"This article refers to the original club from London which existed until 2004. For the relocated and renamed club, see
Milton Keynes Dons F.C.For the football club formed by supporters of Wimbledon F.C. when the owners announced their intent to relocate, see AFC Wimbledon."Infobox Football club
clubname = Wimbledon
fullname = Wimbledon Football Club
nickname = The Dons;
The Crazy Gang
founded = 1889 (as Wimbledon Old Centrals)
1905 (as Wimbledon)
1910 (as Wimbledon Borough)
1911 (as Wimbledon F.C.)| ground =
Wimbledon Common Plough Lane Selhurst Park National Hockey Stadium| + ground = Wimbledon Common Plough Lane Selhurst Park| capacity = 15,876 (Plough Lane)
26,309 (Selhurst Park)
8,000 (National Hockey Stadium | chairman = N/A
manager = N/A
league = Last league was Division One
season = Final season was 2003-04
position = 24th
leftarm2=FFE303|body2=FFE303|rightarm2=FFE303|shorts2=FFE303|socks2=FFE303| Wimbledon Football Club was a football club that began life in Wimbledon, south west
London. Founded in 1911 as Wimbledon Borough, [A previous Wimbledon club formed in 1889 as Wimbledon Old Centrals, was disbanded in 1910] the club spent most of its history in non-leaguefootball, before a rapid ascent to the top flight of English football in the late 1970s and early 1980s, staying in the old First Division and then the Premiership from 1986 until 2000. In 1988, Wimbledon beat the then-champions Liverpool 1-0 in the FA Cup final, thus becoming the only football club in the country to have won both the professional and amateur versions of the Cup, having won the FA Amateur Cupback in 1963.
Following the publication of the
Taylor Report, which recommended that all top-flight clubs play in all-seater stadiums, the club needed to move from its Plough Lanehome in 1991. Wimbledon began to ground-share with local rivals Crystal Palace, an arrangement that ended up lasting over 10 years. In 2003, and after considering a variety of locations, the club relocated convert|56|mi|km|0 north to Milton Keynesin Buckinghamshire. The move away from south London was deeply unpopular both with the majority of the club's established fan base and football supporters more generally. A year earlier, some of its supporters had responded to the plans by forming a new club, AFC Wimbledon, which they see as the direct continuation of the sporting representation of the people of Wimbledon, although they currently play their home games in neighbouring Kingston.
Wimbledon Old Centrals F.C. were formed in 1889, taking their name from
Old Central Schoolon Wimbledon Common, where players had been pupils. Founded in 1758, the Old Central School eventually closed in the early 1960s when its role was taken over by Bishop Gilpin School, a new school on a different site in Wimbledon. The original octagonal school building from 1758 was still standing in 2006 and in use as part of a private school, The Study. Early matches were played on the Common, and players used the Fox and Grapes public house, which is in the same road as the school, as the team's headquarters and changing room. The Old Centrals' name was changed to Wimbledon Football Club in 1905. The club continued to play on Wimbledon Common and at various other locations in the Wimbledon area until 1912, when they moved to Plough Lane, their home for the next 79 years. They became one of the best known amateur clubs in the country, winning the Isthmian Leaguetitle eight times, and lifting the FA Amateur Cupin 1963, beating Sutton United F.C.4-2.
Prompted by its patriarch chairman
Sydney Black, the club turned professional the following year, entering the Southern League, where they had continued success.
In 1975, the club became nationally famous during a spectacular FA Cup run. They were the first non-league team that century to beat a First Division team at its own ground, when they defeated
Burnley F.C.at Turf Moorin the third round. In the fourth round they held the reigning First Division Champions, Leeds United F.C., to a 0-0 draw at Elland Road, with goalkeeper Dickie Guysaving a penalty from Peter Lorimer, before narrowly losing to an own goal in the replay at Selhurst Park, in front of over 40,000 spectators.
1977-78 was a satisfactory
Football Leaguedebut for Wimbledon, who finished 13th in the Fourth Division. Allen Batsfordhad resigned as manager on 2 January 1978to be succeeded by Dario Gradi, who guided the club to promotion in 1978-79.
Wimbledon's first stab at the Third Division, however, was not a successful one. They were relegated in bottom place, winning just 10 league games all season, after losing key players
Les Brileyand Ray Lewington.
1980-81 saw Wimbledon regain their Third Division status at the first attempt, at the end of an eventful season which saw chairman
Ron Noadeswalk out of the club to take over Crystal Palace, and then bring manager Dario Gradi to Selhurst Parkwith him. At Plough Lane, the manager's seat was filled by former assistant manager Dave Bassett.
1981-82 was a traumatic season for Wimbledon, who were relegated in 22nd place (third from bottom), and just before the survival battle was lost, injured defender
Dave Clementcommitted suicide.
Wimbledon regained their Third Division status at the first attempt, triumphing as Fourth Division champions in 1982-83, and in 1983-84 they continued to excel as they achieved promotion to the Second Division after finishing runners-up with 97 goals in the Third Division. Memorable moments of that season, undoubtedly Wimbledon's greatest yet, included a shock Second Round victory over First Division title chasers Nottingham Forest, and a 6-0 victory over Newport County in Wimbledon's first home game of the season.
At the end of that promotion campaign, manager
Dave Bassettaccepted an offer from Ron Noades to take over at Crystal Palace, but four days later changed his mind, having never signed the contract, and returned to Wimbledon.
1984-85 was Wimbledon's first season in the Second Division, and everyone at the club was prepared for long and hard struggle to preserve this status. Their first game at this level was a 1-1 home draw with promotion favourites Manchester City, and the season brought mixed results, but a 12th place final finish was more than satisfactory for a club who were played at this level for the first time and were only in their eighth season as
Football Leaguemembers. That season they reached the Fifth Round of the FA Cup, holding West Ham United (mid-table First Division team) to a 1-1 draw at Plough Lanebefore bowing out in a 5-1 defeat at Upton Park. In the Fourth Round, they had eliminated Nottingham Forest from a cup competition for the second season in succession.
1985-86 started well for Wimbledon as they beat Middlesbrough 3-0 on the opening day of the season, and were soon looking like promotion contenders. Promotion in third place was sealed on the final day of the season with a victory over Huddersfield Town.
Wimbledon had reached the First Division, four years after playing in the Fourth Division and nine years after being elected to the Football League.
Many observers tipped Wimbledon to go straight down from the First Division in 1986-87, but they won their first three games of the league season to go top of the league on
1 September. They finished sixth in the final table and Dave Bassett then moved to Watford, being succeeded by Bristol Rovers manager Bobby Gould.
FA Cup win
Dubbed "The Crazy Gang" because of the eccentric behaviour of their players and fans (and, indeed, the chairman,
Sam Hammam), their greatest moment came in 1988 when, very much against expectation, they won the FA Cup beating the strong favourites Liverpool 1-0, with a goal from Lawrie Sanchez. 37,000 Dons fans witnessed Wimbledon captain Dave Beasantbecome the first goalkeeperto save a penalty in an FA Cup final, stopping a controversial spot-kick ( Clive Goodyearhad clearly played the ball from John Aldridge). The only downside of this triumph was the fact that they would not be able to compete in the European Cup Winners Cup, as the ban on English teams in European competitions - arising from the Heysel disaster- was still in operation at this time.
Move to Selhurst Park
Just days after winning the FA Cup, the club's directors announced plans to build a new all-seater stadium in its home borough of Merton. But, ultimately, nothing came of these plans and at the end of the 1990–91 season Wimbledon decided that its cramped
Plough Laneground was beyond redevelopment to meet the (then) new FA rule requiring "all seater" stadiums. [In the light of the Hillsborough disaster] Consequently, the club moved into Selhurst Parkstadium (in the London Borough of Croydon), ground-sharing with Crystal Palace, where it remained for the next twelve years.
1990s: the 'Crazy Gang' in the Premiership
In the season following the FA Cup triumph, Gould had steered Wimbledon to a secure 12th place finish in the First Division, and in 1989-90 they had finished eighth, so Gould's departure was something to a surprise.
The departure from Plough Lane took place over the 1991 close season and they were now tenants of Crystal Palace's Selhurst Park. Harford suddenly resigned in October 1991 (returning to football later in the month as Kenny Dalglish's assistant at Blackburn Rovers) and was replaced by
Peter Withe. Withe lasted until just after the turn of the new year, when Joe Kinnearwas promoted from the role of youth team coach, initially taking over as interim manager.
After guiding Wimbledon to 13th place in the 1991-92 First Division and booking their place in the new
Premier League, Kinnear got the manager's job on a permanent basis.
1992-93 began as a struggle for Wimbledon, who occupied third from bottom place (the last relegation place) on
Boxing Day. However, they recovered well in the new year and finished 12th.
1993-94 was one of Wimbledon's best season's to date as they finished sixth in the
Premier Leagueand reached the quarter-finals of the League Cup (beating Liverpool on penalties in the Fourth Round replay).
Wimbledon remained hard to beat in 1994-95, finished ninth in the Premier League and bolstering their squad with the acquisition of Norwich City striker
Efan Ekokufollowing the departure of long-serving John Fashanuto Aston Villa. Another important signing was Norweigan winger Oyvind Leonhardsenfrom Rosenborg.
1995-96 brought a struggle for Wimbledon, who finished 14th in the Premier League, although they were never in any real danger of being relegated. The biggest plus of their season was a run to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup, where they took Chelsea to a replay before losing 3-1 at
Wimbledon made a great start to the 1996-97 campaign, after losing their first 3 fixtures, they proceeded to win their next 7 and reach the summit of the Premiership, they continued to spend much of the season in the hunt for cup glory and a top-five finish. There was delight in early February when they eliminated Manchester United from the FA Cup. They reached the semi-finals, where again they were eliminated by Chelsea (who this time went on to win the trophy). They also reached the semi-finals of the League Cup, where they were defeated by eventual winners Leicester City. Wimbledon's last hope of a debut in European competition now lay with their challenge for a top-five league finish, but they could only managed eighth place and were left with nothing but the memories after a dramatic season.
1997-98 looked highly promising for Wimbledon as late on as
Christmas, as they were regularly in the top five. However, their form in the second half of the season was less impressive, and they dipped to 15th place in the final table - their lowest finish yet in the top flight.
A similar pattern followed in 1998-99 - a good start followed by a slump. As late on as mid-March, Wimbledon were on the fringe of a
UEFA Cupplace. The signing of West Ham United striker John Hartson(a transfer target for much bigger clubs, including Manchester United) boosted hopes of success for Wimbledon, but a terrible run of form in the final weeks of the season saw them dip to 16th in the final table. They had reached the League Cup semi-finals that season, but bowed out to eventual winners Tottenham Hotspur.
Joe Kinnear stepped down as manager in June 1999 to be succeeded by Norweigan coach
Relegation from the Premiership
1999-2000 was a season which began with much ambition but ended with much grief. With one of the Premier League's top strikers, John Hartson, leading their attack, fans were confident that the club could finish much higher this season, and possibly challenge for honours. A strong challenge came in the League Cup, where Wimbledon reached the quarter-finals before losing at home to Division One promotion-chasers Bolton Wanderers.
Wimbledon's league form had slowly deteriorated in the second half of the season, and manager Egil Olsen had left in early May with relegation now looking a real threat. Long-serving coach
Terry Burtontook over, but on 14 May 2000(12 years to the day they had won the FA Cup) Wimbledon were relegated from the top flight after a 14-year stay due to their 2-0 defeat at Southampton and a shock 1-0 win for fellow strugglers Bradford City over Liverpool.
Burton remained manager of Wimbledon for two seasons in Division One until he was controversially sacked at the end of 2001–2002 after the club had narrowly missed out on the promotion playoffs two seasons in a row. Notable players on the club's books during these years included Ireland captain
Kenny Cunningham, Nigel Reo-Cokerand Damien Francisand defender Ben Thatcher. After Burton's dismissal, goalkeeping coach Stuart Murdoch took over as manager.
Move to Milton Keynes
Wimbledon's success in the top-flight of English football was founded on unorthodox financial management and judicious dealings in the transfer market. [http://www.guardian.co.uk/weekend/story/0,3605,871424,00.html Guardian Unlimited -Pitch battle] ] The club's average attendances were generally amongst the lowest in the Premiership, and comparable to a good Championship side, but sound management and an outstanding football academy meant that the club had remained competitive, and had enjoyed a long period of stability and relative success at the top level of English football. However, with inflation in costs, the club began to lose money heavily. The club's original owners felt that they could restore the club to profitability if they could be allowed to move it away from London entirely to a more profitable location. Such a proposal was against league rules, [http://www.thefa.com/NR/rdonlyres/85E0D795-FBBD-4C75-A89A-4A23D032D44E/90798/GradeEJune06.pdf] and news of the scheme aroused much anger from a majority of supporters.
Dublin, Belfastand Cardiffwere considered as potential new locations, but none of these proposals got off the ground.
Such a move (in terms of distance) was unprecedented in English football (and although there were arguably a number of precedents in Scottish football, the Scots system does not have an open pyramid structure and others in English football prior to the current pyramid structure). The club's fans saw the move as akin to the American sports "franchise" system, a concept unknown in English football; the traditional view of a football club is that it is an important part of the community and local fabric, rather than simply a business. The proposed move was opposed in most quarters - not merely by a majority of the club's fans and fans of many other clubs who held sympathetic views, but by both the Football League (whose committee voted unanimously to reject the move) and the Football Association. Following the Football League vote, the owners of the club appealed against the decision to the
The Football Association, who established a three-man commission to consider the request [ [http://www.wisa.org.uk/cgi/l/files/20020530_fa.pdf Report of the Independent Commission on Wimbledon F.C.'s wish to relocate to Milton Keynes] ] . The commission ruled in favour of the move, and consequently on May 28, 2002the FA reluctantly gave permission for the club to relocate to Milton Keynes. The then-Chief Executive of the FA, Adam Crozier, said that although the FA had to abide by the decision of the three-man commission, they did not believe the move was a good thing for the game. Crozier publicly stated that he personally felt it was an "appalling decision" [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/teams/w/wimbledon/2209767.stm BBC SPORT - Crozier 'appalled' by Dons move] ] . The affair caused Wimbledon F.C to be nick-named pejoratively as "Franchise F.C."
2002-03 was Wimbledon F.C.'s last full season at Selhurst Park. With most fans having by now deserted the club in protest, the average attendance at Selhurst Park fell to around the 1500 mark - the majority of these being away fans. The team finished in 10th place in Division One. They began playing in Milton Keynes early in the following season. However, before the move itself took place (nearly a year after the FA Commission's decision to approve the move on the 28 May 2002), Wimbledon F.C. went into financial administration with debts of more than £20 million. Part of the reason for the increasing debts was that football supporters were boycotting games following the unpopular decision to allow the move to Milton Keynes.
2003-04 was a disastrous season for Wimbledon FC at its Milton Keynes base. After the move to Milton Keynes, whilst attendances improved, the administrators were selling off any players that could command a transfer fee. This impacted on the field performances & the club were relegated in bottom place after 33 defeats - the joint second-worst record for the most league defeats in English football history. Only Doncaster (34 defeats) have lost more games in a league season (when they were relegated to the Conference in 1998).
After the end of the season, the new owner of the business, Peter Winkelman, rebranded the club by changing the club's badge, colours, and name, renaming the club
Milton Keynes Dons F.C.This effectively marked the end of Wimbledon F.C.
Wimbledon's Final Squad
FA Cup(1): 1988.
Fourth Division(1): 1983.
Anglo-Italian Cup(1): 1976.
FA Amateur Cup(1): 1963.
* Southern League
** Premier Division Champions: 1975, 1976, 1977
Southern League Cup(1): 1970, 1976.
** Champions: 1930-31, 1931-32, 1934-35, 1935-36, 1958-59, 1961-62, 1962-63, 1963-64
London Senior Cup
** Winners: 1930-31, 1933-34, 1961-62, 1974-75, 1976-77
Football League Group Trophy
** Champions (2): "1896-97 "(unbeaten)"; 1900-01;"
South Western Cup
** Winners (1): "1900-01;"
Surrey Senior Cup
**Winners (4): "1935-36; 1939-40; 1948-49; 1954-55;"
Surrey Charity Shield
** Winners (5): "1924-25; 1925-26; 1926-27; 1930-31; 1934-35;"
Surrey Combination Cup
** Winners (2): "1928-29; 1930-31;"
London Charity Cup
** Winners (3): "1935-36; 1949-50; 1951-52;"
South London Charity Cup
**Winners (2): "1905-06; 1930-31;"
South Western Charity Cup
** Winners: "1930-31;"
South of the Thames Cup
** Winners (4): "1953-54; 1960-61; 1961-62; 1962-63;"
**Champions (1): "1896-97;"
** Winners (1): "1900-01;"
National Hockey Stadium(2003-2004)
*Prior to the appointment of H. R. Watts as first team manager, it is believed that a committee would deal with first team affairs, such as choosing the team on a matchday.
Managers in the Football League
Allen Batsford(1977-78) - Wimbledon's first manager in the Football League, having previously won the Southern League three seasons in a row with the Dons and an FA Amateur cup with Walton & Hersham
Dario Gradi(1978-81) - Guided Wimbledon to their first promotion, from the old Fourth Division. Gradi was formerly assistant manager to Allen Batsford
Dave Bassett(1981-87) - Previously Wimbledon's captain and then Dario Gradi's assistant, Bassett was arguably the club's most successful manager during their time as a Football League club, guiding the club to promotions from the old Fourth Division to the First within five years. In his final season at the club, they finished sixth in the First Division.
Bobby Gould(1987-90) - Helped guide Wimbledon to the FA Cup final in 1988, beating Liverpool 1-0.
Ray Harford(1990-91) - Took Wimbledon to seventh place in the league in his only season as manager, before resigning the following autumn.
Peter Withe(1991-1992) - Managed the Dons for just 105 days in the club's first season at Selhurst Park
Joe Kinnear(1992-99) - Formerly assistant manager at Wimbledon, took the club to their highest Premiership finish in 6th place, as well as reaching both the FA Cup and League Cup cup semi-finals in 1997
Egil Olsen(1999-2000) - Managed Wimbledon for most of their final Premiership season, though differences between the management and players lead to the side being relegated in 2000
Terry Burton(2000-2002) - Took charge of Wimbledon for the last two matches of their final Premiership campaign and then the following two seasons in the First Division.
*Stuart Murdoch (2002-2004) - Formally the Goalkeeper coach prior to taking over from Terry Burton who was sacked before the end of the 2002 season.
Notable Former Players
Neal Ardley- Played as a right-sided midfielder during the 1990s and early 2000s, earning caps for the England U-21 side
Warren Barton- Signed from Maidstone Unitedin 1991 and became England's most expensive defender on his £4million move to Newcastle Unitedin 1995
Dave Beasant- Captain and goalkeeper in the 1988 FA Cup triumph, played in all four Football League divisions with the club
Alan Cork- Wimbledon's record scorer with 145 goals between 1977 and 1992, also collected an F.A Cup winner's medal in 1988
Carl Cort- Young striker who debuted for the club in 1997 and was later sold to Newcastle United for £7million
Kenny Cunningham- Signed from Millwall in 1994 and became a regular Republic of Ireland international, later captaining the side
Laurie Cunningham†- England international and former Real Madrid winger
Keith Curle- Played for Wimbledon between 1988 and 1991 before a move to Manchester City
Jermaine Darlington- Full-back signed from QPR in 2001. Played over 100 games for Wimbledon in the old First Division. Became the first player to play competitive football for both Wimbledon FC and AFC Wimbledonin 2006
Robbie Earle- Midfielder signed from Port Vale in 1991 who spent nearly a decade with the club, becoming captain, before a ruptured pancreas ended his playing career. Captained and scored for Jamaica in their 1998 World Cup campaign
Efan Ekoku- Nigerian striker signed from Norwich in 1994, remained with the club until 1999, when he moved to Swiss side Grasshoppers
John Fashanu- Striker signed from Millwall in 1986 who played in the 1988 F.A Cup triumph and remained at Wimbledon until 1994. Became the club's first full England international in a 0-0 draw with Chile in May 1989
Marcus Gayle- Attacking midfielder who was on the club's books between 1994 and 2001. Best remembered for his winning goal against Manchester Unitedin the FA Cup in 1997, later played for AFC Wimbledon, before becoming manager of their reserve team.
Dickie Guy- Popular goalkeeper who played every game of non-league Wimbledon's 1975-76 FA Cup run, saving Peter Lorimer's penalty for Leeds in a Fourth Round 0-0 draw. Now club president of AFC Wimbledon.
Johnny Haynes- Played for Wimbledon in the Isthmian Leagueas a schoolboy before signing professionally for Fulham in 1952.
John Hartson- Welsh striker who cost a club of record £7.5 million from West Ham in 1999
Glyn Hodges- Became the first full international to play for Wimbledon in 1984, earning appearances for Wales
Hermann Hreiðarsson- Icelandic international played for Wimbledon in the Premiership
*flagicon|Northern Ireland Michael Hughes - Played for Wimbledon during their final two seasons as a Premiership club. Northern Ireland international
Vinnie Jones- Controversial, tough-tackling midfielder who had two spells with Wimbledon - during the first he was an FA Cup winner, now an actor
Roger Joseph- Longstanding Wimbledon defender, went on to play for AFC Wimbledon
Øyvind Leonhardsen- Norwegian international winger who joined from Rosenborg in 1994. Sold to Liverpool in 1997
*flagicon|England John Leslie - Joined the club in Southern League days and made over 300 appearances, scoring more than 100 goals before leaving for Gillingham
*flagicon|England Chris Perry - Talented defender and Wimbledon fan who joined Tottenham in 1998
Terry Phelan- Left back in the 1988 F.A Cup triumph
Lawrie Sanchez- Scored the goal to win Wimbledon promotion to the old First Division in 1986, then scored the only goal in the 1988 FA Cup final. Northern Ireland international who also managed the international side
Nigel Reo-Cokerformer England U21, transferred to West Ham before signing for Aston Villa
John Scales- Helped Wimbledon beat Liverpool in the 1988 FA Cup final and was transferred to the Merseyside club six years later
Hans Segers- Kept goal for Wimbledon between 1988 and 1996
Peter Shilton- joined the club in 1995 but made no appearances due to Hans Segersand Neil Sullivanbeing ahead in the pecking order
Neil Sullivan- Wimbledon's regular goalkeeper in their final four Premiership seasons, gaining many international appearances for Scotland in the process
Ben Thatcher- £1.5million signing from Milwall who played for Wimbledon in their final four Premiership seasons before being sold to Tottenham Hotspur
Nigel Winterburn- Helped Wimbledon reach the First Division in 1986. Sold to Arsenal, where he became an England international
Dennis Wise- Left-winger in Wimbledon's 1988 FA Cup success. Signed from Southampton
*flagicon|Wales Eric Young - Centre-back in 1988 FA Cup success, also played for Crystal Palace in the 1990 FA Cup Final
*Meadowbank Thistle F.C., which moved out of
Edinburghto Livingston, to become Livingston F.C.
Airdrie United F.C., who were formed on the bankruptcy of Airdrieonians F.C.in 2002 and subsequently "bought out" Clydebank F.C.
Clyde F.C., which moved out of Glasgowto Cumbernauldbut retained its name.
Relocation of professional sports teams
Gretna F.C., Went into liquidation and lost is SFL status, A new team called Gretna 2008 has been formed and competing in the East of Scotland leagues.
*The Crazy Gang: The Inside Story of Vinnie, Harry, Fash and Wimbledon FC by Matt Allen
*Wimbledon FC - Old Central's Man Walter Ernest Hawtin, 1876-1916 by Gillian Hawtin
*Dons - in the League: Wimbledon FC - The First Five Seasons, 1977-1982 (Sports (Sporting & Leisure Press)) by Stephen Crabtree
*Wimbledon FC by Dean Hayes
* [http://www.afcwimbledon.co.uk/ The official website of AFC Wimbledon]
* [http://www.historicaldons.com/ Historical Dons site (by Dave Hambly)]
* [http://www.wisa.org.uk/wopa/ The Wimbledon Old Players Association]
* [http://www.mkdons.co.uk/ The official website of Milton Keynes Dons F.C.]
* [http://afcw.foto.co.uk/ Statistics for part of Wimbledon FC's existence]
* [http://www.fchd.info/WIMBLEDO.HTM Wimbledon] at the Football Club History Database
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
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