Following the unpredicted success of last year’s Predictions for the year ahead (where a couple of things actually did happen – or so I’m told anyway), it is that time of year again to list what is going to happen in 2002. Once again, the editor has gone to great lengths to ensure all accuracy – next door neighbour’s black cat has once again gone missing, the Wal-Mart crystal ball has been dug out from under the pile of Y&Bs and the new updated “Occult For Dummies” (featuring a very interesting theory linking Starbucks frappuchino to the devil) has been aquired. No ouija board though, the batteries have run out.
The new year starts in much the same vein of form as the old one ended – Gareth Ainsworth is still injured. And he is still two weeks away from full fitness.
The much awaited FA Arbitration Panel is thrown into utter chaos when it is revealed that Charles Koppel left the main writing to Reg Davis. In a bizarre turn of events, a 300 page document attempting to justify WFC moving to Milton Keynes is drastically cut down to one page just containing the words “Wolves” three hundred times. The Panel unsurprisingly reject the application, and a call for liver donors is made for about 6000 people within the South West London area.
Reg Davis is immediately sacked as Wimbledon FC PR bod. He is given a retirement present – a terraced house in Smethwick, titled “Molineux”.
Charles Koppel immediately announces that he is going to ignore the Panel’s decision and press on regardless with taking WFC to Milton Keynes. This however is twarted yet again when he realises that he has to leave his house (this time at a secret location located in the centre of Lowestoft High Street hidden by a ProntoPrint) before he can even start contemplating this. Fearing for his safety, he finally flips – he runs naked into the street, starts crying and announces that he is selling his stake in Wimbledon FC. Once again, another call is made for another 6000 liver donors to be available for immediate use in the SW London area.
On the field, Terry Burton realises that Koppel’s attempts to relocate the club has hampered him a little bit. Following the sales of David Connelly, Neil Shipperley, Darren Holloway, Kelvin Davis, Kenny Cunningham, Andy Roberts, Patrick Agyemang, Chris Wilmott, Rob Gier, Lionel Morgan, Jobi McAnuff and Trond Andersen to cover the club’s legal bills (and the Â£3m given over to Brunswick for “emergency consultation”, codenamed “Yarpie Fuckedup”), he has to rely on the U-17 squad to play a match against Palace. Unsurprisingly, the U17s win 3-0.
The Wimbledon Supporters Trust gets off to an unusual start when somebody jokingly bids 1p for Wimbledon FC. Amazingly, a phone call is at that second received from a very desperate sounding KIR who accepts the bid. The Dons Trust is immediately sworn in as the new owners of WFC. A whip-round of the people in the hall is given to the Trust to over-see the purchase back of the players that TB found were sold by Koppel. This raises a total of Â£50-56 and about 3 pfennigs from somebody just returned off holiday.
Terry Burton immediately praises the new owners by “giving me more money than I ever had before”. He immediately announces buying back Chris Wilmott and Darren Holloway from Kiddiminster Harriers. When asked what he will do with the remaining cash injection, he replied “I’m going to buy my son a Â£50 gift voucher from HMV for his birthday”.
The new line-up conceeds 5 goals to West Bromwich. TB immediately blames the fans before realising they are now his boss. Immediately, Burton apologises, though the Trust board are concerned when he keeps mentioning “Charlie my lover” to them.
Peter Winkelmann is quoted in the Milton Keynes Citizen that Wimbledon FC are still coming to MK after all, despite a change of ownership, that he has a brand new stadium and can guarantee 60,000 people at every game. However, the headline of this story quotes “Rock Impresario In Cocaine Overdose, advanced delusionment sets in”, which leaves a WFC fan website to say that Winkelmann doesn’t half look like Julian Cope.
Julian Cope takes legal action against the WFC fan website, claiming in his writ that “I don’t want to be likened to that coke-riddled long haired talentless twat”. The case is settled when the website mentions that Cope did once do something semi-decent with Teardrops Explodes, which is more than Winkelmann ever did.
An amazing occurance happens when the Trust admits they will be taking Wimbledon FC to Milton Keynes, with immediate effect. An almost frightening amount of anger is displayed, but this is immediately tempered when the Trust members turn up at Milton Keynes Central to a welcoming committee. A Trust grandee immediately drops his trousers and leaves a massive turd on the station, whilst a statement is read out that Wimbledon FC did go to Milton Keynes, took one look at it and thought it was a shithole. The Trust leave, having nailed the MK Dons once and for all, leaving everyone in Buckinghamshire extremely upset. All except Winkelmann, who starts to eat the freshly laid turd after a Trust member said to him “that’s good shit”.
Having had another cash injection from the Trust, this time a whip-round in the Wibbas Down pub raises Â£331-98, Terry Burton immediately announces the re-recruitment of Rob Gier, Kelvin Davis, Neil Shipperley and Patrick Agyemang, from Nantwich Victoria, Hull, Leyton Orient and Stafford Rangers respectively. With the remaining Â£298-80, Burton immediately attempts to buy Chris Armstrong from Spurz, but is immediately knocked back when the Spurz chairman quotes “When I said I wanted three for him, he thought I meant 3 quid”.
Following a settling-in period, the Trust immediately announce a major project to bring Wimbledon FC back to Plough Lane. An approach is made to Safeway after four Main Stand attendees agree to mortgage their houses, which is immediately accepted. Safeway in fact are surprised that four people could raise Â£100m between them, leaving one Main Stand attender to quote “have you seen the prices of houses in Wimbledon these days?”.
The Government launches an immediate enquiry as to why an unusual amount of liver donors are needed in the Wimbledon area for the third time in 2002. The matter is debated in parliament, although proceedings are hampered when it is revealed that Whitbread and Youngs made record profits, leaving one Labour MP to claim that the brewers are “fat cats”. The reading runs out of time, although not before the Speaker tells the MP to “shut the fuck up”.
In an event that is given worldwide television coverage, Gareth Ainsworth finally plays a first team game for Wimbledon. This monumental event occured when Terry Burton failed to secure re-signing David Connelly from Brentford after realising that the Trust’s new cash injection (somebody found Â£10 on the street) would not cover DC’s train fare back to Selhurst. Ainsworth is giving a standing ovation and attempts to kick the ball to start the game. Immediately on doing so, he falls down in a crumpled heap and is strechered off with a badly gashed toe. The club doctors, who have so far escaped the axe, immediately diagnose the injury as gangrene and subsequently remove his leg. Ainsworth’s career is officially over.
BUPA shares immediately nosedive after they reveal that they will not have to treat Gareth Ainsworth any more.
With all the off-field happenings, most Wimbledon fans are shocked to read that the club actually played a few games this season. The team, which was boosted further by the purchase of Chris Armstrong (TB’s son returned the record voucher), finished a respectable 8th, ahead of Palace.
WISA receive an anonymous donation for Â£1-25 from a person who simply writes “hope you do to the new owners what you did to the old ones”. A trace is made to a bank running out of the nearest mental hospital, where the donor is no other than Charles Koppel. When pressed further, he swivelled his eyes and muttered something about “ideal opportunity” and how Man Utd and Man City shared a ground.
Work is immediately started on the New Plough Lane site, following substained negotiations between WFC, Merton Council and all other relevant parties. However, Merton cause constenation when they insist on all alcohol to be banned from being consumed that night due to World Health Organisation concerns about how many more livers will need to be transplanted. Instead, the world record for people masturbating all at the same time is nearly broken, though the attempt still had a long way to go to beat the amount of wankers in one place (set at Crystal Palace vs Tottenham, 1997).
David Connelly agrees to move to Wimbledon again on a free after a secret clause in his previous Wimbledon contract made him go to Wolves, his ex-club. On returning, he said “at least people can speak proper down here”.
Charles Koppel is found dead at Springfield Mental Hospital after an ever-so-accidental overdose of morphine. Nobody is charged, as it transpires that the patient tried to move the hospital to Milton Keynes and thought that more people would use it. Indeed, the nurse who administered the lethal injection is recommended for a knighthood. Koppel’s funeral is cancelled as nobody turns up.
The Dons Trust goes on a major fund raising crusade, with various activities planned for the summer. These include laying down concrete for a plot of land, transporting bricks inbetween places, pipe fitting and tarmac laying. When questioned by the Wimbledon News as to the unusual nature of such activities, a Trust spokesman replies “it’s casual labour innit?”. The fund raising creates a total of Â£1081-55, which prompts Terry Burton to claim that it’s the biggest cash injection he’s ever had whilst at Wimbledon FC.
Wimbledon FC play their first pre-season friendly, the usual game against Sutton. The attendance is quadrupled when word gets out that Kjetil Waehler is to be playing. Sadly, the crowd are disappointed when they realise that he doesn’t actually exist. The remaining 45 people in the crowd none the less witness a comprehensive 2-0 defeat.
The season starts off with a bumper crowd of 15,035 against newly promoted Reading. The crowd are treated to a group of players clearly enjoying the occasion, playing with passion and skill. Unfortunately, it’s the Wimbledon XI from 1984 playing a reunion match for the Dons Trust (raising Â£2535-64, leaving TB to gasp at his “Man U size spending power”). When they leave the pitch, 15,034 people lose all interest. The game finishes 1-1 after an own goal from Kelvin Davis.
Following a period of consolidation, the Dons Trust feel they need to release previous Wimbledon FC accounts. Contary to claims made in 2001 that WFC are Â£7m in debt, the real figure is released as Â£250k. The breakdown is as follows : money obtained from the sales of Hartson, Euell and Cort was transfered out of WFC Ltd into a British Virgin Islands account, entitled “P Winkelmann coke fund”. Further investigations show that transfer monies from Hunt, and Hrreidarsson were stored in a curiously titled “Panel Bribing” account, stored in the Netherlands Antilles. A final piece of investigation shows that the Sky TV parachute money was syphoned off to another offshore account in the Dublin Bay area, with the perplexing name “Concrete Cow Feasibility Study Fund”, signatory is linked to an address within the Cardiff area. The Trust note such findings to the Inland Revenue who feel sorry for the new owners and agree to waive all legal retributions.
Following the megabucks signing of Les Ferdinand for a grand total of Â£40k, plus expenses, WFC find themselves at the top of the table following a 2-0 away win at Sheffield United. Terry Burton is happy, claiming that a radical new training method is working dividends : “we sacked our entire medical staff and bought a first aid manual instead”, he says
More shocking revelations about WFC’s past dealings are unveiled as it transpires that the feasibility study of Wimbledon Greyhound Stadium was performed by Reg Davis and Graham Thorley. A Merton Council spokesman admits their surprise at this revelation, previously believing that one never existed as Koppel never showed them the findings. Though the spokesman concedes “given the job they did, where they wanted to rename the Durnsford area as Blechley and insert 5 more roundabouts, they were better off not bothering in the first place”.
Wimbledon are still top thanks to a 4-0 thumping of Coventry. The Sky Blues shock the entire footballing world by signing Neal Ardley for a transfer breaking Â£16m before the game. This clearly backfired (especially as Ardley got confused and started giving the ball to Wimbledon players), though Roland Nilsson justifies the move by claiming that he needed somebody cheap and with experience. Nilsson is sacked when he forgets that he was paying for Ardley in pounds and not Euros.
With this monumental cash injection from the Ardley transfer, the Dons Trust are able to employ proper builders to continue work on New Plough Lane. Suspicions are raised when a labourer of Lebanese discent is seen hanging around the site offering to work for nothing. Immediately, 14 tonnes of concrete are mysteriously missing, along with the travellers’ horse that used to roam on the site. The whereabouts of the suspicious man are as yet unknown but it is believed he was heard to be claiming “what is rightfully mine”.
After a relatively quiet few months due to the slump in mobile phone sales, Simon Jordan decides that he hasn’t had enough publicity for this year and attempts to buy Selhurst Park from Ron Noades. Jordan reveals to a press conference that he will rename all of the stands and the stadium itself after him. There will be plinths replacing the floodlight pylons in the shape of Jordan’s face, together with a prayer room dedicated to him. Palace fans accept this, as an informal poll suggests that Jordan doesn’t have quite a big an ego as Ron Noades ever did
The mysterious Lebanese labourer is found brutally murdered on the site where the New Plough Lane pitch is to be laid. Police forensics reveal that a large phallic object was found in his rectal area, and was found beaten to death by four travellers with what appears to be a very heavy wallet. Before further tests can be carried out, work on the sanitation tanks need to be started. The carcass of the labourer is thrown into the concrete mound where the tanks are going to be stored, as he is considered an obstruction and the smell he was producing stunk. It is later suggested by some wag that the Lebanese gentleman would spend his existance being shat upon by everyone else, which makes a change from the last Lebanese person found at Plough Lane with a big heavy wallet.
The team is rocked when they amazingly concede a 3 goal lead at SP to Crewe but somehow manage to win the game. Burton is so outraged at this happening that he resigns on the spot. In an emotional outburst, Burton claims “I told my team to throw away a 3 goal lead, and they did, but they screwed it up by scoring a 4th in injury time”. Burton singles out Neil Shipperley for netting in the last minute. However, WFC are not managerless for long, as Burton returns the next day. This is due to the Trust rewriting his contract so that if he was to quit he would immediately have to get his hair cut.
The Trust realise they haven’t put anyone in the PR department yet to replace Reg Davis. Following a committee meeting, it is decided that things have improved significantly enough anyway in that field at WFC not to bother getting another one. Sharon Sillitoe immediately withdraws her re-application to her old job.
Cardiff City are put up for sale as nobody can find where the owner has gone.
WFC go into the Xmas period in second place, after an amazing slip-up against Wolves. After going 4-0 up within 13 minutes, the referee has to call a temporary halt to the game due to inclement weather conditions. It is agreed to hold the restart until later that evening, effectively making it a night game, but with the score still standing. As a result, WFC lose 6-4.
Finally, after 11 years, Wimbledon FC are to play their first game back at Plough Lane. The stadium is officially opened by Dicky Guy and Allen Batsford, and a sell-out crowd of close to 21,000 welcome the team in their first game against – of all people – Palace. The game almost doesn’t take place as Simon Jordan claims that WFC owe him rent and in the meantime New Plough Lane belongs to Crystal Palace. This takeover is short lived as he realises he walked next door into the Dog Track and is subsequently run over by a speedway bike. Needless to say, the atmosphere and emotion carries the Dons to a comprehensive 7-0 victory. However, there is a scary moment in the second half, when a person taking a crap in the main stand hears a rather eery echo of “my children, why are you doing this to me?”….