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Wimbledon v Liverpool: How the Crazy Gang made FA Cup history

Wimbledon v Liverpool: How the Crazy Gang made FA Cup history
wimbledon-v-liverpool-how-the-crazy-gang-made-fa-cup-history


As Liverpool fans headed for a venue they http://www.officialpredatorsstore.com/authentic-18-james-neal-jersey.html dubbed 'Anfield South', a raw and unapologetically ambitious enemy waited to inflict a Wembley nightmare. Wimbledon - dubbed the 'Crazy Gang' because of their rugged style and infamous dressing-room antics - lay in wait for the champions of England, seeking a second double in three years as they entered the 1988 FA Cup final. The Reds had enjoyed a decade of domestic and European dominance. Wimbledon by contrast, had been playing non-league football just 11 years earlier. Tales of Wimbledon mischief often draw smiles, but also frustrate those closest to the club who refer to a "well-drilled" operation. Their story is synonymous with the FA Cup, but just how exactly did they undo Kenny Dalglish's side? As League Two's AFC Wimbledon and Liverpool prepare to face off in the competition on Monday, BBC Sport speaks to former Liverpool players Gary Gillespie and Ray Houghton, ex-Wimbledon players Vinnie Jones, Lawrie Sanchez and Dave Beasant, as well as Ivor Heller, the fan who would go on to co-found AFC Wimbledon 14 years later. How do you prepare for a meeting with a Liverpool side braced for their 21st Wembley appearance in 15 years? Wimbledon manager Bobby Gould sent his players to the pub on the eve of the final, but not everyone involved could stay so relaxed. Gary Gillespie: "We played the Tuesday night before the final against Luton and me and team-mate Nigel Spackman clashed heads and ended up spending the night in hospital. "We did our fitness test in a hotel corridor. Roy Evans and Ronnie Moran threw balls and we headed them as best we could. It hurt but we were so desperate to play." Ray Houghton: "I was more nervous than usual. The favourites Colin Wilson Womens Jersey tag was on my mind and I didn't sleep much. The papers were talking of a rout and that type of opinion seemed everywhere." Dave Beasant: "There was a mass self-belief in our side but we played Manchester United on the Monday night, went 1-0 up and suddenly tackles started flying in. One or two of them were saying we shouldn't go into tackles if we wanted to play in the final. I'd say it was one of the first times we'd lost a physical battle. "The FA Cup was different then to now. It was the be-all and end-all. I can recall us doing a promo for the Clothes Show on TV. We'd all had our suits made and had to model them, each doing silly walks. I look back now and it's cringe-worthy." Ivor Heller: "The night before, we went to Plough Lane [Wimbledon's former ground] and there was a disco in the club bar and sitting on his own was the manager of the 1974-75 side Allen Batsford. He started Wimbledon's giant-killing mentality. Not only was I talking to someone I regarded as a legend, but it was like an electric shock through to my boots to hear him talk of just how big this occasion was." Gould set the clocks in the Wembley dressing room two minutes slow so his team kept the English champions waiting in the tunnel. When they emerged, Jones and John Fashanu bellowed "yidaho" in an attempt to wind up their cavalry of team-mates further. Lawrie Sanchez: "In the tunnel, you stood there for longer than normal in a final and there we were, four feet apart. The shout went up from Vinnie, he had this cry a cowboy would give. One or two joined in. I expected a response but Liverpool just kept their heads down. I'm not saying it was crucial, but from that moment, I think they knew we were not intimidated by them." Houghton: "Honestly, I remember nothing about it. It may be disrespectful to Liverpool players who had been in a European Cup final in Rome a few years before to say they were stood there intimidated. I just remember getting ready to go out to meet Princess Diana." Beasant: "A lot has been made of the tunnel. We made them wait but they'd seen it all and done it before. We were vocal coming out and they just looked at us. People say we won the battle there but that is nonsense." Prior to kick-off Vinnie Jones was interviewed on the touchline and out of shot came John Fashanu's fist to glance the midfielder's jaw. "There'll be plenty of that", Jones told the camera. Inside ten minutes he cleaned out opposing midfielder Steve McMahon with a late and vicious tackle. Heller : "We never got the credit we deserved for that final. People remember the rugged Wimbledon which annoys but there was one barbaric act - the tackle from Vinnie Jones on Steve McMahon was savage." Vinnie Jones: "I'd watched Steve McMahon http://www.officialpredatorsstore.com/authentic-15-craig-smith-jersey.html hundreds of times get the ball from the full-back, let it run across his body, turn out and play it, so I was going to nail him. I just remember seeing his legs way above his head. He didn't know where he was. They were towelling him down." Beasant: "We always used to say win the first tackle or header and he did that day. From there we started chipping away." Houghton: "By the challenges of today it was a red card and I think there could have been about eight reds in what was a tough, physical game."

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