By Hugo Varley
Eighteen months after leaving their spiritual home, Kingstonian remain condemned to nomadic life – but they still cling onto the hope that better times could soon be on the horizon.
The Bostik Premier side have returned to Kingston Borough this season – playing their home fixtures at Corinthian-Casuals’ King George’s Field stadium – having ground-shared with Leatherhead last season.
The Ks’ departure from Kingsmeadow in the summer of 2017 marked an emotional end to their 28-year stay at what is now the home of AFC Wimbledon and has left the south London club in an awkward lurch, searching for a new permanent base.
“Leaving Kingsmeadow was a tough day for everyone connected to the club because we created some very special memories there,” Kingstonian chairman John Fenwick told The NLP.
“It was frustrating because the ground was originally ours but due to the actions of a previous board it had to be sold on, which left the decision of whether we could stay there completely out of our hands.
“We have been fortunate that both Leatherhead and Corinthian-Casuals have been very good in taking us in and have made us immediately feel welcome.
“That has helped to make things much easier but we are still looking for something more permanent.”
Previous plans to build on the site of a former golf centre in Chessington ran into trouble after London Mayor Sadiq Kahn refused to grant planning permission, however Fenwick is confident that an alternative arrangement is now within grasp.
He added: “We are all hopeful that things are finally moving in the right direction.
“I can understand that supporters are worried about what is going to happen in the long term and unfortunately some of our ideas up to now have not worked out but we have some exciting new plans to take forward.
“I can’t really say too much about them because there is a lot of confidentiality involved at this stage but our idea is to develop the existing facilities at Corinthian-Casuals with a view to eventually taking up joint ownership.”
Kingstonian are a club with a proud Non-League history having lifted the FA Trophy consecutively in 1999 and 2000 under the guidance of Woking legend Geoff Chapple.
Fenwick was in the stands at Wembley as a fan on those occasions and he admits that a desire to return the Ks to their former glory acts as an important motivator.
“We are all aware of what a proud history Kingstonian has and we are determined to get the club back playing at a higher level,” remarked the chairman.
“We have set a target of reaching the play-offs this season and although it’s still early days I believe that we are currently on track to achieve that ambition.
“Getting promotion to the National League South would be absolutely brilliant and it would be even better if we could combine it with settling into a permanent home.”
On the pitch, managerial duties lie with former Farnborough and Whyteleafe coach Leigh Dynan, who took the job in October of last year.
Under Dynan’s leadership, the Ks have the wind in their sails and are currently sitting in fourth place in the Bostik Premier League ahead of tomorrow’s game with Corinthian-Casuals.
“This season has been far better for everyone because the pitch at Corinthian-Casuals is absolutely brilliant,”Dynan added.
“We had some problems with the terrain at Leatherhead and I had to completely change the team’s style of football, which ultimately cost us a few results.
“This year however the pitch is like a carpet, which has allowed us to play in a far more free-flowing way.
“Another major plus this season has been returning to the borough of Kingston, which is great for the fans and has helped to create a brilliant atmosphere at games.”
With a potential breakthrough surrounding the club’s long-term residency hopefully edging closer and results on the pitch moving in the right direction, Dynan is approaching the rest of the season with high hopes.
“This is a great club to be a part of. The supporters are fantastic and the board is probably the best that I have ever worked under,” he added.
“I am a very ambitious person and they share the same expectations as I do going forward and we all believe that the club is more than capable of mounting a promotion push this year.
“I know a bit about some of the potential plans regarding the ground and they are really exciting.
“When I try to recruit a player I tell them that this is a brilliant time to be at Kingstonian and that the next few years will be really special.
“It has been a tough period for the club but the future is now looking bright and I can’t wait to be a part of it!”
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