Tag Archives: 88 Cup Final

Days Of Yesteryear #2 – Wembley ’88 (The Not Really Live Match Blog)

I’ve tried live match blogs before, notably on one occasion whilst listening to the game on radio two hundred miles away (a huge success, as the three readers who joined me for the afternoon will attest to). So what about trying a live match blog for a game that took place twenty-three years ago? Especially a game I haven’t watched all the way through for over a decade. Well I’m all for experimenting… I was only ten years old that sunny afternoon at Wembley, and its fair to say even if I thought of blogging from the stadium the technology wasn’t quite there at the time. Armed with my rapidly diminishing memories of the day, a copy of the DVD, and a packet of biscuits, here goes nothing. The Anonymous Don time machine has been put in gear…


I remember nothing about the morning of the game. I would imagine I was quite excited, and I can guarantee sugary drinks would have played a part (not Ribena though, that gave me nosebleeds…). I do remember the night before being like Christmas Eve, so its likely I would have been up for several hours by now.

Back in the 21st century, I didn’t feel the need to go to such levels of authenticity. If I did I’d be on the Metropolitan line right now. Instead the sofa beckons. A minor technical difficulty threatens to spoil the experiment… or at very least turn this ‘live’ blog into an examination of Sam Raimi’s campy 2009 horror ‘Drag Me To Hell’. In other words that was the DVD occupying the 88 Cup Final box. A ‘Brass Eye’ disc was in Drag Me To Hell’s box, with a season of ‘Ever Decreasing Circles’ having found its way where Brass Eye should have been. To cut a very long story short, the Cup Final disc was finally located in the ‘Game On’ box, along with a copy of ‘Love, Honour and Obey’ that doesn’t even belong to me, my copy of Game On presumably long since stolen…


Balls. I forgot the DVD copy uses Brian Moore’s vastly inferior commentary, so no ‘Crazy Gang beating the Culture Club’ stuff today. According to him, Dave Beasant lives ‘a mere Dave Beasant goal kick from here’, which considering some of Lurch’s clearances could easily have meant he lived in Slough.

By this stage, the ten-year old Anonymous Don was flouting Wembley rules by standing on the step behind but leaning forward to the crush barrier, effectively taking up two spaces and doing exactly what the stewards had told me not to do ten minutes earlier, but if I hadn’t I wouldn’t have seen a thing. In fact, coming in at this point is ignoring our journey to the stadium… which was relatively trouble-free and forgettable. As regular visitors to the stadium for England games, we had a regular spot we knew we could park in, simple.

Wembley Way was packed even hours before kick off, and the heat of mid morning meant the concrete burnt like hell if you touched it. Rather more Liverpool fans than Dons, some desperately searching for tickets, fended off easily by my large group of family and friends. It seemed to take forever in the queue for the turnstiles, various ticketless fans littering the place either desperately searching for spares or resigned, head in hands, propped against walls and in doorways obviously not really sure what to do next.

Still, that wasn’t my problem, we finally got ourselves in the ground… Old Wembley was as different to new Wembley as day is to night. Much was made of the new stadiums toilet facilities, partly as those who ever visited the old ground could ever forget the sight (or indeed the smell…).


Lady Diana is being presented to the players, and in the background you can make out the Liverpool support. Those younger fans who caught sight of Harry Enfield’s scousers with thick moustaches and perms might well have thought it was an exaggeration, that their stereotypical presentation was an insult to the fine city of Liverpool. As far as most Dons fans who were there are concerned, it’s a fairly authentic historical reenactment of Cup Final day. And this DVD is proof…


The teams change ends so the Dons will be attacking where I’m standing this half. Or back in the twenty-first century, kicking right to left. Bruce Grobbelaar runs like a chicken.


Hang on. New England manager Steve Nichol (who looks about twelve) blasted the ball back fifty yards to Grobbelaar, who just picked it up, the most blatant back pass you’ll ever see, and the ref just ignores it…. oh, wait now I remember… This isn’t the only Back To The Eighties piece of nostalgia I’ve picked up on, I’m forgetting it took at least another five years before the TV companies decided it would be a good idea to stick a clock in the corner.


Dennis Wise plays a thirty yard ball on the floor forward to Fashanu. Moore decides to describe this in commentary as ‘the first long ball of the afternoon’. No wonder we had such a reputation… Meanwhile, from the resulting move, Fashanu shoots tamely from an angle into Grobbelaars arms.


Aldridge heads over under pressure. Meanwhile Wise is hacked down on the edge of the box by McMahon but Wise drifts his freekick just over. This is already a better game than I remember…


Jones barrels through the side of McMahon with a late challenge. More recent examination of the game on ‘talking head’ type shows such as ‘Footballs 100 Greatest Moments That Just Happen To Be In The BBC Archive’ would have you believe Jones should have been sent off for this, but it was no worse than McMahon’s effort on Wise a couple of minutes earlier. In fact, it probably had a lot to do with that. Everyone just gets on with the game, including McMahon, the TV people don’t even bother showing a replay until a minute or so later. In fact the incident is so unremarkable, the ten-year old Anonymous Don soon forgets all about it.


Corky nods one wide. The Dons fans can be heard singing ‘We’re Gonna Score In A Minute’…


A moment I still remember to this day. Houghton’s cross is steered goalwards by Aldridge, his effort seems to take Beasant by surprise and the ball bounces up off his knee, with John Barnes bearing down to knock it into the empty net. Lurch somehow gets a hand up to tip it away before Jones knocks it away for a corner. A miracle save, somehow the TV pictures don’t do it justice. Liverpool forced a couple of corners on the spin from there, I remember mentally preparing myself for the inevitable goal that would follow…


Beardsley tricks his way to the byline before rifling into the side netting. An absolutely nothing piece of play watching back in 2011, but at the time it was enough to give a nervous ten-year old the fright of his life…


Beardsley is fouled on the way through to goal, the referee’s whistle goes, but Beardsley carries on and puts it in the net. My younger self hasn’t heard the whistle, and the relief I felt when I realised the goal hadn’t stood was unlike anything I’ve felt in life until Eastlands…


Phelan is tugged back by Nichol down by the left corner flag. As Wise prepares to take, we know whats coming next…


1-0 Wimbledon

Once I realised the ball was in the net, and the goal had been given, I remember jumping around so much I have no recollection of what else was going on around me. Presumably other Dons fans were doing similar. For the first time in the afternoon, I believed (although that belief was to be tested during the half time interval…).


As the ball is floated in by Nichol, Aldridge collapses under no pressure from the lurking Eric Young. What a fucking cheat. I said I wouldn’t go down the ‘these days you would have…’ route, but that would have been a card in this day and age, and quite rightly too. It just shows how desperate Liverpool already were.

Meanwhile, down the other end, Grobbelaar goes walkabout and drops a cross at Terry Gibsons feet, who can’t steer into the net with goalkeeper stranded. To be fair Nichol was lurking, and the angle was really tight. Brian Moore’s measured response to this is to scream ‘No foul on the referee!’. I should have hoped not, Brian…


Moore’s repeated references Little Dennis Wise and Big John Fashanu makes me wonder whether, in his head, he actually thinks he’s commentating on Liverpool v The Bash Street Kids.


The half time whistle goes. A happy Anonymous Don relaxes in the space created by those nipping off to the gents. Until my dad leans over and tells me he thinks Wimbledon need another goal, that one wouldn’t be enough. Bear in mind, at that stage of my life I believed pretty much everything my dad told me, especially regarding football.


The second half kicks off…


Corky makes way for Laurie Cunningham RIP. Even now its surprising how contained Liverpool are, they haven’t even threatened in this half so far.


Penalty to Liverpool

Aldridge runs on to a ball dinked through the Dons back four, Clive Goodyear spots it and slides in, diverting the ball back to Beasant. Aldridge tumbles over his outstretched leg, the referee points to the spot!

From my vantage point, behind the goal, I could see this wasn’t a penalty. I knew it was a great challenge. I was as furious as a ten-year old can get, more furious than I was two years earlier when England played a friendly against Germany in the USA but I got sent to bed (I subsequently sneaked down and tried to listen through the door, this worked for ten minutes before my parents spotted me – partly because England scored and I celebrated. Fortunately they decided this show of determination on my part needed to be rewarded, and I was allowed to watch the rest of the game… but that’s a story for another day).

Back to TV land, and Brian Moore has immediately determined it was a penalty, hesitated on being shown the replay before to his eternal credit Ian St John, Mr Liverpool himself, bailed him out by telling the nation it wasn’t. I wasn’t fully vindicated myself until hours later, on my return home, where my mum confirmed to me it definitely wasn’t a penalty. And what mum said went in our house.


The Save

Theres only been one penalty missed in FA Cup final history, and you have to go back to 1913 for that.

A ten-year old Dons fan is believing again… surely, after all this, we can’t lose?


Now I can see why neutrals don’t rate this final. Literally nothing has happened since the penalty. Liverpool have largely held possession in the Dons half, but have created absolutely nothing. Still, the clock is going backwards as far as I can make out, with fifteen minutes to go I was set for the longest quarter-hour I’ve ever experienced…


Now I might have only been young, but I already knew that heartache and agony in football could come out of nowhere. The previous seasons FA Cup campaign had taught me as much. I was convinced Wimbledon’s name was on the cup, until our defeat to Spurs. So the fact that Liverpool hadn’t done anything so far in the half was if anything more worrying…

Three minutes to go, every Dons clearance is greeted with ever louder cheers from the Dons end.


The last few minutes or so has seen Liverpool resort to the long ball game. Fortunately they aren’t very good at it. The Dons fans erupt at the whistle… but it’s only Fashanu caught offside.I have no recollection of this happening, but the real whistle comes not long after…

Big Dave Beasant lifts the cup for Wimbledon, before Dennis Wise shouts the infamous ‘Oi oi you bastards!’ at the Dons fans… three sides of the ground had departed, leaving Dons fans to celebrate, to pinch ourselves, was this real? I don’t remember leaving the ground, my next memory was turning into our street, standing up through the sunroof on my dads car, cheering my head off.

Then the next morning, heading to Wimbledon to see the open top bus. So many people were out on the route, cheering the lads home, for one day the people of Wimbledon remembered they had a football club. What became of them? While on my return to school a few of my schoolmates had become Wimbledon fans overnight, it lasted only a couple of weeks, until the new season started and it was all about Man U and Everton once more. Crowds remained the same next season, people had forgotten again.

Still we had our moment. Ever since that day, on meeting people and revealing I was a Dons fan, they would ask ‘Were you there?’, and I could proudly say yes, yes I was. It was one of the greatest moments in my life, and probably always will be.

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News, News, News…

Twenty-two years ago this very day (I wrote this bit on Friday…), a ten-year old Anonymous Don was curled up in his bed, having seen his side win the FA Cup! This was in the days when the FA Cup was THE tournament to win as far as I was concerned, and I remember lying in bed tired yet very much still high on a Pepsi overdose listening while the rest of the family made their way to bed as well. In the pre-student days Kingston was quiet at night, and I remember lying in bed watching the moonlight illuminating my room through the open curtains thinking ‘This is it. This is what life is all about’…

Twenty-two years later and here I am, a couple of feet taller, three times heavier and with slightly more hair on my chin, older but not necessarily more mature – and I’m like scrooge on Christmas Eve. Yes, normally I would go for the underdog on Cup Final day but to be honest I’ve long since stopped caring about the struggles of plucky overspending Portsmouth, and can’t bear to watch Chelsea rack up the first of what may be many more doubles (although thank god for Man City, eh?). So I’m going to the cinema with my wife. Well, it is her birthday.

So we have signed a new player! Former K’s man Christian Jolley has joined and its fair to say for a first new signing of the summer, this one appears to be underwhelming at first glance. Jolley was a cog in the wheel of K’s promotion charge and its fair to say this signing has come as a bit of a surprise. Yet Jolley has apparently been interesting a couple of League 2 clubs, and Terry had to get in quickly at the end of the season to snap him up. 

With the small squad we are running Jolley definitely hasn’t just been signed to make up the numbers, so presumably Terry Brown feels he has the makings of a player who can come straight in and play Conference Premier football. Reading what his former manager Alan Dowson thought of him here that sounds pretty reasonable and he does seem to have made a huge amount of progress at Kingstonian since they plucked him out of the junior game. Apparently Christian was signed for a small fee (I would stick my neck on the line and say around £5,000) plus an agreement to play Kingstonian in a PSF where bizarrely we get to keep most of the proceeds.

Kennedy Adjei has made the reverse journey to the Ryman, signing a years contract extension but finding he will spend it on loan at Sutton. It’s a great deal for Sutton, who my Sutton supporting boss advised me will use him as a replacement for Alan Pouton, and its undoubtedly a pretty good deal for Kennedy too. There hasn’t been too many details of the deal that have leaked yet but I would imagine Sutton are paying most or all of his salary, and presuming the contract is full-time he will be able to train with us a couple of days a week… which would make it a great deal for Wimbledon too…

With a long summer ahead of us, and the management team prepared to play the waiting game to find the right players, there may not be a flood of news until the players prepare to n for pre-season. The news that Terry was not prepared to go ahead with signing a centre half from a top Conference club as we couldn’t match said clubs offer is positive, regardless of who the centre half was (and I don’t want to get into speculation as to who it was). The fact was Mr Centre Half was quite happy to come to the Dons were finances not an issue, which speaks highly of how the club is viewed in the game. Whoever it was, even if it was only for an extra £50 a week, I certainly wouldn’t blame the guy for staying at his current club in the current financial climate, I just hope the club he plays for has enough cash in the coffers to keep paying him for the next year…

More positive news came in the form of pre-season games. Our second PSF will be a Tuesday night game at Maidenhead, not too far for the hardcore among us to travel, but exactly the sort of game we should be playing at that stage of preparations. Much like the TBA game against K’s, the small crowd will allow the management team to try a few things that perhaps they won’t be able to in a showpiece game against Milwall or Charlton, or even the unknown Premiership clubs XI on 7th August.

As that particular team hasn’t yet been announced (and may not for a number of weeks yet…) we can all have a bit of fun guessing who they will be. Most sides will presumably be back from any tours, yet most clubs like to be involved in a showpiece game against top European opposition on that day. Not that this would rule out any particular club that has already arranged a fixture that day, as ‘XI’ normally means ‘Second string and Youth’  anyway.  So we could be looking at literally anyone… although a local side will ensure an element of their support will make the trip. I was desperately trying to remember the side the management team visited this year in case something was arranged then, I’m fairly certain though it was Derby… which is no use to us in this case…

A third League One side has been added to the schedule, in this case we have a trip to St James Park to play Exeter City, and for me it will be the first opportunity to visit having missed the FA Cup game there a few seasons ago. Having said that it is a long way to go for a pre-season game, originally I was planning to take Mrs AD down there to show her my old haunts in Plymouth, but finances are a bit stretched as I prepare to move house again, so that had to be shelved. The only reason I’m still going is that I got a good deal on a return train ticket that day…

Yet unlike the Maidenhead game, which I may give a miss to and represents memories of away games past, Exeter is a side I can see us playing on a regular basis in future. Plus they are also a side we can look up to, having been down in the Conference when we played them in that FA Cup game, yet now brilliantly not only made it up to League One, they stayed their thanks to an 18th place finish. It will be interesting to see how far they (and us) have come, as well as allow ourselves some early season dreams of what might be to come, maybe not next season, but soon…

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The Millwall Match Preview – FA Cup First Round Special

fcum 005With about 24 hours to go until kick-off, I’ve finally got my act together to write a Match Preview. I’ve spent my time since the Crawley replay reading about the game, letting the cup fever get to me. Having said that, despite our presence in the Second Round draw this afternoon, I’m having difficulty looking beyond this tie. Thoughts have tended to sway more towards the nightmare of a heavy defeat than the miracle of victory.

Have the players been thinking too much about this one? The performance at Chester was unfortunate to say the least, and we can consider ourselves lucky that was our only League fixture. It’s a good job we had a great start as are supposedly concentrating on the cups this season…

It seems that over 3000 of us have bought tickets, and belatedly I have to say congratulations to the club for throwing on free coaches. Most Dons fans have a realistic view on the likely reception we will get from the regulars at The Den, but for the elderly or those with kids I sensed a few were thinking of ducking it just in case… Knowing they have travel from the ‘Meadow to the away end gives them a lot of reassurance, which pretty much means anyone who wants to come can come… and even those far-flung overseas types can get a chance to watch, either via their telly or the internet…

And about the 3200 we have already sold… I have heard that a number of people got a bit jumpy when their tickets didn’t arrive in the post as expected and got themselves down to Kingsmeadow to buy themselves a replacement… with only 200 for sale on the gate, perhaps anyone who does receive theirs through the post on Monday could meet at a pre-arranged point at London Bridge to sell them on to non-ticket holders, just to make sure everyone that does turn up on the night will get in?

This week I have personally been reminded just how much Millwall are disliked. I have had Arsenal, Foolham, QPR fans telling me just how much they want us to win tomorrow night. Plus we seem to have been adopted by knobhead local Chelski fans who were probably quite surprised to find the FA Cup doesn’t start at the Third Round stage and there is football below the Prem…

millwallStrangely I feel a tiny bit of sympathy for our hosts, they obviously suffer this every week… although that sounds like the typical hug-a-hoodie style reaction you would expect from the Guardian-reading liberal elite that support Wimbledon. I’m sure I’ll be reminded of various misdemeanours their supporters have got up to in the past in the comments section… It’s just I remember going on a mates stag do in Manchester which just happened to be the night before Millwall’s Cup Semi at Old Trafford, stepping out of a bar at 1am to find locals chasing anyone with a London accent left, right and centre. These weren’t thugs, they were just normal blokes like me, who happened to be earmarked for a kicking thanks to their association with a club with a large hooligan element. Obviously I stood in the corner smoking a cigarette, bricking it while my mates decided to stay for one more…

Yet it doesn’t help when you see photos of Millwall fans in Galatasaray shirts when Leeds came to visit (that reminds me of the ugly cunt on the turnstile at Fisher with the MK scarf on… of course Fisher do have links of sorts with Millwall). Still you would expect Millwall to have a little more class than start resorting to the MK chants you would expect from inbreds such as Kettering and Chester… or maybe not? Either way, the thought that an unlikely victory for us will be held up and hijacked by the more retarded half of South West London (the ones that prefer their blue with white rather than yellow…) is a little unsettling to say the least.

But onto the game itself… Don’t ask me what sort of team Terry will play tomorrow. In fact I don’t think it really matters. The difference in class between our best possible XI and our worst is minimal compared to the gulf in class between the two squads. Terry will be better off picking a side that he is sure won’t bottle it, as shocks are caused in FA Cup ties such as these more because of mental strength than the ability to pass the football around nicely.

For example, last year Brown selected Haswell over Hussey at left back. Ultimately it didn’t work as our midfield collectively suffered an arsehole malfunction when it came to the big occasion, but don’t expect this to have put him off making these sort of decisions in future… The likes of Alan Inns could find himself playing a big part in Brown’s plans, if only because Inns has a bigger heart than most blue whales.

At times like these I always like to think of the 88 Cup Final. Lets face it, ignoring the fact that Wimbledon finished sixth that year, with the experience the Liverpool side had of big occasions, they would have won that game nine times out of ten, and the other one after a replay. The victory came about thanks to a moment of genius by Bobby Gould (not that he really had much of a say in the matter…). Letting the players go down the pub took their minds off the match when otherwise they would have been stuck in a hotel, playing cards and thinking too much about what was to come. As it was they turned up on the day without a care in their heads, they were by far the more relaxed side and went on to a famous victory.

Last year, I always thought the players did a little too much publicity before the game, and were tense on the night because of it. This year it seems the players dealt with the media at training on Thursday; I understand the players are coming in for a light training session on Monday morning but the best thing Brown could do after that is take them to Thorpe Park with their families for the rest of the day…

new denLets face it, there will be no surprises coming Millwall’s way. Kenny Jackett will have watched Wimbledon, seen the DVD’s, noticed how we play, the strengths we have and will probably second guess how Terry Brown is planning on using them. The only way there will be a shock is if our boys play above themselves and a few of the Millwall players let their manager down on the night. As professionals you wouldn’t expect that to happen.

Yet I have just seen a Northwich side (a division below us) upset a Charlton team that are above Millwall in League One. Certain Charlton players looked slightly freaked out by their surroundings, and the Northwich fans seemed to notice and play on that. While Millwall will be on their own soil, they certainly won’t be used to the North Stand being full of away supporters. Lets use this to our advantage. Lets create a wall of noise, get on the back of any player in a blue shirt who looks like he might be having a tough time – right from the start. Lets really turn it into a home game.

If you haven’t got a ticket, get yourself to the ground on the day. Even if you get turned away, get yourself in the Millwall sections (obviously don’t wear your colours – this isn’t Trumpton or Staines…). And to all of you that are going, regardless of where you sit, enjoy the game… these don’t come along very often in the division we are in, they haven’t occurred at all as we rose through the Leagues, but are hopefully a sign of things to come when we eventually make it into League 2. As a club that doesn’t have a great record on beating higher ranked clubs in cup competitions (unless we eventually get kicked out for fielding illegible players…), surely we are due one now???

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