Merton welcomes another top sporting draw to the borough this weekend as the London Broncos, a professional rugby league side from the second tier of the sport, play their first home game at the Cherry Red Records stadium on Sunday against Widnes Vikings.
The Broncos are the only professional side in the UK who are outside of the sport’s traditional heartlands of the North, and have been playing at various venues across the southeast since 1980, including Fulham’s Craven Cottage ground and Brentford’s Griffin Park.
London Broncos owner David Hughes said: “Plough Lane, or to give it the correct name of the Cherry Red Records stadium, is going to give us the opportunity to develop a crowd over a period of time that eventually will see the Club become self sufficient, or very close to being so.
“5,000 fans in three years has to be the target. That is where we need to be and we have got the best chance of achieving that in the Wimbledon area and with AFC Wimbledon Football Club as partners.”
In recognition of the new partnership, the rugby league club will play in AFC Wimbledon’s yellow and blue colours for their first season at Plough Lane.
Broncos chief executive Jason Loubser said: “We wanted to show how much this move means to us and how much we respect and admire the AFC Wimbledon story. Playing in their colours is our way of saying how honoured we feel to be playing in a stadium the fans helped build.
“We can see how much the football club has done to build incredible community links in the area already and we want to do the same and become a proud part of the Wimbledon fabric.”
Cllr Mark Allison, Leader of the Council, said: “I’m delighted to welcome another professional sports team to our sport-loving community in Merton. The London Broncos will be groundsharing with AFC Wimbledon from this weekend, bringing another top outfit to the borough and to Plough Lane.
“I’m really looking forward to the team kicking off their season against the Widnes Vikings this Sunday at 3pm, and I hope that Merton residents will come along to cheer them on and give them a friendly welcome to the borough.”
Find out more about the Broncos on their website.