Wycombe Wanderers Football Club

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For those who follow football, you must know who Wycombe Wanderers are. Last year's celebrated FA Cup run brought the plucky team from Bucks worldwide fame with their fairytale story. I'll write a seperate guide entry for that. Still, those of you who don't know, or who would like to know more, then here you are! No fancy graphics, just pure history.

The Early Years

Wycombe Wanderers FC were founded in 1884. Back then, they were known as North Town Wanderers. In 1877 they changed their name to what we know them as today. After playing on various park pitches, Wycombe moved to Loakes Park, in the centre of town, in 1895. Good old LP had the characteristic non-league 11ft sloping pitch. Wycombe joined the Southern League later but they were outclassed as the league was turning more professional. Wanderers were an amateur team, playing for pride and not for profit. In 1908 Wanderers withdrew and joined the Great Western Suburban League. After World War I the club joined the Spartan League but after a while the club felt they needed tougher games and they joined the Isthmian League in 1921.

Post World War II

Wycombe remained in the Isthmian League for years but they didn't really challenge for honours. This was to change though when the team won the League in 1956. The following year they reached the FA Amateur Cup Final where they were easily beaten by Bishop Auckland. They also began to make regular appearances in the early stages of the FA Cup. However, the team's league form was getting to be quite poor and Wycombe appointed their first ever manager, Brian Lee, in 1969. Prior to his taking charge, a match committmee would meet at Loakes Park every Monday morning and pick the team. During Lee's revolutionary seven year stint as manager, Wycombe won the Isthmian League four times and finished runners-up twice. They also beat a Football League team for the first time in 1973/74, when they beat Newport County. The following season they reached the Second Round where they were beaten by First Division leaders Middlesborough, with a last minute goal in the replay.
Modern Times

In 1976, Brian Lee became Chairman and club patron, Frank Adams, began thinking of Wycombe moving to a new ground. Adams had gifted Wycombe with the deeds to Loakes Park in 1947. When Adams died in 1981, Wycombe were no closer to finding a new home. Wycombe were promoted to the Conference in the late 80's and a site in Sands was being discussed as the place for a new ground. Loakes Park was sold to developers and construction began on Adams Park (named after Frank Adams). Adams Park was completed quickly and the first game there was played in 1990. Martin O'Neill (yes the same one!) was appointed as maager five months before Adams Park was finished. O'Neill was to explode into management and at Wycombe he's still know as the 'messiah'. In 1991/92 Wycombe finished 5th in the Conference and won the FA Trophy for the first time, beating Kidderminster Harriers at Wembley. Home gates then soared. Now then concentrate for this next bit. Wycombe broke Conference records when they won 30 games and scored 94 goals. Yet, they still lost the title to Colchester on goal difference. This now explains our hatred for 'ColU'. Still, the next season we broke those records again and won the Conference by 15 points. They also retained the FA Trophy beating Runcorn 4-1 with 28,000 Chairboys cheering them on.
The Football League!

For Wycombe's first Division Three game, a respectable 1,500 fans made the trip to Carlisle. Wycombe reached the play-off final that year where O'Neill inspired them to beat Preston 4-2 after they were 2-1 down at half time. O'Neill was to leave for Norwich City in 1995. Alan Smith was appointed in 1995/96 but his style of play wasn't liked by Wycombe fans. His poor start to the 96/97 season cost him his job and he was replaced by John Gregory who helped Wycombe, along with Keith Scott, to avoid the drop. Gregory was snapped up by Aston Villa and youth team boss Neil Smillie was brought in. The inexperienced Smillie was out of his depth and it looked like Wanderers were destined to be relegated. Enter Lawrie Sanchez. Sanchez miraculously turned things around. He sold Keith Scott to Reading and with that money he bought Barnet frontman, Sean Devine. Devine and his goals helped Wycombe take 27 points from 17 games but despite this, Wycombe needed to beat Lincoln City on the last day of the season. With seven minutes remaining, Devine's cross was headed in by Paul Emblen. Crisis over, for now. Wycombe finished 13th last season (2000/2001) and they'e looking to improve on that this season.

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