Wycombe Wanderers Football Club

Wycombe Wanderers Football ClubThe BeginningChange

A Football Report
Wycombe Wanderers Football Club

Wycombe Wanderers Football Club

The Beginning

Wycombe Wanderers Football Club was officially formed in 1887 by several young workers in the furniture trade. The club was entered into the Southern League Division Two in 1896 and they had to wait only 6 years before their first trophy, the Berks and Bucks Senior Cup.

Still an amateur team, the side had very little success against the professional opposition in the Southern League and they decided to join the Great Western Suburban League in 1908.

A further change of league came shortly after the First World War, as the club joined the Spartan League. They won this league twice before joining the Isthmian league in the early 1920s. Wycombe Wanderers’ early years did not bring much league success.

However, they won the FA Amateur Cup during the 1930/1931 season. Hayes were defeated by Wycombe at Highbury, in front of 32,000 people.

Over the next few years, Wycombe Wanderers started to feel more at home in the Isthmian league. In 1956, they won the first of eight championships.

This success was followed the next season by another appearance in the FA Amateur Cup final. Unfortunately, Bishop Auckland proved too strong for Wycombe and their defeat at Wembley was watched by 90,000 people.

Change of League

The following decade did not bring much success for Wycombe. However, the appointment of Brian Lee as manager in 1969, brought renewed optimism to the club. Lee turned around the fortunes of the side, as they won four Isthmian league titles during his seven-year spell in charge.

Furthermore, in the 1973/1974 season, Wycombe Wanderers beat a League club for the first time in the FA Cup, with Newport County embarrassed at the hands of the team. The following season saw Bournemouth suffer a similar fate.

Club history was made in 1985, as the club were taken into the Gola League (now called the Football Conference) under the leadership of Paul Bence and Alan Gane. Unfortunately, they could only stay in the top flight of non-league football for one season but returned in 1987 after winning the Isthmian League once again.

Jim Kelman took over the managerial position in 1988 and he managed to lead the team to a fourth-place finish the following season. However, following a disappointing start to the subsequent season, he was forced to leave the club.

The Club’s Golden Era

The arrival of influential manager, Martin O’Neill, in early 1990, signalled the start of the club’s golden era. After only a few months in charge, O’Neill led Wycombe Wanderers to a County Cup victory.

At the end of the season, though, the club moved from Loakes Park, their home for nearly 100 years, to a new site out of town. O’Neill continued to lead the team to success, as they won the FA Trophy Final at the expense of Kidderminster. Furthermore, they managed a fifth place finish in the Conference.

The 1991/1992 season was an exciting one for Wycombe, and they were unlucky not to finish as champions. Colchester eventually denied them of this historic moment, cruelly winning the title on goal difference.

The club were desperate to be elected to the Football League and started the 1992/1993 season as favourites for the title. Wycombe Wanderers lived up to all expectations and set a Conference points record.

They became the first Buckinghamshire team to win election to the Football League. Wycombe also won the FA Trophy once again, defeating Runcorn in the final.

Steve Guppy earned the accolade of being the first Wycombe Wanderers’ player to score a goal in the Football League, when he scored against Carlisle in a 2-2 draw. In January, the club managed to reach second position in Division Three but could not maintain this pace for the rest of the season.

Wycombe managed to secure a play-off place, though, and Preston awaited the team at Wembley. Wycombe fans were full of despair at half-time, as their team trailed by 2 goals to 1. However, the team put on a magnificently brave performance during the second half and won the match 4-2.

The lofty heights of Division Two did not scare Wycombe, who finished the 1994/1995 season in sixth place. Soon after this achievement, Martin O’Neill left the club for Norwich City and Alan Smith was appointed in his place.

The 1996/1997 season started terribly, with the team noticeably shocked and upset by the departure of O’Neill. Alan Smith was forced to resign and Neil Smillie took over as Caretaker Manager, before John Gregory arrived from Aston Villa. Gregory only stayed with the club for a couple of years and Smillie was once again asked to take charge of the club.

Cup Excitement

The following few seasons saw Wycombe put in some mediocre performances under the leadership of Lawrie Sanchez. However, the 2000/2001 season was certainly one to remember.

Wycombe’s FA Cup run included exciting and impressive victories over Millwall, Grimsby, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Wimbledon and the high-flying Premiership side, Leicester. This impressive run led the team to the semi-finals of the Cup.

Wycombe travelled to Villa Park to face Liverpool, desperate for a place in the FA Cup final. Nobody thought that the team had much chance of success against such a strong Liverpool team. However, it was an extremely tight match, which finished 2-1 to Liverpool.

Unfortunately, the team’s exciting cup run had impacted negatively upon their league form. Wycombe once again flirted with relegation but eventually finished the season in thirteenth place. The following couple of seasons saw a similar pattern emerge in the league, and they finished eighteenth in 2003.

Several months into the following season, Sanchez left Wycombe, following a run of poor results. John Gorman replaced him and managed to lead the team to a successful LDV Vans Trophy run. Tony Adams was chosen to replace Gorman but he was unable to turn the fortunes of the club around. At the end of the 2003/2004 season, Wycombe Wanderers were sadly relegated. This relegation led to a mass exodus of influential players from the team.

Tony Adams was forced to sign several new players before the start of the 2004/2005 season. However, a run of inconsistent results at the start of the season forced Adams to resign in November.

John Gorman became manager once again and set about changing the style of the team, introducing attractive, free-flowing and attacking football. This suited Wycombe and they started the 2005/2006 season well, going 21 games unbeaten.

They reached the play-offs but failed to make the most of this opportunity. This failure signalled the end of Gorman’s reign at Wycombe, as Paul Lambert became manager.

The 2006/2007 season started brightly, as the team reached the semi-final of the Carling Cup, beating Fulham and Charlton along the way. Premiership giants, Chelsea, stood between Wycombe and a place in the Carling Cup final.

Amazingly, in the first leg of the tie, Wycombe held Chelsea to a draw at Adams Park. Although they lost the second leg at Stamford Bridge, Wycombe fans were incredibly proud of their team’s impressive exploits.

Unfortunately, Wycombe were unable to carry their Carling Cup form into the league and missed out on promotion once again. The team are currently in a play-off position in League Two.

Notable players

Steve Brown

Brown played in Wycombe’s midfield during the 1990s. He played in a total of 443 games and scored an impressive 43 goals. He helped the team reach the semi-final of the 2001 FA Cup before retiring in 2004. John Gorman quickly appointed him as his assistant and he remained involved in the club until 2007.

Keith Ryan

Ryan was signed by Martin O’Neill in 1990 and played over 500 games for Wycombe, scoring over 50 goals along the way. The highlight of his career was scoring in the FA Cup semi-final against Liverpool in 2001. John Gorman made him assistant manager alongside Steve Brown, following his retirement from the game.

Steve Guppy

Guppy was an instrumental part of the team which entered the Football League in 1993. He scored over 25 goals for the club.

Contact and Ticket Information

The club’s address is:
Wycombe Wanderers Football Club PLC
Adams Park
Hillbottom Road
High Wycombe
HP12 4HJ

  • Telephone number: 01494 472100
  • Fax: 01494 527633
  • E-mail: wwfc@wwfc.com
  • Tickets for matches can be bought here

Travel Information

  • By road: Leave the M40 at Junction 4, take the A4010 and cross over three roundabouts into New Road. Turn left at the first roundabout and at the next roundabout, turn right into Hillbottom Road.
  • By rail: High Wycombe railway station is 2.5 miles from the ground. There is a taxi rank at the station.
  • The club’s website has details of a Park and Ride scheme, as well as local bus routes.