By Rob Cornell
Dave Beasant hasn’t actually watched Wimbledon’s 1988 FA Cup triumph back that often over three decades, but it’s thanks to our club shop that he now has a copy of the great day for keeps!
“I can remember getting a video copy of the game from the BBC and I don’t know where it’s gone!” said Dave. “I looked online when I heard that Wimbledon were selling them on DVD and I got my boys to buy it for me for as a Christmas present! I’ve seen it with them and looked through it.
“I was sitting next to ‘Sanch’ (Lawrie Sanchez) at the 30th Anniversary Dinner and he said he didn’t realise how many times he made tackles and how many times he actually touched the ball! I said, ‘goalkeepers caught the ball in those days and didn’t pat them away!’ People ask, ‘how many times have you seen it?’ The answer is not too many really!”
You can see the full interview with Dave Beasant below, via a link to our official YouTube channel.
Dave feels a strong attachment to the club he refers to as ‘my Wimbledon now’ and has kept a close eye on events that have led up to the return to Plough Lane.
“The club is part of my history,” said Dave, speaking at the recent dinner held at the club to commemorate Wimbledon’s FA Cup victory over Liverpool in 1988, which raised thousands of pounds for AFC Wimbledon Foundation. “It’s a big part of me and hopefully it’ll be ongoing for a long time to come.
“That’s the sad thing is that many players when they finish playing, they have an affiliation with their former club and they might do the match day hospitality because they want to be involved. My Wimbledon is no longer here, this is my Wimbledon now.
“I’ve had the inside story from Ivor Heller in terms of what’s going on with the club from a long time ago. In terms of the effort that’s gone into getting the club back to Plough Lane and to get the new stadium up and running, it’s been tremendous. The fact that everyone has fought so hard to get back there is testimony to the spirit and the never-say-die attitude of this football club.”
Dave is more qualified than anyone to talk about the great team spirit that guided Wimbledon to success through the 1980s. Having joined the Dons non-league Edgware, he was virtually ever-present during the rise to the top flight and, of course, captained the club to victory at Wembley as well as becoming the first goalkeeper to save a penalty in a final.
“We say about the spirit and what makes Wimbledon, and I think that it was when there was another bridge to cross you did it together,” said Dave. “You don’t just run across that bridge and leave someone on the other side – you help them across as well and I think that’s the way we’ve always been.
“I’m part of a WhatsApp group and I call it ‘the original Crazy Gang’ – the boys that started in the lower divisions and came through the divisions – Paul Fishenden, Kevin Gage, Wally Downes, Mark Morris, Andy Clement, John Gannon – all of them are on it. Wally started it up when he went to India, he was coaching out there and he got a bit bored, so he set this group up and it’s such a funny group because every day there is constant humour!”
The late, great Don Howe played a key role in not only helping Dave and his team-mates of thirty years ago to a famous victory, but also in his development and what was to follow as he went on to be capped by England.
Dave explained: “Don Howe was instrumental to us. He was a big part of it for me as well. Bobby Gould brought him in and we were having chats. There was talk about offers coming in for me and moving on and I said ‘I don’t think I’ll ever play for England, playing for Wimbledon’, because no-one liked the way we were! Don said to me, ‘No, I’ll tell you something, you’re in our thoughts’.
“He was the England coach, but he really enjoyed being a part of Wimbledon. I think it was a breath of fresh air for him as well; the fact that he was from the ‘cultured’ Arsenal background and he came to Wimbledon, who were supposed to be ‘a bunch of thugs’ and kicked the ball long, but he really brought into it and added to it.”
Photo: Dave Beasant with Terry Gibson and Lawrie Sanchez at the 30th Anniversary Dinner, held at AFC Wimbledon (Credit: Matt Redman).
Look out soon for an interview with Lawrie Sanchez, the winning goal scorer in the 1988 FA Cup Final, on the official website.