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if you know your history

In the first of what may become many, w&ww brings you a delve into the past. Written by Dons supporters, from the heart, to the heart. However long you've been going, there was a Wimbledon FC before you turned up. If you know your history will document an era, a player, or even a game.

If you would like to add to this collection of historical features please feel free to mail me here at w&ww.



EDDIE REYNOLDS, A TRUE DON - by Pat Bailey

Eddie Reynolds
Eddie Reynolds-

goal machine.

 

I began my life-time love affair with the Dons at Plough Lane in 1958; I was 10 years old.

At the end of my first season Wimbledon were League Champions, beating Dulwich Hamlet into second place by 6 points. Eddie Reynolds, who had joined the club during the previous season (scoring 17 goals in 20 appearances) scored 40 goals in 40 appearances this time round. Striking partner Brian Martin scored 30 goals as well.

The team that developed into the Amateur Cup Winners had begun to take shape even then, but by 1962 a truly invincible side was emerging. Mike Kelly in goal, John Martin at right back, Roy Law at centre-half and captain, Ted Murphy (left midfield), Les Brown (winger), Brian Martin at number eight, Geoff Hamm, at inside left and of course Eddie Reynolds.


Many people talk about the rise from total obscurity that was achieved by the Dons, but in truth they were never an ordinary side, at one stage fielding ten English amateur internationals (Eddie Reynolds was an Irish International).


The club had a classic 'spine'- the best 'keeper, (Kelly), the best centre half (Law) and the best centre forward in the amateur game. Wimbledon were known as the Arsenal of amateur football. If fact it was Arsenal who inaugurated our floodlights at Plough Lane in a friendly, played in October 1959.

In those days the Dons played in the Isthmian League, with mostly South London opponents, the 'big' North London teams such as Enfield and Barnet played in the Athenian League. Apart from League matches, we played in the FA Cup, FA Amateur Cup, Surrey Senior Cup, London Senior Cup, London Challenge Cup (against the reserve sides of Chelsea, Spurs, Arsenal, Fulham, West Ham and so on.), and the South of the Thames Cup. Fixtures became very congested for a successful club, and I remember the Final of the South of the Thames Cup twice being held over as the first game of the following season. All the Cups seemed to have priority over League matches so the last five or six weeks of the season usually meant three games a week, including one classic day when we played a home and an away League match on the same day - the reserves were pretty good too. One season in the early sixties, we played Tooting & Mitcham - our greatest rivals - twice in the league and on five other occasions in various cups.

 

When I was at school in Merton (Pelham), everyone either supported Chelsea (as their pro team) and the Dons (both played in blue and white) or Fulham and Tooting & Mitcham (both played in black and white). The school had a day off when Brian Martin (a former pupil) won his first England cap, and he came round to the school with his cap and England shirt, a couple of weeks later.

Both sides had legendary centre forwards, Tooting had Paddy Hasty and we had Eddie Reynolds (who had joined us from Tooting when understudy to Hasty) It was not uncommon for Eddie to score 50 goals in a season, many with his head, but he also had a fierce shot.


Brian Martin & Roy Law
Brian Martin & Roy Law.


Although Reynolds scored far more goals than John Fashanu did, there were considerable similarities. Neither man took prisoners, and both were feared by defences everywhere. Amongst the injuries suffered by Eddie Reynolds in the Dons cause, were a broken nose (three times), a broken wrist and a broken arm, a fractured ankle, and cartilage problems in both knees.

Apart, of course, from his historic four goals in the Final against Sutton, the goal I remember most was bizarrely scored against St Albans in a 3-1 Isthmian League win. Eddie had a habit of standing, menacingly, on the edge of the penalty box when goal kicks were taken. On this occasion, the St Albans goalkeeper powered the ball straight at Reynolds' head. It flashed passed the keeper into the net with even more power than the original kick.

In 1963/4 the Dons were being investigated by the FA for illegal payments and rather than let that investigation continue, the Dons turned professional and joined the Southern League in time for the 1964/5 season. At the time, most supporters felt that it was not really a step forward, as the SL teams seemed to be full of ancient olds pros, and we had got used to seeing rising young amateur stars in the Isthmian. Our one consolation was that most of the amateur side signed on as professionals, and Reynolds had quite a season, including ten goals (three hat-tricks) in three successive matches.


EDDIE REYNOLDS GOALSCORING RECORD
1957/8
17 goals
20 appearances
1958/9
40 goals
40 appearances
LEAGUE CHAMPIONS
1959/60
47 goals
37 appearances
1960/1
55 goals
48 appearances
1961/2
55 goals
46 appearances
LEAGUE CHAMPIONS
1962/3
53 goals
51 appearances
AMATEUR CUP WINNERS, LEAGUE CHAMPIONS
1963/4
33 goals
33 appearances
LEAGUE CHAMPIONS
Wimbledon turn professional
1964/5
57 goals
49 appearances
(plus 10 goals in the Reserves !)
PROMOTED AS RUNNERS UP IN SOUTHERN LEAGUE

In 1965/6 Eddie Reynolds, unable to hold down a regular first team place, was transferred to Ashford Town.

Reynolds scores against Bedford at Plough Lane

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