The new season was eagerly awaited and boss Batsford took the opportunity to strengthen his squad. One of the most important aspects of the previous season was that it had been generally injury free, enabling Batsford to get by on a squad of 14 full-time professionals. Reinforcements were needed. Billy Holmes, a striker from Barnet, exWrexham midfielder Tommy Vansittart and full-back Harry Falconer, to replace Bob Stockley, transferred to Atherstone, were all recruited and off Dons went again.
The first nine League games saw Wimbledon record eight wins and a draw to put them at the top of the table, while Hillingdon were crushed 5-0 on aggregate in the Southern League Cup and Kettering beaten 1-0 in the Southern League Championship Cup. In contrast to the previous year, the team were, once again, exempt until the fourth qualifying round of the FA Cup and were able to get on with the business of picking up league points.
Romford, in the Southern League Cup and Finchley, in the London Senior, were knocked out at Plough Lane before the FA Cup trail began in November with the visit of local rivals Kingstonian. Over 3,000 spectators attended expecting a tough local derby but it proved to be nothing of the son as the Dons ran out easy 6-1 winners, earning themselves an away trip to Nuneaton in the first round.
In between these two matches the prestigious trophy to decide the non-league team of the year came to Plough Lane, as Northern Premier League Champions Wigan went down 2-1 on aggregate. The FA Cup was still the main interest and Nuneaton must have fancied their chances, with home advantage. But the experience of the previous year's run stood Wimbledon in good stead and Connell's goal gave the Dons a well earned victory and another home local derby, this time against Fourth Division Brentford.
As a result of their previous year's run, the Dons were installed as favourites for the tie and the interest generated swelled the crowd to 8,775, the biggest at Plough Lane for nearly eight years when Bristol Rovers visited at the same stage of the competition. But no longer underdogs, Wimbledon felt the pressure and Brentford hit them twice on the break to record a 2-0 victory. Paul Priddy, who had played one game for Wimbledon as Guy's understudy the previous season, returned with Brentford to play a blinder against his old club and dreams of further Cup glory came to an abrupt end.
Two days before Christmas, the grip on the London Senior Cup was relinquished as crack Isthmian Leaguers Enfield beat the Dons 1-0 after a goalless draw at Plough Lane. But, to their credit, the team went to Wealdstone three days later and became the first side to win there, establishing a firm hold on the League, followed with a 3-3 draw at perennial rivals Kettering on New Year's day.
A flu epidemic caused selection chaos in January, but despite this the Dons scraped through in the FA Trophy against Sutton United and moved into the Southern League Cup quarter-finals following three arduous games against Chelmsford. Dagenham were to be Wimbledon's undoing in the FA Trophy, winning a replay 2-0 in East London after a goalless draw at Plough Lane, but the remaining five games in February all resulted in victories, including an excellent 2-1 win at strongest challengers Yeovil.
With only the League and the Southern League Cup to play for and aided by the lack of postponements caused by a mild winter, the team moved sweetly into the final of the latter with a 4-1 aggregate win over Dover, both legs being played at Plough Lane to ease the Kent club's financial difficulties.
In the League the club were picking up enough points regularly to be strong favourites to retain their tide, while at the same time being able to introduce a new 20-yearold striker in Dulwich's John Leslie. Leslie had been signed before Christmas, but had found it hard to break into the first team - a point illustrated when he scored four goals in a 6-0 win at Stourbridge in March, but was promptly relegated to substitute for the next game.
The first trophy of the year appeared on the Wimbledon sideboard early April as the Southern League Cup was won over two legs against Yeovil. The first leg in Somerset produced a 1-1 draw, through a Billy Holmes penalty for the Dons, while the second leg score of 2-1 to Wimbledon implied a close match, although Yeovil's goal came in injury time.
The title itself was all but clinched three matches later with a 2-1 win at Dover on Easter Monday and confirmed mathematically two days later with a 2-0 home win over Nuneaton. Only two league games remained after this but one of them, a home game with London rivals Wealdstone, produced headlines of the wrong sort with six players sent off, three from each side, with Aitken, Rice and Leslie going for Wimbledon.
Despite the happiness generated by a League and Cup double, all was not well off the pitch. A debt of £20,000 was announced for the season and the entire board resigned to be taken over by a Management Committee. Majority shareholder Bernie Coleman was anxious to stress that no more than a "reshuffling of responsibility" had taken place, but the irony was that the club could not meet the high price of success.
It was disclosed that of the £80,000 a year it cost to run the club, almost half went towards wages and bonuses, while Coleman announced that £10,000 would have to be pruned from the players' wage bill.
Coach Brian Hall, left Plough Lane for Slough Town, ending a two-year partnership with Batsford and Owen Harris, probably the best physiotherapist in non-league football, went with him. As an indication of their financial plight, Dons' involvement in the close season Anglo-Italian Tournament, was sponsored to the tune of £4,000 by the Supporters Club.
The disciplinary problems that the Dons had experienced during the season were highlighted in this tournament and although the team reached the final, losing 1-0 to Monza, the general consensus of opinion was that they would be unlikely to compete again, Batsford himself remarking that they had been: "Kicked from one end of Italy to the other."
To close the season, the club polled only three votes at the Football League's annual meeting, far fewer than Kettering, 14 and Yeovil, on 18, who polled only three fewer than Workington.
This page has been visited 374 times.
The contents of this site are (c) their respective owners. If you wish to use anything within, please check their status first.
If you have any information, photographs, comments, additions, memorabilia or corrections to this site please contact us