by Florida John
Last of the Summer Wine
The most important day in the history of Wimbledon Football Club? I sit here now in a Wimbledon shirt just like I did the night before what I thought was the most important day for Wimbledon Football Club. The night of Friday 13th May 1988. That night in Wimbledon was a little like I expect this coming Sunday evening to be in Wimbledon. Groups of Dons supporters in the pubs and clubs of Wimbledon, huddled together talking about the next day. The tension will be there, people will rely on alcohol to dull the tension, just like on that balmy night in May 1988.
This time though the conversation will be more muted, there won’t be much laughing or smiling. Much more tension will be etched in those faces. The following day will be much, much, much! More important. In 1988, all we had to fear was that at the end of the following day was losing a football match to Liverpool, even if it was the FA Cup Final. Which if we had lost we would at least have left with our heads held high. One night next week there may be more to fear than losing 90 minutes of football. It won’t end with “never mind, better luck next season”. We have been dragged into the most ridiculous life or death struggle and putting the sentiment aside. A bit like looking at the daunting Liverpool squad, on that evening. Here are the main points according to a supporter of 17 years.
1. The Owners.
Some doubt the awareness or the support of the press, and with some justification (Alyson Rudd, The Times – [a News International publication] which is owned by Antipodean sport Mr. Rupert Murdoch). I read a few days ago the words of one time Leeds United legend, Johnny Giles, now sports writer. He not only helped Leeds win the FA Cup in 1972, with his footballing skills. In 1988 he helped Wimbledon win the FA cup with his slating of our team on that day.
Well Mr. Giles still hates the Crazy gang, but he recognizes the current situation. More writing to critisise Mr. Sam Hammam of Cardiff City, his article gave a quick summary of our situation. Citing, us, the supporters of Wimbledon as the whipping boys in Hammam’s wretchedness and that of the current clueless owners. I quote Mr. Giles, “Eventually, he flogged off his beloved Wimbledon for vast personal profit while leaving the fans in the hands of Norwegian businessmen who did not really know an English football club from a fridge full of frozen salmon.” I could not have put it better myself. Johnny or John as you are now preferred to be called, I forgive you for you comments back in ’88. These people are transparent, they have gone to earth. BRG and KIR they are not man enough to stand up and face the opposition, so the have appointed one Charles Koppel as Chairman.
We used to have Stanley Reed. A man of honour and integrity. A man of the people, loved by the staff and fans of the club alike. Now we have the Britney Spears of football. Glossy exterior, backed by a rich family, money and little talent (actually Britney has more talent of any kind). A man so addicted to lying I expect he has his name painted onto the bottom of his bathroom mirror. In a recent interview on Talksport Radio (I heard it here in Dallas), he sounded absolutely out of his depth.
The lack of confidence and tremble in his voice was noticeable, even over the Web. Charles comes from a very rich family. What part of Mr. Murdoch’s empire is he trying to push? Given that certain people judge their efforts in power boating by TV audience numbers and not by success. I could also mention the OWFF and the Haydons Bridge Residents Association, but I am sure by now the great Stanley Reed (and others) feel sick enough.
3. Sam Hammam.
If ever there is a pantomime written about football, Sam Hammam will be cast as the wickedest of wicked witches. Name me one man who has done more to destroy a football club. He is pivotal to the mess we are in (sorry of I’ve understated that). He sold our main asset, Plough Lane, and has publicly admitted that he pocketed the money. He lied about Dublin, I don’t think it was ever on. Except to con KIR/BRG in to buying the club. I cannot say anymore as some of our female readers maybe offended. So I will leave it like this. If he dies tomorrow, I will be flying home. Not to pay my respects. But to â€¦â€¦. In short if anybody ever got lucky with a football club, it was Hammam.
4. Wimbledon FC (NON) Marketing.
Do you think that there were no season ticket renewal forms sent out by accident? Not at all. Given recent announcements. I think old Charlie boy thought he could just take us there. Until somebody mentioned the Football league and other such regulatory bodies. So even with 4,000 season ticket holders he doesn’t give a fig about. Furher Koppel, commanded that no such forms be issued. No doubt until some toady explained that you can’t move a club without a publicity campaign.
This lot have sat though a good many “informational” lunches as I am sure Alyson Rudd of The Times (A News International Publication) will testify. One of their esteemed clients is the little known (little known even in Haydons Road, Wimbledon SW19), Haydons Bridge Residents Association. Who were allowed an audience with Charles Koppel, who rarely has had time to communicate with his paying customers. Even to the forum he set up (I know, I’m giving him credit here).
How many residents associations can afford a company like Burnswick? I will tell you, how many. One. The same, Haydons Bridge Residents Association who were graced with the presence of Charles Koppel. How that tape recorder must hurt, and how further investigations will hurt. Special thanks must go to Sandra Clegg for stupidly signing the subsequent press release. Get out of that one Charles.
6. The Press.
How many obituaries on Wimbledon football Club have already been written? I would wager a few (especially by News International papers, ie. Those owned by Rupert Murdoch ). Lets face it. The days of the “Crazy gang” are still remembered by most of the lazy free lunch crowd (sound familiar Alyson Rudd) with the privileged position of reporting our national game. We are so hated that by way of our journey to the top and back out of it, they regard us as expendable. If not why have there been no in depth investigations into the lies (sue me) of Charles Koppel.
They are much like the press, only they feel they have more of a public image to maintain. Murdoch’s organization is feeling less dominance this year after ITV lashed out everything they have (erâ€¦had) got. They are now ripe for take over by Mr. Murdoch’s leeches. And they surely will. The Antipodean wants it just like America, adverts, adverts, sport, adverts, adverts. Nobody will actually be paying attention who plays where because they will all be at home watching, listening to Britney Spears and drinking Budweiser. Might as well start a team on the moon, how about relocating Milton Keynes City FC there after they are usurped by the MK Dons?
8. Rupert Murdoch.
He has done it to Rugby and Cricket. He sees everything as a franchise. To be bought and sold. I have asked many Americans, and everytime I mention franchising they hate it. Most don’t watch it any more because they say it is no longer a sport. To Mr. Murdoch we are expendable, small support, few friend who will really care. As long as his profits are good at the end of the year.
9. The FA.
A once great organisation, now almost a holding company for the TV rights of the big clubs. Mr. David Dein is a leading part of this organization. He must have got pretty fed up of the Crazy Gang messing up Arsenal, over the years and not bringing enough revenue to soften the blow. Some teams like Darlington and Mansfield are acceptable, they (and their likes) have never come into the Premier League to upset the cosy status quo. Wimbledon FC have.
10. The Football League.
A toothless organization, waiting for the end. The Football League died the day the day the Premier League was started. What weight does winning the Football League championship have these days? Twice though they have listened to Charles Koppel’s pleas and twice they have turned him down unanimously. So why then the FA arbitration?
11. The FA Arbitration.
The John Barnes of Monday 21st January 2002.
That is the 11 lining up against us on Monday. I fancy playing Liverpool.
This is it boys and girls. Why do we have to replay two games that we won 8-0?