An insight into Wimbledon's rise on Dons Player
Golden memories of Wimbledon’s amazing promotion success during the 1980s came flooding back at “The Crazy Gang” book launch – and Mick Smith believes that Dave ‘Harry’ Bassett never quite got the recognition he deserved for it.
Smith, who played a key role in Wimbledon’s four year rise from the old Fourth Division to the top-flight, was speaking during an in-depth interview for Dons Player.
In a treat for older fans, interviews by WDON commentator Rob Cornell with Smith, Paul Fishenden, Vaughan Ryan and Gary Peters can all be viewed on Dons Player. An interview with Wally Downes is also still available to view.
Smith, who is pictured above (centre) with Francis Joseph (left) and Dave Beasant (right) at the book launch event, said: “I don’t think 'Harry' ever got the credit he deserved. When he left everything seemed to be transferred with everyone saying it was Bobby Gould’s team that went to the cup final. Some of those players only played for the club for two or three years.
“With the Crazy Gang and Wimbledon’s rise I think we are talking about a number of years before that too and Dave never got enough recognition from within the football world. He brought together a bunch of lads and formed them, not only tactically, but into a team of men that became very successful.
“He was the main man and was in charge. For me, we were always frightened of him. We were glad to have a job and to do what we were doing. He used to cajole that and say ‘you will get a tenner rise this year’ and we were going for new contracts. If I got a £10 rise in the whole year I would be happy!
“You would be on about £300 a week, but it was all bonus-led and success driven. You could treble your wages in a week by winning three games. The way the game is today if players are on £40,000 a week for four years, but they are not doing their jobs properly, then they still have that contract.
“The FA Cup win was great for Wimbledon in 1988 and great for football. It was always portrayed as Bobby’s team though, but it was Harry’s. He brought the guys up with a way of playing that earned success and Bobby never changed that pattern of play. That’s why I say Harry never got the recognition he deserved.”
The Crazy Gang book is labelled as “The True Inside Story of Football’s Greatest Miracle” and it went on general sale last week. to order online.Wimbledon StoryClick on