Date: 22nd September 2012 at 7:32pm
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125 years ago some working class lads who worked in the furniture factories decided that they were enjoying their kickabouts so much that they got together in the back garden of 29 Duke Street, High Wycombe and between they formed Wycombe Wanderers.

They could never have known then what they were starting. If they had, they might have thought twice, but all they wanted to do was to play the embryonic game of association football. They literally had to fight for the right to play on the Rye.

They moved to the cricket ground and then Spring Gardens. The London to Marylebone line was soon built straight through the middle of the pitch so they moved to Loakes Park, on the side of an extreme slope. None of these things stopped them. They levelled the pitch and soon had a home to call their own.

Charley Harper was the driving force in those days. He moved from Hereford to teach in the town and yet he was soon enraptured by the club. He spent over 15 years at the club, twice being persuaded to stay on as secretary after offering to resign.

He was responsible for the club gaining senior status, he led us into the F.A. Cup, F.A. Amateur Cup and the Southern League Second Division as he built the club up. Our first Berks and Bucks Senior Cup triumph came in 1902, when several hundred supporters walked to Maidenhead to see their team lift the club.

The sense of achievement and loyalty of the football club had now been created and with the genie out of the bottle, there was no way to get it back in. After Harper we had Bernard Hooper, a debutant at just 16 years of age, he was captain by 18 and led the club into the Isthmian League in 1921.

Just to get to that stage saw the club effectively cease to exist as players, administrators and supporters alike went to fight for their country in the Great War. So many of them didn’t come back home.

The club established itself in the Isthmian League and began its’ fifty year quest to become the greatest amateur football club in the country. That dream was realised in 1931 when the F.A. Amateur Cup was won. Thousands of supporters greeted the players on their return to the town.

The F.A. Cup first round proper was reached for the first time, yet for a second time there was a war to fight, and the club met the call to arms to defeat the facism of Nazi Germany. This time was different however as football continued to played between 1939-1945.

At the conclusion of the war the clubs greatest benefactor, Frank Adams, purchased Loakes Park and then handed the deeds to the club. The greatest gift the club has ever received provided the base for greater success – back-to-back Isthmian League titles and a first ever visit to the home of football – Wembley in the F.A. Amateur Cup final.

Those that kicked the ball around on the Rye against Wycombe Nose Club back in 1887 were no longer around to see what they had started. There were more Isthmian League titles under Brian Lee and the third round proper of the F.A. Cup was reached and the then English first division leaders were held to a goal-less draw at Loakes Park.

The end of Amateur football in 1974 hit the club hard. They lost their sense of purpose and Frank Adams passed away in 1981. After a few years the club finally embraced national football and were soon competing at far flung places across the country.

A return to Wembley saw the F.A. Trophy lifted in front of 25,000 supporters. That was only the start of the rollercoaster. The non-league double was won with another Wembley triumph and the huge prize of promotion to the Football League.

The club reached the dizziest heights of the third tier of English football with yet another Wembley success and then F.A. Cup semi-finals were graced with the presence of the Oxford and Cambridge blue quarters.

There has since been another semi-final in the League Cup, with the then English Champions again held at home. There have also been two promotions and two relegations as the club has been visited by both success and failure.

We have been spoilt by the former and disappointed by the latter. The first 125 years of our existence act as a reminder of how we got here, how much blood, sweat and tears have been shed by all those who have been involved with our wonderful and unique club.

We were once known as a club with class. Our reputation proceeded us, especially during the amateur days when we travelled away in numbers. This afternoon we witnessed another club who showed that they too have class.

Before kick-off their fans rose almost to a man to applaud former manager Terry Brown. He was sat in one of the executive boxes having just been sacked by the club. Those Dons fans showed their appreciation to the man who won them three promotions in five years, the last of which returned them to the Football League.

Gary Waddock may be accused of many things, but he has always conducted himself with dignity and class whilst manager of Wycombe Wanderers. He must have been stood on that touchline this afternoon and felt sick to his stomach watching the events unfold on the pitch.

Gary Waddock will undoubtedly have felt a wide range of emotions this afternoon, the consequences to both he and his family will have weighed heavy upon him. He can feel justifiably aggrieved this evening as those players he trusted let him down in the most abject fashion.

Gary Waddock has seen his squad decimated by injuries and he has had to throw young players into the action. They struggled and yet they don’t deserve some of the scorn heaped upon them. Nine of the eleven starters this afternoon have all played more than 100 first team appearances in the Football League.

The vast majority of them were lamentable. They didn’t help their inexperienced team-mates and no-one led by example. Matt Spring and Stuart Lewis contributed a sprawling mess of misplaced passes. After a couple of brief flashes in the first half Jo Kuffour completely disappeared after the break.

Yet the performances of Dean Morgan and Richard Logan were disgraceful. They showed absolutely no respect for the shirts they were wearing and are cheating the fans that pay their wages. The fact that they did so on a day meant for celebrations is utterly intolerable.

After an opening twenty minutes of mediocre fare the Dons realised that the Blues were there for the taking and they soon took complete control of the game. The home side were in complete disarray and they should have been behind when Danny Foster was harshly adjudged to have handled Byron Harrison’s shot.

Fortunately Harrison couldn’t score in a brothel and his weak penalty was saved by loan goalkeeper Elliot Parish. Harrison missed another chance a minute later after Parish flapped at the cross but the ball hit the ‘striker’ on the head and bounced wide.

The Dons took a deserved lead in the 39th minute following a spell of possession which was finished off in fine style by midfielder Sammy Moore whose powerful drive from just outside the box crashed against the underside of the bar before nestling in the back of the net.

The second half saw the visitors content to sit on their lead and despite the home side posing almost no threat whatsoever, they still looked nervous as the clock ticked down. Gary Waddock had to replace the injured Lewis with Jesse Kewley-Graham and then the dismal Logan with Lee Angol.

The final throw of the dice was Olly Taylor, a teenager replacing the almost 40 year old Gareth Ainsworth. He almost created an unlikely equaliser in the 89th minute when he headed down for Kuffour but defender George Francomb made a vital last-ditch tackle to prevent an almost certain goal.

Dons goalkeeper Seb Brown was then forced into his first save of the afternoon when he held on to Taylor’s downward header in injury-time. The visitors really ought to have scored a second goal at the death when they broke from a corner but Parish denied Harrison in a one-on-one and substitute Huw Johnson fired the re-bound wide.

The final whistle put the Chairboys out of their misery. It is difficult to put into words just how bad this performance was. In 22 years of following the Blues I cannot think of a worse display. There cannot be a home fan who did not hate every minute of it.

It is quite clear now that after just seven matches the club faces a fight for survival, both on and off the pitch. Our prized and much cherished Football League status is at stake.

It comes as no surprise that whilst this match report was being written, the news that Gary Waddock had been sacked as manager of Wycombe Wanderers broke.

In the past there has been a sense of relief and even joy when managers have been sacked. On this occasion there are no such feelings. The manager has been let down by the players he has brought to this club and they ought to be ashamed.

Man of the Match: Steven Gregory – AFC Wimbledon


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