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Rough guide to... Wycombe Wanderers
20 July 2004
In a nutshell
It's better to make a big-name manager than to make a big name a manager.
Their finest hour
The Martin O'Neill years were pretty good for Wycombe, culminating in promotion from the Conference in 1993 with a gap of 15 points between them and their nearest competitors. A storming 4-1 victory over Runcorn in the FA Trophy final made sure they achieved the double as they won their first promotion to the Football League. In the following season they did the inevitable ex-non-League thing and stormed their way past the wasters of Rochdale and Scunthorpe to end up in the (then) fourth division play-offs. There they dispatched Carlisle and Preston to record their second successive promotion.
It could have been even better. The next season they glanced the play-offs but because of the silly Premiership deciding that they were too poofy and blousy to have 22 teams in their league, it meant fewer promotion spaces for other clubs – and Wycombe missing out on a play-off place despite finishing sixth.
Of course, there is also the amazing FA Cup run in 2000-01, where Wycombe were narrowly defeated in the semis by Liverpool after beating such esteemed clubs as Wimbledon, Wolves, Millwall and, um, Grimsby.
I think the Chairboys might still be a bit miffed at Colchester for stealing the Conference title from them on goal difference back in 1992 – but given that they went up the next season, and then again the following season, I'm sure they got over it. Local rivalries? Well, with Buckinghamshire being the hotbed of football it is, then, um, well... Oxford is sort of nearby isn't it?
Not good. They started under the command of Lawrie Sanchez, who'd taken them on their amazing cup run the season before, and after only one win in 11 league games the club decided things weren't looking so good. I mean, come on, they even lost 3-1 to Town. Next up was John Gorman, taking temporary charge, who at least managed to keep them in the FA Cup and LDV while stuffing Bristol City 3-0 in the league (yeah, OK, they were down to nine men). But it wasn't long before the inevitable big-name saviour arrived in the form of Tony Adams, who proceeded to get them knocked out of the remaining cup competitions and keep them rooted to the bottom of the table.
Adams did manage to turn Wycombe from a losing team to a drawing team. He may have won only four games in 30, but 15 of these ended even. So, to be fair to the lad, Trevor, at the end of the day, the boy done, er, middling, I suppose. The season finished and down they went, losing hard-working midfielder Michael Simpson to Leyton Orient and talented forward Jermaine McSporran to Doncaster into the bargain.
Who's the Dadi?
I think it's more a case of "who's left?" Like Town, the Chairboys have lost quite a sizable chunk of their squad, leaving behind a few experienced players and a lot of youngsters. Joseph Durnell and Clint Easton have both been signed to bolster the midfield after falling out of favour at Bristol City and Norwich respectively, and the slightly inexperienced Michael Williamson has joined the defence on a season-long loan from Southampton. Added to the ranks are ex-Chesterfield and Bradford cheater Gus Uhlenbeek. But when I think of him, I just think of elbows. He'll probably do all right in the bottom division. They've also signed Gary Silk on loan from Portsmouth. He played one game in defence for Barnet last season. According to Wycombe's official website, he's a goalkeeper. Should somebody tell them?
The player to look out for could be Nathan Tyson. He joined Wycombe in January last year and scored three goals in 10 loan appearances. This was enough for Wycombe to offer their piggybank full of pennies to Reading to secure his services on a full-time basis. He repaid them by scoring six goals in 11 games in the run-in to the end of the season. Not too shabby for a team at the foot of the table. 2004–05 could be a good year for him.
Adams is still trying to secure a season-long contract with Stuart Nethercott, after he spent most of last season on loan at the club, and is also rumoured to be interested in ex-Town loanee Craig Armstrong.
Well, the Chairboys have the experience of Uhlenbeek, Nethercott, Marshall, Burnell and Easton to fall back on. Tony Adams has clearly realised that he needed some oldies to go with his youthful squad. The rest of the first team, bar long-termer Talia, looks likely to be made up of youth players and promoted scholars. I don't know what the feeling is at Wycombe, but it doesn't look good from here. The bookies seem to think they have as much chance as Town of going back up, so they clearly know something that I don't. Still, I'm going to say mid- to lower table. Twentieth.
They're the only league club from Buckinghamshire. Did I mention that? That's fairly trivial isn't it? They are also the current holders of the Evening Standard five-a-side trophy, which they have won twice (in 1994 and 1995). This tournament lasted only two years, such was the dominance of Wycombe. Or maybe no-one else wanted to play. Oh, and they're called the Chairboys because they were founded by a group of furniture makers. The Walnut-Chestboys just wouldn't have worked, would it?
The usual ones. Chairboys on the Net is still the most outstanding, though – and seems to know more about what's going on than the official site. Sound familiar?