For in the space of nine months of the season of 1980-81 Wimbledon chairman Noades led a consortium buyout of Crystal Palace. Gradi left to manage them Palace and Wimbledon were linked in a ground sharing scheme; Wimbledon had a new chairman and a new managerial team. Oh yes, and they also won promotion!

The season began in hit and miss style. Leslie, on the transfer list much of the previous campaign, finally opted to stay put, despite a £50,000 bid from Halifax, while new signing Dave Hubbick, a £5,000 buy from Ipswich and youth teamer Glyn Hodges were contesting first team places.

A young goalkeeper in Dave Beasant had also joined the cause, signing from Edgeware Town and he ousted Goddard for his debut away at Crewe on September 13, with a Cork hat-trick securing Wimbledon's best win so far, by 3-0.

The FA Cup had produced some fine moments. A 7-2 win over Windsor & Eton saw Hubbick concussed but still score three. Swindon Town went 2-0 in round two and although Oldham held them goalless at the next hurdle, a memorable save by Beasant and typical winner from Cork secured victory in the replay.

That led to a fourth round tie at Wrexham, but by then, though, Noades and company had turned their attentions to Selhurst Park. Gradi left with them and Bassett found himself in the managerial hot seat, with Alan Gillett his number two.

Wimbledon were languishing mid-table, but had enjoyed a profitable Christmas, with wins on December 26 and 27 providing some cheer. Gradi's last game in charge was that Wrexham Cup tie and there the Cup run ended. But Wimbledon's spirit, a dominant feature throughout their history, didn't desert them.

Bassett took the reins for the January 31 trip to Port Vale and goals from Cork, Hodges and Smith saw Wimbledon to a morale boosting 3-2 win. It also put them on their way to a fantastic end of season run in.

Forget the boardroom takeovers, rumours and counter-rumours. The team did the talking under Bassett's guidance, with an unbeaten seven game run that produced 11 out of a possible 14 points.

All hell broke loose the day the run ended, in a 4-1 defeat at Darlington. Galliers and Cunningham were sent off, Smith and the assistant manager Gillett booked as Wimbledon slipped to just their second defeat in four months - the only other reverse being that Wrexham Cup exit.

Galliers was suspended for five games as he topped 49 disciplinary points for bookings and dismissals, but even without his midfield dynamics, Wimbledon were in no mood to let it slip.

There were five wins and two draws from the next seven outings and although there was defeat at Wigan, Wimbledon clinched promotion with a 4-1 victory over Rochdale, with two goal Leslie showing the way and Hodges and Galliers adding in front of 3,884 jubilant fans. Up and away they went, looking forward to another season in Division Three.

There were problems for Bassett as Cunningham joined Orient for £40,000, and Galliers linked up with Gradi at Palace in a £70,000 move.