Plough Lane: Wikis


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Plough Lane
The South Stand, pictured in 2000
Location Wimbledon, London, England
Coordinates 51°25′42.5″N 0°11′22.8″W / 51.428472°N 0.189667°W / 51.428472; -0.189667Coordinates: 51°25′42.5″N 0°11′22.8″W / 51.428472°N 0.189667°W / 51.428472; -0.189667
Built 1912
Opened September 1912
Renovated 1957
Closed April 1998
Demolished 2002
Owner Merton Borough Council (1912–1959)
Wimbledon F.C. (1959–1984)
Sam Hammam (1984–1998)
Safeway (1998–2002)
Operator Wimbledon F.C. (1912–1998)
Crystal Palace F.C. (1991–1998)
Surface Grass
Capacity 15,876
Wimbledon F.C. (1912–1991)

Plough Lane was a football stadium in Wimbledon, south west London. It was the home ground of Wimbledon Football Club from September 1912 to May 1991, when the club moved their first team home matches to Selhurst Park as part of a groundshare agreement with Crystal Palace. Both clubs' reserve teams used Plough Lane as their home ground until 1998, when it was sold to Safeway. The ground was demolished in 2002, and became the site of the Reynolds Gate development in 2008.




As Wimbledon F.C.'s home ground

The leasehold on the disused swampland at the corner of Plough Lane and Haydons Road was purchased by Wimbledon Football Club in 1912.[1] The pitch was consequently fenced in and the playing surface improved, while a dressing room was built. A stand holding 500 spectators was erected,[1] and Wimbledon played their first match at the ground on 7 September 1912, a friendly match against Carshalton Athletic which was drawn 2–2.[2] Improvements continued to be made to the ground during the First World War, and Plough Lane soon became the pride of the club — in 1918, Vice-president A. Gill Knight boasted that the club had "the finest ground in the southern district".[1]

During the 1920s, crowds were regularly taken at between five and eight thousand.[3] The South Stand was added in 1923, purchased from Clapton Orient.[4] The terrace in front of the North Stand was improved during 1932–33,[5] and by the start of the Second World War the ground's capacity stood at 30,000.[6] The ground was even used as the site of an amateur international match, when England took on Wales on 19 January 1935.[6] However damage attained during the Second World War meant that extensive redevelopment was necessary after the club returned in 1944 — the South Stand had been bombed,[6] and the incomplete fencing meant the club couldn't even charge for admission. Half-time collections were taken to keep Wimbledon going.[7]

The South Stand was restored to its former glory in 1950, and 1950–51 saw the capacity back around the 25,000 mark.[8] Glass panels were fitted at each end of both stands two years later, at the cost of £90, 8s — a sum equivalent to £1,816 in 2009.[9][8] Floodlights were purchased in July 1954, and the North Stand was completely rebuilt before the 1957–58 season.[8] The ground's freehold was purchased from Merton Borough Council by chairman Sydney Black for £8,250 in November 1959, and then donated to the club.[8] Black announced at the same time that the floodlights purchased five years earlier would be erected on eight pylons the next year at the cost of £4,000.[8][10] Due to inflation, the price paid by Black for the stadium would have been equal to £138,184 in 2009[9] — this became significant as one of the conditions of the sale of the ground was the insertion of a pre-emption clause stating that if the site was ever to be used for any purpose other than sport, the Council would have the right to buy the ground back for the same price it had been paid, regardless of inflation.[8] As the pound sterling's value decreased over the years, this clause became a double-edged sword — it protected the club from asset strippers, but also meant that the stadium's value could never grow above the £8,250 that Black had paid in 1959.[8][11 ]

The first match under the new floodlights took place on 3 October 1960, in a London Charity Cup match against Arsenal. Arsenal beat Wimbledon 4–1.[10] The ground remained unchanged until the club's election to the Football League, though during 1971–72 an attempt was made to start a market on the club's grounds to raise funds. The High Court ruled that this plan contravened a statute decreed by Charles I in 1628 forbidding any market within seven miles of Kingston's — the court reckoned the distance between Kingston market and Plough Lane to be five and a half miles, so no market was built.[12] Despite election to the Football League in 1977 and subsequent success,[13] the club was still plagued by financial trouble.[14] To try and ease the strain on the club, in April 1983 Wimbledon bought out the preemption clause inserted back in 1959 for £100,000. A year later, they sold the ground to Sam Hammam for £3 million.[11 ][14]

Following the publication of the Taylor Report in 1990, that introduced new safety measures for stadia including the regulation that they be all-seater,[15] the board of the club decided that Plough Lane could not be redeveloped to meet the new standards.[16] The work required to modernise Plough Lane would have been difficult and expensive, but not impossible as the board claimed.[11 ] A groundshare with Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park was announced the same year, to begin for the start of 1991–92.[11 ] Wimbledon's final first team match at Plough Lane came on 4 May 1991, ironically against new landlords Crystal Palace. 10,002 spectators saw Crystal Palace beat Wimbledon 3–0, before swarming onto the pitch to bid farewell to the ground.

After Wimbledon F.C.

Plough Lane continued to be used by both Wimbledon and Crystal Palace as the home ground for their reserve teams' home matches until 1998,[17] when Sam Hammam sold the ground to Safeway. Safeway tried to build a supermarket on the site for four years, but finally gave up in 2002. They demolished the stadium during the summer and sold the site to David Wilson Homes in November.[18] Planning permission was granted to the developer in October 2005 to build 570 flats,[19] and the development was completed in 2008.[20] The development adopted a Wimbledon Football Club theme, with the site named Reynolds Gate after former player Eddie Reynolds. The six buildings making up the site were named Bassett House, Batsford House, Cork House, Lawrie House, Reed House and Stannard House.[21]


  1. ^ a b c Hambly, Dave. "1910 to 1919". Historical Dons. Retrieved 2009-06-05.  
  2. ^ Hambly, Dave. "Season 1912 to 1913". Historical Dons. Retrieved 2009-06-05.  
  3. ^ Hambly, Dave. "1920 to 1929". Historical Dons. Retrieved 2009-06-05.  
  4. ^ Hambly, Dave. "1960 to 1969 pictures". Historical Dons. Retrieved 2009-06-05.  
  5. ^ Hambly, Dave. "1930 to 1939". Historical Dons. Retrieved 2009-06-05.  
  6. ^ a b c ""This is Wimbledon"". Amateur Sport: 2. 1948-12-18.  
  7. ^ Hambly, Dave. "1940 to 1949". Historical Dons. Retrieved 2009-06-05.  
  8. ^ a b c d e f g Hambly, Dave. "1950 to 1959". Historical Dons. Retrieved 2009-06-05.  
  9. ^ a b UK CPI inflation numbers based on data available from Measuring Worth: UK CPI.
  10. ^ a b Hambly, Dave. "1960 to 1969". Historical Dons. Retrieved 2009-06-05.  
  11. ^ a b c d "Report of the Independent Commission on Wimbledon F.C.'s wish to relocate to Milton Keynes". Wimbledon Independent Supporters Association. Retrieved 2009-06-05.  
  12. ^ Hambly, Dave. "1970 to 1979". Historical Dons. Retrieved 2009-06-05.  
  13. ^ Rundle, Richard. "Football Club History Database – Wimbledon". Football Club History Database. Retrieved 2009-06-06.  
  14. ^ a b Hambly, Dave. "1980 to 1989". Historical Dons. Retrieved 2009-06-05.  
  15. ^ "A hard lesson to learn". BBC. 1999-04-15. Retrieved 2009-06-04.  
  16. ^ "Financing a New Stadium". Wimbledon F.C.. 2003. Retrieved 2009-06-05.  
  17. ^ Shaw, Phil (1993-01-26). "Phil Shaw on the strange life of reserve team football". The Independent (Independent News and Media). Retrieved 2009-06-05.  
  18. ^ "Plough Lane Sale Agreed". Wimbledon News. 2002-11-22. Retrieved 2009-06-05.  
  19. ^ "Plough Lane Update". Wimbledon Independent Supporters Association. 2005-10-28. Retrieved 2009-06-05.  
  20. ^ "Plough Lane, Wimbledon, SW19". King Sturge Residential. 2007-02-22. Retrieved 2009-06-05.  
  21. ^ "Naming Ceremony at Plough Lane". Wimbledon Independent Supporters Association. 2008-12-01. Retrieved 2009-06-05.  


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