By Rob Cornell
Terry Gibson is adamant good times lie ahead for AFC Wimbledon and he's delighted that the "essence" of the club he played for continues to thrive at the Dons.
“The essence of this club is exactly the same as the old club,” said Terry. “It’s an achievement that so many people should be proud of and you know what?! It isn’t going to end there! I know and hopefully I’m around long enough to see they get back to where they belong.”
The former Wimbledon striker was speaking after the 30th Anniversary Dinner at the club to commemorate the victory over Liverpool in the 1988 FA Cup Final.
“The whole story really is incredible. To think where they’ve come from – actually getting up and doing something about it. I have loads of ideas of getting up and taking action and doing stuff, but this was a major idea and it needed work. It needed a huge commitment from a huge amount of people and I am so grateful that they’ve done it!
“It was so wrong what happened to this football club, I was part of the team that moved to Selhurst Park. I kind of sensed it might be the end of the club, because we lost our spirit, we lost our home. It wasn’t any good for us as players to play in an empty stadium that didn’t belong to us and the club was scratching around and searching from then on. It was allowed to happen to Wimbledon because they had a smaller fan base than many other top flight clubs.
“It should never have been allowed to happen and I’m so grateful that the club still exists in this form. That makes it even more remarkable; 16 years that they’ve managed promotions, surviving in the third-tier of English football.”
The full interview with Terry Gibson is available below, via a link to our official YouTube channel.
"Gibbo" recalled how he came to join the Crazy Gang in the first place back in 1987 and quite a few other memorable tales, old and new, at a sold-out event that raised £10,000 for AFC Wimbledon Foundation.
“It was down to Bobby Gould – right time, right place,” said Terry. He took over at Wimbledon and he brought me when I left Spurs to go to Coventry and I had a really good time with Bobby as manager, scored lots of goals. He’d just got the job at Wimbledon and he asked me if I’d be interested in joining. I was not getting as much game-time at Manchester United as I was hoping for, I detested reserve team football. I wanted to play first-team football in the First Division, preferably back in London, although it wasn’t the be all and end all.
“Bobby was fortunately in a position to offer me an opportunity. It cost me a lot of money! I lost half a week’s wages every week I played for Wimbledon, compared to what I was earning at Manchester United, but I knew what was at stake and I wanted to get on enjoying my football again, play first-team football and low and behold, we won the FA Cup in my first season here!
“People realised what Wimbledon stood for. They were upsetting people. There was a bit of fun involved. I was genuinely excited at the prospect of not knowing what I was walking into. There were characters that weren’t particularly big names at the time, the likes of Vinnie Jones who had scored against Manchester United in a previous game was making a name for himself. They’d risen from the lower leagues.
“They were doing it with a smile on their face, but with a snarl on their face when they were crossing the white line. It appeared a fun place to be, as opposed to the Manchester Unted’s of this world, where the pressure was intense. I knew when I joined Wimbledon they were capable of finishing in the top ten and they could have good cup runs.”
The camaraderie and team spirit among the Crazy Gang were key ingredients to their success. Things were done a little differently, compared to the “football establishment” back in the day. They even had their own, unique way of preparing for the Cup Final by heading to the pub on the eve of the game, as Terry explained:
“I didn’t have a drink much and I wasn’t going to start the evening before the FA Cup Final! One or two of the players might have had half a pint. It was just literally a walk up the common, walk into the pub and take away the pressure of the work environment, where we’d spent the afternoon and evening training, eating at meal time. We were going to have three or four hours kicking our heels and probably getting more nervous.
“It helped that for a change we were altogether. We were in there no more than five or six hours! No! Half an hour to an hour at the most! When we came back it was quite surreal as we were on our own, just been down the pub as mates and the next day we were playing probably the best team in Europe, in front of thousands of people at Wembley and in danger of getting embarrassed, if we didn’t do it properly!”
Look out soon for interviews with Wimbledon captain Dave Beasant and Lawrie Sanchez, the goal scorer on that great day at Wembley, on the official website.