Date: 24th October 2011 at 12:28pm
Written by:

Once upon a time is how most fairytales begin and Wycombe Wanderers playing the likes of Charlton Athletic on equal terms in the third tier of English football was once a fairytale for the Chairboys. One of their famous sons, Sid Cann, left the Valley to become the first coach to lead the Wanderers to the Isthmian League title. Such glory is now somewhat faded and tomorrow`s clash between the two sides is surrounded in a fog-like gloom that can often envelope Adams Park at this time of year.

Any optimism from the away victory at Hartlepool evaporated following a depressing defeat at Oldham Athletic at the weekend and the next three games loom large like the big, bad wolf over little red riding hood. The sequence begins with a meeting with another Athletic, an apposite title given their current form which sees them sitting on top of the table.

Once upon a time hosting a club like the Addicks might have been preceded with excited anticipation and close to a sell-out crowd but the only previous league clash in January 2010 saw just over 6,000 in attendance and this time around it could drop below the 4,000 mark commonly associated with midweek fixtures.

Manager Gary Waddock appears to be fighting a losing battle. Rumours are rife of a bust-up with certain members of the squad and with too many Wanderers fans holding unrealistic expectations matters could soon come to a head. Despite the majority of supporters hopeful that the current boss will be afforded time to turn things around, results will determine his future.

Charlton is located on the South side of the River Thames in East London and is recorded in the Doomsday Book as Cerletone which means ‘farmstead of the freemen or peasants’. In the 18th century writer Daniel Defoe described it as a village infamous for the yearly collected rabble of mad-people. The Thames Barrier and the Millennium Dome can found nearby.

Charlton Athletic F.C. was formed in 1905 by a group of teenage boys but the club’s early years were hampered by the nearby presence of Woolwich Arsenal F.C. The Gunners moved to North London in 1913 and the Addicks enjoyed a rapid progression. They joined the Kent League, the Southern League and then the Football League in the three years after the First World War.

The club’s greatest achievement was winning the F.A. Cup at Wembley in 1947. They suffered from severe mismanagement in the 1980`s, which began with the signing of former European Footballer of the Year Allan Simonsen, before falling into administration and being forced to leave their home at the Valley. They were forced to groundshare with Crystal Palace and West Ham United before finally making a welcome return to the Valley in December 1992.

The Addicks have always played in red and white, having played their first matches in the borrowed kits of their local rivals Woolwich Arsenal. The only exception came during the 1923-24 season when they wore “our colours” of light and dark blue stripes which were also the colours of Catford Southend as part of the proposed move to Catford which subsequently collapsed.

Many famous people have come from the area including King Henry VIII who was born in Greenwich in 1491. Dr Samuel Johnson lived in Greenwich when he first came to London in 1736. Actress Vanessa Redgrave was also born in Greenwich as was actor Blake Harrison (‘Neil’ from The Inbetweeners).

The club has several famous followers, none more so that Rodney ‘Charlton’ Trotter! Others include Michael Grade, Bjorn Borg, Steve Ryder, Karl Howman and Jim Davidson.

There have also been quite a few men to have played for and coached both sides and they include Ben Roberts; Grant Basey, Nathan Ashton; Mark Robson, Paul Emblen, Rob Lee, Len Worley; Dennis Edwards, Scott McGleish, Steve Jones; Don Welsh, Sid Cann and Les Reed.

The two clubs first met in September 1957 in the final of the Battle of Britain Cup which Charlton won 5-0 at Loakes Park. There have also been two recent pre-season friendlies at Adams Park. The visitors had just been promoted to the Premier League in 1998 and won 3-0 before winning 2-1 in July 2004 with striker Nathan Tyson scoring our first ever goal against the Addicks. In the latter fixture the Blues fielded two trialists – Tom Davis and Sven Fischer – remember them?

The only competitive league meeting in Buckinghamshire came in a League One fixture in January 2010 with the Wanderers staring down the relegation barrel. A creditable 1-1 draw at Leeds United the previous weekend had given some supporters hope but they were still reeling from the news that bearded midfielder maestro Tommy Doherty had been released from his contract at his own request.

The hosts made a positive start against their promotion chasing opponents with Stuart Beavon and Jon-Paul Pittman firing early shots wide of the target but some woeful defending allowed the visitors to break the deadlock on eleven minutes when midfielder Jonjo Shelvey was given too much room in the box to fire a low shot across goalkeeper Scott Shearer and into the bottom corner.

Shearer made a good save to deny striker Dave Mooney before the Wanderers levelled on the hour. Stuart Green (no, really!) pulled the ball back for Pittman who turned sharply to fire low into the net. A point was surrendered in comical fashion soon afterwards when Shearer parried an effort from Shelvey only for defender Craig Woodman to smash his clearance into an opponent and it ricocheted into the path of midfielder Nicky Bailey and he fired the ball into the net.

“All that`s left are memories”