Murdoch keeps up good work

THE true measure of man comes not during the sunny periods of life but during adversity, writes Derek Davis.In Stuart Murdoch's case he continues to stand tall in what continues to be an incredibly tough era in Wimbledon's amazing history.

THE true measure of man comes not during the sunny periods of life but during adversity, writes Derek Davis.

In Stuart Murdoch's case he continues to stand tall in what continues to be an incredibly tough era in Wimbledon's amazing history.

Dons fans have fled in huge numbers in protest at the club's move to Milton Keynes, after years of ground-sharing at Crystal Palace's Selhurst Park following eviction from their spiritual home Plough Lane in Merton.

The money has disappeared in equal measure, leaving Murdoch and his staff to make and mend with a mixture of cheapish veterans and promising youngsters. Indeed he has made 19-year-old Nigel Reo-Coker his captain, most probably the youngest to ever wear the arm-band full time in Division One.


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After beating Crewe 3-1 on the opening game of the season, Wimbledon have lost seven matches in a row and have slipped to the bottom.

A former Suffolk head-master, Murdoch is used to discipline, a strong work ethic and intense belief in doing things the right way. He has found himself going from the chalkboards to the white lines in a penalty box as a goalkeeping coach and then stepping up to tactical boards as first-team manager.

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No doubt the Dons saw him as a cheap option but he has also proved to be extremely capable and more than one ex-player has been effusive in their praise for the man who arguably deserved manager of the year for taking Wimbledon to 10th place in the First Division last season, with many tipping them at the start to go down.

They may be rock bottom at the moment but Murdoch is refusing to give in without a fight, despite having many of his top players sold, or given away from under him, including top-scoring David Connolly, Neil Shipperley and Kelvin Davis.

He has called on the squad which includes one of the original Crazy Gang, Dean Holdsworth, to show the spirit which made the club famous for going from non-league to the Premiership, winning the FA Cup against Liverpool on the way.

He said: "In 1996, Wimbledon were bottom of the league after three games and everybody was saying they were going to get relegated from the Premiership. They went on a run of seven straight league wins and finished up in eighth. I'm not saying history is going to repeat itself but there are 39 games to play. Our heads won't drop. I won't let them."

With the move to Milton Keynes about to become reality, Murdoch is hoping a home they can call their own, even if it is someone else's hockey stadium, will settle the team and they can progress.

He has Peter Hawkins back from suspension after being sent off at Norwich for pushing the referee and Jermaine Darlington is fit after a sore foot, so he has an abundance of choice to find a side to quieten his former pupils in the crowd today, although a repeat of last season's 5-1 romp is highly unlikely.

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