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Wimbledon F.C.

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(Redirected from Wimbledon F.C)
This article is about the football club known as Wimbledon F.C. between 1889 and 2003. For the continuation of that club since, see Milton Keynes Dons F.C. For the club founded by Wimbledon fans in response, see AFC Wimbledon.

Wimbledon F.C. was the name of a football club that played in south London. Founded in 1889, the club spent most of its history in non-league football, before a rapid ascent to the top flight of English football in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The club won the FA Cup in 1988 and spent most of the 1990s in the Premiership.

In 2003 following years of wrangling, the club moved to Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire citing financial reasons, and the following year were renamed to Milton Keynes Dons. They have played under that name since.

Contents

History

Amateur beginnings

Wimbledon Old Centrals F.C. were formed in 1889, taking their name from the Old Central school, where they got changed for their games. They changed their name to Wimbledon in 1905. The club played on Wimbledon Common until 1912, when they moved to Plough Lane, their home for the next 75 years. They became one of the best known amateur clubs, winning the Isthmian League title eight times, and lifting the FA Amateur Cup in 1963.

Turning professional

At the insistence of chairman Sydney Black,the club turned professional the following year, entering the Southern League. After a successful record there they were elected to the Football League in 1977. They were promoted or relegated every season from 1979 to 1984, reaching the First Division in 1986.

FA Cup win

Known as "The Crazy Gang" because of the eccentric behaviour of their players and fans (not to mention the chairman, Sam Hammam), their greatest moment came in 1988 when they won the FA Cup, beating Liverpool 1-0, with a goal from Lawrie Sanchez. Wimbledon captain Dave Beasant became the first goalkeeper to save a penalty in a Wembley FA Cup final, stopping a spot-kick from John Aldridge.

Just days after winning the FA Cup, the club's directors announced plans to relocate to a new all-seater stadium in its home borough of Merton. But nothing came of these plans, and at the end of the 1990–91 season Wimbledon decided that its cramped Plough Lane ground was beyond redevelopment, and decided to move into Selhurst Park, sharing with Crystal Palace.

The 1990s

Bobby Gould, manager of the FA Cup winning side, remained in charge until the summer of 1990 when he was replaced by Ray Harford, who in 1988 had guided Luton Town to victory in the League Cup. In 1990–91, Wimbledon finished an impressive seventh in the First Division, and with the ban on English clubs in European competition now lifted, Wimbledon fans hoped that Harford could guide the club to a European place for the first time ever — Wimbledon could not compete in the 1988–89 European Cup Winners Cup because of the ban on English teams following the 1985 Heysel disaster.

Harford resigned in the autumn of 1991 to be replaced by Peter Withe, who remained in charge until the end of the season. Wimbledon finished high enough in 1991–92 to become members of the new Premier League, and Joe Kinnear was appointed manager at the start of 1992–93. Wimbledon continued their strong form under Kinnear – the club's best seasons were 1993–94, 1994–95 and 1996–97, when Kinnear guided the club to respective sixth, ninth and eighth place finishes. There were some quality players in the side like Robbie Earle, Dean Holdsworth, Warren Barton and Ben Thatcher. Wimbledon came close to domestic trophy success in 1996–97, when they reached the semi finals of the FA Cup and League Cup.

At the end of the 1998-99 season, Joe Kinnear handed in his resignation after seven years as Wimbledon manager. In the previous two seasons Wimbledon had finished just above the Premiership relegation zone, and the recent club record £7.5million signing of West Ham United striker John Hartson had done little to address matters. Wimbledon had by now been taken over by a Norwegian consortium led by Kjell Inge Røkke, who appointed Egil Olsen as manager. Olsen had taken the Norwegian national team to the World Cup tournaments of 1994 and 1998, and his new employers were hopeful that he could be a success at Wimbledon too. However, the transition proved to be the beginning of the end for the club.

Relegation from the Premiership

On the last day of 1999-2000, Wimbledon lost to Southampton and their nearest rivals Bradford achieved a surprise win over Liverpool, meaning the club were finally relegated from the top division of English football after 14 years. Olsen had resigned two games earlier to be replaced by coach Terry Burton.

Terry Burton remained manager of Wimbledon for two seasons in Division One until he was sacked at the end of 2001–2002 after the club had narrowly missed out on the promotion playoffs two seasons in a row. After Burton's dismissal, goalkeeping coach Stuart Murdoch took over as manager.

Move to Milton Keynes

Wimbledon's relatively low attendances, and the large number of rival clubs in London, had meant that Wimbledon could not enjoy the high gate receipts received by many other Premiership clubs. With the team homeless after the closure of Plough Lane, throughout the 1990s the club's directors mooted the idea of moving away from London entirely to a more profitable location. Dublin and Cardiff were considered as potential new homes, before the club settled on the new town of Milton Keynes (which had no Football League team) as the best opportunity.

Such a move (over 70 miles) was unprecedented in English football. The club's fans saw the move as franchising, a concept alien to English football; the traditional view of a football club is that it is a part of the community and local fabric, rather than just a business. Despite the ongoing and vehement opposition of the club's fans, and many other clubs' fans who held sympathetic views, on May 28, 2002 the club was given permission by an FA independent panel to relocate to Milton Keynes.

Many of the club's fans, angered at the move, founded their own club, AFC Wimbledon, in 2002. Despite having to start at the 8th level of the football pyramid, AFC Wimbledon enjoys sizeable support from former Wimbledon F.C. fans. The club currently plays in the Isthmian League Premier Division, having achieved already two successive promotions in its short history.

2002-03 was Wimbledon F.C.'s last full season at Selhurst Park. With most fans having deserted the club by now, the average attendance was less than 3,000. But Murdoch's team was still able to secure 10th place in Division One, the strike partnership of Neil Shipperley and David Connolly managed a total of almost 50 goals between them.After further delays,they began playing in Milton Keynes early in the following season.

For the club's subsequent history, please see Milton Keynes Dons F.C.

Honours

Grounds

League history

1919-1921Athenian League
1921-1964Isthmian League
1964-1965Southern League First Division
1965-1977Southern League Premier Division (old First division renamed)
1977-1979Football League Fourth Division
1979-1980Football League Third Division
1980-1981Football League Fourth Division
1981-1982Football League Third Division
1982-1983Football League Fourth Division
1983-1984Football League Third Division
1984-1986Football League Second Division
1986-1992Football League First Division
1992-2000FA Premier League (founder members)
2000-2004Football League First Division

Managers since entering Football League

Famous players

External link


simple:Wimbledon F.C.

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