Hammam ‘appalled’ by Dons portrayal

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Published: Saturday 6th December 2014 by The News Editor

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Former Wimbledon owner Sam Hammam admitted he was “appalled” after watching a documentary which depicted the club’s Crazy Gang as thugs.

The programme tells the story of Wimbledon’s rise from non-league football to winning the FA Cup final in 1988 when the team beat overwhelming favourites Liverpool 1-0 thanks to a goal from Lawrie Sanchez.

But Hammam, who flew in from Lebanon to attend the film’s premiere in London on Thursday night, said he was unhappy with the way the club had been portrayed in the documentary named ‘The Crazy Gang’ and complained to BT Sport, demanding it make some changes before it was due to air on Boxing Day.

According to reports in the Daily Mail, in the film former midfielder and now Hollywood actor Vinnie Jones described an horrendous attack by former team-mate John Fashanu on another Wimbledon player, while Hammam was unhappy that the focus on Fashanu gave the impression the club was all about bullying and threats.

Hammam told the Daily Mail: “The programme portrayed the group as violent thugs as if that was all they had to them. The suggestion was that the players were just a group of Fash’s boys and they were all terrified of him.

“It was far, far from the truth. It wasn’t the Fash show. We had some very good players. Dennis Wise, Dave Beasant and John Scales played for England, Lawrie Sanchez went on to manage Northern Ireland.”

The 66-year-old, who was joined at the premiere by former managers Dave Bassett and Bobby Gould and players Terry Phelan, John Scales, Andy Thorn, Dave Beasant and Terry Gibson, added: “Wimbledon was a group of people who worked hard and fought against heavy odds for 20 years and came up trumps .

“We represented the little person, the working-class fan who doesn’t have a lot but works hard and doesn’t give up.

“Everyone at the club I have spoken to was appalled at the way that programme has made us look.”

Former defender Phelan, who made 159 appearances for the club between 1987-1992 before joining Manchester City, admitted he remembered seeing some players cry at the abuse received.

He told the programme: “It was like a pack of wolves going out looking for blood. It wasn’t normal. I’ve seen players cry, physically break down. It was a place for me that was really dark for six months, socially and emotionally.

“As a footballer you have dreams; for six months I had no dreams. I used to sit in my bedroom upstairs and I’d say, ‘My career is gone, where can I go from here?'”

BT Sport said it noted Hammam’s criticism.

A BT Sport spokesman said: “BT Sport was delighted to host several members of the team at a screening of a directors’ cut of the film. As we finalise the film we welcome and note their feedback and comments. We look forward to broadcasting the film at 9pm on Boxing Day on BT Sport 1.”

Published: Saturday 6th December 2014 by The News Editor

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