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Woking’s 2,000-seat stand full to the brim before the FA Cup game against Watford

Woking’s footballers got back to winning ways on Saturday, beating lowly East Thurrock United 3-0 after a couple of recent home defeats that had dented their hopes of winning automatic promotion back to the Vanarama National League from the South division at the first attempt.

That much-needed win came a couple of days after more news was announced of far-reaching plans to redevelop the ground at Kingfield, and increase its capacity from the present 5,700 that squeezed in to see Woking take on Premiership Watford in the FA Cup third round at the beginning of January this year.

Woking never looked like beating Watford in that 2-0 defeat, but they were not humiliated and gave a good account of themselves. It added to the present feelgood factor around the club at the moment, boosted by a manager who clearly knows what he’s about, and a loyal following.

Two days earlier Woking’s splendid local paper, the News and Mail  –  whose coverage of local football, including Westfield, Sheerwater and Knaphill, as well as Woking is unsurpassed – reported more details of a plan to build a new stadium at Woking’s Kingfield home, involving Woking council and developers and the construction of flats plus retail space on land surrounding the ground.

That’s how new football grounds generally get funded these days. And it’s clear that much of Woking’s existing stadium – apart from its marvellous, 2,000-seater Leslie Gosden stand, built with council help in the 1990s – does certainly need an upgrade.

At first there was talk of making Kingfield an all-seater stadium, which would have destroyed the existing atmosphere generated by the covered terracing behind one of the goals, and another terrace area with the proud name of Moaners’ Corner.  But the club will take the views of supporters on board, and almost certainly there will be still some standing areas in the new plans, Woking’s chairman Rosemary Johnson, who is also a former mayoress of Woking, has indicated.

Wokingmatters stood on Moaners’ Corner for this year’s big FA Cup tie, and secured our place for the all-ticket affair by buying a season ticket for the remainder of the season. Money well spent, and not begrudged at all. It meant that we were there for the last three home games, the 0-2 defeat against Wealdstone, the hugely controversial 0-1 game against Dartford, which saw two Woking players sent off in the second half, and Saturday’s much-better performance against “The Rocks” (East Thurrock).  The crowd topped 2,000 against Wealdstone, dipped to around 1,100 on a wet and windy night v Dartford, and was back to 1,600-odd on Saturday. The variation can partly be explained by the fact that many young families attend Woking games, and tend to avoid the school-night, past-bedtime evening matches.

There is always a downside to huge new redevelopment plans – and that is the disruption faced by local residents, and fans, too.  Woking may well be forced to play their football away from Kingfield – somewhere like Sutton or Farnborough – while the ground is rebuilt. That will inevitably mean lower gates in the interim, and maybe a loss of momentum for the team.

Be that as it may, Wokingmatters has meanwhile rediscovered the joys of what we would call authentic football – turning up on the day to pay at the turnstiles, without having to fork out a fortune for a ticket online in advance, journeying a short distance from your home to the ground, walking through the park to get there – that sort of thing.  An away trip to Slough – admittedly not far away – earlier in the season proved to be great fun. We can only advocate that more residents of Woking come on down to Kingfield, and help to push a successful bandwagon further along the road. Come on you Cards!

Fans on Woking’s Moaners’ Corner before the FA Cup match against Watford. It is hoped that the spirit of this idiosyncratic bit of terracing can be retained with the ground’s redevelopment

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