On September 1974 Bracknell Town hosted one of the giants of non-league football when they faced Wimbledon in the FA Cup Preliminary Round. They unwittingly became the first match in what became a remarkable cup run for Wimbledon.
The Reading Evening Post described the game for Bracknell as their “toughest match in history”. “Bracknell on paper look to be on an impossible mission.”
It was a big tie for Bracknell. It was the first time Larges Lane had hosted an FA Cup tie as the previous three times the Robins had entered the competition they had been drawn away (and lost).
Before the match Bracknell manager Stan Turner attempted to put the pressure on Wimbledon
“We don’t feel as though we are going to lose. Obviously it’s going to be a tough match for us. But we’re not a bad side ourselves. We have made a fine start to the season and haven’t lost a match yet. We are scoring a lot of goals and the lads are playing with confidence. There should be quite a bit of atmosphere at the game on Saturday and I’m sure this will lift us.”Bracknell manager Stan Turner
Despite the apparent gulf in quality between the sides Batsford was not taking the threat of Bracknell lightly.
“Nothing is a walkover in football, especially away from home. We approach Bracknell in the same way we would a professional club.”Wimbledon manager Allen Batsford
Wimbledon had an excellent side, full of experience. Notably Dave Bassett, an England international, who would go on to manage Wimbledon and goalkeeper Dickie Guy who eventually amassed over 450 appearances for the Dons.
The game was tightly contested and keenly fought with the Larges Lane side taking an early lead through John Adams. A historic moment as this was Bracknell Town’s first ever goal in the FA Cup. Bracknell almost made it 2-0 when Rudd had an excellent chance when through on goal. The Robins were to rue their missed opportunities and three goals before half-time saw the Dons 3-1 up, and that’s how the game finished.
Bracknell were out of the cup, but Wimbledon would go on a magnificent cup run defeating Wokignham Town, Maidenhead United, Guildford & Dorking United, Bath City, Kettering and First Division Burnley.
This earned Wimbledon a fourth round tie against First Division champions Leeds United at Elland Road. Wimbledon held Peter Lorimer’s side to a goalless draw. Ultimately Leeds would win the replay at Selhurst Park against Wimbledon. Four years later Wimbledon were a Football League club and their meteoric rise would continue.
Aside from the own goal that saw Leeds United defeat Wimbledon, Bracknell’s goal was the only one Wimbledon conceded on their cup run of 74/75. Perhaps proving that Larges Lane is never an easy place to go.
Wimbledons 74/75 FA Cup run
1Q Bracknell Town (A) 3-1
2Q Maidenhead United (H) 4-0
3Q Wokingham Town (H) 2-0
4Q Guildford & Dorking United (A) 3-0
1 Bath City (H) 1-0
2 Kettering Town(H) 2-0
3 Burnley (A) 1-0
4 Leeds United (A) 0-0
4r Leeds United (H) 0-1 (at Crystal Palace)
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