David Tommy Bassett
Date of Birth:
04 September 1944
Place of Birth:
(1974/75 - 1979/80)
Arguably the most influential figure in the long history of the Dons, when 'Harry' was recruited to join the club from Walton and Hersham in the summer of 1974 few people cared about Wimbledon outside the non-league fraternity. By the time he left, thirteen years later, his exploits as a player and then as a manager had made the club one of the most talked about in the game and turned humble Plough Lane into a venue for top flight football.
After failing to make an impact as a youngster at Watford he played for Hayes, Wycombe Wanderers and St Albans City before joining Walton and Hersham, earning 10 England amateur international caps whilst there.
Already a vastly experienced non league midfielder when he signed up to rejoin Allen Batsford at Wimbledon at the start of the 1974-75 season, Bassett was part of the side that earned national fame by winning at Burnley and taking Leeds to a replay in the 1974-75 FA Cup. An inspirational leader of men, he was made captain for the Dons final Southern League campaign as the club completed a hat trick of titles and were elected to the Football League. Always a controversial figure, some fans complained to the local newspaper about appointing the club's worst disciplined player as skipper.
Bassett played thirty five times during the Dons debut season in Division Four before retiring to become a coach under Dario Gradi. He was handed the reins when the former Derby County man departed for Crystal Palace in the spring of 1981. Initially success came easily as he inspired his new charges to a late unbeaten run and an unlikely promotion but the following year reality struck. Dogged by injuries and bad luck the Dons were relegated back to the basement section after just one season at the higher level.
With finance always an issue, he fashioned a side in his own image - tough, uncompromising and with fierce desire to win at all costs. Quickly abandoning a sweeper system he adopted a 'long ball' style and 'Crazy Gang' attitude that was widely reviled but brought his team unprecedented success. Under his wing a group of talented youngsters emerged to carry the club to the top flight of the English game in four heady seasons.
His last year in charge saw the club win at champions Liverpool and complete a league double over both Chelsea and Manchester United as they finished sixth in the final Division One table. After his departure, the momentum he had created was harnessed skilfully by Bobby Gould and Don Howe as they took the club to their finest hour at Wembley in 1988. While Bassett led Sheffield United to success in the early 1990s the Dons were becoming founder members of the Premier League.
He has continued to be a friend of the club and he advised them when they appointed Neil Ardley as manager in 2012. His legacy is such that he will always be a revered figure for Wimbledon fans of a certain age.
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