THE HISTORY OF WIMBLEDON FOOTBALL CLUB
1959
1959-60

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 from 1958-9.

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 under floodlights.

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 minutes.

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 won 2-1.

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.