Groundsman's memories and letters from fans
Derek Walder today recalled the night when he had the FA Cup in his living room after Wimbledon’s famous 1988 win against Liverpool.
Derek, who was Grounds Manager at Wimbledon FC’s Richardson Evans training ground, was entrusted with the safekeeping of the FA Cup after the club’s Wembley triumph.
The pictures above show Derek’s daughter Julie pictured with the FA Cup and the famous cup in his living room.
Though elated with the day’s events on 14 May, 1988, Derek said it was a night of little sleep for him.
“We came back to the training ground to have a staff party and Syd Neal our kitman said he did not know what to do with the cup,” said Derek. “It was suggested that I should take it because I lived on-site. I knew I had it until the morning because the cup was going to be picked up for the open-top bus parade.
“I had it in my living room, but I didn’t get much sleep that night because I was thinking about how valuable the FA Cup was! My son Adrian came home in the morning and within 10 minutes he had a few of his mates around. My daughter Julie also posed for a photograph with the cup. It was a wonderful time to be in football, but it has changed a lot.”
Derek, now aged 76, retired in 2000 after 26 years in his post, but he still works part-time for the Institute of Groundsmanship.
“I took early retirement because the job was not quite the same by then,” he added. “The lifeblood had gone out of the club. I follow AFC Wimbledon though and it is great to see that the spirit of the old Wimbledon still remains.”
We this evening publish another selection of your memories of Wimbledon’s historic 1988 FA Cup win after a fantastic response to our request on the official website.
for more information.FA Cup event anniversary of the day when the Crazy Gang stunned Liverpool , we will be showing a re-run of the match at the Cherry Red Records Stadium tonight (Tuesday) with FA Cup-winning manager Bobby Gould taking us through the full 90 minutes. Click on thTo mark the 25
Wimbledon supporter Martin Allen-Smith can still remember being taken aback by how many coaches set off from Plough Lane on the day of the match.
“I was 12 and had only been going to matches regularly for a year or so - what a time to start what has been a Dons obsession ever since! My brother took me to Wembley for the game. We were booked on one of the fleet of double-decker buses that left the industrial estate next to Plough Lane and I was just amazed at how many buses were lined up. I believe there was something in the region of 40 or 50.
“The match itself went by in such a blur, apart from the last bit of the match after Dave's penalty save, which felt like it lasted an eternity. It seemed to me then that Liverpool were bound to equalise - even at that young age I didn't dare let myself think that we could actually win the cup. Surely getting to the final had been the most we could ever have hoped for.
“The final whistle brought about crazy scenes. I remember being held up in the air like I was the cup itself by a fellow Wimbledon supporter who I didn't know. On the way back to the buses we encountered numerous Liverpool fans who, despite being understandably shell-shocked at the result, graciously congratulated us and shook our hands. Looking back, my one regret is that it happened before I was old enough to be able to round-off an incredible day with a few celebratory pints in the Sportsman!”
Stuart Stone, a Wimbledon fan for 38 years, certainly remembers the repercussions of his celebrations after his beloved club’s memorable victory.
“We rushed into the Alex on the Broadway and gulped down tons of celebratory drinks and then we went to the off licence just down the road and got beers and champagne. I don’t remember the rest of the night, but I do remember waking up curled up next to the toilets opposite the Town Hall and it was bright sunshine. I had the worst headache ever and I still had my flag wrapped around me at about 7.00 am. I quickly went home, had a shower, and came back to Wimbledon to celebrate again with my mates and to cheer the team in the open-top bus parade.”
Wimbledon supporter Rob Woodward, aged 34, attended the match and though his memories are hazy, he can remember seeing former Wimbledon striker Stewart Evans afterwards.
“I don't remember much about the game apart from feeling nervous, relieved that the Beardsley 'goal' was disallowed, the goal and the penalty save. I actually don't remember Goodyear's perfectly timed tackle that was harshly adjudged a foul...
After the final whistle, we went to the front to shake the hands of the players on the lap of honour. I do remember a bloke with a builder’s hat covered in Dons stickers standing next to me and it was this hat that ‘Lurch’ wears in the post-match interview. After the game we bumped into Stewart Evans in the Wembley concourse who hugged us before we headed home to Guildford with scarves waving from the car. Pretty much every other driver waved or tooted when they saw the scarves so maybe the Dons winning the cup wasn't the end of football as so many in the media had predicted.”
Russell Earl, a Dons Trust founder member and season ticket holder, did not attend the match, but it certainly made up for the pain of Wimbledon’s previous FA Cup exits.
“I was 15 years old at the time and was a member of the junior dons. I had supported the club since 1982 and although I never attended a match I followed them and remember listening on the radio to both the Forest victories. I was in tears following our loss to Tottenham in the previous season's FA Cup especially after our great 3-1 win over Everton. The following season I was convinced we would win following our win over Mansfield Town and when on a skiing school trip in Italy we played Newcastle United and no one took me seriously that we would win.
I got to see us with the Cup the following Monday at Alan Cork's testimonial. “As for the final itself I didn't go as my parents, who now attend more AFC matches, were not into football and I was too young to go on my own as we lived in Slough. I even remember having to go shopping in the morning so I missed the build-up, but we did watch the whole match and after it finished I remember running out of the house in my Truman's sponsored kit.
Paul Tempero was just 15 when he attended the match and meeting one of his heroes Dave Beasant many years later certainly lived up to expectations.
The penalty again had our nerves on edge – was it the inevitable comeback – but Beasant came to the rescue and the rest of the game was just a case of holding our breath. For much of the game I remember thinking that at some point Liverpool would spring to life but we held on and when we went ahead the whole place erupted. “Our vantage point was high in the stand but we could see everything.
I merely shook his hand, thanked him for that memory, and let him get on with his night. It was all I needed, what a legend."“By the time I got home, thefamily having watched on TV, I was shattered but had to watch all of the news programmes just to watch the highlights and convince myself that it had happened. Even typing this I can feel that sense of pride welling up inside and I am shot to pieces if I watch the highlights or the match, which I have ensured my kids have watched. I did bump into Dave Beasant at a Chelsea match at Stamford Bridge.