A rough guide to... Wycombe Wanderers

Cod Almighty | Article

by Simon Wilson

1 August 2016

There was a time we played Wycombe every year, but they have become strangers to us. Si catches up with the Chairboys

How are you?

If Wycombe were a car they’d be a Honda Civic.

Modest runner, low budget, can put in a longer trek, and a common sight just off the M4.

What have you been up to?

After nudge, nudge, nudging their way into the Football League as Conference champions for the 1992-93 season, under Martin O’Neill (yes, young people and newcomer-Grimsby-glory supporters reading this, the same current Republic of Ireland manager), the Chairboys have been stalwarts of the bottom two divisions of the 'professional league' since. They’ve had some promotions from the fourth to the third, some instant returns to the fourth, and lots of pin-ponging up and down, side to side of that bottom rung.

There’s been those cup runs as well. Lawrie Sanchez took them to the semi-final of the FA Cup in the 2000-01 season, having beaten Town on the way, where they lost to that season’s top flight runners-up Liverpool. In early 2007 under Paul Lambert the reached the semi-finals of the League Cup, where they lost to that season’s top flight runners-up Chelsea.

In those first years of this century we played them just about every season. And Gareth Ainsworth is our pencil piercing a folded piece of paper to show time and space. The last time Wycombe and Grimsby met, back on 17 January 2009, Ainsworth played as an on-loan player, ahead of a permanent move. Ainsworth eventually succeeded Gary Waddock as manager in November 2012 and has been Wycombe’s Daenerys Targaryen since.

Since Town dropped out of the league, Wycombe have persisted with their habit, flitting around the fourth division like a clownfish bobbing up and down the coral and tides, two promotions, leading to two seasons skimming the bottom of the third and instant relegations.

At the end of the 2013-14 season they narrowly avoided a relegation back to the Conference. A last day 3-0 win at already-doomed Torquay kept Wycombe in the Football League on goal difference. The team they consigned to play Town? Bristol Rovers.

One notable change since our paths last met: the club is now owned by Wycombe Wanderers Trust, who took over on 30 June 2012. A little more on that shortly.

What kind of a season did you have?

Last season was a bit of a humdrum season, keeping the boat afloat the main goal; but still a flattener after expectancies elevated by ending 2014-15 in fourth, and a play-off final defeat to Southend.

When asked a Wycombe fan replied "There’s nothing really to say about last season. We didn’t go down, so not a pointless season. We had a little cup run, but didn’t do anything else. A nothing season really."

How are you feeling?

Having finished thirteenth last season, Wycombe fans would be, should be, more than happy to finish in the play-offs.

A recent history of tumultuary has seen an expectation of sensible pragmatism. Before the trust’s takeover the club was massively in debt and under a transfer embargo – so season-to-season since has been a case of keeping head above water, while trying to service the debts.

Towards the end of the previous season, manager Gareth Ainsworth publicly admitted the club was in a precarious financial position, although making slow steps towards paying off their debts. In one of those football-domino-rally moments, Jordon Ibe’s move from Bournemouth to Liverpool looks to benefit Wycombe by about £2 million, which they intend to use to pay off their debts of over £1 million. A timely reset of the club’s finances. Where that leaves the club will be interesting - no burden to pay back, but also mindful of only being able to spend what they bring in on limited crowds. There’s a palpable sense of relief.

Ainsworth has kept the core of his previous season’s squad, anchored by the streetwise Marcus Bean, the kinda player who can contribute on the pitch and mentor off the pitch in equal measure; and perennial pest, if increasingly war-weary, forward Paul Hayes. who gave over five years’ service to Grimsby’s South Humberside cousins Scunthorpe. Matt Bloomfield is still there in something like his 130th year at the club.

Seven new faces might raise an eyebrow or two for supporters of other clubs, but Town fans will be used to similar squad upheaval themselves, especially after this summer.

While there’s yet more age – and quite some bulk – in the arrival of Adebayo Akinfenwa, who helped AFC Wimbledon to promotion last season, there’s fresh legs in midfield provided by Stephen McGinn.

One to watch? Dayle Southwell, a summer signing from Boston after being the Conference North’s top goal scorer last season. He arrives in League football two years after being released by… Grimsby Town. Dayle’s a Grimsby lad who made 10 starts among his 33 appearances for the Mariners.

Where are you from?

Wycombe’s Adams Park is at the end of a cul-de-sac. You go in when you need to go in, and only when you need to go in. This ain’t no drive-through. Before you head in, do everything and anything else. And make sure you park when you see a spot about a ten-to-fifteen minute walk away. Do not get lured in to park on site, unless you are fond of the great British tradition, queuing. That car park is at the end of that cul-de-sac.

There’s a John Lewis in Wycombe. No, not our old John-Lewis. That posh place thing which does them expensive Christmas ads.

The club is sponsored by Beechdean Dairy Ice Cream. I’d better be able to buy one of those bad boys in the ground. Otherwise, what is the point in the sponsorship? We’ll report back.

You must be so convenient for Hughenden Manor?

Hughenden Manor, just outside of Wycombe, was the home of Benjamin Disraeli, twice Prime Minister of Britain and one of the central figures in the creation of the modern Conservative Party.

Thanks to Grimsby Town FC for the picture of Dayle Southwell