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The Crazy Gang by Dave Bassett and Wally Downes

Release date: 01st December, 2015
Publisher: Bantam

List Price: 15.33
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Everyone loves a big FA Cup upset where David slays Goliath-and they don’t come any more shocking than on that May day in 1988 when the uncouth “long ball” upstarts from Wimbledon beat mighty Liverpool in the Wembley final.
When Laurie Sanchez’s headed goal quashed Kenny Dalglish’s League and Cup double dreams the much-loved BBC commentator John Motson unforgettably summed up the remarkable feat by stating: “The Crazy Gang have beaten the Culture Club.”
The men from their dilapidated Plough Lane HQ in south west London took no prisoners in their prime and former manager Dave “Harry” Bassett and one of his chief tormentors, Wally Downes are happy to relate their hi-jinks and pitch battles in “The Crazy Gang-The True Story of Football’s Greatest Miracle” alongside founder members and former players.
The Dons rose from Southern League obscurity to the old First Division (now the Premier League) in nine years yet Bassett’s boys were known as a bunch of “long ball thugs” during their meteoric trip through the leagues.
Bassett argues: “We got criticised by the media and weak-minded opposition, hounded and accused of betraying football. What total rubbish. We fought, we planned, we analysed and yet were still branded a long ball side.”
There are so many crazy stories in this book like Wembley hero and ex-Public schoolboy Sanchez’s recollection of his first day’s training when top scorer Alan Cork asked him: “What are you doing here? It’s a shit club, the manager’s shit and we’re getting relegated.”
Downes, who broke his ankle three times in his career, recounts the day he went to Bassett for a pay rise and when the boss refused he negotiated Mondays off so that he could work on his market stall.
Then there’s former Chelsea and England star Dennis Wise’s 21st birthday party in a Notting Hill hall which ended with the host and Downes tying the caretaker up in gaffer tape in the storeroom so that the dancing could continue into the early hours.
We will probably never see the likes of the Crazy Gang again especially in this PC driven world but what a tale those Dons have to tell.


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