The Ex-Files

Saturday 8 December 2012 08:00

Dave Beasant will always be remembered for that save from that penalty in that FA Cup Final.

Playing for underdogs Wimbledon back in 1988, the curly-haired Beasant leapt to his left to bat away Liverpool's John Aldridge fiercely-struck spot-kick that had looked destined for the bottom corner.

It was the first ever penalty save in an FA Cup Final and helped Wimbledon maintain their slender one-goal lead, securing them the prize in front of a packed house at Wembley.

That footage is always dusted off at this time of year as the competition begins to kick into gear, but few know that the Final was to be Beasant's last game for Wimbledon.

That summer, Newcastle United - Monday's opponents at Craven Cottage - forked out £800,000 to take him to the North-East, where he enjoyed a short and turbulent stay.

"I made my name at Wimbledon and the last game was the FA Cup Final," Beasant told fulhamfc.com. "I got the move to Newcastle, which, amazingly, was a British transfer record for a goalkeeper back then.

"It was enjoyable but I was there maybe at the wrong time because it was when Sir John Hall, who built Newcastle into what they are now, was trying to get onto the board.

"There was a boardroom battle and a lot of money that should have been spent on players was spent buying shares to retain ownership of the club.

"Unfortunately, I was the last one in and first one out because I was an asset. There were a few of us that arrived in that summer and all left within six to eight months.

"I joined in June 1988 and left in January 1989 so it wasn't long, but St James' Park was quite incredible. It was brilliant and I really enjoyed it. I moved up there and had settled in. It was just unfortunate that off-the-field events affected the people playing on the field.

"I always wanted to play for a big club and have the big-club support and Newcastle was fantastic. I experienced both sides of it because we weren't particularly great and the team hadn't come together. Still, I remember it fondly."

Newcastle were relegated from the (old) First Division that season but Beasant was not there to see it, having left six months into a five-year deal.

The Magpies recouped most of their money by selling him to Chelsea, where he would spend four relatively successful years.

Beasant also enjoyed four-year stints at Southampton and Nottingham Forest, before hopping between clubs as his career came to a close.

The goalkeeper's last hoorah came at Fulham, who he joined from Brighton & Hove Albion as Player-Goalkeeper Coach when well into his forties.

"Chris Coleman was the Manager then and he actually called me up," Beasant explained. "I was still playing and I still felt I wanted to continue playing. He offered me a coaching job but I didn't want to just go as a coach. I still felt I could do a job.

"He said he felt the same so offered me the Player-Coach role when at the time there was Maik Taylor and Edwin van der Sar there. Now Maik was not going to stay there for much longer with Edwin there so he moved on and we brought Mark Crossley in.

"There was Edwin, Mark and myself and we also used to work together, train together. I just set all the sessions up but was part of the goalkeeper training schedule as well. We just rotated around and all had our turn in goal."

Beasant never actually got to start a game for Fulham but featured on the bench on several occasions, before retiring and becoming a fully-fledged member of the coaching staff.

Now he works as part-time goalkeeping coach at Bristol Rovers, where he recently worked with Fulham shot-stopper Neil Etheridge.

"I’m just doing a couple of days down there because they didn't have a goalkeeping coach to look after the loan keepers like Neil," Beasant said.

"Mark McGhee asked me to come down there and I went down there to help him out. If you're not involved in coaching, you do miss it. It has been part of my life for the last 30-odd years, having qualified during my time at Wimbledon.

"If you can't play, the next best thing is being on the training field and coaching. I had six months where I wasn't really doing anything after working with the Glenn Hoddle Academy in Spain so it’s nice to get back in.

"Neil was good during his time with us and when I was at Fulham he was a young lad coming through. I didn't see much of him but he seems to have grown in stature, confidence and ability in a fairly short period of time. I didn't even know he was a Philippines international but he has played nearly 50-odd games for them.

"He’s not wet behind the ears and I think the fact he has played those games will serve him well."

With Bristol Rovers welcoming Dagenham & Redbridge to the Memorial Ground on Saturday, Beasant will be hoping to catch his old sides do battle on Monday.

And while he may have an affinity to both, he can only see the result going one way.

"Neither side are in the best of form but I will go for a 2-1 Fulham victory," Beasant said confidently. "They’re going to score as Newcastle have not been great defensively lately."

Match tickets for the Newcastle game are still available on General Sale, priced from £40 for Adults and £20 for Juniors.

Supporters can buy online from fulhamfc.com/tickets or by calling 0843 208 1234.