The Football League Files

by Mystical Mike

Saturday, October 4th, 2008
 

Wycombe Wanderers

As a brand new feature, I back up my mini quest for real football by introducing some of the lesser known teams of the lower league to all you Premier League fans out there. The Carling Cup this week saw Sunderland and Man City surely not even flinch at the prospect of facing Northampton and Brighton respectively. The mighty Cobblers took the Black Cats all the way before losing on penalties before Brighton went one better and saw off the money bags from Manchester. Both Roy Keane and Mark Hughes will be dreading the F.A. Cup draw when they could be paired with the “minnows” again.

And the F.A. Cup brings us nicely to the first of my Football League Friends. For it was the best cup competition in the world that brought my first featured team, Wycombe Wanderers into the spotlight in 2001 as they reached the semi-finals as a League One side.

But before this incredible achievement, the club had built a proud history in non league football and now stand ready to finally make another push into League One following a strong start to this season. I welcome you to the wonderful world of Wycombe Wanderers…

 

Fact File: Wycombe Wanderers

Nickname: The Chairboys

Rivals: Colchester United

Honours: Isthmian League Champions (8 times between 1956 and 1975 and once in 1983), FA Trophy Winners (1991,1992), Conference Champions (1993), League Two Playoff Winners (1994)

Current Manager: Peter Taylor

Ground: Adams Park

Capacity: 10,000

Famous Moments: Beating Preston North End 4-2 in the League Two playoff final (1994), Reaching the F.A. Cup Semi-Finals (2001), Reaching the Carling Cup Semi-Finals (2007)

Famous Supporters: Alan Parry (Sports Commentator), Bill Turnbull (News presenter), Colin Baker (Doctor Who), Warren Clark (actor)

 

So who the chuff are they?

Well, I’ll tell you. Wycombe Wanderers have only been in the league since 1993 but were in fact formed way back in 1887 by a group of furniture makers. The club were named after the famous Wanderers who won the very first F.A. Cup back in 1872. The initial kit colours were of the Oxford and Cambridge varsity teams but they moved on to light and dark blue halves before changing it to the now familiar light and dark blue quarters in the late 1920’s.

The first ground that Wycombe would play on was the local cricket club before they moved to Loakes Park, a home they would remain in for over 100 years. In 1990, they moved to Adams Park, where they play to this day.

On the pitch, Wanderers began in the Southern League but struggled against the professional sides they were to come up against. Dropping down to the Spartan League after the First World War, they slowly but surely made their way through the non league pyramid. In 1921, Wycombe won the Spartan League before winning the first of eight Isthmian League titles in 1951. The club were promoted to the Football Conference in 1985. Martin O’Neill was appointed manager in 1990, a year that saw Wanderers leave Loakes Park for Adams Park. O’Neill was instrumental in taking Wycombe from non-league, including two FA Trophy wins, to the Football League in 1993.

In their first season, Wanderers were promoted via the playoffs in a storming introduction to the Football League, beating Preston 4-2 in the playoff final. In League One, the club narrowly missed out on the playoffs in the first season but then faded into a mid-table side following the departure of O’Neill to Norwich City in 1995.

The club’s finest hour came in 2001 as Lawrie Sanchez led them to the F.A. Cup semi-finals, en route beating Premier League Leicester in the Quarter Finals thanks to Roy Essandoh, a player that Sanchez brought in after responding to an advert on Ceefax! The Chairboys were beaten after a gallant effort against Liverpool in the Semi-Finals but the season will go down in history for every Wanderers fan.

In 2004, Sanchez was sacked after a poor start to the season and Tony Adams was brought in. But the former Arsenal man couldn’t save the club and they were relegated to the basement league once again. John Gorman steadied the ship as manager at the start of the following campaign and helped the club to tenth place. In 2005-06, Wycombe’s season could not have been more two sided.

A 21 game unbeaten run took them to the league’s summit but in early 2006, the club was rocked with tragedy as midfielder Mark Philo tragically died in hospital following a car crash. Just a few weeks later, manager John Gorman lost his wife to a long illness and took a period of compassionate leave from the club.

While Gorman was away, Wanderers’ form slumped and they ended up in sixth place, eventually losing out to Cheltenham Town in the playoff semi-finals. Gorman would not return the following season and his replacement was Paul Lambert.

Lambert took the club to the semi-finals of the Carling Cup in 2007, beating Fulham and Charlton en route to a semi-final defeat to Chelsea, 5-1 on aggregate after holding the Champions to a 1-1 draw in the home leg. In the league, the Chairboys finished in mid-table but the following season picked up and they ended up in a playoff place, narrowly losing to Stockport County in the semi-finals.

The club’s long and proud history is now being backed up with a fantastic stadium that keeps the charm of days gone by. The match day atmosphere is one of the best that I’ve experienced and the general feel to the place is friendly and family orientated, keeping the roots of its past. Wanderers currently sit in the top three of League Two and look all set for another promotion challenge.

For more of Danny’s great blogs go to aloadofcobblers

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  • Stevie

    They are also a very crap cup side and get thrashed by Shrewsbury 7-0!!

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