THE HISTORY OF WIMBLEDON FOOTBALL CLUB
1961
1961-62

That away form was to hold firm as Wimbledon opened the season by winning 2-0 at Ilford, but then picked up only three points from the next six games. Mixed fortunes too, in the FA Cup. They comfortably beat Woking 5-1 after going a goal down early on, but then played pathetically, surrendering 2-1 at home to Walton & Hersham.

But suddenly Wimbledon hit form, with a surging run that saw them win 18 of the next 19 matches. The highlights included a 3-2 win over leaders Walthamstow and a 7-0 thrashing of second place Leytonstone. That was followed a week later by a 6-0 win at Oxford City, where Les Brown celebrated his first team debut with four goals and Eddie Reynolds scored two and hit the bar three times.

Reynolds then hit a hat-trick as local rivals Tooting crashed 5-1 at Plough Lane. In the Amateur Cup, a crowd of 2,650 ­ three times Ilford's normal gate - turned up at Lynn Road to see a bruising match. Keats scored for Wimbledon in the fifth minute and Ilford threw everything forward, including a shot against the underside of the bar, but Wimbledon held out to win. Seven days later it was Ilford again, in the second round of the London Senior Cup. No jitters this time, though, as Dons won 6-2.

The second round of the Amateur Cup brought giant killers Ford United to Plough Lane. The Aetolian League club had won 2-0 at holders Walthamstow in the first round, but after Brown had put Wimbledon ahead in the 21st minute, Wimbledon turned up the pace in the second-half to win 6-0, with Les Brown scoring four.

Wycombe Wanderers were next and the programme price was raised to 4d for the third round tie, while admission prices were raised to two shillings as a one off. This didn't stop a crowd of 9,254 turning up to see Moore deservedly put Wimbledon ahead, slotting the ball into an empty net from close range after brilliantly sidestep­ping the goalkeeper. Brown then hit the post before Rudge had to clear off the line at the other end. The Wycombe fans constantly out shouted the home fans as Wycombe domi­nated territorially, but Wimbledon had the best chance, Reynolds hitting the post, as they held out to move into the quarter-final.

Wimbledon had to journey to the far North to meet Crook Town, lying sixth in the Northern League with games in hand. Over 500 supporters traveled with the team to find the pitch covered in slush and snow some three inches deep. Wimbledon were outplayed and only goalkeeper McAlpine kept the score down with a brilliant display. With 10 minutes left they were still in with a chance at 1-0 down, but Crook duly added a second and at the end were still on the attack.

But Wimbledon recovered to win their next eight games, including beating Hayes 7-0 in the Semi-Final of the London Senior Cup and after a 3-0 defeat of Bromley they went top, and steadily pulled away.

The League title was all but decided when the Dons drew 0-0 at home to St. Al­bans, going six points clear of Leytonstone, who had three games in hand, but a vastly inferior goal average.

Wimb1edon then clinched the South of the Thames Cup, beating Kingstonian 5-1 at Plough Lane, with Reynolds hitting a first-half hat-trick, to add to the League Championship as they finished three points clear of Leytonstone and eight ahead of third place Walthamstow.

England Amateur call ups had robbed Wimbledon of most of their best players and against Wealdstone in the London Senior Cup final at Dulwich, they had to field seven reserves, yet still dominated. They could only score once through Moore in the 49th minute, but it looked as though this might be enough until Wealdstone equalised five minutes from time. Wimbledon held on to draw 1-1 in extra time, however, and the trophy was shared.

At the end of the season, the dressing rooms were modernised and the Supporters Club extended, the extension being financed by the Football Club to the tune of £2,200, while the supporters made a donation of £1 ,500 to the club.

During the close season, it was an­nounced that admission prices would rise to two shillings. There had been a slight drop in League attendances, but this was blamed on thecoverage of the FA and Amateur Cup Finals, which both took place on days Wimbledon had home games. Gate receipts for the season were £5,202, down by nearly £1,000.