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Saturday 09 May 2009
What’s happening at Kingsmeadow #1

What's happening at Kingsmeadow will appear during the summer at irregular intervals, to keep fans up to date with, well, what is happening at Kingsmeadow.

It is already two weeks since our season ended. With the Dons and Kingstonian both winning our respective leagues, the pitch hasn't been needed for play offs and several teams have taken advantage of its availability to stage games here. Most notably, the under 18 team won the Ryman Youth League cup with a convincing win 3-1 win over Boreham Wood, but unfortunately couldn't complete the league and cup double against Staines on Thursday night, while the reserves and under 15s have also featured on the pitch.

This coming weekend the pitch will be covered by a large marquee when the end of season dinner is held on Saturday night. All the seats for the dinner have been sold, but there are still spaces for fans who want to join later in the evening. Early on Friday morning the marquee started to be assembled, as the following pictures show.

The marquee goes up.

And the roof goes on.

As soon as the end of season dinner is over, the marquee will come down, because work starts on pitch renovations the following Monday. We are hoping that our first pre-season friendly game will be at home on 11 July, so that gives the pitch maintenance team nine weeks to get it into shape for games. The main aim is to continue the year-to-year improvement while carrying out several other remedial tasks, such as building up the area where the players enter the pitch; this has suffered enormous wear and tear over recent years and it is now being subjected to nightly digging by foxes.

A week after the pitch maintenance starts, contractors will start work on increasing the number of terrace steps at the Kingston Road end, while simultaneously increasing the rake of the steps so that the rear step is about 15 inches higher than at present. This increase in height would cause a problem for anyone who stood under one of the cantilevers, should they jump up to celebrate a goal, and so small brick piers will be built to stop anyone standing there. We are assessing the pros and cons of trying to do something similar at the back of the John Smith stand, but haven't committed to spending any money yet.

There are lots of other small pieces of work being carried out on the stadium during the summer break and we'll keep you up to date on them, but the big development won't start for some time yet. This is to install two new turnstiles to allow separate access to the John Smith stand. At the same time, we need to add suitable toilet and refreshment facilities to enable us to comply with ground grading rules about what we provide for away fans. We have agreed our proposals in principle with the council's safety officer, the police and fire brigade and talked them through with the FA's safety representative, but there is still quite a lot of planning to be done.

Earlier this week, we were invited to attend a civic reception given in honour of the team's achievement by the Mayor of Merton. About 80 members of the playing and coaching staff, management and volunteers attended Merton Civic Centre and spent a very enjoyable evening there. In addition to the league trophy, there was an exhibition of Fleydon's flags to set the right atmosphere for the evening. The Mayor made a speech welcoming us all and celebrating our success. He also presented the club with a citation congratulating the club on winning the leage; AFC Wimbledon president Dickie Guy replied on behalf of the club. Here are some photos taken at the event.

Dickie recieves the citation.

The guests applaud the team.

Showing off the cup.

This isn't the end of the celebrations as we now move on to the House of Lords. Baroness McDonagh has invited us to an evening reception on behalf of Siobhain McDonagh, the MP for Mitcham and Morden, to celebrate our promotion and the success of the Dons Trust. As with the Merton reception, we are first inviting volunteers to attend. If some spaces aren't filled we will invite fans to put their names forward - watch the official site over the next few days, although we expect demand to be very high and there may well be no additional spaces available.

Renewal notices for season tickets should start to arrive soon. A team of volunteers has been assiduously packing envelopes with the relevant papers and, by Thursday night, about 500 had been mailed. With over 1,700 renewal notices to send, the work may continue into early next week, so please be patient if your renewal doesn't arrive for a few days.

Fans will see that we have tried to balance our need to raise more funds through ticket price increases with recognition that we are in a recession and times are difficult for many people. According to our research, our adult terrace prices will be the equal lowest in the Blue Square Premiership, bar one club. Also, for fans who find the cost of a season ticket a bit difficult to meet in a single payment, we are launching a direct debit scheme, allowing the cost to be spread over monthly instalments. See the club's web site or call the office for more details.

After this weekend's celebrations, Terry Brown will be speaking to the players to explain who is being retained. Once the players have been notified, we will put the details on the club's web site. Meanwhile, Terry, Stuart and Simon have continued their intensive round of player watching and have a short list of players they hope to recruit.

So far, one defender has been offered terms and we are about to make an offer for a midfielder. Both players meet Terry's description of the types of player he wants; young, tall and athletic. Transfer bids are rarely resolved quickly, but we will keep you informed as things develop.