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Cup magic back in Wimbledon

Dickie Guy and Dave Beasant
Dickie Guy and Dave Beasant both featured in FA Cup shocks with Wimbledon

By Chris Bevan

Twenty years after Wimbledon FC stunned Liverpool by lifting the FA Cup at Wembley, one of the most famous names in the competition's folklore is back.

This is AFC Wimbledon we are talking about, of course, but the spirit of the 1988 Cup winners lives on in the Kingsmeadow outfit, who are making their debut in the first-round proper on Monday evening.

Formed in 2002 by Wimbledon FC fans unhappy at their club's impending relocation - and renaming - to Milton Keynes, AFC Wimbledon's ascent has been as swift and spectacular as the team from which they took their identity and inspiration.

Only six years after AFC Wimbledon took their first steps by inviting potential players to trials on Wimbledon Common, they are flying high in the Blue Square South under manager Terry Brown and regularly playing in front of crowds that top the 3,000 mark.

In no way whatsoever did we expect to have come so far, so quickly, since we started out but we need to carry on moving upwards and this Cup run is the icing on the cake

AFC Wimbledon president Dickie Guy on his club's progress

The FA Cup means a lot to AFC Wimbledon.

In 2007 MK Dons chairman Pete Winkelman returned the replica of the 1988 trophy - along with Wimbledon FC's other silverware - to the London Borough of Merton, indicating he was dropping his club's claims to the Dons' past honours.

Now they have the chance to create more on-pitch history when they face Wycombe Wanderers in their first competitive game against Football League opposition.

AFC Wimbledon president Dickie Guy hopes they can tap into Wimbledon's rich giant-killing tradition when they take on the League Two pace-setters live on television and in front of a sell-out crowd.

Guy was in goal for Wimbledon FC, then a Southern League side, when they beat Burnley at Turf Moor in the third round in 1975 - the first time that century a non-League team had beaten a First Division club on their own ground.

And he famously saved a penalty from Peter Lorimer in round four as the Dons held reigning League champions Leeds to a draw at Elland Road before bowing out to an own goal in a replay

AFC Wimbledon's Dean Parsons

"This year has brought back a few memories," Guy told BBC Sport. "And it is fantastic for the current players too.

"This game could quite easily change their lives. If they get out there and have a good game and shine a little bit, who knows what could happen for them.

"And it is another chance for the club to put themselves on the map the way we did all those years ago."

Wimbledon goalkeepers have a habit of making the headlines - just like Guy, Dave Beasant shot to fame with a famous FA Cup penalty save when he kept out John Aldridge's spot-kick in the 1988 final against Liverpool.

So current AFC Wimbledon goalkeeper Andy Little will have some big gloves to fill against the Chairboys, but Guy feels the club's hopes are safe in his hands.

"Andy is a very good goalkeeper," Guy said. "I've not seen one better in our league.

AFCW goalkeeper Andy Little
AFCW keeper Andy Little will try to keep Wycombe at bay on Monday

"He is very steady and I am sure he will perform well. I hope he does perform heroically but I would just like him to keep a clean sheet - that will do me."

Monday's result is not the be-all and end-all for AFC Wimbledon - promotion, and progression up the football pyramid remains the club's priority.

With the club firmly in the chase for promotion to the Blue Square Premier, their 3-2 defeat by leaders Chelmsford City in a top-of-the-table clash last weekend hit Guy harder than any loss to Wycombe could do.

But Guy knows Cup success - and cash - will play its part in realising AFC Wimbledon's dream of emulating Wimbledon FC and eventually reaching the Football League.

"Financially the Wycombe game is fantastic for the club," he explained. "We are going to earn very well out of the evening.

"In no way whatsoever did we expect to have come so far, so quickly, since we started out in the Combined Counties League but we need to carry on moving upwards and this Cup run is the icing on the cake.

"In all honesty our defeat at Chelmsford last week has taken the edge off Monday for me - we didn't perform then as well as we can do.

"But the Wycombe game is not for me, it is for the players and the supporters that it matters - and the club in general.

"And if we put on a good performance, everybody is going to be happy, whatever the result."

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see also
AFC Wimbledon v Wycombe
07 Nov 08 |  FA Cup
Draw for the FA Cup first round
26 Oct 08 |  FA Cup
Team of the FA Cup 2008/09
05 Oct 08 |  FA Cup
Gayle relishes AFC Wimbledon role
11 Sep 08 |  Non League
Gayle appointed Dons reserve boss
08 Sep 08 |  Non League
Merton given back Dons trophies
02 Aug 07 |  Milton Keynes
Wimbledon to change name
21 Jun 04 |  Milton Keynes
AFC Wimbledon enjoy title glory
09 Apr 05 |  Non League
A season to remember
10 May 03 |  Football
AFC Wimbledon set English record
13 Nov 04 |  Football
AFC Wimbledon bid for new home
26 Mar 03 |  Football
Great start for 'new Dons'
11 Jul 02 |  Wimbledon
New dawn for Dons fans
10 Jul 02 |  Wimbledon
New Dons go non-league
25 Jun 02 |  Wimbledon

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