THE HISTORY OF WIMBLEDON FOOTBALL CLUB
1981
1981-82

Two kingpins lost and Wimbledon had to do without a third when Cork broke a leg in an early season defeat at Walsall. Wimbledon began the season so shakily that it was nine games before their first League success with barely 1,600 people turning out to see a 1-0 win over Chester on October 17.

The injury crisis was now taking a hold. Indeed, Wimbledon used 28 players in League games that season, so stretched were they by illness and injury. Enfield were among those to take advantage, winning 4-1 in a game described by Bassett as: "Men against boys. They had the men."

The best sequence of results came early in the New Year, with victories over Bristol City, Doncaster and Huddersfield and a draw with Swindon. But that was immediately followed by two shockers, a 4-1 defeat at Fulham and an even more embarrassing 6-1 at Gillingham.

There was tragedy off the park. Former England international defender Dave Clement had signed for the club early season as the injury problems mounted. He too, however, fell victim to the injury curse, breaking a leg. This disappointment, and other problems and worries, led to him tragically committing suicide.

The poor winter was to leave Wimbledon with a packed finish to the season. Already struggling near the basement, they faced nine games in 24 days at one stage, but five defeats in six April outings all but sealed their fate. The Wimbledon spirit shone through in a fighting finish, but even though they lost just once in their last eight games, they were destined for the drop, this time on goal difference.

There was some solace for the success starved faithful, however. Francis Joseph emerged as a real black pearl, top scoring with 13 goals and winning the club's Player of the Year title, while Mark Morris joined Hodges and Kevin Gage in the first team as the club's successful crop of youngsters continued to break through.

As always, with Wimbledon, there was good reason to be optimistic. After all, their end of season finish had produced three straight wins, with three goals in each.