Former Dons players confident of club’s top-flight return after Plough Lane move

Ex-Wimbledon stars Paul McGee and Alan Bennett believe the Dons’ move back to Plough Lane sets the club up for a future return to the top flight.

Popular winger McGee played for the club between 1989 to 1995 and still follows their progress from his hometown in Dublin.

The Dons are struggling at the wrong end of the table in League One this year, but McGee has urged fans to be patient and feels the club could be set to embark on a similar journey to the original Crazy Gang and rise through the divisions.

“That has to be the goal, doesn’t it?” he said.  “When you look at the progress of the club in such a short period of time, then why not?

“What the club has already achieved since 2003 has been incredible, I’m not sure there is another story like it in football.

“I know Neal (Ardley) is going through a tough time this season.  But they look to have turned the corner recently and I think getting the go ahead for the new stadium has given everyone around the place a lift.”

The Dons were granted planning permission in December to redevelop Wimbledon Greyhound Stadium – just a stone’s throw from their original venue on Plough Lane.

The ill-fated move to Selhurst Park to groundshare with Crystal Palace in 1991 was meant to be a temporary arrangement, but McGee concedes he had misgivings about the decision right from the outset.

He said: “For any team to lose home advantage is an issue, but for us, Plough Lane was a big part of our success.

“It was a tight ground and teams hated playing us there. You could just look at them at know these guys don’t fancy it today.

“Manchester United had the likes of Bryan Robson, Mark Hughes. They were big fellas. But you wanted to see the state of their changing rooms. It was the smallest changing room in the world for them to fit in.

“One toilet and three showers between them.  We had heated floors and a sauna and jacuzzi in our section, but we made sure they roughed it! It was Stoneage stuff. And you can imagine how small that tunnel was. No wonder there were fights in it. Fash (John Fashanu) leading the way as usual.”

Alan Bennet’s recollections of the club are more recent.  The centre half played for the Dons between 2013-14, but he echoes McGee’s positive sentiments.

He said: “From day one they set out three targets.  One, to get a team back in the Football League, to get back to Plough Lane and to reclaim the full Dons history.

“They’ve completed two of those and the third one seems to be moving forward.

“It’s an amazing club. I think in about 10-15 years’ time, we’ll probably be looking at a Championship club touching the Premiership.”


Rob Tuvey is the lead development coach at Wimbledon’s academy.  The 25 year-old has been with the club since the age of 17, and feels the move back to Plough Lane gives the next generation of Wimbledon player a chance to be part of a special period in the club’s history.

He said: “From an academy point of view, we are saying ‘can you be the first to step out at Plough Lane?’

“It also means we can start producing a bigger fanbase. We haven’t got the finances to compete with the likes of Chelsea.

“But we have something unique here. If you come down, you will be part of the Wimbledon family and part of something special.

And he added: “Hopefully the atmosphere at Plough Lane will be fantastic. I can’t wait to be there and see it on the first day.”

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