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Wembley glory started it all

16 May 2013

FA Amateur Cup win provided a launchpad for Mike and Wimbledon

Mike Kelly’s memories of Wimbledon’s 1963 FA Amateur Cup win are understandably hazy, but he has certainly not forgotten the significance of that achievement for the club and his own career.

anniversary of the club’s first Wembley win.thWimbledon’s goalkeeper for that 4-2 win against Sutton United was at Saturday’s end of season dinner that commemorated the 50

Mike (pictured far right in the above picture with team-mates from that day) went onto enjoy a professional football career with QPR and Birmingham in the top flight, before working as a goalkeeping coach at World Cups with England and Switzerland. Despite having such an illustrious career, Mike, who retired from football two years ago, told the official website that the FA Amateur Cup win still has a special place in his heart.

“I left Wimbledon three years later and went onto play professional football at QPR and Birmingham after that and I have coached all over the world,” Mike said. “But that day was a stepping stone for me and I remember my times at Wimbledon very fondly. The club was run very professionally for an amateur club and you would not get a better chairman than Sydney Black. He laid the foundations for this club and set the standards for Wimbledon to follow. It means a lot for me to be at Wimbledon and to meet up with my team-mates from that day at tonight’s event.

“I cannot remember much about the day because I was only 20 then and the pictures I have seen tonight are the only memories I have got of the game. Someone stole all my photographs years ago that I had of the final so I’ve not had those to look back at. But I know that they were great times at Wimbledon back then. We had fantastic support at Plough Lane. We had 15,000 supporters watching us against Colchester and over 10,000 against Tooting & Mitcham because it was a local derby. I am a North London boy originally, but I came through the youth and reserve teams at Wimbledon. I still look out for the Wimbledon results because the club means a lot to me.”

Despite being a professional goalkeeper in the English top flight, Mike’s career as a goalkeeping coach has been particularly colourful. After starting his coaching badges in his early 20s, he met current England manager Roy Hodgson while attending a course and that later led to coaching opportunities alongside him with Switzerland, Fulham and Liverpool. He also served as goalkeeping coach for England under Bobby Robson from 1984 until 1990.

“I retired two years ago and my wife told me that I had never done a day’s work because it has always been football,” Mike added. “I started coaching when I was young and I have been very lucky since to have known the right people. I have worked with the best managers in English football over the years with the likes of Don Howe, Dave Sexton, Terry Venables and Bobby Robson.

“I have been a coach at World Cups and also worked in Australia, China and the UAE. In more recent years I was coach at Fulham with Roy when we stayed up on the final day of the season.”

Of course, Wimbledon pulled off their own great escape on the final day of 2012/13 and Mike hopes that lessons have been learned for the future.

“I was here for the Fleetwood game,” he added. “The club did fantastic coming through the leagues, but they had a warning shot last season. They have to make sure that does not happen again. The history of this club is based on moving upwards and I am sure they can do that again. If Wimbledon can move back to Merton I think everything will fall into place.”

The picture above was taken by Zoe Linkson.

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