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Friday 11 July 2008
What's happening at Kingsmeadow - feature number 9

The first pre-season friendly is tomorrow, at Croydon Athletic.

Starting with football, the reserves played their first game at Chertsey Town last Tuesday. It was a game of two halfs, with the Dons going in 3-0 down at half time but a stronger second-half team holding Chertsey for the lsat 45 minutes, making the overall result 4-1. Some of these players will get run outs during next week’s midweek games when Terry will be splitting the first team squad equally between the two games. With about 18 fit players at present, that means he needs to bring in some players for each game,

Both James Pullen and Chris Sullivan had operations during the summer, James on his ankle and Chris to insert a shoulder pin. Both ought to be fit round about the start of the season and are being carefully monitored by Mike Rayner, the club’s physiotherapist. Otherwise, apart from Michael Haswell, on trial at Brighton & Hove Albion, and some doubt about Jake Leberl, all the squad should get a run out tomorrow.

Back at the stadium, work progresses on the main stand. The roof is now on and, despite having said that it wouldn’t look very pretty, it looks fine, as can be seen from the photo, which was taken about half way through the process.

The roof goes on.

The fascia will be attached on Monday, tilted at a small angle to give slightly better protection from the rain. After that, it only remains for the PA speakers to be attached and tested and the emergency lighting to be fitted and checked. This last item has been delayed for a number of reasons and it is now on the critical path, i.e. it is the item that is most likely to delay the completion of the roof extension.

At present, the plan is to have two teams dismantling the scaffolding, starting next Friday, and cleaning the stand as they progress. This makes it almost certain that the scaffolding will still be up for part of the main stand but we are meeting fire brigade, police and safety consultant on Wednesday to get their view on the extent to which we may use the stand for the Brentford game. However, if the weather next week is poor then the scaffolders won’t be able to work and all these discussions will have been academic.

Elsewhere, because there will be no exit via the gates beside the club shop until the new part of the stand is complete, we are required to prepare an alternative system to ensure safe emergency evacuation, should it be necessary. If we hadn’t been able to do this, we would not have been able to open the main stand at all so, while this will involve the club in extra stewarding costs, we are very pleased we’ve been able to agree an acceptable approach with the safety regulators.

The foundations for the new part of the stand are progressing well, or at least the holes are now almost bigger than the concrete that remains. The heavy rain caused a brief delay in the work and the builders had to pump out several inches of water from the channels, as can be seen below.

Pumping out the water from the foundations.

Internally, we are creating a small office and an additional room near the changing rooms. The extra room will, if needed, be capable of being converted into another officials’ changing room – something we will need to do eventually as we move up the leagues. We also propose to convert the room near the entrance in the back bar into an office, subject to cost.

Outside, volunteers at the clean up weekend did a lot of good work, cutting grass, weeding and generally improving the look of the stadium.

Smartening up the small car park.

The portaloo is currently being recommissioned after being taken out of service due to electrical problems and, to celebrate this, it has been painted blue, to offset the nearby yellow emergency exit gates, as shown in the following picture.

Blue and yellow corner.

On the subject of colour, the new seats were ordered a while ago and are red, which is the closest we can get to matching the existing seats. We concluded that any other colour would look dreadful.

Elsewhere, new emergency doors are being fitted in the main and back bars, while new doors are also being fitted from the lobby into the main bar. Finally, the kiosk in the lobby is being extended to allow two people to sell tickets from there, making matchday sales of seats easier in future.

In the office this week’s work experience students have just completed their sessions. We take on about half a dozen students in the summer, out of the dozens who apply, and we try to favour fans, or the children of fans, in our selection.

Finally, Erik Samuelson was invited by Mitcham and Morden MP Siobhain McDonagh to attend the Labour Party’s annual sports dinner and auction at Wembley stadium. It was an excellent chance to meet some of the key people in British sport, but Erik declined to match the winning bid of £40,000 in the auction to have lunch with Sir Alex Ferguson. Our thanks to Siobhain who attends several of our matches each season, usually on the terraces, and has been a consistent supporter of the club.

And, tomorrow, at last it is time to watch some football.