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Friday, January 15, 1999 Published at 17:46 GMT

Dons swoop for Hartson

John Hartson (left) with wimbledon chief Sam Hammam

Welsh international John Hartson was given a warm welcome by his new Wimbledon teammates after completing a 7.5m move from West Ham.

Duncan Jones reports for BBC News 24
The players lived up to the club's 'Crazy Gang' nickname by hanging his designer tracksuit out of a dressing room window at their training ground and setting it on fire.

The 23-year-old is believed to have signed a six-year contract and could go straight into the first team against Tottenham at White Hart Lane on Saturday.

Sam Hammam talks to BBC Radio 5 Live about the move
Wimbledon owner Sam Hammam said Hartson would not receive any superstar treatment from the club.

"My attitude is always to try to be stronger and that's it. We are not looking for any special results. He's an addition to make Wimbledon stronger than we were the day before. It's as simple as that.

"The money is not an issue at all. It's football - we are a football club. . I'm not a city man or a yuppie, I'm a football man," he explained.

[ image: Hartson's tracksuit goes up in smoke]
Hartson's tracksuit goes up in smoke
"I want the situation where I can dream of being in the top three even though I'm almost certain we will not succeed. But I want to give it a good bash. I don't want to reach old age and look back and think I chickened out," Hammam added.

The deal smashes Wimbledon's previous transfer record of 2m for Port Vale winger Gareth Ainsworth.

"A great move"

Manager Joe Kinnear, who has been chasing Hartson for some time, admitted: "I'm delighted. John is a smashing lad and a top-quality striker who has proved himself with 24 goals last season. He's only 23 but he is experienced and skilful.

"People might wonder at the size of the fee for a club like Wimbledon but I have half a dozen worth that much in my squad."

Hartson said: "This is a great move for me.

"Joe has worked wonders and I know Wimbledon's style needs someone like me - a strong target man who can score goals."

Harry Redknapp: "I'm sorry to see him go" (BBC Radio 5 Live)
New faces are likely at Upton Park in the near future with West Ham boss Harry Redknapp looking to strengthen his squad.

"Business is business and this offer was just too good to turn down. Everybody slagged me off when I bought him from Arsenal for 2.5m two years ago, saying he wasn't worth it.

"I need to get two or three players in and this sale has given me the cash I need."

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