It’s the time of year that every half-witted journalistic enterprise gives their lowdown on what they think – no, what they know – is going to happen over the next 12 months. The reasons for this are clear : firstly, it’s a attempt to tap into the supernatural psyche possessed by humans. Secondly, it’s to fill up space.
Naturally, SW19 is jumping on this bandwagon. We can now exclusively reveal just what is likely to happen over the next 12 months in this soap opera they call Wimbledon Football Club. This has been done with the help of Haitian voodoo priests, copies of “Occult Worshipping For Dummies”, a few seances and a black cat called Herbert. Sit back and take in just what the WFC rollercoaster will thrust at you this next year…..
With still no win at SP, Terry Burton decides that the sex ban on Fridays is lifted. However, he insists that instead of their spouses, they should have it off with each other “to keep that spirit flowing”. Naturally enough, most of our players abstain, although Pecker thinks it’s a good idea because “we do that sort of thing in Sweden”. Bizzarely, one prominent WFC director starts taking much more interest in team affairs than previously
Ground news, which was forthcoming, is put back after it’s been discovered that a football pitch needs to be put in the middle of it. This scuppers KIR’s plans to store his boat there.
Wimbledon go out of the FA Cup to Notts County after a last minute penalty. This puts Notts County 3-0 up. After the game, TB admits that the relaxation of the sex ban may be a factor : “I gave them a half time team talk but none of them were prepared to sit down and listen”.
John Hartson is linked to Aston Villa for Â£5m. However, the deal is pulled when Doug Ellis is quoted as saying “I may be hanging on to my job but even I’m not that desperate”.
A cold spell cancels most games in the month, and also causes untold damage to Milton Keynes (after it transpires that the cold makes concrete crumble). Subsequently, the WFC to MK rumours are buried until next year at least.
John Hartson is linked to Glasgow Rangers again. However, Dick Advocaat rejects the move as their reserve team is pretty full up at the moment. Smelling desperation, Johnathon Barnett offers JH around to Coventry, Soton, Bradford, Birmingham City, Stoke and even Crystal Palace. Negotiations with all these clubs fail after each club notices that much of the signing on fee goes towards “liquid consumption”, except for Palace who quote “We’d rather have Carl Leaburn”.
Fed up with constant criticism, WFC announce that they are going to invite people to send their ideas for marketing the club, the best will get to work for WFC Marketing. Over 2000 entries are received within a week. However, the club later announce that any entry containing the phrase “Sack Sharon” will be disqualified : 1,999 entries are subsequently rejected. The winning entry, submitted by Mr Percy Pringle of Southfields, was a blank sheet of paper that he mistakingly posted.
Sharon Stillitoe resigns from WFC Marketing after admitting that the entry “is far more dynamic and comprehensive than what I could ever do”. Pringle’s first attempt at lowering ticket prices runs into problems when the Palace Box Office computers reject any number input that is less than Â£15-00
The first team, unsurprisingly, win all away games, including a comprehensive 6-0 stuffing of Gillingham. The big shock of the game, however, is the announcement that John Hartson joins the Gills for a fee of Â£3m. Announcing the move, Gills chairman Paul Scally says “we wanted somebody our fans could relate to. That’s why we signed somebody fat, slow, drunk and loves sheep in un-natural ways”.
Home form is still poor – still no wins. In desperation, Terry Burton decides that the sex ban is reimposed, but this time every player is given a copy of Playboy on a Friday night. This goes down especially well with Andy Roberts, who is glad that finally the crowd will call him “wanker” for a good reason.
Erratic home form ensures that Wimbledon are too mathematically far behind to get a playoff spot this season. Subsequently, Terry Burton decides to experiment with the side : Damien Francis is put in goal, Kelvin is rested, Ian Feuer gets to play upfront, and in probably the most controversial move of all this, Ian Selley gets to play. The makeshift team still don’t win at home, but stuff Sheffield United 4-0 at Bramhall Lane.
Sensing increasing unrest about the SP groundsharing – heightened after a new WFC marketing campaign which offered away season tickets only – R&G seek a clear-the-air meeting with Merton Council about a new site. Previously failed sites are offered, but Merton Council take them away again. BRG politely points out that they aren’t Lebanese and immediately the Council start being nice to us again.
John Hartson scores on his debut for Gillingham. Unfortunately, they weren’t playing football at the time.
WFC finally win a game at SP after Terry Burton decides that he’ll play everyone up front, including the designated goalkeeper (who is at this time PÃ¤r Karlsson). However, the joy is tempered by realising that it was against Norwich, and we did only win 1-0.
The Dons lose 5-0 at Craven Cottage after the referee inexplicably sent off most of the WFC team. Only one player finished the game for WFC – Neil Ardley – who is subsequently raped on the pitch by Louis Saha. It later transpires that the referee was paid off by Al Fayed to the sum of Â£10m, and the FA were given lifelong Harrods vouchers to let them get away with it. Hearing this, Terry Burton said “At least it’s no different to what happened at Bradford last season”
WFC will find out that they get to play Bradford, Coventry and Southampton next season, as all three are relegated. Bradford finish dead bottom, with only one win in the whole of 2001. A helicopter circles over Valley Parade with a sign saying “Fuck Off Bradford” : however, most people in the town deny having ever supported the Bantams. Gordon Strachan complains that his team were victimised during the season (results included losing 5-0 to Liverpool, 6-0 to Arsenal and 2-1 to Bradford in a game attended by 4 people), but is reminded that he’s no longer playing for Man Utd and is in fact a whinging ginger shit.
At the players’ End Of Season party, which is once again fancy dress, Trond is given a choice of either coming as a Norwegian seal slaughterer, complete with freshly slain seal, or to turn up with a decent haircut. Unsurprisingly, the next day London Zoo report that two of their baby seals have been pickaxed to death.
After many months of battling injury, Gareth Ainsworth declares himself fit and ready for first team action. His announcement comes on the day that the players go on their end of season break
John Hartson is awarded a prestigious honour in Kent : Shephard Neame award him for “single handedly keeping the Kent brewing industry alive”.
Players report for pre-season training. Gareth Ainsworth declares that he’s suffered yet another reoccurance of his groin strain and will have to sit out the next 6 months.
Remarkably, most of the players who ended the season at WFC have remained at the club. All except Alan Kimble, who retires, Carl Leaburn, who goes to Dagenham and Redbridge on a free, and Neil Ardley, who suddenly realises that he can’t actually play football.
The obligatory traditional pre-season game at Sutton is sold out after it’s revealed that the Us have purchased John Hartson from Gillingham for 24 cans of Carling. Explaining the sale, Paul Scally reveals that John Hartson made a pass at his wife. Unfortunately for him, so have most of the Gills players. Hartson doesn’t play the game, he’s suspended for twatting a referee for asking him his name.
Merton Council and WFC finally reach agreement that yes, WFC should be back in Wimbledon. Such joy is short-lived when BRG asks “So, have you got a site for us then?” and the meeting is adjourned abruptly
In a remarkable twist of fate, Wimbledon are drawn first game of the season away to Bradford. The side win 4-0 despite Jeff Winter refereeing.
The first game at SP, against Wigan, predictably ends in a 0-0 draw. Terry Burton considers letting the players have sex on the pitch.
Fulham, who won the first division by 40 points last season, go into their first game of the season – at home to Leicester – with great optimism. They lose 5-0 and Al Fayed (in a fit of embarrasment) disowns them.
After a disappointing season beforehand, and a similar start this season, Marcus Gayle finally ditches his Christian religious beliefs. He decides to take up Satanism : after two weeks of buying pentangles, studying the works of Anton Levey and Alistaire Crowley, and listening to the entire works of Black Sabbath, Gayle scores 3 goals in a stunning 5-0 romp at Preston. The goals scored were so great that even Pele phones up Gayle to say how good they were. Gayle’s reply of “My power comes from the mystical force of lesser magik” confuses him though.
Merton Council assure WFC that they’ll have a site for the club within a month or so. The representative for Merton Council is one Gareth Ainsworth, who is finally told to retire after his BUPA bill reaches JH beer tab proportions.
The game at SP between Wimbledon and Gillingham is held up for two hours. This is because Terry Burton decides that the players can have sex with Paul Scally’s wife before the game : however, as all the Gillingham team are doing the same, the inevitable holdup occurs. The game is eventually finished at 1130pm after the Gillingham fans are told to move their caravans. Oh yeah, it finished 0-0
BRG finally loses patience with Merton Council and threatens to buy them out if they don’t have a site sorted out by December. When faced with the response that the council can’t be bought out, Gjelsten replies “Well you were bought out when the tennis wanted to rebuild #1 court”
Gayle’s scoring record immediately reaches double figures, though he is booked in a game against Tranmere for playing with goat’s blood in his mouth. Wimbledon are now lying second in the table, behind Blackburn. Bradford are bottom
As a result of the EC’s transfer policy changing, a new FA directive requires all clubs to publish their accounts clearly and an explanation given as to the ins and outs of money to/from the club, in order to prevent fraud. Immediately, Cardiff City goes up for sale and the chairman inexplicably goes AWOL.
JH is sacked from Sutton United for drinking the bar dry. He decides to give up football and joins Crystal Palace (who are still smarting at losing out on Carl Leaburn)
Fulham are bottom of the Premiership, having lost 3-0 to Burnley (who also went up). Al Fayed mentions in the local paper that “Craven Cottage would make a nice block of fla…. er, did I really say that? No no no, I meant, I can see Fulham playing in a place very similar to Stamford Bridge. Very similar. Er, no, I don’t mean… AHEM, it’s all Prince Phillips’ fault, he murdered my son. And his wife’s a fucking bitch”.
Terry Burton is awarded Manager Of The Month for October. Three factors are attributed : (1) Finally breaking the SP voodoo by getting some of Marcus Gayle’s new found friends to perform a sacrifice on the SP pitch. (2) A continuation of the away form shown last season by simply banning drink. (3) The transfer of Paul Scally’s wife from Gillingham. As a result of this award, WFC lose the next game 2-0 to Forest
JH admits that he’s close to bankrupcy after spending all of one day in a Selhurst bar. He claims to the Croydon Advertiser “I’m still paid the same, but whenever I drink at SP I find that my weeks wages is gone in just three rounds of drinks”. Johnathon Barnett suggests that the only place for an alcoholic ex-footballer is Sky TV : however, as they already have Rodney Marsh, George Best and Alan Mullery, they have to go to HTV instead.
Ken Bates finally steps down as Celsi owner. He cites rising prices for his departure. Mohammed Al Fayed expresses interest in buying Celsi, and predicts that they will be called West London United soon enough. But not at the expense of Fulham. Honest.
Wimbledon go top into the Xmas 2001 period thanks to a storming 7-0 win over Southampton at the Dell (Soton’s planned move to their new stadium is scuppered after a Lebanese businessman buys into the club and sells their new ground to Tesco). Marcus Gayle gets 4 of the goals, after beheading the Soton goalkeeper. The other goalscorers are Jason Euell, Damien Francis and Jody Morris, who joins WFC “to keep Jason company”.
After 10 years of ground searching, WFC and Merton Council finally announce that Wimbledon are returning to Merton. The challenge from WFC to Merton to find a site that is never going to be used and in keeping with current Council policy is accepted : WFC are to build on Merton Sixth Form Centre (local joke : Merton Council are cutting down on education services – 6th form colleges in particular – at the moment). Immediately, season ticket sales go through the roof, the team wins every game 4-0 in response and the club are forced to open a new superstore (replacing Elys) to cope with the new increased demand. However, enthusiasm is slightly dampened when Mohammed Al Fayed makes an enquiry for a groundshare………