THE HISTORY OF WIMBLEDON FOOTBALL CLUB
1944
1944-45

But 1944 saw the posts up again for a series of friendly and charity matches which took the Club into 1945 and the start of an extensive programme of refurbishment and refencing. The war years had again taken their toll, but Wimbledon were regrouping and preparing for a fresh assault on the amateur scene. But would they be such a dominant force again?

Wimbledon's unique spirit had come through unscathed, despite a first fifty years of trials and tribulations. Nomads early on, they had seen off the threat of almost certain extinction to come bouncing back. And back they came yet again after those six, wasted war years.

It was not easy for anyone then, in those immediate post war days and Wimbledon looked to their loyal supporters and former players for the necessary lift. Inadequate fencing around the ground made it impossible to take gate money, so Wimbledon relied on half-time collections instead. And spare clothing ration coupons were called in so a new kit could be purchased.

Yet within two seasons after the War they were back in their second Amateur Cup Final, before a 47,000 crowd at Arsenal's Highbury ground, in a match broadcast live on BBC radio.

Before that, though, came a year of reĀ­building. Ron Head, a repatriated Prisoner of War, reopened his account for the club in their first Isthmian League game in six years, away at Leytonstone. South African born Head had spent 18 months of the war years in a prison camp after being shot down over enemy territory. But despite his goal, a second-half Westwood hat-trick saw Leytonstone through 3-1 and that signaled the start of a losing run that included a 7-0 whitewash at Sutton United in the FA Cup's preliminary round.

Centre forward Head, with the club since 1937 and four other regulars in Smith, Lemmer, Rogerson and Meredith, all misĀ­sed that match, but it was a stronger Wimbledon side that secured their first point of the season the following Saturday, an Alec Fuce hat-trick seeing honours even in a 4-4 thriller at St. Albans. Two more hefty defeats followed, both away, until Wimbledon got the all clear from the Ministry of Labour for matches to resume at Plough Lane.

The first back home finished in a 3-3 draw against Clapton and more points followed with the opening win of the season, at home to Wycombe Wanderers on November 3. Wimbledon had gone in four goals up at half-time, but needed a last gasp penalty save by Mortimer to ensure the win after Wycombe had stormed back to 4-3.