Wimbledon great Dave Bassett can see potential within our current squad, as this weekend’s FA Cup tie conjured up memories of when his side faced West Ham almost 34 years ago.
Dave, affectionately known as “Harry”, guided the Dons to the top flight over a six year period in the 1980s - which included Cup battles against the Hammers along the way. In a special, two-part interview on our official YouTube channel, the former Dons boss recalled when “The Crazy Gang” met West Ham back in 1985.
“We did well,” said Dave speaking in the second part of our in-depth chat, which looks ahead to the fourth round match. “I remember at home, we equalised late on (through Stewart Evans). Glyn Hodges reminded me he hit the post in that game. I was talking to Tony Cottee about it and he said they felt they were lucky to get away with 1-1 at Plough Lane. It was a bit different when we went to West Ham. The replay was on the Tuesday, straight after the home game had taken a lot out of us. After the initial half hour I could see we weren’t quite at the races. They were a good side and to be fair they gave us a spanking in the second-half.
“We were on the way. It was our first season in the Second Division, as it was called at the time. We’d come out the Third Division and we were doing okay in the league. People were expecting us to be bottom and we weren’t. We had the nucleus of a squad because of players like Wally and Glyn. Alan Cork was a very good player, Stewart Evans contributed, Mick Smith and Mark Morris were good enough centre-halves at that time and there was Nigel Winterburn, Kevin Gage and Dave Beasant.”
Dave thinks that Wimbledon face a tough task in their bid to cause an FA Cup upset on this occasion, when the two clubs meet at the Cherry Red Records Stadium on Saturday night, but he believes Wimbledon’s young talent can shine on the big stage.
“It’s going to be hard, because I think it’s a little bit harder to do it now,” said Dave. “It’s going to be a difficult game. If West Ham come with the right attitude, which you expect them to, they’ll be expected to win as some of their players are technically proficient. Some of our players are developing, but nobody is saying some of them can’t progress and improve like the team I had.
“Will Nightingale and Terell Thomas are young and they can take the next step, but it needs the team to develop really. In terms of the young players, Nightingale has made vast improvements and he is not old. If other Wimbledon youngsters are prepared to learn and apply their trade and practice they can determine where they go. It’s the opportunity.”
Please note Dons fans with a previous purchase history still have time to grab one of the last few terrace tickets for Saturday's big match!
The first part of our interview, in which Dave gave his reaction to the appointment of Wally Downes and Glyn Hodges, is available below via a link to our official YouTube channel.
In the second part of our in-depth chat, "Harry" looks back over when his side met West Ham in the mid-eighties, previews Saturday evening's tie and his thoughts on the club's future. You can see part two via the link below.