“The Crazy Gang have beaten the Culture Club.”
John Motson’s words from 1988 still resonate with anyone old enough to remember one of the greatest FA Cup Final shocks, when the unfancied and in some circles unpopular, Wimbledon, defeated the mighty Liverpool under Wembley’s twin towers in front of more than 98,000 supporters.
The Dons had just denied King Kenny Dalglish’s men a domestic double after Lawrie Sanchez rose to head a first-half winner past Bruce Grobelaar.
At the other end, Wimbledon captain Dave Beasant famously saved John Aldridge’s spot-kick, becoming the first man to stop a penalty in an FA Cup Final.
This was a game the media had delighted in casting as the refined, class and elegance of Hansen, Barnes and Beardsley versus the image of aggressive, direct football and all-round lunacy of Vinnie Jones, John Fashanu and Dennis Wise.
Liverpool hadn’t just been the dominant side of the 1987-88 season, they’d been the strongest English club side of the last decade.
In stark contrast, Bobby Gould’s side had been playing in the Southern League just 11 years prior to what was only their second season of top-flight football.
Against all odds, it was the Dons who done it.
Crazy Gang 1, Culture Club 0.
The shock of Wimbledon’s win came in an era when the FA Cup Final was always played under wonderful rays of warm Wembley sunshine and the event was the absolute pinnacle of the sporting calendar.
This wasn’t just any old cup upset and in terms of shock-value, it eclipsed Coventry City’s unexpected victory over Spurs from the previous year.
With all eyes on Wembley and the magic of the Cup, the special shirts worn by the Wombles that afternoon in May, went down in football shirt folklore.
Wimbledon’s kit was made by Spall who supplied a large number of clubs that season including Blackburn Rovers, Brighton & Hove Albion and Millwall.
The sunshine yellow across the shoulders and trim was accompanied by extra-special details to mark the achievement of making 107th FA Cup Final.
In a departure from the shirts worn throughout their league campaign, Carlsberg – who would later go on to sponsor Liverpool – replaced fellow brewers Truman for the Dons’ big day.
Although the shirts themselves were a celebration of the occasion and something of a one-off, Carlsberg’s sponsorship continued into the following season as Spall were themselves replaced by Hummel as Wimbledon’s kit suppliers.
In these days of gambling sponsor overload, names like Carlsberg, Truman, Guinness, Holsten and Newcastle Brown Ale, certainly hold a nostalgic pull on our heartstrings.
Sadly, Truman’s days producing porter and ale were numbered, with the doors closing on their Brick Lane brewery in 1989.
Memories play an important part in why we hold football shirts in high esteem.
This won’t ever be the most storied and legendary football shirt from 1988 and if they could speak, we’re sure those classic Holland and West Germany designs would surely step forward saying “hold my beer.”
The Crazy Gang may not have benefitted from the comfort of modern sweat-wicking fabric technology under the heat of the Wembley sun but you get the impression they wouldn’t have cared at all.
This shiny polyester number from Spall pitched the Dons’ colours perfectly and whilst they wore darker shades of blue in their later years, this is the shirt we instantly think of whenever Wimbledon FC are mentioned.
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