1970 to 1979

1970-71

Wimbledon opened 1970-1 with a friendly against Chelsea and 3,000 saw the visitors win 5-4. Yet after the match, however, Chelsea followers swarmed onto the pitch and stole the comer flags. Some even scaled the scaffolding on the half-built Sydney Black Memorial Hall in Durnsford Road.

Wimbledon began their league season with a visit to Nuneaton Borough and Alan Burton scored the opening goal as Wimbledon won their opening fixture 2-0 - their last opening day victory until 1985!

Wimbledon were playing impressively at home. After an early defeat by Yeovil, the Dons won the next 16 matches at Plough Lane. Their away form was not as impressive, but they stayed up with the leaders.

Wimbledon began their defence of the Southern League Cup by beating Burton Albion 4-1 at home, Cooke scoring twice and a 1-0 defeat at Eton Park saw Wimbledon through 4-2 on aggregate. In the London Challenge Cup preliminary round, Wimbledon were drawn at St. Albans City. Cooke scored an eight-minute second half hat-trick and Wimbledon eased home 5-1 in front of 1,200 fans.

Guy was again excellent in the first round match at Orient, where only 800 saw him almost single handedly keep the home for­wards at bay before O'Mara set up two late goals for Wimbledon.

This brought Crystal Palace to Plough Lane and they fielded seven players with first team experience. Although Palace opened the scoring in the 11th minute, O'Mara equalised twenty minutes later and a diving McCready header midway through the second half sealed a 2-1 victory. Hitchin were comfortably beaten 3-0 in the Semi-Final, earning Wimbledon a final place against Football Combination leaders Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane.

But first came the F .A. Cup. Wimbledon were still exempt until the fourth qualifying round stage where they were drawn away at Leatherhead. There were all the trappings of a Cup upset at Fetcham Grove and it was no sur­prise when Leatherhead went a goal ahead in the 20th minute.

But in the second half, Wimbledon showed all their professionalism by taking control and when O'Rourke was bundled off the ball in the 72nd minute, it ran free for Bailham to stroke home the equaliser. The home team blitzed Wimbledon for 10 minutes and Guy had to make the save of the season to keep Wimbledon level. But Leatherhead burnt themselves out and Bailham scored with a beautiful 35-yard shot five minutes from time to earn Wimbledon a first round tie at Peterborough.

A crowd of 5,919, including a large contingent from Wimbledon, saw the Dons make the worst possible start at London Road. Keith Sanderson, perhaps forgetting that Wimbledon were playing in red shirts and white shorts instead of the usual blue, passed the ball straight to the blue-shirted Garwood in front of goal and the home forward made no mistake after only 21 seconds.

Cooke almost equalised with a diving header, but Wimbledon went 2-0 down after 31 minutes before Cooke finally pulled one back with a brilliant header. Wimbledon got right on top, but then tragedy struck. Cooke was fouled and badly injured, was carried off and with him went Wimbledon's chances. They continued to press forward, but without much conviction and Peterborough scored on the break to give them a flattering 3-1 victory.

Cooke was sadly still sidelined for the London Challenge cup final at White Hart Lane. Spurs fielded a strong side, including seven players with first team experience and went ahead in the third minute, leaving the Wimbledon fans in the 2,839 crowd fearing the worst. But Wimbledon soon took control and Tottenham conceded 25 free kicks as they struggled to keep Wimbledon out. But a late onslaught by Wimbledon was not enough and Tottenham held on to win 1-0. 

Wimbledon beat Dartford by the only goal in a physical League match, O'Rourke scoring in the 40th minute, before the sides met again in the FA Trophy. Wimbledon made a great start, Collins scoring from a free kick in the first minute, but the threatened rout failed to materia1ise. Instead, it was no surprise when Dartford equa1ised in the 72nd minute from the penalty spot and held out for a draw.

Conditions were appalling in the replay at Watling Street and reduced the gate to only 732. Wimbledon had to kick up the slope, with the wind and rain blowing in their faces in the first-half, and turned round 2-0 down. But they recovered after the break and Cooke scored twice before Bailham beauti­fully flicked home what proved to be the 80th minute winner.

Bromsgrove were next and before the match Wimbledon were quoted as 8-1 favourites for the Trophy by a Bromsgrove bookmaker, but this didn't stop the visitors bringing 14 coaches and 450 fans on a specia1 train to boost the crowd to 2,200. Wimbledon established early control and a 3 goal blast just after the half-hour sealed the match. Bailham then scored on the break to make the final score 4-0.

Wimbledon were still in with a chance of winning the League, were in the last 16 of the FA Trophy and had reached the Southern League Cup Semi-Final. But it seemed that this was not good enough for the board. On February 22 they decided that at the end of the season, Les Henley's contract would not be renewed and he became the first Wimbledon manager to be sacked.

The timing of this announcement left a lot to be desired. The FA Trophy game with Yeovil was just five days away. The news certainly affected the players in the third round tie where a best of season crowd of 3,194 turned out to see Yeovil go ahead after just three minutes.

Henley was still at the helm, though and would be for another two months and he inspired the team for the second half where a brilliant Hodges equaliser in the 69th minute earned Wimbledon a replay. In the Yeovil replay Bailham missed two good chances in the opening 20 minutes, but Yeovil scored on the stroke of half-time and went on to win convincingly 4-0.

Three days later just 849 spectators, Wimbledon's first three figure crowd in the Southern League, turned up to see Wimbledon beat Bath City 5-2 in blizzard conditions. But the Dons' League hopes had already died and their only chance of glory was in the Southern League Cup. That all came to an end at Weymouth in the Semi-final, however, beaten by two late goals.

There had been eight applications for Henley's job. But even though the board had stressed that they were looking for a player-manager, two of the eight were no longer playing and of the other six none were big names. O'Mara was sold to Brentford for £750 plus another £250 if he made 20 appearances just before the transfer deadline, while on April 5 Mike Everitt was named as new player-manager.

Henley's last match in charge was the 3-2 home win over Gloucester City on April 17, Cooke scoring a late winner and Everitt took over for the home match against Poole Town three days later, with Cooke again on target with the only goal of the match. Wimbledon eventually finished eighth in the table fading away after Henley's dismissal.

But Henley was awarded a testimonial against Oxford United at the end of the sea­son and 1,038 supporters paid around £250 to see United win 3-1. Wimbledon had averaged just under 1,500 in Southern League matches and had not attracted 2,000 to any home League game. The financial position was now serious, and the directors needed the team to do well.

But if the board expected Henley's dismissal to lead to an immediate improvement in playing standards, they were to be mistaken. Things would get worse before they got better. When the Board of Directors informed Les Henley that his services were no longer required, they were acting in response to the changes in the way the game was being played, as well as the specific needs of the football club.

Alf Ramsey had won the world cup for England in 1966 without wingers and in the European Competitions the defence orientated Italian outfits were gaining ascendancy with their style which was a tactician's dream and a spectator's nightmare. The objective in Football had become to concede less goals than your opponent rather than to score more and into that defensive mould new manager Mike Everitt fitted ideally.

Everitt was a young, enthusiastic Manager. "First and foremost, I want a team of fighters and runners," he declared, shortly after taking over and his brand of enthusiasm was undoubtedly a factor in winning over the Directors. On the playing front, Everitt faced a difficult introduction. The squad had grown old together and it was clear that fresh faces would have been needed even if Henley had not been sacked.

Since the death of benefactor Sydney Black in 1968, the Club had had to rely much more on gate receipts than had been necessary before, but these had dwindled. It was hoped that the changes would bring about an upsurge in interest. Everitt had taken over team affairs with a couple of games left at the end of the previous season, but his first real test was to come at the start of the 71-72 campaign.

1971-72

The benefits of the new, strict regime imposed by the manager initially appeared to be paying off. The team swept to the top of the Southern League with nine wins and two draws in their first thirteen League games.

Everitt's weight training and five-mile cross-country runs across Wimbledon Common were paying dividends, with the Dons playing a brand of fast, entertaining football which had seen gates top 2,000 for a League game, for the first time since 1969. But Everitt warned that the League position was a false one and that he still needed two or three more players to make a serious impact.

The Board, mindful of the financial posi­tion of the Club, turned down this request and within the space of a month the team crashed out of three potentially money spinning Cup tournaments. Queens Park Rangers Combination side were held to a 1-1 draw in the London Challenge Cup at Loftus Road, came to Plough Lane and won the replay 4-1 in a game that was a lot closer than the scoreline suggests.

More embarrassingly, Dons tumbled out of the Southern League Cup, beaten home and away by Waterlooville who had been playing Hampshire League Football the previous season. Most significantly, a single goal defeat at Margate in the FA Cup fourth qualifying round ended any hopes of injection of finance into the Club's coffers. Margate were drawn away to Bournemouth in the next round and, although humiliated to the tune of 11-0, were at least able to share the receipts of a bumper 12,000 crowd.

League form had also slumped. Although there were encouraging home wins of 6-0 against Merthyr Tydfil and 5-1 against Hillingdon the latter before the season's best crowd of 2,200 away form was disastrous. The season now hinged on the one remaining competition, the FA trophy, but when this ended in the sorry debacle of a 5-1 home defeat by Yeovil it heralded the begin­ning of a crisis period.

Eddie Bailham was one of the scapegoats for the Yeovil defeat and left for Cambridge City almost immediately and several others were to stay only until their contracts ran out in the summer. Crowds dropped alarmingly to tilde more than a thousand and the Club finished the season in tenth position, their lowest placing since turning professional.

Any overall view of Everitt's first season at the club has to be tempered by the fact that he inherited an ageing team, set in their ways and still smarting over the axing of Henley. The pre-season declaration by Everitt that the basis of the team would be its sound defence was not backed by the statistics, for the 64 League goals conceded was ten worse than the previous season.

The average age of the team had to be lowered and Everitt did this with considerable speed and success, but the price of this lack of experience was a first round exit in the Cups. In short, the honeymoon period was over and the success to which Wimbledon had become accustomed had to return if Everitt was to stay at the helm. In the close season there was another pointer to the parlous financial state that the club found itself in.

The High Court quashed plans for the club to have a market on their grounds by invoking a statute decreed by King Charles I in 1628 which forbade any other market within a seven-mile radius of Kingston's. Plough Lane was reckoned to be situated some five and a half miles from Kingston's traders and this reverse in the Courts high­lighted the lack of finance inside the club following the death of Sydney Black. It was revealed that it cost £31,000 per annum to run the club and that gate re­ceipts were just £10,000 a year.

A benefactor was desperately needed and Bernie Coleman was, therefore, made very welcome when he appeared on the scene at the start of the following season. He had been involved with the club in his capacity as a publican when he helped con­vert the Supporters Club premises into a public house.

Suggestions were invited for the name of this new public house from the Supporters, whose ideas ranged from names with footballing connotations, such as "The Corner Post" and "The Nod Inn" to a tribute to the late Sydney Black by naming it in his honour, a suggestion that was appreciated but politely declined in view of the family links with the Temperance Society. The winning vote went to "The Wibbandune" and it was under this name that the "Sportsman" Pub was originally known.

Coleman was keen and in August of 1972 he showed that he meant business, buying the majority share holding from President Sir Cyril Black. He paid off debts which amounted to some £13,000 and declared that money was available for new players. To his credit he was honest enough to admit that he could in no way match the spending output of Sydney Black, but nevertheless it was a welcome shot in the arm for a club whose prestigious standing in non-league football tended to preclude their delicate financial situation.

Sir Cyril, for his part, relinquished his role as President which he had held for 25 years, stating that he had taken financial charge after the death of his brother only in order to guide the ship into calmer waters and was happy to stand down once a new benefactor had been found.

1972-73

Thus new season opened on a more stable footing off the field, although for Everitt the problems on the pitch were to continue. Six of the opening eight league games ended in draws, although the cup duck was broken with an easy 5-0 aggregate win over Bognor Regis Town in the Southern League Cup and a 4-0 away win at Athenian Leaguers Cheshunt in the FA Cup first qualifying round - was the first time for ten years that the Dons had been asked to compete in the competition at such an early stage.

By late September and early October, when the Cup Competitions were getting into full swing, Wimbledon's performances were pretty inconsistent. In the London Challenge Cup, for example, Fulham's Combination side was swept aside to the tune of four goals to one in a scintillating game of football. Yet less than a fortnight later, the Dons made a sorry exit at the hands of amateurs Dagenham, defending for the whole match in order to try and force a replay until two late goals gave the Athenian League side a well deserved success.

It was the same story against Stevenage Athletic, comfortably defeated 3-1 in the FA Cup yet only ten days later were back at Plough Lane in the Southern League Cup and reversed the scoreline.

The result that really hurt, however, was the 3-1 defeat at local rivals Sutton United in the third qualifying round of the FA Cup. Not only did it end any chance of a money spinning tie in the competition proper, but also dredged up the hoary old chestnut of the relative merits of amateur and semi-pro­fessional football. To rub salt into the wound, former Dons' stalwart Roy Law was assistant manager at Gander Green Lane.

With only the FA Challenge Trophy left to keep interest in the Cup competitions, League form assumed greater importance. But the Dons, while comfortable enough not to have to worry about relegation, never managed to put together a run that might threaten the leaders as Yeovil, Chelmsford and Dover set the pace.

It was apparent that Wimbledon needed a new striker to convert the chances that were still being created in large numbers and Everitt made strenuous efforts to recruit someone to fit the bill. Tony Bass of Hendon and Roger Connell of Walton were both approached, as were Crawley's Eric Whittington and Les Bums of Guildford, but no one joined the cause.

To add to the problems in team selection, young striker Andy Larkin was ruled out for over a month with a fractured shin, while centre half Alan Young was advised by specialists to give up the game due to an arthritic knee. He had had the unenviable task of stepping into the shoes of Law and made his last appearance in that Sutton Cup defeat.

December heralded the start of the FA Trophy for senior non-League clubs and the challenge of Banbury United was taken seriously, especially as they forced a 1-1 draw at Plough Lane. In the event, the Oxfordshire side only surrendered to an Ian Cooke goal two minutes from the end of extra time on a quagmire of a pitch in the replay.

Everitt's Christmas wish was pure and simple. "In the Wimbledon Club stocking," he said, "I would like to see a centre forward who has been bought, paid for and who we would have for the future."

This highlighted again the Club's princi­pal problem, but against all the odds, the team went to Nuneaton in mid-January for the second round proper of the Trophy and came away with a 3-2 victory, courtesy of ex-Brighton player Andy Marchant's hat trick, their finest performance of the season to date.

Three weeks later, however, the glory of Nuneaton was but a memory as the Dons went to Bedford, a side they had done the double over in the League and lost 3-1 to end their Trophy hopes for another year. Several hundred Wimbledon fans had made the trip, the biggest away support for some time and it was this aspect that proved disappointing during the remainder of the season as home gates slumped to less than a thousand on several occasions - not even high-flying Chelmsford, City being a big enough draw to attract a four-figure gate.

In retrospect, it was perhaps this lack of public interest that was most disturbing for those in charge at the club, for the original intention when replacing the old-style Les Henley, with a track-suited all mod cons coach, like Everitt, was to rejuvenate the club at all levels, specifically boosting falling gates.

From a statistical point of view, the final league position of 12th, with 14 wins, 14 draws and 14 defeats, 50 goals for and 50 against, backed up the fear that the club was slipping into a rut that it would be hard to get out of. Although many clubs who saw themselves as struggling would have gladly accepted the anonymity of a mid-table placing, the fact remained that it was the Club's worst placing since turning semi­professional in 1964 and that was the criterion by which they were judged.

One of the stranger talking points of the season was the Club's participation in the newly-formed Mid-Surrey professional floodlit league. The format consisted of a mini-league of seven teams playing each other home and away, 12 games in all. The four games played before Christmas, resulting in two wins and two draws, reflected initial enthusiasm for the league but once interest had waned in Cup and Southern League the remaining eight games were seen as an irritating addition to the fixture list, watched as they were by no more than a few hundred diehards.

However, a series of narrow wins over sides such as Crawley and Wealdstone found the Dons in the unusual position of having to win their last game, at home to Basingstoke on Mayday, by a five goal margin to take the tide. Marchant was once again the hero, scoring five goals himself to clinch the tide, while Cooke weighed in with a hat-trick and Tommy McCready chipped in to record an amazing 9-0 win over a Basingstoke side who, it has to be said, played throughout with only ten men due to a car breakdown.

Three days later, on the eve of the famous Sunderland-Leeds Cup Final, there was another interesting exercise. Second Division Aston Villa were invited to Plough Lane in order to gauge the Club's potential in the event of election to the Football League. Ten thousand leaflets were printed to advertise the match in the surrounding area and five thousand special souvenir programmes were printed at a cost of roughly £200.

Since Villa were getting an appearance fee of £500, club officials were hoping for a gate of some four to five thousand to defray expenses. In the event, 3,100 turned up to witness a match that the League side always had under control, their dominance reflected in a 2-0 scoreline. This carnival type end to the season did not, however, hide the fact that the 1972-73 campaign was the Club's poorest for some time.

Chairman Jim Reid admitted: "We've had a diabolical season and the reason is that we haven't been sticking them in the net. We must get some forwards and if they're all going to cost us money, then we will have to fork out." Such brave sentiments were unfortunately rarely matched by financial reality and, as Everitt pointed out, Dave Armstrong had been his only purchase in two years as Manager.

Armstrong then announced his intention to quit football, setting up in business as a tailor, while promising young mid-fielder Barry Silkman was allowed to go to Barnet for £700. Additionally, veteran striker O'Rourke left on a free transfer for Chelmsford City, while in the other direction came 31-year­old midfielder Stan Brown from Fulham and 27-year-old Joe Gadston, a striker from Aldershot.

Player of the Year, McCready, and Cooke were holding out for pay increases, bearing in mind that Club wages had stayed the same for six years, but the unrest among the players was nothing com­pared to the bombshell that was about to hit Plough Lane. On the Monday before the new season began, came the shock announcement that Everitt had become Brentford's new Manager, succeeding where 35 other applicants had failed.

Although the Wimbledon post had not yet been officially advertised, over a dozen applications were received within the week and rumours of Henley's return were rife. As it was, a week after Everitt's announcement, a late-night Board Meeting concluded with ex-Colchester boss Dick Graham appointed to the Plough Lane hot seat, taking up his duties from the second Saturday of the season, at home to Weymouth.

A Boardroom re-shuffle also saw Jack Beavan taking over the Chairman's role from Jim Reid, who resigned because of business pressures. Said Beavan of his new Manager: "We wanted a man with experience and contacts and we have got just that. "It wasn't all that long ago that we were knocking in 100 goals a season and I'm sure with the new manager in control the Club can once again start to go places."

1973-74

These positive words rubbed off on the players, who responded with a 5-2 home victory over Weymouth, before coming through the first round of three different cups, beating Banbury 5-1 on aggregate in the Southern League Cup, Epsom and Ewell 5-1 in the FA Cup first qualifying round and Walthamstow Avenue, 1-0 in the London Challenge Cup.

In so far as the League was concerned, the Dons had made a comfortable start, lying eighth with five wins and two draws from their opening ten games. The second rounds of the Cups had seen the team fall by the wayside in the London Challenge Cup and scrape past Southall in the FA Cup. They also started a marathon Southern League Cup tussle with Wealdstone that would take four games and not end until nearly December.

But perhaps more important in the long term was Andy Marchant's leg break at home to Guildford in early October. The full back was a popular figure with the crowd, but he never fully recovered from this shattering blow and was released at the end of the season. While League form remained moderate, the attention was focused on the FA Cup. Further qualifying rounds saw off Staines and Maidstone, the latter before a best of season crowd of 2,365.

But the first round draw was not kind, sending Wimbledon to East Anglia to face fellow Southern Leaguers, albeit from the division below, King's Lynn. And any dreams of a second round place for the first time since '68 were dashed as the Dons were hustled out of their normal game and went down to a lone goal on the hour. To make matters worse, the referee took the players off as fighting fans spilled onto the pitch after 35 minutes and then proceeded to attack the police, although Nor­folk police later praised Wimbledon's fans for their conduct.

Wimbledon bounced back four days later, with a 3-0 home win over Wealdstone, coming at the fourth attempt, to at last put them into the third round of the Southern League Cup. But Christmas and the New Year brought lime seasonal cheer for the diehard supporters. The Dons slipped into the bot­tom half of the table and edged nearer the four relegation spots and they crashed out of the FA Trophy with a 1-0 home reverse in the first round against Wealdstone.

On the transfer front, Skipper Stan Brown was allowed to go to Margate, while promising striker Alan Pinkney left after a few games to go to South Africa. Joe Gadston was unsettled and prepared to move to Cambridge City, while in the other direction came winger Mick Mahon from Colchester. Jeff Bryant was back in the squad as well after serving a hefty five ­month ban for getting his age wrong while trying to get into the England Youth team when at Fulham.

With only the Southern League Cup to look forward to and the power crisis and the three-day week affecting attendances at all clubs, the Board decided that Graham, who had earlier quit the supermarket business to go full-time should revert to running the club on a part-time basis, just three weeks after they had approved a full-time role. With morale at a low ebb, Graham was less than pleased by the decision and stated that he would certainly consider any offers of a full-time job at another club.

Further personnel changes in the playing staff took place as striker Andy Larkin quit due to pressure of work and Bob Bennett, an on-loan striker from Southend, came into the side as it recorded successive wins over Barnet and Yeovil to ease the team back towards mid-table. Another good result came courtesy of a 1-1 draw at high-flying Grantham in the Southern League Cup and the replay was fixed for a Sunday, the power cuts ruling out a mid-week evening.

A big crowd was expected, but unfortu­nately the weather conditions were diaboli­cal and only 980 spectators braved the ele­ments to see Grantham oust the Dons from their last Cup hope with a 2-0 victory. All five games in March were lost to leave the Dons just one point above the relegation zone and following two consecutive defeats by bottom club Hillingdon, came the hardly unexpected news that Graham had resigned.

Trainer Danny Keenan took over the reins with the support of some senior players, among them Cooke, Loughlan and McCready and the turning point came almost immediately when the Dons out­played high-flying Kettering on their own ground and came away desperately unlucky to have lost 2-1.

The following Saturday Atherstone led 1­-0 at Plough Lane with 20 minutes to go but were caught by two goals in two minutes to give the Dons the lead. The visitors hit back to level at 2-2 but in the dying seconds Mahon shot home a dramatic winner.

Good results followed in Kent, with a 1-1 draw at Dover and 1-0 wins at Tonbridge on Good Friday and Folkestone on Easter Saturday, providing the springboard for escape from the threat of relegation.

The end-of-season recovery saw Wimbledon equal their position of the previous season, 12th and although this was still level with their worst ever placing in the League, there was obvious relief that a season of changes and turmoil had not ended in relegation. That might have been the last straw given the Club's still precarious financial position.

Indeed, at a crisis meeting between the board, President Coleman and the Sup­porters Club Executive, the future of the Cub was laid on the line. Either several thousand pounds was raised to meet the bank's overdraft deadline of the end of May 1974, or the Club folded. Faced with such an awful reality, the Supporters Club came up with £2,500 and Bernie Coleman chipped in with a similar amount. The day and the Club, was saved.

After such a narrow financial escape, the arrival of the new manager was of secondary importance, although the Board had appointed a man well-respected in local non league circles, Allen Batsford. He had led Isthmian League Walton and Hersham to the Amateur Cup in 1973 and followed that up with a giant killing as his Walton side went to Brian Clough's Brighton in a Cup replay and won 4-0.

Relations between Batsford and his Committee had become somewhat strained and there had been several open disagreements on policy, but this aspect of his management did not scare off the Wimbledon Board who appointed him ahead of 27 other applicants. The three seasons between 1971 and 1974 were times of transition and stark financial reality.

The club had had to learn to stand on its own two feet, rather than be continuously propped up by a generous benefactor, as Sydney Black undoubtedly was. It also had to accept that it had no divine right to success as one of the leading non-league outfits in the country. Once it had taken stock of these facts it could look to the future in the expectation of, if not glory, at least, survival.

In the event, it was glory that would be present in abundance, but the three years in between had provided a never to be forgotten lesson for one and all.

1974-75                  Photo Gallery

When Allen Batsford took over as Manager in the summer of 1974 he inherited one of the smallest squads of all time. Just seven players. As such, the purchase of new recruits was a necessity rather than a luxury and Dave Bassett, Dave Donaldson and Billy Edwards were signed from Batsford's former club Walton & Hersham Striking duo Keiron Somers and Roger Connell had left Walton for a year, following a contract dispute, moving onto Hendon and were only too pleased to link up with their old manager again.

Pre-season matches yielded promising results, including a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace's first team, but the important open­ing day of the season saw the Dons go down 2-0 away to Nuneaton Borough and have Selwyn Rice sent off. The following Tuesday, however, Yeovil tame to Plough Lane and were beaten 1-0 and that was the first in a run of 22 successive victories that the Dons strung together.

The impact of this was not immediately apparent. Eleven of the matches were in different cup competitions, often against weaker opposition such as Corinthian Casuals and Bideford. The team were near the top of the table, rather than at the top, due to Saturday's spent fighting their way through the FA Cup qualifying rounds, as well as London Senior Cup ties as the London FA insisted these took precedence over League football.

Corinthian Casuals, Cheshunt and Leytonstone were all knocked out at Plough Lane in the London Senior Cup and similar good fortune with home draws saw Ashford, Bideford and Bognor Regis leave SW19 with their Southern League Cup hopes in tatters.

The main focus of attention was, as always, the FA Cup, and when Dickie Guy lost a cross in the sun at Bracknell, which ended in his net, he probably did not imagine that the next FA Cup goal he conceded would be to the Football League Champions. Recovering from their early 1-0 deficit to record a comfortable 3-1 win at Bracknell, followed, it should be said, by five coach loads of supporters, further home victories over Maidenhead (4-0) and Wokingham (2-0) saw the Dons drawn away to Guildford & Dorking.

Although the team had won 5-0 in the League against the same opposition, a close match ensued and Wimbledon's two late goals gave the scoreline a flattering 3-0 look.

As in the previous season, a fellow non leaguer, Bath City, was the first round 'reward', but the match was at Plough Lane, rather than the inhospitable terrain that King's Lynn had provided the year before. The late postponement of the Tooting and Crystal Palace tie nearby helped swell the crowd to an excellent five and a half thousand and created the atmosphere for an excellent, end to end cup-tie. The excellence of the two goalkeepers kept the scoreline blank, until, with the game in injury time, Mick Mahon let fly with an absolute screamer that at last found a way beyond the agile Kenny Allen.

A dramatic ending to an excellent match and another home draw in the second round, against fellow Southern Leaguers Kettering . With more at stake and nearly 6,000 inside Plough Lane, a measure of the team's growing maturity came in the shape of an easy 2-0 win, which pitched the team into the third round proper for the first time in history.

With visions of a glamour tie against the likes of Liverpool or Tottenham, an away draw at Burnley was regarded as somewhat of a short straw. There was little prospect of a result or a good pay day, while League form had stuttered over the Christmas period with defeats at Stourbridge and Wealdstone, the latter before nearly 3,500 spectators.

But the interest generated by the Club's first ever third round FA Cup appearance meant that over a thousand supporters more than the previous season's average home gate made the long journey to Burnley's Turf Moor. What they were to witness was one of the amazing results in FA Cup history as a non-league team won on the ground of First Division opponents for the first time since 1920. 

The only goal came in the 48th minute when Cooke's shot was parried by Burnley 'keeper Alan Stevenson and Mahon drove in the rebound. 'Keeper Dickie Guy had saved some good efforts in the first half, but he surpassed himself in the second with brilliant saves from Fletcher and Hankin.

Incredibly, the team held on to win 1-0 and once the Fourth Round draw had given an away tie at League Champions Leeds United, media interest soared. Wimbledon were buzzing and big news. Before Christmas, a consortium, including George Best, was strongly tipped to be about to buy out Bernie Coleman's 80 per cent share holding, with Best himself in line to take over as player-manager.

The idea fell through eventually, but the blaze of publicity created by the Cup run enabled Chairman Jack Beaven to launch an appeal to reduce the £35,000 debt by offering 19,000 non-voting shares for issue at £1 each.

Back on the field, interest in the Leeds game was reflected in the crowd of 46,230 which attended the Elland Road cup tie. Wimbledon again defended magnificently against a Leeds side, at the pinnacle of European Club football and as every schoolboy knows, Guy saved Peter Lorimer's penalty kick, with just eight minutes left, to force an incredible goalless draw.

People queued throughout the night for tickets to see the replay at Plough Lane the following Tuesday and when all the tickets were snapped up in 90 minutes, there were angry scenes. Supporters clashed with touts, with one being chased down the street and having to leap onto a bus to avoid being attacked. As it happened, the replay never took place at Plough Lane, due to a waterlogged pitch, which pleased the police as they believed there were thousands of forged tickets in circulation.

The match was switched to Crystal Palace's Selhurst Park where another 45,000-plus crowd saw the end of the Cup dream as a Johnny Giles shot, going wide, deflected off Bassett and beyond Guy for the only goal. It was Wimbledon's first Cup defeat of the season in 19 matches.

The alternative route to Wembley, in the FA Trophy, had started well, with home victories over Sutton United, Kettering and Telford putting the Dons into the quarterfinals for the first time ever. Drawn away to Scarborough, Lady Luck deserted them as no fewer than four efforts came back off the woodwork and a bad back pass gave the home team the only goal before a massive crowd of 8,000

Then two days later Kettering earned revenge for their Trophy exit by knocking the Dons out of the Southern League Cup semi­final to the tune of 3-0. In the space of three days, four targets had been reduced to two and, to their credit, Wimbledon won both.

The London Senior Cup, which the club had tried to avoid entering due to fixture chaos, was won in April with a 2-0 victory over fellow giant killers, Leatherhead. But the most praiseworthy achievement was winning the Southern League.

Putting behind them the glamour and the razzmatazz of the Cup, the team knuckled down to the job in hand, playing three or four games a week, sometimes on successive days. Of the first five matches in April three were lost and two drawn, but this was only a hiccough in the relentless pursuit of the title, ahead of rivals Nuneaton, Kettering and Yeovil.

The games in hand were finally played and the title clinched with a 1-1 home draw against Telford on Mayday. The final margin of victory over second placed Nuneaton was three points. Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of the finest season to date was the four votes polled at the Football League's June annual meeting at Ashton Gate. Kettering, with 20, polled the highest of all the non-leaguers, which suggests that geographical location and canvassing ability were more important factors than footbal­ling talent.

But despite this set-back, the club had taken positive steps to renewing former glories on the field, while wiping out the overdraft with the cup run off the field. Yet the old maxim that it was harder to stay at the top than to get there was about to be put to the test.

1975-76

The new season was eagerly awaited and boss Batsford took the opportunity to strengthen his squad. One of the most important aspects of the previous season was that it had been generally injury free, enabling Batsford to get by on a squad of 14 full-time professionals. Reinforcements were needed. Billy Holmes, a striker from Barnet, ex­Wrexham midfielder Tommy Vansittart and full-back Harry Falconer, to replace Bob Stockley, transferred to Atherstone, were all recruited and off Dons went again.

The first nine League games saw Wimbledon record eight wins and a draw to put them at the top of the table, while Hillingdon were crushed 5-0 on aggregate in the Southern League Cup and Kettering beaten 1-0 in the Southern League Championship Cup. In contrast to the previous year, the team were, once again, exempt until the fourth qualifying round of the FA Cup and were able to get on with the business of picking up league points.

Romford, in the Southern League Cup and Finchley, in the London Senior, were knocked out at Plough Lane before the FA Cup trail began in November with the visit of local rivals Kingstonian. Over 3,000 spectators attended expecting a tough local derby but it proved to be nothing of the son as the Dons ran out easy 6-1 winners, earning themselves an away trip to Nuneaton in the first round.

In between these two matches the prestigious trophy to decide the non-league team of the year came to Plough Lane, as Northern Premier League Champions Wigan went down 2-1 on aggregate. The FA Cup was still the main interest and Nuneaton must have fancied their chances, with home advantage. But the experience of the previous year's run stood Wimbledon in good stead and Connell's goal gave the Dons a well earned victory and another home local derby, this time against Fourth Division Brentford.

As a result of their previous year's run, the Dons were installed as favourites for the tie and the interest generated swelled the crowd to 8,775, the biggest at Plough Lane for nearly eight years when Bristol Rovers visited at the same stage of the competition. But no longer underdogs, Wimbledon felt the pressure and Brentford hit them twice on the break to record a 2-0 victory. Paul Priddy, who had played one game for Wimbledon as Guy's understudy the previous season, returned with Brentford to play a blinder against his old club and dreams of further Cup glory came to an ab­rupt end.

Two days before Christmas, the grip on the London Senior Cup was relinquished as crack Isthmian Leaguers Enfield beat the Dons 1-0 after a goalless draw at Plough Lane. But, to their credit, the team went to Wealdstone three days later and became the first side to win there, establishing a firm hold on the League, followed with a 3-3 draw at perennial rivals Kettering on New Year's day.

A flu epidemic caused selection chaos in January, but despite this the Dons scraped through in the FA Trophy against Sutton United and moved into the Southern League Cup quarter-finals following three arduous games against Chelmsford. Dagenham were to be Wimbledon's undoing in the FA Trophy, winning a replay 2-0 in East London after a goalless draw at Plough Lane, but the remaining five games in February all resulted in victories, including an excellent 2-1 win at strongest challengers Yeovil.

With only the League and the Southern League Cup to play for and aided by the lack of postponements caused by a mild winter, the team moved sweetly into the final of the latter with a 4-1 aggregate win over Dover, both legs being played at Plough Lane to ease the Kent club's financial difficulties.

In the League the club were picking up enough points regularly to be strong favourites to retain their tide, while at the same time being able to introduce a new 20-year­old striker in Dulwich's John Leslie. Leslie had been signed before Christmas, but had found it hard to break into the first team - a point illustrated when he scored four goals in a 6-0 win at Stourbridge in March, but was promptly relegated to sub­stitute for the next game.

The first trophy of the year appeared on the Wimbledon sideboard early April as the Southern League Cup was won over two legs against Yeovil. The first leg in Somerset produced a 1-1 draw, through a Billy Holmes penalty for the Dons, while the second leg score of 2-1 to Wimbledon implied a close match, although Yeovil's goal came in injury time.

The title itself was all but clinched three matches later with a 2-1 win at Dover on Easter Monday and confirmed mathematically two days later with a 2-0 home win over Nuneaton. Only two league games remained after this but one of them, a home game with London rivals Wealdstone, produced headlines of the wrong sort with six players sent off, three from each side, with Aitken, Rice and Leslie going for Wimbledon.

Despite the happiness generated by a League and Cup double, all was not well off the pitch. A debt of £20,000 was announced for the season and the entire board resigned to be taken over by a Management Committee. Majority shareholder Bernie Coleman was anxious to stress that no more than a "reshuffling of responsibility" had taken place, but the irony was that the club could not meet the high price of success.

It was disclosed that of the £80,000 a year it cost to run the club, almost half went towards wages and bonuses, while Coleman announced that £10,000 would have to be pruned from the players' wage bill.

Coach Brian Hall, left Plough Lane for Slough Town, ending a two-year partnership with Batsford and Owen Harris, probably the best physiotherapist in non-league football, went with him. As an indication of their financial plight, Dons' involvement in the close season Anglo-Italian Tournament, was sponsored to the tune of £4,000 by the Supporters Club.

The disciplinary problems that the Dons had experienced during the season were highlighted in this tournament and although the team reached the final, losing 1-0 to Monza, the general consensus of opinion was that they would be unlikely to compete again, Batsford himself remarking that they had been: "Kicked from one end of Italy to the other."

To close the season, the club polled only three votes at the Football League's annual meeting, far fewer than Kettering, 14 and Yeovil, on 18, who polled only three fewer than Workington.

1976-77

In the summer of 1976, Bernie Coleman introduced a new supremo to the Wimbledon Committee, who would take over from himself in effective charge at the Club. Coleman had stressed that he took charge to help the Club through a sticky patch rather than on a permanent basis and the new man was former Southall Chairman, Ron Noades.

His first action was to form a working party of 13 people to help carry out his plans for the Cub. Noades declared that he wanted a strong board and committee and called for a massive 'public relations' effort to give the Club a chance of entry to the Football League.

One immediate result of the cutbacks necessary was the departure to Slough Town of popular striker Keiron Somers, one of four players to leave the club. Winger Mick Mahon, Tommy Vansitart and Harry Falconer also left and in their place Batsford brought full back Kevin Tilley and made an unsuccessful £2,000 bid for Southall winger Alan Devonshire, later to play for West Ham.

The disciplinary problems experienced towards the end of the previous season were to hinder the Cub's start to the season, with six first teamers missing the opening game, a Southern League Cup tie at Romford which was lost 2-0 and the problems became even worse when Billy Holmes was sent off in this match.

Fortunately, this was only the first leg and the scoreline was reversed in the second, leading to a third game in September which Wimbledon eventually won. However, it was an unsettling start to the season and League form followed suit with a home draw against newly promoted A. P. Leamington and defeats away to Gravesend and Kettering.

Further purchases followed, striker Ricky Marlowe coming from Brighton on a free transfer and Leo Markham, a midfield player from Bedford joining the squad and the team at last began to click, with successive victories over Wealdstone, Chelmsford and Burton.

Disciplinary problems continued to plague the team as Dave Bassett and Selwyn Rice were both sent off at Maidstone and although the results were coming, the team never looked consistently at ease as they scraped past Walthamstow after a replay in the London Senior Cup and lost their Southern League Cup after a 3-2 home defeat, again in a replay against Barnet.

Five successive League wins were the ideal preparation for the Trophy game against Chorley but after being 2-0 down at half-time, Wimbledon were relieved to snatch a 2-2 draw to earn a replay against their doughty opponents. Over 6,000 watched the replay, an indication of the huge interest Wimbledon were arousing and again the Dons almost lost, an injury-time equaliser earning another 2-2 draw.

The third bite of the cherry at neutral Walsall ended the interest in the FA Trophy, as Chorley completed a giant-killing of their own by winning 2-0.

Some solace for Wimbledon was they eventually signed Chorley's impressive Steve Galliers and he became a vital piece in their midfield jigsaw for years. Despite this bitter disappointment, the team kept on picking up enough points to move them to the top of the table with games in hand.

The tide was virtually secured with a 2-0 win over Kettering in April, before a 4,000 plus crowd, after which Kettering Manager Derek Dougan conceded defeat. The final margin of victory was five points over second placed Minehead and, for good measure, the club also picked up the London Senior Cup again after a hard earned win over Staines in a replay.

Having won three consecutive Southern League tides, with a Cup win in each of those seasons as well, the club were more than hopeful of gaining Football League status this time round. All that FA Cup glory had kept them in the National spotlight and their situation was helped by the decision to nominate one club each from the Southern and Northern Leagues.

Behind the scenes Ron Noades and Jimmy Rose had been busy, visiting all but five of the Division One and Two clubs in a campaign lasting months and costing £3,000. The big day finally dawned in the luxurious setting of London's Cafe Royal at the League's annual meeting on June 17, 1977. League President, Lord Westwood, was to read the results and the countdown was more nerve racking than any of the Cup ties against Leeds, Burnley and Middlesbrough.

Halifax, Hartlepool, Southport and Workington were all seeking re-election, the latter club for the fourth time in a row. Altrincham were in the hat as the Northern Premier League's nomination. Finally, Lord Westwood rose to an­nounce the voting figures and Wimble­don's representatives in the audience held their breath in anticipation.

"Altrincham 12, Halifax 44, Hartlepool 43, Southport 37, Workington 21. And Wimbledon? 'TWENTY SEVEN!' "

They were in, and the champagne corks were popping as they celebrated one of the most significant days in the history of the club. Workington were out, Altrincham's bid had failed and the Dons were in the Football League.

They had come of age, with a place now in the premier league competition in the world.

1977-78

So Wimbledon began gearing themselves for their Fourth Division debut. The history making opener was set for Plough Lane on Saturday, August 20, with Halifax Town their first opponents in Football League competition. But there was plenty to be done before then.

Allen Batsford was busy in the transfer market, signing new players in Galliers from Chorley, Leatherhead's Willie Smith, Paul Denny from Southend, Richard Teale, a keeper with experience at QPR and Fulham, and Dave Galvin from Gillingham. The total cost? Just £1,800.

Chairman Ron Noades was matching Batsford stride for stride in the work rate stakes. He had already masterminded one recovery in the club's finances, beginning the long haul back from the brink when he arrived at Plough Lane the previous July. Wimbledon's liabilities were then running at around the £37,000 mark, with an additional £200 a week to the borough for ground maintenance.

Noades changed all that, employing a full time groundsman and going into a period of cost cutting that saw the debt to the council reduced by £1,000 and a further £3,000 slashed from other outstanding bills. At the same time Wimbledon were able to embark on a £19,000 ground improvement scheme, although, as the big day dawned, there was still a call for volunteers to help spruce up the ground.

Noades was determined that Wimbledon would find a place on the sporting map of the world  "and not just for tennis, either" and Halifax arrived to put them to their first test. It was, understandably, a shaky start. The gate topped 4,600, but there was a long wait to the 51st minute for Wimbledon's first League goal, with full back Jeff Bryant earning a place in the club's history when he stabbed home following a free-kick.

That cancelled out an earlier Halifax effort and with John Leslie and Roger Connell adding, honours finished even at 3-3. Batsford was not impressed. "A disgraceful performance," he said. "I felt for the crowd." Alan Ball senior, manager of Halifax, wasn't complimentary either. "They won't set Division Four alight," he said.

It was another month and six games, before Wimbledon at last made the breakthrough with their first League win, with Billy Holmes and Phil Summerill scoring the goals in a 2-0 victory over Northampton Town at Plough Lane. Summerill was making his debut after signing on a free transfer from Millwall, while other changes saw Guy out and Teale laying claim to the goalkeeper's jersey.

Wimbledon were striving to operate on a part time basis, training four evenings a week and twice in the afternoons. Batsford was working elsewhere in the mornings as an executive in the concrete industry. Consequently the part timers were struggling. They were 90th in the League, just a point off the bottom and their early billing as promotion candidates looked positively ridiculous.

"I warned then that that was not being realistic," said Batsford. "Our aim is to consolidate and if we get halfway, I'll be most happy." The players' training sessions were upped to every afternoon, but it was a long hard slog and when Guy was reinstated towards the end of November, Wimbledon had won just three games.

Two goals from Leslie secured the win over York City, but spirits, temporarily raised, were sagging again seven days later as Wimbledon, past masters of FA Cup giant killing, were giant killed themselves, 3-0 at Enfield. Ian Cooke, 14 years at the club, was not prepared to give up a promising banking career to go full time and quit for Slough Town, while Holmes moved onto Hereford United.

It was a bleak midwinter. Too bleak for Batsford. Of six League games played in December, Wimbledon drew three and lost three. A 3-0 defeat at Swansea on January 2, 1978, saw Batsford resign, signaling the end of the 'Batsford Era'. The man who had masterminded the big step up was a victim of his own earlier successes.

Batsford's number two, Dario Gradi, took charge, naming Bassett his assistant, and there was an almost immediate upturn in fortunes. Ten games were won in the second half of the season as Wimbledon surged up the table to finish a comfortable 13th, beaten just five times in their last 21 league outings.

Gradi made his mark with some astute signings. 'Keeper Ray Goddard, a £4,500 buy from Millwall, shored up the back division and provided much needed League experience. Les Briley, a record signing at £16,000 from Hereford, dominated midfield with a series of outstanding performances. And in came striker Alan Cork, popping them in from the start. He and Steve Ketteridge signed from Derby, while there were other new young faces in Terry Eames and Steve Parsons.

Gradi had had a chequered career. Sacked from Chelsea in October, 1976, where he had worked as youth, reserve and first team coach, he had a brief spell as manager of Sutton United, where he played as an amateur, before linking up with Colin Mur­phy at Derby. He had joined Wimbledon at the start of the season.

1978-79

But now at the helm of an in form side, Gradi took Wimbledon into their second season in the Fourth Division in much better heart. Within 10 games, they were top of the table, unbeaten in the League and with a 100 per cent record at home. Gradi's young babes, most were either in their teens or very early 20's were then drawn away at Everton in the League Cup.

Bang in form, were the Dons about to produce another of their infamous Cup exploits? The answer? An 8-0 defeat and the realizations that this was a different type of Wimbledon from the non-league side that shocked the likes of Leeds, Burnley and Middlesbrough. "The simple answer was that this was a different side doing a different job," said Gradi.

Consistency and application were Gradi's key words. "The results we get that way won't make as many headlines," said Gradi, "but they will be to the greater benefit of Wimbledon Football Club." Headlines or not, Wimbledon remained unbeaten in the League until the end of October. "We cannot claim to have the colour and romance of the Wimbledon side that came out of the Southern League to take on the big clubs in the FA Cup. "Our job is to do well over 46 matches in Division Four and that demands different qualities."

Leslie and Cork were rattling them in; Parsons' skills were flowing in midfield and Goddard had marshaled his defence superbly. But Goddard's guile was one man's misery. Guy, hero of so many fine hours, was out in the cold and that October he left to sign for Maidstone.

Wimbledon were going great guns. A Boxing Day defeat against Portsmouth was their first reverse at home, while Grimsby Town, eventual runners-up, were the only others to record a win at Plough Lane. The FA Cup brought with it the bonus of a 9,000 crowd for a third round home tie against Southampton. That was secured with a last gasp replay win at Bournemouth, with Cork equalising in the closing seconds and Parsons scoring the extra time winner direct from a comer.

There was no joy against Southampton, however, as the Saints marched in 2-0. But Wimbledon were well on the march themselves in the League, striding towards a promotion place. It was all nail-biting stuff. One minute leaders, the next fighting to get back among the promotion pack.

Gradi was busy in the transfer market. The long serving Donaldson, Bryant and Connell were all destined for free transfers, and in their place Gradi snapped up Paul Haverson, Steve Perkins, Phil Driver, Mark Dziadulewicz, Lee Harwood and Paul Bowgett.

Then, right on the transfer deadline, Gradi moved in for QPR central defender Tommy Cunningham, who, at £45,000, was a club record signing. A shrewd buy for Gradi, but a mighty gamble for Noades' shoestring operation.

It was a gamble that paid off and when Cork hit the winner against York, Wimbledon were virtually assured of promotion, making absolutely certain when a young 17 year-old Wally Downes, nephew of boxer Terry, scored his first for the club in a 1-1 draw with Barnsley. Cork's 25 League and Cup goals, in his first full season, had been vital to Wimbledon's campaign. 

But he was pipped in the Player of the Year stakes by the emerging Galliers who had established himself as the midfield powerhouse, in place of the injured Briley. Free scoring Wimbledon had secured promotion in some style. Cork, the first Wimbledon player to score a League hat trick, went one better with four in the 6-1 win at Torquay, and that winning margin was matched when the seasiders visited Plough Lane towards the end of the season.

It was goals galore and the champagne was flowing. Wimbledon were the capital's top scorers, with a total of 78 League goals, winning them the Evening News 'Champagne for Goals' competition and earning six magnums of bubbly for each of their 21 first teamers.

Progress was proving costly, however. Ground renovations looked likely to top £55,000 and plans for a youth club and nursery were around the £13,000 mark. Gradi's final push for promotion had cost a cool £60,000 in transfer market dealings. "I don't want a Fourth Division side," he said, as the new faces arrived in the closing months of the campaign. "I want a Third Division one."

But as had been the case decades before, Wimbledon's prowess on the park was not matched through the turnstiles. Gates below the 3,000 mark were commonplace and even the lure of vital promotion games saw only a 3,897 attendance for the visit of York and just 2,000 more for rivals Barnsley and most of them were from Yorkshire.

Conversely, Barnsley's promotion winning match attracted a 21,000 crowd to the Oakwell Ground. Wimbledon were having to look to other fund raising schemes, just as they had in the past and Noades was a master of fresh ideas. For £120, for example, spectators could join the Directors Box Club. That would buy a season ticket, plus a match day buffet and use of a private bar.

There was the Vice Presidents Club to join, or, for £50 a season, the Centre Block Club. There were lotteries, there were promotions. And there was hope that the future would bring more success, this time in Division Three.

1979-80

But by the time former Chelsea star Ray Lewington made his long awaited debut at the end of September, Wimbledon were rock bottom of the Third Division and had won just twice. Lewington was a victim of a red tape wrangle over his registration following a spell in the States. His arrival, however, injected new steam into midfield and Dons went five games unbeaten as they at last found some form.

But the fire blew out and Wimbledon didn't win again until the last game of the year, a 3-1 success at Southend. And although they won three in a row in February, they were always struggling to climb away from the basement brigade. Only in the Cup competitions was there something to savour. Aldershot were knocked out 6-2 on aggregate in the League Cup, with Orient beaten 5-4 on penalties and Plymouth 1-0 after extra time.

Swindon eventually put an end to that progress in the fourth round, while 35,000 fans saw Wimbledon's three FA Cup battles with Portsmouth that finally finished in a 1-0 home defeat. There were big financial problems to be endured as well and Gradi had some trimming to do.

Lewington, who Wimbledon had been endeavouring to sign on a temporary transfer, left for Fulham; Parsons signed for Orient for £43,000 and Briley left for Aldershot. Such were the problems Gradi was facing that he was prepared to consider any reasonable offer for any of his players, prompting "Dons For Sale" headlines in the national press. It was against this backdrop of doom and gloom that Wimbledon were expected to climb to safety.

It was hardly surprising, therefore, that they didn't win again until mid-April and by then they had no hope of survival. They were eventually relegated back to the Fourth Division, finishing a sad bottom with just 10 League wins all season. To describe Wimbledon's 100 year history as 'eventful' would be something of an understatement. After all, here they were approaching just their fourth season in the Football League, and they had already been promoted and demoted. But what was to follow put all the past glory, failure, intrigue and controversy well and truly in the shade.  next



Honours

1974-75 Southern League Champions
  London Senior Cup winners
  F.A.Cup 4th Round
1975-76 Southern League Champions
  Southern League Cup winners
1976-77 Southern League Champions
  London Senior Cup winners
  FA Cup 3rd Round
1977-78 Joined Football League Division Four
1978-79 Promoted to Division Three