Stephen Crabtree today features a real highlight for Wimbledon in a campaign overshadowed by doubts over the club itself.
Completing the double over Manchester City, the eventual Division One (then second tier) Champions, showed what Wimbledon were still capable of, but matters off the pitch during the 2001/02 season were now grabbing all the attention.
Stephen, who is the Editor of the Historical Don, below sums up the home victory against a side then managed by Kevin Keegan, as part of his look-back at memorable matches during July.
Sunday 3rd February 2002: Nationwide Division One
Wimbledon (1) 2 Shipperley 34, 69
Manchester City (0) 1 Bernabia 54
A season-long struggle for control was coming to a head as the Dons beat table-topping Manchester City 18 years ago. With the ITV cameras relaying the action from SE25 live to the nation, fans protested against relocation to Milton Keynes in front of the watching millions, while on the pitch Wimbledon’s players humbled their illustrious visitors. Two Neil Shipperley goals, both coming from Neal Ardley’s set plays, gave Terry Burton’s underachieving side victory.
“Wimbledon have done a double over us and pummelled us both times,” City boss Kevin Keegan commented after his side’s first defeat of the year. “I don’t know why Wimbledon are in mid-table. They deserved to win as my side wasn’t in it. We thought we were going to stroll through.”
The visitors' miserable afternoon was compounded when former England international Stuart Pearce was sent off in the final minute, adding to the club's growing disciplinary issues.
City’s problems were nothing compared to those faced by Wimbledon. While the club’s hierarchy claimed that a move to the Buckinghamshire new town was the only solution to their financial woes, supporters demanded the removal of the Norwegian owners and the entire board. At the end of the season, the Mancunian giants were promoted as champions while the Dons’ fans were forced to start again - ignoring those who said that a new club ‘was not in the wider interests of football’.
Wimbledon: Davis, Holloway, Andersen, Cunningham, Hawkins, Ardley, Francis, Hughes, Cooper, Agyemang (McAnuff 90), Shipperley.
The picture above shows Neil Shipperley heading home the winner.