I try to keep these weekly jaunts through Premier League history somewhat interesting and this week is up there. Well, for the nerd in me.
See, the 1999/2000 season was a wacky one. Leeds were just at the start of their spunk all our money on Rio Ferdinand phase; Bradford were in the middle of their ‘let’s give all our money to Benito Carbone’ phase and sides like Wimbledon, Coventry, Watford and, yes, even Sunderland were top flight sides.
It was wild and we’re focusing on two of those aforementioned sides. Wimbledon, finally free from the shackles of the brain trust of Fash and Jones, were battling to stay comfortably mid-table while Watford were newly promoted and looking every inch of it.
To say this would be one for the purists is an entirely incorrect statement and shame on you for even thinking I would resort to such a low level to derive humour from this wonderful display of slick passing football on a carpet-like Selhurst Park.
Wimbledon 5-0 Watford (4 December 1999)
It was a strange time at Wimbledon. Egil Olsen was in charge and started his favourite player, Ben Thatcher. Thatcher was presumably his favourite because he was the best at assaulting defenceless Portuguese midfielders. More familiar names to some include serial ladies man and exiled TV pundit Robbie Earle; everyone’s (if you’re named Alan Curbishley) favourite Jason Euell and professional ginger John Hartson. The bench included Israeli Walid Badir, who scored his only Wimbledon goal at Old Trafford. A strange time indeed…
Watford, managed by the late Graham Taylor had the usual bunch of no-names including your standard Neil, Richard, Paul and Steve. Championship Manager hero Gifton Noel-Williams made the bench while the amazingly named Nordin Wooter and new signing Xavier Gravelaine started. Coincidentally, Gravelaine was sent off in his previous Watford appearance. Amazing.
I s**t you not, the three of the first five passes in this game were long hoofs forward. Outstanding.
Watford win an early free kick which Richard hits at the wall and Mark forces a save from Neil Sullivan. I’ve spotted an England 2006 billboard already which is making me chuckle no end as a Scot. You English do love your failed World Cup bids, don’t you? England 2030 anyone?
Wimbledon did break the deadlock though. A corner from the left pinged around and as Hartson appealed that his effort was blocked on the line by hand, Carl Cort pinged it home to the most subdued crowd noise I’ve heard. Wimbledon are the home side remember.
Quick note on Cort: he was a hot prospect at this point. Less than a decade later he was playing for Marbella and being a f**king atrocious free agent on FM08.
Cort almost got a second too. Kenny Cunningham looks the most average full back of all time but he does enjoy a cross. One found Cort at the near post and, with Alec stranded, he headed wide.
Watford were almost level too. A deep cross was spilled by Sullivan and Michel Ngonge put it over from six yards or so. Who is Michel Ngonge? Well, a bit crap. He finished his career a couple of years later with Kilmarnock, so make of that what you will.
A rather royal horn makes some racket and is subsequently followed by chants of “what the fucking hell was that?” This game has been great…
Oh hey, Wimbledon score. Another corner, some more shit defending and Robbie Earle bundles it in on the line. He profited from that just like he tried to with some pretty girls when he worked for ITV. What’s he like, eh?
So, when I chose this game, I thought it’d be entertaining. The most exciting thing has been that horn because all this really is Carl Cort doing stepovers and going nowhere. Half time saw Wimbledon 2-0 up though and a smattering of boos at the whistle. I’m honestly unsure who it came from because the Dons fans weren’t exactly loud. Or there in great numbers.
Wimbledon would soon go three up. More superb defensive work saw a simple cross land right at the feet of Hartson who proceeded to score the least convincing goal of all time by booting it at the keeper from six yards. God these teams are crap.
Hold the phone. Wimbledon get a fourth and it’s actually some quality too. Admittedly, the quality came from Euell and Euell only as he took a high ball, held off his man then beat him and another defender with ease before slotting it home. Frankly, the ref should have disallowed it for being too good and sent big Jase off.
Right OK, this is getting a bit dumb now. Marcus Gayle sounds like the most 90s mid-table Premier League footballer in history and he pings a knockdown on the half volley into the top corner from 25 odd yards. Talk about out of character. It did look a bit crap because he just sort of dangled a limb at it really.
And that was it really. Both teams were a bit dire and a bit s**t honestly. This was like watching a rich version of Sunday League and is easily the worst 5-0 I’ve ever seen in my life.
Both sides would only win three more games as they both got relegated. Watford are back in the Premier League know while Wimbledon got into financial trouble, moved 70 miles to Milton Keynes and became a drive-thru masquerading as a football club.