Neal Ardley will forever have a connection with Kingsmeadow but the AFC Wimbledon manager insists he won’t miss the place one bit if the Dons return to Plough Lane.
The former Crazy Gang member took the reins of the phoenix club in October 2012 and has proven a shrewd appointment by guiding the club to promotion to League One last term.
Four years in charge of the club that he loves, which began at the Kingston ground against Cheltenham, has given Ardley strong emotional ties with AFC Wimbledon.
He even met wife Sarah at the Kingsmeadow Athletics centre while she was working as a receptionist during his time as a player at Wimbledon FC.
Ardley was working with with Jenny Archer, coach to Paralympic wheelchair athlete David Weir, at the time when he spotted his future bride from across the room.
But despite that romantic history with the stadium, Ardley would have no problems leaving it all behind to fulfill his ambitions of leading out the team at their new home in Plough Lane.
He told GetWestLondon: “Kingsmeadow has served its purpose. For me it’s not a league ground so no I won’t miss it, it’s not an easy place to make a fortress out of when it comes to having home fans and home form.
“I met my wife at Kingsmeadow. I used to do extra training when I was an apprentice at Wimbledon when I needed to get fitter. We had an athletics coach over there and she [my wife] was on reception and I spotted her and finally plucked up the courage after a couple of beers one night to ask her out.
“So I will always have a connection there, I made a joke the other time that I met the woman I love at that place [Kingsmeadow] and she sort of nodded her head and then I said I wonder what she’s up to now before a pillow came flying across the room at me!”
Ardley spent 18 years with Wimbledon FC from youth scheme to senior pro and played at the old Plough Lane, training on a concrete car park with the Crazy Gang.
It would be fitting that the former midfielder should be the man to take the team back to their roots and dreams of a return to SW19 are close to being realised.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan this formally handed back the decision over plans for the club’s new stadium back to Merton Council.
Merton Council’s cross party planning committee unanimously approved the plans in December 2015 before previous Mayor, Boris Johnson, called in the move.
Johnson’s involvement delayed the process but Merton are now expected to finally rubber stamp the deal to turn the dream into a reality.