Dons Player interview ahead of Tuesday's club celebrations
They had a playing style that divided opinion, but Dave Beasant says that no one could question the Wimbledon fighting spirit that swept the Dons to FA Cup glory in 1988.
anniversary of that memorable day, the rebirth of AFC Wimbledon and the progress of Neal Ardley as Wimbledon manager.th, the man who saved John Aldridge’s penalty to defy Liverpool at Wembley talked about the 25Dons PlayerDuring an interview for
.FA Cup anniversaryAFC Wimbledon will tomorrow night be celebrating a quarter of a century since the Crazy Gang’s historic win by showing a re-run of the whole match from 14 May, 1988, at the Cherry Red Records Stadium with Bobby Gould providing a unique commentary. For information about this event and how to book tickets, click on
Dave Beasant spoke to the official website at Saturday’s end of season dinner and, ironically, the interview was conducted while Wigan were pulling off another memorable FA Cup upset against Man City. The picture above (taken by Zoe Linkson) shows Dave Beasant (right) alongside Dickie Guy and Seb Brown.
earlier today.Dons PlayerBelow is the full Q & A with Dave Beasant, which appeared on
I am delighted to say that joining us tonight at AFC Wimbledon is Dave Beasant. It may be a different environment to Plough Lane, but the heart of the old Wimbledon is still here. How does it feel to be here tonight?
This is where the heart of Wimbledon Football Club is with the fans led by Ivor Heller. The fans rediscovered the club by forming AFC Wimbledon and starting at a low level. Now they are rightly back in the Football League. We were all biting our fingernails on the last day of the season and I don’t think tonight would have been one to look forward to if Wimbledon had not stayed in the Football League.
That memorable day is nearly a quarter of a century ago, but does it feel like yesterday in some ways?
kind of gives it away a little bit. It is amazing; I have been at Wembley today again doing a few things and Bobby Gould was there too. When you say 25 years it seems such a long time ago and I guess the fact that my son was born on the eve of the semi-final
What was the key to success on THAT day in 1988?
Though the FA Cup win was Wimbledon’s greatest day, it was in a way the beginning. The vultures circled for the good players we had in that team. Other teams did not like playing us, they did not like what we did, and a lot of that was because we beat them. As soon as we had that success other managers starting to see that we had good players within that unit. I was the first to leave Wimbledon, but the good thing was the money that was generated by the sales because the value of the players went up. I think it was the fact that we were a decent team. We believed in each other and that played a big part. We had that trust in each other and everyone knew their jobs. If someone did not do their job, then they would have not just the captain or the manager to contend with, but nine other voices shouting at them. That would make sure you were doing your job!
How many times have you watched the penalty back?
I do not watch it back personally, but every time there is a cup final I get to see it. I think I will be getting wheeled out in a wheelchair at Wembley when I am 80 because it is cup final day! It is great though because it is something I am remembered for and every cup final day I end up at Wembley one way or another.
You were quoted on Wigan FC’s official website talking about their chances against Manchester City in today’s FA Cup Final. How important is it for this competition that the underdogs continue to flourish?
I just happened to be up at Wigan the other week and some of the senior players there thought that I had been brought in to tell them what it was like to be playing in an FA Cup Final and how it could be won! It was just a coincidence though. Wigan’s story is in a similar vein to Wimbledon’s. They were in the lower divisions, albeit they did not come up in such a short space of time as Wimbledon did. But it is a similar story and although they are in the same division as Man City, there is a tremendous contrast between the two clubs.
Are you still in touch with some of the lads from 1988?
I regularly see Lawrie Sanchez and Terry Gibson and there are a few others that I bump into from time to time. There are players that I have not seen since the cup final though and hopefully a few of them will be here tonight.
Neal Ardley has just led the current Wimbledon to survival and you know him fairly well from your time with the Dons and at Watford. What can you tell us about Neal back then?
I was a professional here at Wimbledon when ‘Ards’ was a young lad coming through the ranks at the club and he obviously went onto have a good playing career. At the end of my career I did not have a contract at the beginning of one season and my local club was Watford so I went and trained with them. I got to know Neal Ardley and Neil Cox quite well then. Whenever I am down here I do not even have to knock and I just barge my way into the manager’s office!
Was Neal the type of person you thought that would go onto become a good manager?
Neal knew what he was talking about as a player and was a good footballer. Then he went onto serve his apprenticeship coaching at Cardiff’s academy. I know that is a bit different from managing at Football League level, but he has made the transition well and I was really pleased when Neal helped Wimbledon to survival.