With little more than 24 hours left of 2010, it seems fitting to take a look back at the year from a Chairboys perspective. It started with an air of resignation as the club looked destined to relegation and a return to the Football League`s basement after just one season. That proved to be the case although many were at least relieved that manager Gary Waddock managed to cobble together a squad that at least went down with something of a fight rather than in abject surrender.
Your correspondents` footballing highlight came in late March when Gareth Ainsworth gave that Essex rabble a small dose of their own medicine with an injury-time equaliser scored with his hand. Please don`t misunderstand us, we don`t condone cheating, we know Gaz didn`t mean it and it was just an accident. It was also good to see the new manager ship out a whole host of players who weren`t up to standard and replace them with better players.
The summer saw another large turnover and he has now built a squad in his own image. It has taken time to gel but for the most part there has been an improvement in individual and team performances. We are far from the finished article but with the side currently sat in 5th place in the League Two table, only out of the automatic places on goal difference, we are well placed to give promotion a real shot in 2011.
2010 also saw the World Cup finals in South Africa, which were enjoyed by many, particularly those who made the trip out there. Those who stayed at home and those who supported England were far from impressed, which is quite understandable from such a skewed perspective. Whilst it might not have been a classic, it did end with the right result with Spain deservedly being crowned Champions. At the very least it will be remembered if only for the unique soundtrack provided by the vuvuzela`s.
In the wider world of sport there were some great performances and achievements. Not least of those was that of Amy Williams, whose Gold medal was worthy of far greater recognition than she received. Jessica Ennis also deserves praise as does Tom Daley, both of whom had golden years. There was more glory for the European Ryder Cup side who overcame both the Americans and the weather. It might only have just happened but the England Cricket Team`s success in retaining the Ashes in Australia for the first time in 24 years should stand as the greatest sporting achievement of the year.
The work of Dave Evans in leading the Football in the Community and Richard Dobson in leading the Centre of Excellence has borne perhaps the greatest of fruits. The most tangible sign of its success is seen in the number of players coming through to the first team and we have seen the likes of Kadeem Harris and Matt McClure come through into the squad. Jerome Federico and Matt Ingram are the next in line to make their impact.
The greatest success has been the rise of Matt Phillips. He has shone since Paul Lambert gave him his opportunity back in 2008 and he has taken it with both hands. He showed fantastic skill and temperament and it has earned him a place in the Premier League with Blackpool. It is something he should be immensely proud of, but also something the club should be proud of too, especially all those who have played a part in his development.
It is somewhat depressing to read of the Premier League shenanigans recently in handing out what are ironically called “solidarity payments.” They will see the rich get even richer whilst the poor will get poorer. The Championship is becoming a Premier League 2 by stealth and will actually see clubs in the bottom two divisions lose money, particularly for their Community Schemes. We might not see the likes of Matt Phillips coming through our youth team in future because it will no longer be financially viable even to run a youth team.
Talking of finances inevitably leads us back to the state of our football club. Another year, another million pound loss and an increasing debt that is never likely to be paid back. The consequences have been seen at Boston United, Halifax Town and Scarborough and a similar fate looms large over the Chairboys. Of course the elephant in the room is the proposed new community stadium. We have been told it will help the club become financially sustainable but it has not been explained how.
Early in 2011 Wycombe District Council will make a decision whether to continue with the proposal. The result is a foregone conclusion (it`s one of the easier predictions for the New Year) and it will create yet more division between the supporters of the club and those in power. It is a depressing thought as is its inevitability. There has been a schism amongst the Wanderers support for most of the last decade and that will continue to grow unless Wycombe Sports Development Limited find the will to justify the move in detail so we can all be confident that it is in the betterment of Wycombe Wanderers. I want to protect my football club and I just want it to be safe so that the people of High Wycombe can share the enjoyment of all those that have been a part of it since 1884. Am I asking too much?
Given the situation off the field it is perhaps more important than ever that supporters get behind Gary Waddock and all of the players. They have endured a tough end to 2010 with the problems caused by the weather and far more significantly the heartbreaking loss of Scott Rendell`s newly born son Alfie.
Our deepest sympathies go to Scott, his partner Sam and their families. You are in our thoughts and we are with you. To all of those we have lost in 2010, we will always remember you.
It is time to get behind the team and show our appreciation for their efforts and their skill against all the odds. We have a great opportunity to achieve something in 2011 and we can all play our part. Whether you are wearing an Oxford and Cambridge blue or a black and white scarf you can still encourage the players, show some patience and understanding and help them to get the best out of themselves and bring more glory to Wycombe Wanderers.
2011 starts at Whaddon Road and it is far from a happy hunting ground for the Blues with just one league victory in nine previous visits. They have hit a season high but are eminently beatable. The signing of midfielder Scott Donnelly has been confirmed (welcome to Adams Park Scott) but he will be unavailable for the trip and manager Gary Waddock is likely to name an unchanged line-up to face the Robins. There could be a couple more new additions with midfielder Luke Howell and striker Marvin Morgan rumoured to be targets (file under: tittle-tattle). Whatever happens, we will still be here for the ride in 2011 and we`ll be singing the Blues. Come and join us, won`t you?