A Wimbledon supporter from Australia on his special club
During the build-up to Sunday’s FA Cup second round tie, the official website celebrated Wimbledon’s history with a series of features that focused on stories from supporters.
The series prompted an exiled Womble living in Australia to write to us about his affection for Wimbledon and we today feature his story on the website.
George Iles (first game 1951)
It seems that the male members of our family have been associated with the Dons since the first Wimbledon side took to the field.
My grandfather was born in 1878 so he was about 11 when Wimbledon Old Centrals played in their first match. I will not pretend he went to watch the inaugural match, but Dad was one of the club’s earliest fans and he went to most of their matches during his life. When my father was eight or so my Grandad would take him along to the matches as well so Dad became an unofficial member from about 1913. I say unofficial because there was no weekly money left over to pay any membership fees. Apart from the two World Wars when football was postponed, they got to see as many home matches as they could, but they couldn't afford the money for many away matches.
I was born in 1943 and when I was eight my Dad would take me to see the Dons play at Plough Lane. I must admit it took a couple of seasons for me to get hooked enough to watch the matches for both halves. The Wandle had a calling which took my imagination and attention for at least some of the time - much to my dad's annoyance. However, once hooked, that was it. I went as often as I could and as I grew older, I would cycle to some away matches if Dad was working, or couldn't make it because mum had an urgent job for him to do. When I got home, I would have to give Dad a kick by kick account of the match he had missed. I can't remember how it came about, but when Harry Stannard got married, my Mum actually made his wedding cake and my dad iced it. A fact they were both very proud of.The obvious highlights of the 1960s were winning the FA Amateur Cup in 1963 (the year I got married), and the promotion from the Isthmian League to the Southern League a year later. The team then turned from amateur to professional.
In 1966, I emigrated to Australia so I couldn't attend the matches any more, but my Dad sent me the match reports from the local newspapers, and I kept a scrap book for many seasons, following the team's progress. My parents emigrated to Australia in 1970 and my Dad died in December 1987. I still feel "the man upstairs" was a bit mean because six months later we won the most cherished prize in soccer - the FA Cup (the picture above shows Dave Beasant lifting the famous cup). I would willingly have given six months of my life so that he could have seen the victory, but it was not to be. A friend did ease the bitter feeling a little when he said that Dad had been there at the match and had been in one of the best seats in the house. Who did I think whispered in Dave Beasant's ear "low, and left" when Wimbledon’s goalkeeper made THAT penalty save?
If we win the Lotto Draw, here in Australia, you can be sure the first thing I will buy is a return flight to the UK so that I will be able to see the Dons once again. My sons and I still follow the fortunes of our club, although they only got to see a few matches when they had their six-month holiday to the UK in January, 1995.
Thank-you for all the entertainment you have provided, and we all hope Wimbledon will be in the top-flight of English football again in the very near future.