THE HISTORY OF WIMBLEDON FOOTBALL CLUB
1962
1962-63

The season began with a 3-2 defeat against the Rest of the League, but in the first League game at Leytonstone Wimbledon led 1-0 until a hotly disputed penalty gave the home side a last minute equaliser. A nasty brawl between the players fol­lowed and later continued in the tunnel.

Wimbledon's FA Cup record over the past 10 seasons had been very poor, but they won comfortably 4-1 at Leatherhead in the first qualifying round, although it was not until the 36th minute that Reynolds put Wimbledon ahead.

In the next round they were drawn at home to Woking for the third successive season, having previously beaten the Cardinals 5-1 on each occasion. This time, though Woking dominated early on and went ahead, before Brown lifted the growing tension with an equaliser just before half-time. Wimbledon got on top after that, scoring three times before a late Woking consolation, going through to the third qualifying round for the first time in 10 years.

New Isthmian League leaders Kingstonian were the next visitors to Plough Lane in the FA Cup. Kenchington's goal for the Dons separated the two sides at half time and he scored again in the 3-2 win. And Wimbledon duly progressed to the first round proper by crushing Oxford City 6-1, Oxford having no answer to Wimbledon's aerial dominance as all six goals came from headers.

So to a home draw against Third Division Colchester United and 9,500 fans were present to see Colchester dominate the early stages, forcing corner after corner. But their finishing was way off and Wimbledon showed them how it should be done soon after when Brown put the Dons ahead in the 27th minute. Then Ardrey was injured in a clash of heads and had to go off for treatment – and Colchester sensed that this was their chance. Dons held out to half time, when Ardrey was fit enough to resume and it was Ardrey who set up the second after 76 minutes.

He set off on a run down the right wing and his cross was met by a bullet header from Reynolds just inside the area to put Wimbledon 2-0 ahead. Colchester immediately pulled a goal back as Wimbledon relaxed and then laid siege to the home goal. By now, Wimbledon were content to kick the ball anywhere as they clung on to win 2-1, their first ever victory over a full Football League side.

Wimbledon had been going well in the London Challenge Cup, beating Crystal Palace and Bexleyheath and holding Chelsea to a goalless draw in the semi-final. In the Stamford Bridge replay, Wimble­don wanted to play under floodlights, but Chelsea refused, even though Wimbledon offered to pay the £35 it would cost to turn the lights on.

Consequently, only 1,202 fans turned out to see Williams put Wimbledon ahead against the run of play. Chelsea soon equa1ised and Mike Kelly had to save a pen­alty before Mullholland scored an 85th mi­nute winner for the home side.

Wimbledon were getting behind with their League fixtures and their cause wasn't helped at Wycombe where they led 2-0 and then resorted to some rough stuff to maintain the lead. They eventually went down 3-2 to a last minute penalty and fighting broke out between rival supporters at the end of the game.
They had been drawn away to Bristol City in the second round proper of the FA Cup and the large Wimbledon contingent must have feared the worst when they were completely outplayed in the first-half and went in 2-0 down. However, Les Henley's half-time words made a deep impact and Wimbledon were back in it when a Bristol player, Peters, sliced a clearance back past his own goal­keeper. Wimbledon poured men forward, but with the home fans whistling desperately for time, they did everything but equalise. A brave and determined cup run was over.

There was a brief interlude from Cup matches and Wimbledon beat Woking 4-0 to improve their League position. But their match at Tooting was postponed because of fog and then the winter set in with a vengeance, causing all games to be called off for nearly two months.

Wimbledon faced a crippling backlog of fixtures, even though the season was extended and the first opponents were Athenian League Southall, in the Amateur Cup. Two Kelly blunders and a needless hand­ball by Law gave Southall a 3-2 half-time lead, but Wimbledon then laid siege to the Southall goal, forcing 14 comers and hitting the woodwork four times. They could only score once, Brown hitting home the equaliser in the 70th minute, but in the replay, Reynolds scored either side of half-time, and Hamm clinched vic­tory with a great goal.

Wimbledon's League form continued to be good and they remained undefeated in the League between November and May, the highlights being the 5-1 victory over Wycombe and a 9-1 thrashing of Clapton.

Their Amateur Cup progress took Wimbledon to Chesham United, where they found the ground a sea of mud. Driving rain made good football impossible, but Chesham took a shock lead midway through the first-half, before Wimbledon equa1ised. Two second-half goals saw them through fairly comfortably.
The third round took Wimbledon to Barnet. McAlpine played brilliantly in goal and Wimbledon went ahead just before half time when the Barnet goalkeeper dropped the ball and Brown stabbed it into the net. The game, though, was becoming a maul and the number of fouls reached 40 midway through the second-half. Brown then hit the post and Wimbledon missed a penalty but held on to win 1-0.

So to the quarter-final. Wimbledon were drawn at home to Bishop's Stortford from the Delphian League and a sixth minute effort from Hamm proved enough. Wimbledon were now into the semi-finals, where they played Leytonstone at Highbury, with a chance to avenge their 1947 Final defeat on the same ground.

Leytonstone started well, but against the run of play, Brian Martin put Wimbledon ahead with a shot that went in off the far post. Wimbledon now gained control, but failed to capitalise on their dominance until midway through the second-half, when Williams put them 2-0 up.

Leytonstone immediately pulled a goal back and pressed forward for an equaliser. Roy Law had to make two great saving tackles in the last minutes to keep Wimbledon ahead, but the final whistle blew and Wimbledon were at Wembley for the first time.

The great day dawned on May 4. Photo Gallery Wimbledon were to face Sutton United and both were presented to the Lord Mayor of London before the Final got underway. Sutton had decidedly the better of the first half and Wimbledon were relieved to be still on level terms at half-time.

But in the opening minute of the second half, Brown crossed the ball to Reynolds, who headed the opening goal. Nine minutes later it was 2-0, Reynolds heading home a Brian Martin cross. But Sutton United, playing some beautiful controlled football, forced their way back into the match on the hour when Goodall pounced on a poor header from Law to reduce the arrears and then Bladon equalised in the 67th minute.

For ten anxious minutes, Sutton pushed forward for a winner, but they gradually faded and it seemed both sides were going to settle for extra time. But in the 88th minute, Hamm beat a defender and crossed beauti­fully for Reynolds to head the ball home and in the last minute, Murphy crossed, Reynolds met the ball with his blond head and the ball went in just under the bar to make the final score 4-2. The Wimbledon fans were delirious as Law climbed the steps to the Royal Box to receive the Amateur Cup for the first time in Wimbledon’s history.

Back in the League, it seemed that Kingstonian, 12 points clear at one stage, would win, but Wimbledon beat them home and away in a five day period to throw the tide race wide open. Dons then suffered their only home defeat of the season, losing 2-1 at home to bogey side Ilford, but Kingstonian had completed their fixtures and could only watch as Wimbledon remorselessly closed the gap.

Three points from two fixtures with Tooting, which were watched by over 10,000, edged Dons nearer their target and in their penultimate match, they went joint top, winning 4-0 at Dulwich Hamlet with Reynolds scoring a hat-trick.

Anything other than a 7-0 defeat at Walthamstow would now win them the tide and a Reynolds header in the 86th minute clinched a 1-0 win and the Championship. Wimbledon had achieved the Isthmian League and Amateur Cup double.