But by the time former Chelsea star Ray Lewington made his long awaited debut at the end of September, Wimbledon were rock bottom of the Third Division and had won just twice. Lewington was a victim of a red tape wrangle over his registration following a spell in the States. His arrival, however, injected new steam into midfield and Dons went five games unbeaten as they at last found some form.

But the fire blew out and Wimbledon didn't win again until the last game of the year, a 3-1 success at Southend. And although they won three in a row in February, they were always struggling to climb away from the basement brigade. Only in the Cup competitions was there something to savour. Aldershot were knocked out 6-2 on aggregate in the League Cup, with Orient beaten 5-4 on penalties and Plymouth 1-0 after extra time.

Swindon eventually put an end to that progress in the fourth round, while 35,000 fans saw Wimbledon's three FA Cup battles with Portsmouth that finally finished in a 1-0 home defeat. There were big financial problems to be endured as well and Gradi had some trimming to do.

Lewington, who Wimbledon had been endeavouring to sign on a temporary transfer, left for Fulham; Parsons signed for Orient for £43,000 and Briley left for Aldershot. Such were the problems Gradi was facing that he was prepared to consider any reasonable offer for any of his players, prompting "Dons For Sale" headlines in the national press. It was against this backdrop of doom and gloom that Wimbledon were expected to climb to safety.

It was hardly surprising, therefore, that they didn't win again until mid-April and by then they had no hope of survival. They were eventually relegated back to the Fourth Division, finishing a sad bottom with just 10 League wins all season. To describe Wimbledon's 100 year history as 'eventful' would be something of an understatement. After all, here they were approaching just their fourth season in the Football League, and they had already been promoted and demoted. But what was to follow put all the past glory, failure, intrigue and controversy well and truly in the shade.