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Yeovil win started it all

28 January 2016

Goal from Billy Edwards in 1974 paved the way to glory

A goal against Yeovil Town over four decades ago was the catalyst for an epic chapter in Wimbledon’s history, according to the man who scored it.

On 20 August 1974, left-back Billy Edwards was an unlikely goalscoring hero as Wimbledon earned a first victory under new manager Allen Batsford. It came against the men from Somerset, who were to become big rivals in the coming seasons.

opening day defeat at Nuneaton was hardly the stuff of Champions. Batsford had taken over at a difficult time as he was left with just seven contracted players and a 2-0

However, a 1-0 win against Yeovil at Plough Lane was the start of a 26-game unbeaten league run and the remarkable FA Cup run that included beating then top-flight Burnley, before taking Leeds United to a replay.

The picture above shows Dickie Guy making a save to deny Leeds at Elland Road.

Speaking earlier this week, Edwards recalled his goal in the win against Yeovil Town and the astute managerial skills of that man Batsford.

“It came from a long throw-in with Keiron Somers knocking it down and I whacked it in from just inside the box,” said Edwards. “We practiced getting on the end of second balls a lot. Allen was ahead of his time as a manager. He put a big emphasis on fitness and organisation, but we also had good players and the right mix as a team.

“We spent a lot of time working on defending set-pieces. We would have all areas of the penalty box protected, including the near post and the six-yard box. We seldom conceded from set-pieces. We also spent a lot of time pressurising from front to back. It’s all still the same principles and people in football now talk about these things like they are something special.”

Games against Yeovil were always hard-fought affairs – Edwards recalled one match in particular when tempers became frayed - and beating them in August 1974 at Plough Lane led to a glorious season.

“The win against Yeovil started everything off,” added Edwards. “It came on a Tuesday night after defeat at Nuneaton and it was the start of a long unbeaten run. It all went on from there and history was made. The club had been in the doldrums for a long time, but this was the start of a great few years for Wimbledon.

“There was always a good crowd down at Yeovil when we played there and they had a pitch that sloped from side to side. I can remember one game against them when one of their players tried to stir things up, but Harry Bassett, Ian Cooke and Selwyn Rice ganged up on him. We never feared anybody. That season was a defining one for the club with the FA Cup run. We only used about 14 players all season, but we had intelligent players. We were fit and strong as a team.

“Once we started on a roll that season there was a great atmosphere at Plough Lane. We didn’t lose many games there. It was a proper ground and a great place to play football.”

Edwards is unable to make Saturday’s game against Yeovil as he had already arranged to visit family in Ireland, but he still stays in contact with his former team-mates, including Dave Bassett and Ian Cooke.

  to book online.Yeovil TicketsTerrace tickets are still available to watch the Dons on Saturday. Click on   

  for more information.HospitalityIan Cooke will be talking in more depth about those glory days and the rivalry with Yeovil in pre-match hospitality before Saturday’s game. Click on 

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