davidwatkins visited Plough Lane on 23/11/2021

Game watched: AFC Wimbledon 3-2 Crewe Alexandra

The Cherry Red Records Stadium, as the new arena has now been badged (as was Kingsmeadow when the Dons played there), is squeezed into a plot the size of a postage stamp on the edge of Wimbledon. One prominent website states: “The visiting supporters should also be able to reach the stadium quite comfortably due to its close proximity to the bus stops and London underground stations.” I’ve no doubt that is probably true; Tooting Broadway and Wimbledon Park tube stations are both nearby, as is a railway station we passed just before we got stuck behind the ambulance. However, for a 52-seater coach, this ground is a bit of a challenge to reach, and if there are ever more than the two Crewe brought tonight, I’m not sure where they’d park. Our driver had to negotiate three sides of the ground along narrow streets including a 90-degree left-hander outside the home fans pub, The Corner Pin. That proved to be the evening's entertainment for the Dons’ fans in that hostelry as we gradually inched back and forth trying to ensure we didn’t demolish the little pub.

Eventually, we were dropped off right outside the away entrance and we were ushered into a little courtyard a bit like the holding area outside the New Den at Millwall that Leeds fans will remember fondly… but this was way more friendly! Our tickets were scanned and we could then enjoy various facilities built specifically for the away fans but still technically outside the stadium. There was a decent bar with at least ten taps selling various lagers and Camden Pale Ale and a decent array of hot and cold food. Plenty of staff serving meant the queues were not too bad by normal awayday standards. We then entered the stadium at the other side of the courtyard and there were no further ticket checks and we could come and go as we wished during the game; a pretty good set up really.

Inside, the ground is functional if not aesthetically that pleasing! It was completed in November 2020 and occupies the site of the former Wimbledon Greyhound Stadium and is not far from the Dons’ original home that was also on Plough Lane. It has a current capacity of 9,300 (there was a decent crowd of around 6,000 in for the Crewe game with 250 travelling from Crewe) but is said to be easily expandable to 20,000 if things go well on the pitch. The away fans were housed in the North Stand, behind one goal, and it’s a single-tier all-seated affair with no pillars. That stand was replicated along the touchline to our left and at the far end where the main vocal section of the Dons’ support was housed, albeit that South Stand has safe standing rail seats allowing the home fans to stand. The main stand was to my right along the West touchline and that was a far more grand affair,  three-tiers with a row of glass-fronted executive boxes running along the top two tiers The roofline of that West Stand just goes slightly around the corner at the South end and it’s easy to see how the expansion of the ground will take place if it’s required as the whole ground could then be formed into a bowl with the same three-tier roofline. The sooner the better really as the view of the South Stand at the moment is spoiled by the fact that a huge block of flats behind that end rises into the sky and, at night, looks for all the world like someone has leaned a giant board against the back of the stand!


The game itself was a typical League One hurly-burly affair; Crewe took an 11th-minute lead with a powerful and low cross-shot from the right into the far corner and the visitors looked good for almost half an hour. Then their defensive frailties showed up and the Dons scored two quick goals after some dubious goalkeeping from Dave Richards and then a third as former Leeds man Luke Murphy stupidly tripped his man from behind in the area in front of us. Luke Murphy, the Crewe captain wearing ‘16’, looked a shadow of the player we once saw at Leeds and must be coming to the end of his career. Ollie Palmer buried the spot-kick and then proceeded to celebrate right in front of us which got the away fans a bit agitated and all hell broke loose for a few moments! It was pantomime season come early. Yep, just your typical League One encounter! Crewe pulled one back near the end but it was too late and Wimbledon deservedly won what was effectively an early-season ‘six-pointer’ with both sides struggling at the wrong end of the table.

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Added 24/11/2021