K’s Exit League Cup with Terminal Velocity
Much of Kingstonian’s recent history has been dominated by off-field events, and particularly the location of the team’s home in the post-Kingsmeadow era.
On Tuesday night, K’s fans, directors and players alike got to sample the newest football ground in Surrey, a small corner of the swish Elmbridge Xcel Leisure Complex, and now home to Walton Casuals and, as of this week, Walton and Hersham. Rumours have circulated that this could be a potential option for K’s in the future. Perhaps the design could be a blueprint? Let’s hope not.
First things first. This was a Velocity Trophy fixture, and the first truly cold midweek game of the season. It was not an evening for the faint-hearted. But still, can there be a more soulless football ground in the country, let alone Surrey? Unless you have a boat or a car, it is badly located. But that’s forgivable, for in the world of non-league football and rising land prices, beggars can’t be choosers.
An orange poster on one side of the entrance distinguished the football ground from the athletics one adjacent to it. There, teenagers scuttled around the running track looking to set personal bests. In the distance, the floodlights went on and on, piercing the night’s sky.
The interior of the main stand, set unnecessarily far back from the 3G pitch, resembled a newly-built halls of residence designed only to withstand the inevitable carnage from nightclubbing freshers stumbling their way home. It is a dull grey, with the big blank walls punctured only by unused plug sockets. It had the character of a service station. The only hint of colour stemmed from the orange table cloths. You feel Orwell would have approved.
The lights certainly worked, shining brighter than those in hospital operating wards, but for most of the game K’s fans must have wished they hadn’t. Anthony Gale’s Walton Casuals, flying high in the league below, outpassed and outclassed a first-choice Kingstonian XI.
The Stags deservedly opened the scoring when Josh Kelly won and then scored a penalty in the first half, and the 19-year-old striker got his second with a little under 20 minutes remaining, showing great pace to finish off the inside of the post for number two.
Kingstonian again barely mustered a shot on goal but did rally in the closing stages, and got one back when Alec Fiddes converted from close range in time added on.
It was too little, too late. No run to glory in the fourth most important cup competition this season. But while the future for K’s remains uncertain, and discussion over new and shared grounds rumbles on, hopefully lessons will be learned from this most uninspiring of matchday experiences.
Match report by Rupert Cane.