By Rob Cornell
Ian Cooke has many great memories of his time as a Wimbledon striker at Plough Lane and he believes the new stadium move will attract a new generation of supporters.
“Hopefully we can at least double our gate up to nearer the ten thousand mark, because that would help to promote the club and take the club even further forward,” said Ian.
“When we moved to Crystal Palace and then reformed and moved to Kingsmeadow, I’m sure there must have been a lot of people living in this area who didn’t make the journey with us, for one reason or another.
“Maybe it will attract those people to come back and also, being a very residential area, there’s going to be a lot of people that would like to come and watch us and they would be very welcome.”
The former Dons favourite was speaking as demolition work started recently at the site of Wimbledon Stadium, where the club’s new ground will be built on Plough Lane and is scheduled to open next year.
“For me, it’s the next stage in Wimbledon’s development, a momentous day, a day when we can start to think of a stadium as our own and then working on from there.”
You can see the full interview with Ian Cooke below, via a link to our official YouTube channel.
Ian first joined Wimbledon FC in 1963 as an amateur and made his first team debut a year later. His journey with the club as a player lasted fourteen years and went from non-league to the verge of election to the Football League, with some memorable FA Cup occasions along the way.
“Looking back, the Allen Batsford era started the forward march. That took us to where we are now – God bless him,” recalled Ian of his former manager.
“I’m sure that when we have our first match, there will be a lot of ex-Wimbledon players that would like to be there and they too would be very welcome to come. We’ll have a good re-union on that day!
“It very much reminded me of a Selwyn Rice tackle, when the digger moved in to begin demolition work. I speak to Selwyn quite frequently and I’m always reminded of when I collided with him in training! I only got a small brush against him, but he was so solid it hurt you! He still comes to see us quite frequently.”
In total, Ian made 615 appearances and scored an incredible 297 goals – making him the second highest, in both categories, in the history of Wimbledon Football Club. When the club reformed as AFC Wimbledon in 2002, he initially became a director of the club and he still regularly follows the Dons to both home and away matches.
Ian is pictured scoring for Wimbledon against Kingstonian at Plough Lane in the FA Cup, 4th Qualifying Round tie in November 1975.