1950 to 1959
That South Stand was to be restored to its pre-war glory
during the close season, so when the 50-51 campaign opened, Wimbledon's ground
capacity was set at the 25,000 mark.
Oxford City were first visitors of a new season and
Wimbledon and Stannard, responded in style. Stannard had already proved he had
lost none of his old appetite for goal. He scored two for the Probables
pre-season, then switched sides and duly added another for the Possibles! He and
Jimmie Smith scored twice against City, with Harry Bull bagging another in a 5-0
opener. The Reserves matched that away at Oxford, Charlie Smith scoring a
hat-trick in a 6-1 victory.
Wimbledon were showing good early season form and they
got a quick chance for some silverware to go with it. They had progressed to the
final of the London Charity Cup the previous season and were scheduled to meet
Dulwich Hamlet. It was decided to hold the game over, so on September 11 the
Dons and Dulwich did battle at Stamford Bridge. Gauntlett and Bull got their eye
in with early goals and although S. Gray pulled one back, Wimbledon took the
Stannard was to score six in a 9-3 FA Cup win over
Guildford Pinks, only for Walton & Hersham to end their progress there, with a
shock 2-0 win at Plough Lane.
But Wimbledon were going well on the Isthmian front again,
with Gauntlett grabbing three against Ilford and good wins against Oxford City,
Kingstonian and Tufnell Park hoisting them to second place.
Wimbledon's visit to Dulwich on December 9 was covered
live by the BBC Television cameras. But three defeats in their previous four
outings had seen them slip to fourth place and there was no respite at Champion
Hill, either, in a 3-1 defeat.
In the next four months Wimbledon were to play only two
Isthmian matches as their Cup fortunes prospered. They progressed through three
rounds of the London Senior before Hendon knocked them out in the fourth, in
front of a 4,200 gate at Claremont Road. Victories over Sheppey United and Woking in a replay took
Wimbledon into a third round Amateur Cup derby with Tooting which was to take
four matches and seven hours of football before the sides were separated.
Bob Parker gave Tooting a 2-0 lead in the first game, before Stannard and
Gaundett forced replay one. Again Tooting were to open a two goal gap before
Wimbledon got their game together, with Lister this time joining Gaundett on the
The attendance for these games were averaging out around
the 10,000 mark and the punters were getting value for money. Another 1-1 draw
followed at Tooting before Wimbledon finally produced the killer touch, with
Gaundett, Stannard and Jimmie Smith forcing the win in shocking conditions, but
again only after Tooting had drawn first
All that effort, though, came to nothing in the next round
against Hendon. A Gauntlett leveler forced the replay, but Hendon held the upper
hand for a 2-0 win. Saddened by the sudden death of club chairman Jack Brown,
Wimbledon's Easter Tour of the Channel
Islands was a more subdued affair, although they did return with the Victory
Cup. That, though, was their lot. Despite
five wins two draws in their final 10 League matches, they had to be content
with fourth place in the table.
Grim news as well on the financial front. A deferred tax
liability of £800 left them£281 in the red and they decided to up the annual
subs to 30 shillings and raise the price of admission from nine pence to one
There were some big names in store for the crowd to enjoy
the following season. On October 13, 1951, a young 16-year old by the name of
Johnny Haynes was to make his Wimbledon debut.
But the Craven Cottagers were to provide Wimbledon with
the skills of the young Master Haynes. Already an England Schoolboy
international, he had scored six in a recent schools international with
Scotland. The cultured, classy player was to go on and dominate the game for
Fulham and Enland into the early 70s.
And on his debut against Ilford he proved he could live
with the men as well, claiming one in a 5-0 walkover. He scored again in the
following match and then he and Gauntlett grabbed two apiece in a 6-0 drubbing
of Woking. Fulham, for whom Haynes was working as a £4 a week office boy,
recalled their protégé after that, although he was made available for three
further games in the weeks prior to Christmas.
And then there was Mickey Stewart, now at the head of the
English cricket scene, but then a scorer of vital goals in yet another exciting
climax to the season. Maurice Boxall was to make his debut that season as well
and he scored twice in a 7-1 London Charity Cup triumph over Metropolitan
Erith & Belvedere had ensured Wimbledon's poor run in the
FA Cup continued with a single goal preliminary round win at Plough Lane. And
the professionals of Fulham put paid to Wimbledon's London Challenge Cup hopes
5-1 in another early round exit.
There were more cup corkers for the bumper gates to enjoy.
Wimbledon and Tooting shared nine goals in a 5-4 Surrey Senior thriller at Sandy
Lane that ended in Tooting's favour after extra time. And the TV cameras were at
Plough Lane again, along with a 14,000 crowd, to enjoy an Amateur Cup tie with
The sides drew goal-less at Plough Lane, then 1-1 at
Walthamstow. A 13,715 crowd turned out at Highbury for the second replay and
Walthamstow, eventual winners of the competition, triumphed 3-0.
A 3-1 defeat at Woking followed and Doc Dowden announced
five team changes for the visit of Clapton the next week. The shake-up paid
dividends, as Malcolm Robins and Stannard scored twice, with Jack Wallis adding
a penalty in a 5-3 win. More points against Oxford lifted Wimbledon to second
place and they went into the final league match at Ilford knowing the tide could
be won by anyone of four clubs...themselves, joint leaders Leytonstone, Romford
or Walthamstow. As it was, Jack Wallis scored both goals in Wimbledon's 2-0 win,
but a 4-0 triumph for Leytonstone gave them the title, pipping the Dons on goal
There was a trophy for the reserves, however, with Mickey
Stewart scoring the only goal in the London Intermediate Cup final against the
Port of London Authority at Walthamstow. The club were back in the black as
well, with a £680 profit for the season, while the Supporters Club, now with a
membership over 600, voted to take up a £90 eight shillings estimate to have
glass panels fitted at the ends of both stands to protect their customers from
Wimbledon's best spell this season again
came in the opening months of the campaign. The unstoppable Stannard, who had
made his Wimbledon debut way back in 1935, scored 19 goals in the first 18
games, matched virtually all the way by Gauntlett's 16 in 18 outings.
Goals from Stannard and Boxall had ensured another London
Charity Cup Final win, this time over Walthamstow at Dulwich, while the club
enjoyed their best FA Cup run for many years. The Metropolitan Police were the
first to fold, 5-1 at Imber Court, with Stannard scoring both goals in the 2-1
win over Woking.
He scored two again in the 3-3 draw at Dulwich in the next
round and it was his hat-trick that settled the replay 5-3 in Wimbledon's
favour. Carshalton Athletic and Gravesend & Northfleet went much the same way,
with Freddie Gauntlett this time plundering a hat-trick in the latter.
When Wimbledon snatched a 2-2 draw at Walthamstow in the
next round it looked like the hard work was done. But there was no strolling
over the Avenue as they overwhelmed Wimbledon 3-0 in driving snow at Plough
In between time Wimbledon had put together a League run
of four wins and a draw in six outings, sitting a comfortable fifth, eight
points behind Walthamstow but with four games in hand. Their best performance at
this stage was the 8-0 drubbing of Barking, led by Stannard (4), Gauntlett (2),
Marsh and Stewart.
They were also to progress to the Surrey Senior Cup Final
and a Selhurst Park showdown against old rivals Tooting. Over 8,000 fans turned
out to see Gauntlett cancel Bob Parker's opener for Tooting, only for Parker to
pop in the winner.
It all turned sour at the turn of the year, however. In 14
League games to the finish, Wimbledon won just five and drew two as the season
They were to fare even worse in a bleak 53-54 season, a
sad end to the 18 year service of ace marksman Stannard. His final game for
Wimbledon came in a 4-0 defeat at Walthamstow on the last day of the season.
Wimbledon, up among the top dogs for so long, were now down among the dead men
and applying for reelection.
The writing was on the wall, really, from day one.
Stannard's two early strikes had opened a comfortable lead at Ilford. It was an
advantage, though, that Wimbledon failed to protect as they crashed 3-2.
Exactly the same thing happened in their FA Cup first
qualifying round replay with Kingstonian. This time it was Mickey Stewart who
scored the two early goals, with K's then slamming four without reply.
A last minute equaliser cost more points at Corinthian
Casuals and although Wimbledon did put together an eight game unbeaten run,
Wycombe Wanderers scraped a one goal win against the run of play to put an end
Goalkeeper Alan Hooper was the star of the show at
Delphian Leaguers Woodford in the second round of the London Senior. They went
for the early kill, but Hooper held firm and a Gauntlett hat-trick, plus others
from Currie and Cammell saw Wimbledon comfortably through.
A 3-1 win at St. Albans continued Wimbledon's post war
love affair with Clarence Park, taking their points' tally to 14 in eight
visits, while two 4-1 victories away from home took them into the second rounds
of both Senior cups.
Stannard, out of the first team since October, scored two
of the goals in the 4-1 Surrey Senior success at Woking and although he repeated
that double against Dulwich the following week, Dons again contrived to turn a
2-1 interval lead into a 4-2 defeat.
The goals dried up completely in a 1-0 Amateur Cup defeat
at Sheppey United. But Doc knew what was up, replaced Bull and Woods in the five
man frontline with Porter and Cammell and Wimbledon duly romped in 5-1 against
Edgeware Town in the London Senior, second round.
Dowden produced another managerial masterstroke, giving
John Dinsdale a first team debut against Oxford City. Dinsdale had proved his
worth with a run of goals for the reserves and repaid Dowden's faith with a
hat-trick in a 5-3 win.
But that really was it for the season. Ilford put them out
of the London Senior semifinal 4-0, while Corinthian Casuals won 2-0 in the
Surrey Senior competition. Dinsdale went back to the reserves and four of the
next five League fixtures finished in defeat, although there was an eight minute
hat-trick by young Derek Clarke to savour in the one victory, 3-1 over
But despite their lowly League placing, Wimbledon did
manage to secure some silverware, with a 3-2 South of the Thames Cup Final win
over Tooting, with goals from Gauntlett and J. Davies, plus a Les Wallis own
goal. So Stannard's career on the park came to a close. He was duly voted vice
president at the club's annual meeting in July, where the club announced a £34
purchase of floodlighting equipment had been made.
With Stannard on the sidelines, the Wimbledon forward line
was led by young centre forward Jeff Darey. Tipped for amateur international
honours, he duly broke through to join the England Amateur ranks that faced
Scotland at Hampden Park over Easter, 1955. It was on Darey's shoulders that
Wimbledon's hopes of success rested and it was he who scored the winner to bring
the Surrey Senior Cup back to Plough Lane after a 2-1 win over Sutton United.
Ray Oakes had scored the first, with Staples on the mark for Sutton.
Wimbledon had made a slow start to the season, losing
their opening League matches and being knocked out of the London Challenge and
FA cups early on. There was a win at top of the table Walthamstow to savour,
however, with R. Truby scoring the only goal after 14 minutes.
A 2-0 win at Dulwich and 5-0 against Oxford restored some
confidence for a run of cup games that would take Wimbledon from December to
March, with just three of the next 15 games in the League.
Again there were early round exits from the London Senior
and South of the Thames cups, but Wimbledon did get it right in the Amateur Cup.
Having forced an exciting 1-1 draw at Tooting, Wimbledon looked out of it three
goals down in the replay, through Hocker (2) and a Waters penalty. But Truby and
two goal Gauntlett took up the challenge to force extra time and it was
Gauntlett who grabbed the winner to clinch his hat-trick.
Goalkeeper Hooper was again the hero of a second round
draw at Northern League Shildon. The home supporters had spent two days clearing
the pitch of snow, but couldn't put the skids under Hooper and company. The
Plough Lane replay went to extra time in another close encounter, but in ran
Gauntlett again for the late winner.
That would have cheered the unwell Dowden somewhat when
the result was phoned to him on the final whistle. But the prospect of facing
Hayes in round three probably wouldn't have, as they had put Wimbledon out of
the FA Cup earlier in the season. Yet here was a chance for revenge and
Wimbledon took it with both hands. Hooper kept Hayes at bay and Oakes scored a
goal in each half to secure the win and a quarter-final tie against Hendon.
But Hendon came to Plough Lane with no fewer than six
Amateur Internationals gracing their line-up: three English, one Scottish, one
Swiss and a Norwegian. It was Hvidsten, from Norway, who gave Hendon the lead,
with Oakes leveling in the 64th minute to force a replay. Gauntlett was at the
heart of matters here, scoring first to cancel out Parker's early goal and then
being stretchered off injured. A man down, away from home and against such
formidable opposition proved too stiff a task and Hendon won through 41.
Wimbledon were sliding down the table, losing seven of
their last 12 games, including a worse ever 9-1 at home to Woking. That came
just 12 days before the Surrey Senior Final, but the dashing Darey and the Dons
dug in for victory.
Doc Dowden's days as manager were over and at the annual
meeting Alderman Sydney Black, chairman of the club, welcomed former Arsenal and
Reading player Les Henley as first team coach. Formerly coach to Irish club
Bohemians, Henley joined Wimbledon under new manager E. Goodens.
It was Hen1ey, however, who would be responsible for team
selection. Progress has always been the key word at Wimbledon and the Management
Committee decided that a new approach was needed if it was to be maintained.
Attendances had fallen rapidly after the post-war boom and
the final home Isthmian League game of 1954-5, against Leytonstone, had
attracted fewer than 250 spectators, in contrast to the Amateur Cup ties
against Shildon and Hendon, both of which had seen over 7,000 at Plough Lane.
The Management Committee decided that a professional coach
was needed to revive the club's fortunes, hence the introduction of Les Henley.
Sydney Black, the Club Chairman, recalled that he had consulted Ted Drake, a
former colleague of Henley at Arsenal and manager of the Chelsea team which had
won the League Championship in 1954-5 and it was on Drake's recommendation that
Black had also asked the Football Association for a list
of recommended coaches and Henley's name was at the top of the list. And top
billing he had, being given full responsibility for the coaching and selection
of the first team, so becoming the first manager, in the modem sense of the
word, of Wimbledon Football Club.
The first team began training under floodlights for the
first time before the season proper began with an encouraging 4-2 victory over
Ilford, but this was followed by only one draw in the next three games, as
Wimbledon settled into a mid-table position. In the FA Cup, Wimbledon defeated
Edgeware in the preliminary round 4-1 after a goal-less first half. The
attendance of 2,980 was very disappointing, compared to the 10,600 against
Kingstonian six years earlier in a first qualifying round match at Plough Lane.
A second-half penalty duly saw Finchley end Wimbledon's
hopes at the next hurdle. Wimbledon had adopted a different style of play, one
based on the 'M' formation developed in England by Don Revie at
Manchester City. This involved the centre forward playing in a more deep-lying
role, hopefully pulling a centre half with him, while the two inside forwards
pushed up more.
But spectators were becoming frustrated by the lack of
success on the field and matters came to a head during the home game against
Bromley. While a Wimbledon player lay injured, one of the spectators jumped over
the railings, and remonstrated with the referee. He was escorted off the pitch
by the players, but stones were also thrown, and the club warned the fans that
any repetition of such behaviour could result in FA disciplinary action.
The lack of success also affected some of the players. As
amateurs, they were not bound to the club and so could be poached very easily by
the more successful sides. Wimbledon had already lost a couple of players and in
November, star man Jeff Darey opted out. Darey, who was in the squad for the
Great Britain Olympics football side, decided to switch to Athenian League
Hendon and his move led to some angry letters to the local Press complaining
about the lack of ambition at the Club.
Wimbledon's performances were very inconsistent, with
good home form countered by poor displays away. One week League leaders Romford
were beaten 1-0 at Plough Lane, while the next the Dons slumped 5-1 at Woking.
Athenian League Wealdstone were the visitors in the London
Senior Cup and although they went ahead early on, Wimbledon recovered to win
4-1, including the first hat-trick of the season by Joe Wallis, one of three
Wallis brothers to play regularly for the Dons in 1955-6. Jack Wallis scored the
other. But goals from these two Wallis brothers were not enough in the Second
Round, when Corinthian Casuals won 3-2 at Plough Lane.
Wimbledon began their defence of the Surrey Senior Cup at
Walton & Hersham, where they fought out a 2-2 draw before winning the replay
fairly easily 2-0. The second round took the Dons to Fetcham Grove to meet
Delphian Leaguers Leatherhead, where a record crowd of 1,300 was present. On a
very poor pitch, Wimbledon missed countless chances before Joe Wallis put them
ahead in the 55th minute. He was carried off unconscious after Leatherhead had
equalised, however, and the home side scored twice more in the closing five
minutes to win 3-1.
The Amateur Cup trail began at Enfield, where a disastrous
start saw Wimbledon go behind in the fourth minute. But Joe Wallis equa1ised in
the fifth minute with a header and Wimbledon went on to dominate the first-half.
In the second period it was a different story as Enfield pressed hard for a
winner, but Phipps missed a glorious chance for the home team with minutes to go
and Wimbledon held out for a draw.
In the replay at Plough Lane, a crowd of over 3,000 saw
Wimbledon score three times in the first-half on a mud bath of a pitch and
Enfield could only manage one second-half consolation. That was it though, for
in the second round tie at the Oval, Wimbledon outplayed Corinthian Casuals but
The programme price had stayed at twopence since 1946,
but mounting costs forced Wimbledon to increase the price by a penny before the
home game against Clapton, which was lost 3-0. A run of poor results led to
still more frustration and after the game against Leytonstone trouble erupted
again. The referee was punched and kicked on the way to the dressing room and
left the ground with a jaw injury.
For their part in the affair, two Wimbledon players were
disciplined by the FA, one being fined one guinea, while the club was also
ordered to display a warning in the first four programmes of the next season,
stating that a repetition might lead to the ground being closed. With five games
to go, Wimbledon were 13th, out of 15, with 18 points from 23 games, but won
their four remaining home games to finish 11th.
The season finished with Tony Wright, a recent signing
from Carshalton Athletic, scoring seven times in the last three games, including
a hat-trick in the final 5-1 victory over Dulwich Hamlet. Joe Wallis remained
top scorer with over 20 goals in the season.
In the close season, Wimbledon secretary Bert Corke was
elected chairman of the Surrey FA, while at the annual meeting, Henley stated
that the 'M' plan had been adopted because there was no one in the club suited
to play the traditional centre forward role. Indeed, he confirmed that
Wimbledon would persist with the tactic.
The treasurer reported that the club was £631 in the red;
this was partly due to a £600 drop in gate receipts, although the fact that
Wimbledon had played one home Amateur Cup tie only was partly responsible for
this. Two thousand pounds had also been spent on the lease as the club changed
the conditions from a 14-year term at £550 a year to one of 60 years at £400 a
The new season started without a public practice match and
after an initial defeat at Romford, Wimbledon won their next three League
matches before beating Walton 2-1 in an uncompromising South of the Thames Cup
tie, in which Jack Wallis was carried off with a broken leg.
Encouraged by this good early season form, 5900 turned up
at Plough Lane to see the Preliminary Round FA Cup tie against Tooting &
Mitcham. Oakes equa1ised an early Tooting goal, but by half-time it was clear
Tooting were the better team and in the second-half they scored four times
without reply to win 5-1.
Despite that setback, Wimbledon continued in good form in
the League, one highlight being a 4-2 win at Motspur Park, the new ground of
Corinthian Casuals, and after eight games, Wimbledon were second in the table,
with six wins and 12 points. But after this good start they faded dramatically
and on successive Saturdays in October, lost 5-0 and 6-0 at St. Albans and
Plough Lane had been used over the years as a neutral
venue for big games, including four Amateur Cup Semi-Finals and it was now
chosen for a match between the Olympic XI and a combined Isthmian! Athenian
League XI, which the Olympic XI won 3-1.
After a run of poor results, culminating in a 5-0 home
defeat to Dulwich Hamlet, Wimbledon embarked on the Cup tie season with a visit
to Hall Lane, Hendon, where they played Wingate, the only allJewish senior
amateur club in the country. Play was fairly even in the first 25 minutes of
this London Senior Cup tie, with both sides scoring once, but Wimbledon got on
top and went on to win 6-1. In the second round, however, they played poorly at
Southall and went down 2-0.
Wimbledon won comfortably 3-1 at Athenian League Redhill
in the Surrey Senior Cup, but home League defeats, by Tooting and Kingstonian
over the Christmas period, left the team spirit low for the Amateur Cup
campaign, which began at Clevedon. The Western League, Second Division side had
a good Amateur Cup record and this was the fifth successive year that they had
reached the rounds proper. A crowd of 1,200 saw the match kick off on what the
Wimbledon Boro' News reporter said was the most uneven pitch he had ever seen,
with prominent ridges and gulleys all over.
Clevedon played the off-side trap very successfully to
contain the Wimbledon forwards and went ahead in the 44th minute through an own
goal. As the second half progressed, it looked all up for Wimbledon, but Brian
Martin, playing only his third first team game, equa1ised in the 70th minute to
bring Clevedon back to Plough Lane. But if the 2,700 home crowd thought that the
hard part had been done at Clevedon, they were to be sadly mistaken.
The visitors took the lead, but Wimbledon equalised and
had two disallowed before Clevedon scored again. Wimbledon leveled again after
the interval, but Clevedon went ahead for the third time and with 15 minutes
left, looked good for a win. But Eric Adams equalised in the 79th minute to
force extra time and in the second period Alan Brown headed the Dons ahead for
the first time and they then held out for victory.
In the second round, played in torrential rain at Lynn
Road, Ilford adopted the better tactics, using the wings and the long ball
effectively and after Wimbledon had equa1ised an early Ilford goal, the home
side ran in three more to win 4-2.
In the Surrey Senior Cup, Wimbledon beat Banstead Athletic
7-4 before meeting Epsom Town in the semi-final at Tooting. Although Epsom were
only a Corinthian League team, they had twice scored five goals in previous
rounds. Wimbledon were indebted to goalkeeper Alan Hooper, who restricted the
eager Epsom Town forwards to just the one, while Wimbledon scored twice for an
So into the final at Se1hurst Park where Wimbledon led
favourites Woking 2-1 at half-time, only to slip up 4-2 in front of 4,500
Results were generally poor on the league front, although
at the end of the season they picked up some good points away from home, drawing
0-0 at eventual League champions Wycombe Wanderers and coming back from 3-0 down
at Sandy Lane to grab a 3-3 draw.
Wimbledon, though, still finished a disappointing 13th out
of 16 and it had become clear that the current team were not going to be good
That key word, ''progress'' was not being made and at the
annual meeting, it was revealed that a loss was made of £511 over the season,
while the average attendance for first team games had dropped to 1,829, some 300
less than 1955-6. Wimbledon's figures would have made really dismal reading, but
for a £500 donation from the Supporters club.
But rather than put a brake on their spending, Wimbledon
supporters opted on an all round face lift in an attempt to boost a temporarily
flagging morale. At the end of July 1957, it was agreed that around £8,000 would
be spent on building a new clubhouse, with two lock-up garages. The architect
was Alec Fowles and work soon started.
The Dons also announced that the club colours were to
change and the traditional blue shirts with white sleeves and black shorts were
replaced by new colours - blue shirts with white trim, and white shorts. Henley's
policy of introducing new blood was not popular with all the old players,
however and just before the opening game at home to Barking, the three Wallis
The new North stand was opened officially before a
friendly against the Army Side R.E.M.E. 4th Training Battalion, who included
Corbridge in their side and Wimbledon began to find some good form. A 1-0
victory at Tooting, with Reynolds scoring in the 89th minute, established them
as one of the League front-runners.
Wimbledon's appearance in the London Senior Cup Semi-Final
the previous year had earned them a place in the London Challenge Cup and they
were 'drawn against Arsenal at Highbury. Arsenal played nine first team regulars
and the match was played under floodlights, the first time for Wimbledon. The
Dons played very well, with Brian Martin twice equalising Arsenal goals, and
well into the second half, with the score 2-2, Wimbledon looked as though they
could bring Arsenal back to Plough Lane. But First Division class eventually
told and Arsenal scored three late goals to win 5-2.
Wycombe Wanderers were setting a hot pace in the League,
but Wimbledon were not far behind, one highlight being an 11-1 thrashing of
Leytonstone. Indeed, the 3-2 defeat at Walthamstow was their only League defeat
between September 3 and March 21.
In the London Senior Cup, Wimbledon rode their luck to win
2-1 at Southall, surviving a second-half onslaught, but played poorly at
Carshalton Athletic and lost 2-1. The following week, they visited Colston
Avenue again in the Amateur Cup. Wimbledon's luck was right out and Norman
Williams missed a penalty in a match dominated by the Dons. They were made to
pay and the 3,300 spectators saw Carshalton score twice in the last seven
minutes to win 2-0.
In the Surrey Senior Cup, Wimbledon beat Corinthian
Casuals and Redhill quite easily, but they failed to take their chances against
Dulwich once Reynolds had put them ahead, and went on to lose 3-1.
Wimbledon’s excellent League form put leaders Wycombe
under increasing' pressure and the Dons eventually moved top on February 21 by
winning 2-1 at Woking. Wycombe kept their title hopes alive by beating Wimbledon
rather more convincingly than the 1-0 scoreline would suggest, but it was now
clear that Dulwich Hamlet, with games in hand, were the most dangerous
Wimbledon consolidated their position by crushing Wycombe
4-0, the highlight being a 40-yard goal from Jim Wright and this victory set up
a grand stand finale between Wimbledon and Dulwich Hamlet. Both sides had two
games to play and had to play each other twice. Wimbledon were two points clear
and had a vastly superior goal average and so Dulwich had to win both matches to
take the title.
They never got a look in for, at Champion Hill, Alan
Burton put Wimbledon ahead in the 15th minute and scored again early in the
second half. And although Brown pulled one back for Dulwich in the 60th minute,
a breakaway goal from Eddie Reynolds clinched the match 3-1 and with it, the
Isthmian League Championship.
Shortly after 8 o'clock the final whistle went and
hundreds of schoolboys invaded the pitch to acclaim Wimbledon's first Isthmian
League title since 1936. Wimbledon then beat Dulwich 3-1 at home to finish six
points clear on 47 points, an Isthmian League record. They had remained unbeaten
at home for the first time, with only Tooting leaving Plough Lane with a League
point and had also scored 91 goals.
In January of that year Wimbledon had started a
Development Association to raise money for ground improvements, there being a
regular draw with prize money. This took off so well that at the end of 1958-9,
it was estimated that £2,900 a year could be given out as prize money, with a
further £2,600 going to the club. The total attendances at the first team's 20
home games topped 40,000, while gate receipts had increased from £2,991 to
And when Henley turned down the approach of a continental
club in the June, Wimbledon's contentment was complete. During the summer of '59
Joe Wallis returned to the club from Bromley and there was a change of personnel
in the Isthmian League. Romford decided to turn professional and join the
Southern League, while Maidstone United joined from the Athenian League.
There were ground improvements, as well. Cover had been
built over the West Bank and work was finished in time for the opening game
against Barking, which Wimbledon won 2-0. It soon became clear that it would be
more difficult to retain the League title than it had been to win it, as teams
played more defensively, raising their game against the reigning Champions.
Dulwich gained some revenge for being pipped for the
title, by beating Wimbledon 1-0 to win the South of the Thames Cup, held over
But in the FA Cup, it was Wimbledon's turn for revenge, as
they crushed Corinthian League Dorking 6-0 in the Preliminary Round. Eddie
Reynolds broke a bone in his wrist in this match, but was only out for two
matches, and returned to score for Wimbledon in the First Qualifying Round 3-0
win over Bromley, all three goals coming in the last 22 minutes. FA Secretary
Sir Stanley Rolls was a guest at the game.
Wimbledon were finding it hard to score and this failing
cost them dearly in the Second Qualifying Round against Sutton United.
Wimbledon had most of the play, but Roy Law missed a twice-taken penalty and
Sutton broke away to score eight minutes from time.
It was the same story in the crunch League match against
Tooting at Plough Lane. Tooting scored in the 82nd minute for a 1-0 win, Dons
fifth defeat of the season and all by the only goal.
The tables were turned, however, in the London Challenge
Cup tie against West Ham United, who fielded four first-teamers. Hammers had
most of the game, but Wimbledon, this time, took their chances to win 3-0, and
move into the last four and a tie against Tooting. Wimbledon played really well
in the first half to lead 2-0, but tried to sit on their lead and were pegged
back to 2-2. Tooting deservedly won the replay 3-1.
Two hundred and fifty Wimbledon fans, more than double the
normal away contingent, traveled to see Wimbledon's first League match at new
boys Maidstone and they were nearly rewarded in the opening 10 seconds, when a
Wimbledon shot hit the post. Eddie Reynolds scored the only goal just before
half-time and Wimbledon's victory left them third in the table behind Wycombe
Wanderers and Kingstonian. The closing minutes at Maidstone had been played out
Good news off the park as well. On Monday, November 23,
Sydney Black organised a party at the club, where he announced that he had
bought the freehold of Plough Lane from the Council for £8,250 and that he was
donating this to the club. One of the conditions of the sale, however, was that
the Council inserted a preemption clause, which stated that if the site was not
to be used for sporting purposes, the Council had the right to buy it back at
the same price.
This had the effect of protecting the Club from hostile
takeovers, but it also meant that the effective value of the site, no matter
what facilities were built on it, remained at around £8,000, a situation that
existed until 1983 when the pre-emption clause was eventually bought out. At the
same meeting, it was announced that £4,000 was to be spent on floodlights, eight
pylons to be erected by GEC. This would be happening in the next year
On the field, Wimbledon moved into the Second Round of the
London Senior Cup by beating Carshalton Athletic 5-1, including a Reynolds
hat-trick. But it was a much harder story in the Surrey Senior, where Wimbledon
were drawn away to Addlestone in the first Round. Addlestone agreed to play at
Plough Lane in order to raise money to build covered accommodation at Liberty
Lane and scored first to lead 1-0 at half-time. After the break, Hamm and
Kenchington scored to give the Dons the lead, but Addlestone equalised and
looked set to force a replay before Brian Martin scored the winner in the dying
After beating Kingstonian 5-1 in the London Senior Cup,
the best performance of the season so far, Wimbledon entertained Dulwich in the
Amateur Cup first Round. Brian Martin put Wimbledon ahead early on and although
Dulwich dominated from then, Wimbledon held on to win 1-0 under falling snow.
Dons' luck, however, ran out dramatically at mud bound
Hendon in the next round. A debatable penalty gave Hendon the lead and then
Norman Williams put the ball in the net, only for the goal to be disallowed for
offside. Hendon were then awarded another highly doubtful penalty, before
Wimbledon pulled a goal back to make the final score 21.
Wimbledon's London Senior Cup dreams died in front of
nearly 6,000 at Sandy Lane, when Tooting hit top form to win 3-0. Tooting then
proved their reputation as Wimbledon's bogey team by beating the Dons in the
Surrey Senior Cup Semi-Final. Wimbledon were 2-1 up with four minutes to go in
the first match before a late equaliser earned Tooting a replay, which Tooting
In the League, though, Wimbledon's form was good. At
Ilford, they came back from 2-0 down to win 6-2, despite having to play with 10
men for over an hour after Ardrey was carried off and the following week won 4-0
at Barking. But in the end, Wimbledon had to settle for third place, with 39
points from their 30 games. Tooting took the title with 42 points and Wycombe
were second with 41.
Tooting had proved a real bogey side, winning five of the
seven games between the two clubs and drawing the other two. In June, Wimbledon
finished their season by beating Interlaken 6-1 in Switzerland, with Roy Law
scoring a hat-trick. next
||Isthmian League runner-up
||London Charity Cup winners
||South of the Thames Cup
||Surrey Senior Cup Winners
||Isthmian League Champions