THE HISTORY OF WIMBLEDON FOOTBALL CLUB
1956
1956-57

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 year.

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 Woking re­spectively.

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 undeserved victory.

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 spectators.

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 enough.

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.