JUST over 30 years ago Wimbledon’s ‘Crazy Gang’ famously won the FA Cup and took their side across The Solent to play Shanklin in a friendly as part of the Isle of Wight club’s centenary celebrations.

It was a huge stroke of good fortune for Shanklin, who had arranged the friendly months before the unfashionable Dons shocked the nation by beating Liverpool 1-0 at Wembley.

Isle of Wight County Press:

Wimbledon’s Lawrie Sanchez (in white) and Shanklin’s Chris Stocker, in centre, battling for the ball.  FILE

Watched on Sunday, August 14, 1988, by a bumper crowd of over 1,500 — believed to be the biggest-ever attendance for a football match at the County Ground — the day had a bit of everything.

Not only was football’s most famous trophy paraded around the pitch, Dons’ players signed autographs before and after the game and fans had their pictures taken with the stars and the cup.

Isle of Wight County Press:

Souvenir matchday programme cover, which also gained fans admission.  Programme courtesy of Richard Priest, Shanklin FC 

Wimbledon may have won the match 6-0, but it was a memorable experience for Shanklin’s players, to rub shoulders with the likes of Vinnie Jones, Dennis Wise, Lawrie Sanchez and Terry Phelan.

The fixture may have been billed as a pre-season friendly, but it was not quite so friendly out on the pitch.

Wimbledon, with a universal a reputation as football’s bad boys, made it evident from the start they would make it a difficult game for Shanklin, with the busy Andy Monk in Shanklin’s goal keeping out everything the Londoners could throw at him.

But in the final three minutes of the first half, Terry Gibson and Wise scored.

Isle of Wight County Press:

Chris Stocker, left, with Lawrie Sanchez, exchanging mementoes before kick-off.  FILE

Two minutes after the restart, controversial Dons defender Jones was red-carded after he elbowed Shanklin defender and postman Dave Woodhouse in the face and argued with the referee — a blip on a great occasion for the Seasiders.

Further Wimbledon goals were added by Gary Brook, sub Robbie Turner and two from striker Alan Cork.

Dons manager Bobby Gould later apologised to Shanklin officials for Jones’s sending off.

The Jones incident certainly put Shanklin on the sporting map with the national press, with all covering it — particularly as the sending off meant Jones would be suspended from playing in the FA Charity Shield at Wembley six days later.

Isle of Wight County Press:

Shanklin treasurer Steve Trowbridge, a spectator on the day, said; “My over-riding memory of the day was being in the clubhouse after the game. I managed to get a special pass and both sets of players and officials were there, with me in the middle of it.

“When Vinnie Jones came in, Bobby Gould tore into him. He told him to get out and wait on the coach. Jones snarled a bit.

“The sending off didn’t spoil what was a unique, family occasion. The game was a one-sided affair, as you’d expect, with Wimbledon in the top league.”

For 101-year-old George Wickens, of Bembridge, he achieved his lifetime ambition at the game by holding the FA Cup.