On This Day: Wimbledon eject Everton from the FA Cup, 1987
Plenty complained about them at the time, but by intercourse, the league couldn’t half do with (proper) Wimbledon now – think Stoke but with charm, personality, genuine hardness and genuine nutters. And a manager not a total bell. And fans who didn’t fancy themselves. So nothing like Stoke at all.
1986-87 was their first season in the top division, and despite the gloomy predictions of all who weren’t them, led the table for a couple of weeks in September. Then, in November, they beat Manchester United, who were useless but retained some conceptual value – which reminds me of anecdote from the previous month, concerning a future United player. Before Wimbledon’s October game with Norwich, Steve Bruce was asked whether he was nervous about facing John Fashanu, and, naturally, replied in the negative. A day or two later, who should telephone but Fashanu himself, taking a break from persecuting his brother to warn: “I hear you’re not scared of me. Well, I’ll see you on the back post at five past three, when our heads will mince”. Trepidation duly ensued.
Nonetheless, it was this game with Everton that was Wimbledon’s real coming out party, the Toffees top of the league and on the way to a second title in three seasons. “Don’t try and be clever and pretty because you’re on the television”, warned Dave Bassett in his pep talk; Norfolk in chance. “Let’s be nice and competitive, aggressive, and win the fucking game.” Much chance.
Initially, things went as expected, Everton taking the lead through Paul Wilkinson – crivens, does he really have a league champions medal? – but in the last twenty minutes of the half, Wimbledon took over. The equaliser came from a penalty, won via a classic Fashanu manouevre; first he shook off Gary Stevens with maximum power and ostentation, then flung himself gracefully to the ground to elicit the decision. Gage’s kick was saved by Southall, but Hodges followed up, and one-all was the half-time score.
After a minor dressing room shoeing from Bassett, Wimbledon were welcomed back out for the second period with some small singing and large glasses. And one lady shouting “‘ave ‘im Nigel” – unlikely, given that the “Nigel” in question is of the grundy-grunting Winterburn variety.
Soon enough, though, Wimbledon were ahead, Sayer running onto Fairweather’s knockdown and Fashanu rifling home the rebound after his effort was saved. And another Beasant hoof later it was three-one, Sayer collecting Fashanu’s flick on the burst and sticking the ball past Southall with minimum fuss – “Wimbledon carve another huge hole in the Everton defence, and maybe carve another niche in history” surmised Motty, reminding you that he wasn’t always a squeaking, doddering toy.
Photo thanks to Well Offside