corinthian-Casuals. AFC Wimbledon meanwhile have taken the money given to them by Chelsea and are putting it towards the construction of their own personal stadium, which is set to be complete close to the site of Plough Lane, Wimbledon FC’s old ground, ahead of the 2020-21 season.
Location and Getting There
Kingsmeadow is located within Norbiton, an area around 1 mile east of the centre of Kingston upon Thames, itself a borough in southeast London.
The stadium is less than 1.5 miles west of the River Thames, and the Hogsmill River runs beyond an athletics track and field which is right out the back of the stadium’s South Stand.
As with every London ground, I don’t recommend coming here by car. It may be possible to find street parking around Kingston upon Thames that is within a decent distance of the ground but navigating the streets of London to get to there is not enjoyable.
Most fans will use public transport to get to the stadium instead. The 131 and N87 bus services drop you off on Kingston Road right outside the entrance along Jack Goodchild Way, and if you’re coming by rail, the best station to use would be Norbiton, served by South Western Railway and around 15 minutes walk north of the ground.
Outside the Stadium
There’s only one road leading into the stadium, that being Jack Goodchild Way which is connected to Kingston Road. There’s a large gate at the front of this road showing clearly where you need to go, and the signs on it are now dominated by the Chelsea club crest. You can clearly tell that this is soon going to be a place only associated with Chelsea Football Club.
Heading down Jack Goodchild Way brings you to the outside of the North Stand, named after the American Author John Green whose keen interest in the team led to a sponsorship agreement.
The outside of the John Green Stand is admittedly very unappealing, made up of just brown corrugated iron. The home entrance for this stand is in a small grey box directly in front of you, and to get to the away entrances you have to pass through a gate and along a rather unattractive path behind people’s back gardens.
The East Stand, known for sponsorship reasons as the RyGas Stand, is the hardest of all four to get into. The stand itself is split equally between home and away supporters, and with no path outside of it the only way in is to either head through the away section along the back of the John Green Stand, or through the southwest turnstiles, walking around the ground’s interior to the home terracing on that side.
The South Stand, known as the Chemflow End, is also inaccessible from the back due to the Athletics track based right outside of it. Entrance into here comes from the southwest turnstiles and is only open to home supporters.
The West Stand is named after Paul Strank, a key supporter and benefactor of AFC Wimbledon. It is the only stand of the four that you can freely walk the whole way along and has easily the most appealing exterior of any of the four. Most of the stand is made up of brickwork and the same green corrugated iron that you find on the John Green Stand runs across the top.
Matchday activities for all ages are set up outside of here for fans to partake in before they head inside.
Inside the Stadium
The John Green Stand is a single-tiered all-seater stand. Every seat inside here is a deep shade of blue and with no supporting pillars coming down, you have a great view of the pitch from almost anywhere inside, unless you’re one of the unlucky few whose seat is in line with the goal's crossbar.
The stand does not have any windshields on the sides though, so it's worth bringing a coat for sure if you’re making the trip here during the cold winter months.
The RyGas Stand consists of a single-tier of standing terrace. The green corrugated iron roof covers most of this side of the pitch but both the northeast and southeast corners are left uncovered, and usually left empty as a result. Food stalls can be found in the gravelled section of the northeast corner, and these are only used by away supporters.
The covered area of the RyGas Stand has a relatively good view from within it, the only restriction coming from a set of poles which allow the matchday camera to be supported up on the roof. Standing at the end of the terrace however should give you a clear view of the action.
The dugouts are in front of the barrier right next to the edge of the pitch.
The Chemflow End is also made up of standing terrace but is noticeably larger than the adjacent RyGas Stand. Three rows of red barriers are in place for supporters to lean on and with no pillars coming down from the blue corrugated iron roof, you have a perfectly clear view from anywhere inside.
There are no windshields at either end though so much like the John Green Stand opposite, you will feel the cold if coming here in the winter months.
The Paul Strank Stand is clearly the largest of the four. It is a single-tiered all-seater stand made up mostly of red seats, with columns of white seating at the end of each block. The club’s executive seating can be found in here, with the changing rooms and tunnel housed inside as well. Substitutes and non-playing staff therefore have to walk across the pitch from the dugouts to the tunnel at the beginning and end of each half.
Your view from any seat in here is perfectly clear as there are no supporting pillars coming down from the roof, but like the rest of the stadium there are no windshields on the sides and so the cold air does get in through here.
Away fans are housed in half of the John Green Stand and half of the RyGas Stand, centering around the northeast corner. Fans can choose between sitting and standing as a result, though there is much more space for people to stand than there are seats for people to sit in.
With both stands being equally occupied by home fans as well, this can help to really enhance the atmosphere as rival groups of fans enjoy taunting and trying to out-sing each other whilst the game is taking place.
Kingsmeadow to most people appears more of a Non-League ground than a Football League ground, and that is probably is the truth given who originally called the stadium home.
It is certainly not a reason to write this place off as a terrible ground though. I have been to stadiums almost 10 times the size that offer lower quality views of the pitch than this. The only place that really offers a bad view is in the centre of the RyGas Stand, which is usually occupied by stewards anyway.
Don’t judge Kingsmeadow until you’ve been here first-hand. It will surprise you.