It’s been over two weeks now since the final game of the league season, but for Wycombe Wanderers fans I think it’s only just sunk in that we are still going to be a Football League club next season.
Needing to win away at already relegated Torquay, and hoping either Northampton or Bristol Rovers lose, the day started of so brightly as Sam Wood gave us the lead, and within a minute, Gary Waddock, now at Oxford, handed us a favour, taking a one-nil lead over Northampton. The subsequent dismissal of Oxford’s goal scorer Williams, Northampton went into half-time 2-1 up.
Over at the Memorial Stadium in Bristol, a now Wycombe Wanderers legend Colin Daniel had rifled Mansfield Town into a 1-0 lead at the break against Rovers. All Wycombe fans had eyes on the Bristol Rovers game from half time onwards, with Steven Craig doubling our advantage from the penalty spot just before the break. Northampton went on to win 3-1, we won 3-0, and all eyes turned to the Bristol, where Mansfield held on, winning 1-0, relegating Bristol Rovers and keeping little old Wycombe Wanderers in League Two.
The euphoria surrounding the day masked what has been possibly the worst season I can remember as a Wycombe Wanderers fan, and it all looked so promising after how close we ran Championship winners Leicester City in the Capital One Cup back in August. A first full season with Gareth Ainsworth but the trust in charge seemingly hasn’t worked, and the supposed new investment promised a few months back seem to have completely vanished leaving us in the same position.
In my opinion, we should stick with Ainsworth, not that we have a choice, but as a young, vibrant manager he has potential to be a top coach. His first job in management is very tough, and with limited experience in his backroom staff it was always going to be difficult for the Football League legend, but I won’t judge him until the end of next season.
It was clearly a poor campaign by all standards, but to stay up showed real character from where we sat following our loss to Bristol Rovers the week before. Very few players stood out this season in the relegation scrap, but the interest from clubs in higher divisions shows that some did play well. Charles Dunne was snapped up by Championship Blackpool in January, and goalkeeper Matt Ingram had Blackpool and West Brom tracking him after a strong first half of the season.
Later on in the season, and on deadline day of the loan window, Josh Scowen received a loan with an option to buy deal from an anonymous League One side, which Wycombe accepted. Scowen himself turned down the deal in favour of staying at the side who provided him with his first taste of league football. Whether these players will stay around this summer is unknown yet, but the likelihood is slim.
Josh Scowen picked up the Player of the Season award for his passionate, heart-felt performances in the Wanderers midfield, where as Max Kretzschmar burst onto the block this season with some superb performances and goals, and picking up the Young Player of the Season award. On a personal note, despite a season riddled by injuries I was impressed by summer signing Paris Cowan-Hall, who possesses bags of skill, pace and trickery, and goal scoring ability, most notably with his head for someone who is only 5″8! Another plus this season was the fact Matt Bloomfield came through a whole season without a major injury for the first time in a number of years, and quite fitting that it was his 10th season in light and dark blue.
Since this momentous day things have looked seemingly up for the Wanderers. With a handful of outs this summer, including fans favourite Leon Johnson who ends a seven-year stay at Adams Park and Marvin McCoy, the former security guard, who racked up 100 Wycombe Wanderers appearances during four years with the club.
The other seven to go were Lee Angol, Jesse Kewley-Graham, Jo Kuffour, Anthony Jeffrey, Dean Morgan, Matt Spring and Jon-Paul Pittman after an unsuccessful second spell for the Chairboys. In the week following this, Wycombe have made two signings, and both have them have put big, gleaming smiles on the face of every Wanderers fan, with both players having previously had loan spells at Adams Park, and this time return permanently.
The first, Paul Hayes, spent the latter half of 2012 in Wycombe blue, scoring six goals in as many appearances. He reportedly tried to join the blues in January, but a move fell through because we couldn’t afford his wages. Having gone for his third spell at promoted Scunthorpe United, Hayes now has the chance to return to Wycombe with some of the wage bill recovered from the nine leavers.
The second arrival was a player who spent the last few months of this season at the heart of Wycombe’s back four. Aaron Pierre, a 21 year old centre back, made his league debut back in March and instantly became a hit with the fans. His massive 6”5 stature makes him stand out from the rest, and a big goal against Northampton on Good Friday put him straight into the hearts of everyone. With his former club Brentford achieving promotion to the Championship, and his first team chances limited, Pierre rejected a new contract at Griffin Park in favour of a permanent, three-year move to Wycombe Wanderers.
There will certainly be a few more signings, with Ainsworth opting for quality over quantity for next season. With two full backs and winger being top of the fans’ wish list, and with rumours of Jermaine McGlashan, Myles Weston, Marlon Pack and former Chairboys favourite Sergio Torres doing the rounds, all Wycombe fans are hoping to be looking slightly higher in the table this time next year.
More good news came in the news of Matt Bloomfield’s testimonial match. After 10 years of service to the club, his testimonial has once again excited all the fans, with a game against Premier League side Chelsea to look forward to during pre-season. Jose Mourinho said that he personally accepted the offer from Wycombe, creating something of a rematch from the Carling Cup semi final back in 2007, and Mourinho’s first stint at Stamford Bridge. With the match scheduled for 16th July, a few days after the curtains drawn on the World Cup, many of Chelsea’s big name players won’t be in action, but the potential to see players like Petr Cech, John Terry, Mohamed Salah and Tomas Kalas, it’ll be a great game for everyone involved, and most importantly, Matt Bloomfield.
We all love Wycombe, but I’m praying that we don’t leave it until the last day again this coming season, I don’t think my heart could take it! Here’s to an exciting summer and an improved season next year.
Written by George Stokes, We Are Going Up’s Wycombe Wanderers Blogger
George tweets at @georgestokes13