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Saturday 26 June 2010
What's happening at Kingsmeadow - number 4

Since the last WHAK Terry hasn’t signed any new players. However, he did tidy up contract negotiations with Sam Hatton who has now signed and committed himself to the club for another two years.

We went close to signing a centre back after extensive discussions with a very experienced player but, in the end, he wanted to stay in league football. These things happen and, as we’ve noted before, there are additional players becoming available almost every day. Only today the PFA list of released players arrived on Terry’s desk, with over 400 named players available for next season. However, Terry is targeting two specific players.

One is a left-sided midfielder who we were talking to about a month ago, but we thought the opportunity had passed. It’s wise never to shut a door in football and so Terry and Stuart monitored the situation and when he became available again they moved. He is expected to come down to the stadium for a medical on Tuesday and, all being well, to sign.

We are also in advanced discussions with a very experienced centre back who Terry and Erik met a couple of days ago. When club physio Mike Rayner returns on Tuesday the player will undergo a medical. All being well we aim to agree terms with his agent the same day and get him signed up. That will then leave the two contracted league players who we are seeking to take on long term loan and a small number of triallists for Terry to look at during pre-season training.

Pre-season training is almost on us. It starts on Tuesday with regular sessions and runs right up to our first league game on 14 August. The training takes place at Kings College’s sports facility near Kingsmeadow and fans are welcome to turn up and watch the players put through their paces by Terry, Stuart and Simon Bassey, aided by fitness coach Jason Moriarty and goalkeeping coach Paul Priddy.

Turning to the stadium the pitch is looking very good, with the area where the players enter the pitch the only place with some way still to go. We are keeping a close eye on the pitch itself as, in the current weather, the grass is in danger of scorching; the regular watering cycle is being adjusted manually, as necessary.

As this is being written, a small army of volunteers is painting, jet-washing, sweeping, and cutting shrubbery, getting the stadium ready for our first pre-season on 10 July, a mere two weeks away. There will be more volunteers here tomorrow, Sunday, where they will be working until 1.00 pm before being provided with lunch and then joining other fans in the bar to watch England’s game against Germany in high definition. Fans are encouraged to join them for either or both activities – you can just turn up any time after 9.00 am and Margaret Adam, who is masterminding the work, will find something for you to do! The bar will open on Sunday at 12.30 pm but, given the timing of the game, we won’t be offering food this week.

In the last WHAK we mentioned the Football Conference agm and awards evening. We omitted to say that for the third year running AFC Wimbledon won the Fair Play award – sadly there is no cash prize for our most recent success but it was welcome none the less. Terry makes the point that the award is misnamed and that it ought to be called the Good Discipline award, since aggression doesn’t mean there is any need to get booked; he cites the example of Danny Kedwell, a player who gives his all in every game, could never be accused of lacking commitment and aggression, yet had only four or five bookings all season. In a small squad, we can ill afford players who get cautioned (and subsequently suspended) unnecessarily.

Off the pitch, the office team are finalising the design, printing and despatch of the 2010-11 season ticket books, while the launch of the new kit takes place at the Paul Strank Family Fun Day, at Southpark Gardens in Wimbledon. Watch the club’s web site for final details nearer the time.

We are also finalising plans for some changes to the catering arrangements at the Tempest End and once we have council approval we will announce them in more detail. We are also reviewing the size of the programme and contemplating adding some extra pages, while reviewing other clubs’ programmes for good ideas for new features.

Last week Erik attended a meeting of our advisors and architects, along with representatives from Merton, to discuss progress on a possible new stadium in Wimbledon. As always the meeting was constructive and the next steps were agreed, in preparation for Ivor and Erik meeting the new leader of Merton Council in late July for an update and progress report. Meanwhile, we are scheduled to meet Kingston Council in the near future to discuss their very interesting ideas for the Hogsmill site.

As regards season tickets sales, we are in the traditional lull period, sandwiched between the end-May rush to meet the deadline for retaining a specific seat or terrace place and the imminent start of the league season, which always leads to a last minute rush. The introduction of monthly instead of quarterly direct debit payments has been a great success. Fans are reminded that they have until Friday 2 July if they want to meet the latest deadline, thereby enabling them to pay in nine instalments, ending in March 2011. Applicants for direct debit payments after that date will be required to pay in eight equal instalments with the same final payment date.

Finally, there are still a few places on the Tempest End terrace for fans who wish to reserve a space there next season. Just click on the 'Buy season tickets here' button on the left side of this site's home page and you can download the relevant forms.