It’s not that unusual about having a moment of doubt about the whole AFCW thing – is it really the same as the WFC I watched all them years? – and let’s be honest, it has affected us all at some time or another within the last 6 years. While trudging up obediently to Buckinghamshire was never an option, we were effectively a new club and sometimes claiming we’re the direct descendants of WFC could be a little bit of a self-delusion.
Then days like today come around and you realise that we ARE Wimbledon.
We always had the moral highground, but we also had the memories as well. It’s days like today when the “continuation of Wimbledon” thing genuinely means something. These are our memories, these are our experiences – never, ever to get hijacked by a bunch of poisonous leeches. They don’t have the memories, or the experiences, or the sheer fun of twenty years ago today. We lived it, they merely read it in a book.
No doubt today we’re all reminiscing of that hot, sunny day 20 years ago when WE really did upset all the odds. What did the bookies on the day say we were – 4/1 against wasn’t it? Hope some people made a bit of money that day. I’m sure there’ll be tales of drunken debauchery (and that was just the players on the night before), at being nervous on the day. Though funnily enough, as a wee 12 year old at the time I really didn’t suffer those nerves that I would now. You may remember how hot it was that day, how there seemed to be fuckloads of scousers in our end (ably assisted by Hammam’s insistance on selling FAC final tickets to anyone – we should have seen the warning signs then), the absolute wall of noise.
You may recall Vinny Jones’ first tackle on Steve McMahon which shut him up for the rest of the game. Remember how everyone made out McMahon to be the one who was going to put our alehouse lot in our rightful lowly place? I don’t think he was ever the same player since. Neither was John Barnes come to think of it. Of course, Liverpool were the dominant team at the time, and had their fans not help kill 39 innocents at Heysel would have probably won more European Cups in that era. They also had the cleanest backside in football, with the amount of people who licked their arse at the time.
Remember the press buildup to that game? Had WFC been an individual getting that treatment they would have won millions in slander damages. But it wasn’t, so it did the next best thing. Yes, our hearts all sank when Barnes managed to knee that ball instead of shooting, or indeed of Beardsley’s disallowed goal. Of course, it was a goal and the ref should have played advantage. But I think I can now mention it 20 years on…
Then Terry Phelan’s run that won us a free kick, Wisey’s cross, Sanchez’s flick on and – well, we all know the rest don’t we? Though personally I thought Gibson should have made it 2-0 before the break. Just imagine if he’d had. Funny thing is, if that happened, we probably would have lost it.
As for the penalty, it wasn’t then and it wasn’t now. Cheating Scouse bastards. No doubt the ref knew he’d fucked up over Beardsley and went to redress the balance. But I’m glad he didn’t, because it made Dave Beasant’s career forever after that. From then on, I think we knew we’d won and more importantly so did Liverpool. OK they tried to equalise, but I think by then our name really was on the cup.
When that final whistle blew, WFC changed forever (ultimately for the bad) though I will never, ever swap that day for anything. Even for the demise of Franchise. While everyone remembers that Motson quote, he also said something like “they also play football at Wimbledon, and they win trophies……”
It was the end of an era for WFC then, and if truth be told I don’t think we ever recovered from Hammam breaking up the team. But on that sunny day, on the 14th May 1988, we were on top of the world and ready to make that step forward.
Fast forward to May 14 2008 and things are different as we all know. Or are they? It’s almost slipped off the radar, but today the good people of the Conference South are meeting in an AGM to let us into their league. Barring a last minute gatecrashing by Turdey who has found some archaic rule prohibiting us from going up (and you just know he’s tried looking) we’ll be officially welcomed into a division that Setanta show occasionally.
This is probably as big for AFCW in 2008 as the FAC final twenty years ago was for WFC. No, it’s not in the same sphere publicity wise, but once we finally are allowed in, this club will change forever. We will have to mature, to grow up, and that’s certainly no bad thing. All of a sudden we feel much more comfortable about next season. We never fitted in at all in the Ryman (and boy were we reminded of that or what?), but after today we’ll know we will be playing at clubs with bigger ground capacities than ourselves. Maybe if Boston United are put in with us it’ll be the first ex-league side still in their old ground that we’ll play in the AFCW era.
Of course, it won’t be like that forever. Give it a couple of seasons. and we’ll end up getting fed up of yet another trip to the West Country and Bromley, and will be itching to move upwards to the big boys league. You know it and so do I. But for now, let’s bask in our memories of 20 years ago, and look forward to what joys await us in the next 20 months.
Before I go, I’m a bit unsure what to think about Lewis Taylor coming back. I’m never really a fan of players returning to clubs some years on (MG excepted), although it sounds like he’s matured a great deal. He won’t be the last to join us though. Seems like the Horsham fans are pissed off, some insinuating that it’s not much of a step up with us and he should have stayed with them because “we could have got promoted this season as well”. This the same Horsham who right royally fucked up even getting a playoff place to begin with?
And Staines are STILL whinging about the playoff. Christ, even their website this very moment has their EOS presentation with a tagline of “controversial” on it. What – the sending off that never was, nor the penalty that never was? While their complaint that their goalie was fouled still doesn’t have legs the more you look at it on the replay? Not forgetting their goalie was very, VERY lucky to stay on the pitch anyway. It really is as though there’s a memory block over this. Still, it gives them the moral victory I suppose, and it’ll probably be used as another stick to beat us with.
Getting slagged off because we refused to do what was right and proper and not “knowing our place” by having the temerity to win games. Is this 2008 or 1988?