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Ian's special Monza return

26 July 2013

Dons great retained Italian mementos

previous trip to Italy with Wimbledon ended in Anglo-Italian Cup defeat at the hands of Monza, but he has kept his runner’s-up medal in a safe place because it reminds him of a special time in his life.Ian Cooke’s 

Wimbledon’s former striker, who captained the club and became a favourite with fans for his goalscoring exploits in the 1970s, is pictured above with memorabilia from that night 37 years ago when the Dons were controversially defeated 1-0.

Ian, who will be back in Monza to watch Wimbledon in tomorrow’s pre-season friendly in Italy, admits his memories of that match are hazy, but it was a hugely significant time for him.

, Ian recalled: “It was a good time for Wimbledon; the club was on a roll and heading towards the Football League. We had won the Southern League and making the trip to Italy put the icing on the cake. Though it was a disappointment to lose, it was a great experience and we really enjoyed ourselves.Dons PlayerSpeaking during a seven-minute interview for

made a right mess of someone’s room. I cannot recall whose room it was, but the player went back there at 1.00 am in the morning and there was not much there!”Roger Connell and Dave Bassett“My son Anthony had been born in the April before we made the trip and I asked the club if I could take my wife and three children. We therefore took our six-week old baby on the plane with us and the Italian people made such a fuss of us; it was like Saint Anthony had arrived in Monza! We went to a couple of receptions in Monza and the people were so nice. We stayed in a hotel in Sorrento and had a holiday away. I can remember though that

On the match itself, Ian said: “Monza played a typical Italian style of keep-ball, but we gave a good account of ourselves. The whole experience in Italy was great. I can remember that there was a good crowd at Monza, a lot of noise, and it was a very competitive game. The Italians would play their strongest sides over there, something a lot of the teams couldn’t do over here because their players had jobs.

was very upset with the referee afterwards.”Allen Batsford“There were not many chances for either side, but Monza won it with a deflected free-kick. Two of our players got sent off and I know that

Defeat in the Anglo-Italian Cup Final hardly took the gloss off Wimbledon’s superb achievements under Allen Batsford though as the former Walton & Hersham manager led to the Dons to a Southern League treble and promotion into the Football League. There was also that memorable FA Cup run when Wimbledon defeated top-flight Burnley and took Leeds United to a replay.

“I owe so much to Allen for those successes towards the end of my career with Southern League titles and the FA Cup run providing the highlights. All of that came about because of Allen, who made me captain when he became manager at Wimbledon. Allen was a perfectionist; every player understood what was required of them, he had a system and he stuck to that.

“We used to practice set-pieces for ages, both defending and attacking from them. We would get down to the club at midday on a matchday; we did a bit of warming up, but we were there to go through the free-kicks and corners. That was how we scored so many of our goals because we were so organised. If it had not been for Allen my Wimbledon career would have been mediocre.”

Dons Player subscribers can now watch the full video interview with Ian Cooke on our premium site.

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