Tag Archives: AFC Wimbledon

It’s magic, you know…

The magic moment that I’ve been patiently waiting for since the 1990s. I’d been predicting that this draw would happen to anyone who would listen to me over the last couple of months, and I admit that I’d imagined it actually taking place in the third round of the FA Cup. To see it pop out as the first two balls of the fourth round draw was surreal to say the least, and to think of some of the hugely unsavoury things that I’ve sung and shouted at Martin Keown down the years… You see, I’m one of those despicable people that support two football teams. Wycombe Wanderers and Tottenham Hotspur.

I come from a long line of Tottenham fans, my Nan was born and bred a goal kick away from White Hart Lane, whilst my other Grandparents lived up the road in Edmonton. One of my early memories is playing football in the back garden there and being able to hear the crowds at Spurs, the perfect back drop to my attempts to plant the plastic football in the bottom corner of the washing line post that played the part of the goal. My Dad has told me all about his regular outings to the Lane to watch Bill Nicholson’s double winners and it was his love of the game that took me and my brother to our first ever live match in January 1987, Wycombe Wanderers v Bromley in the Isthmian League. We had moved to High Wycombe a couple of years before and I remember wandering up to Loakes Park, wondering why that part of town always smelt of chocolate. The game was a tempestuous affair which The Chairboys won easily, with Bromley having a player sent off. The sights, the smells and the swearing ensured that I was hooked, whilst watching Declan Link whip corners in was a thing of beauty to my young eyes.

The next few seasons really were a golden age for the beautiful game for me. Later that year, I got an early dose of galling disappointment when Spurs somehow lost to Coventry City in the FA Cup final, a superb diving header from Keith Houchen breaking my heart. I carried that disappointment around with me until January 1989, when I was delighted by lowly Sutton United unceremoniously dumping the Sky Blues out of the third round. This, coupled with Wimbledon winning the cup in 1988 guaranteed that I fully understood the magic of the greatest club competition in the world.

After the thrillingly brilliant Italia 90 World Cup, it was all about Gazza and I was taken to see Spurs play for the first time, an away game at Loftus Road where they drew 0-0 with QPR. On leaving High Wycombe that day, I’d been cruelly informed that Gascoigne was injured and wouldn’t be playing, so I sat in silence the whole way down the A40, already acutely aware that an afternoon of observing Steve Sedgley lumber around the midfield wasn’t going to be great. The joke was on me as Gazza shone in a tight game with the cauldron like atmosphere of Loftus Road ensuring that I’d extended my vocabulary too.

I was by now a complete football obsessive, getting my fix from televised games, Sports Night and Match Of The Day, whilst tracking the Wanderers in the pages of Midweek and The Bucks Free Press. Take it away Barry Davies…

“Is Gascoigne going to have a crack? He is you know. OHHH I SAY…”  It’s still one of my favourite commentary moments ever. Whenever I hear it, I’m transported back home  dancing around the living room. Perfection.

I didn’t have to wait long to experience the FA Cup in the flesh either. Queuing up in the rain with my Dad outside the new home of The Chairboys to secure tickets for the second round clash against West Bromwich Albion. We were not to be disappointed… (WARNING – this video contains some awful ‘say what you see’ style punditry)

Next up, I got a paper round and some disposable income which was largely spent on season tickets to get me into Adams Park at every opportunity. Wycombe Wanderers became the focus for six wonderful years until I went to university in London and started to go and watch Tottenham and experience the dizzy heights of the Premier League.

2000/2001 really did set the bar high for FA Cup magic. Wycombe Wanderers and Tottenham both marching to the semi-finals, only to avoid each other and both get knocked out (yet more heartbreak!) The Chairboys run was simply magnificent though, and the fifth round replay against Wimbledon at Selhurst Park is one of the best games I have ever been to for pure drama. Over to you Alan Parry…

I wasn’t at Filbert Street as I had to work, so I listened to the game on the radio. I just couldn’t believe it when Roy Essandoh scored, mainly because I’d seen him make his debut for Wycombe the week before and I had decided that he made Trevor Aylott look like Roberto Baggio by comparison. A free agent, signed after the club put a plea out on teletext for a striker who wasn’t cup tied, he scored only one goal that season and it knocked high flying Premier League Leicester City out of the cup. Unbelievable.

Since then, there has been very little for me to speak of in terms of romance in the FA Cup. I remember getting up in the middle of the night in Beijing to watch Tottenham get beaten by Portsmouth, another semi-final defeat. Another low point was the then non league Fleetwood Town brushing Wycombe aside 2-0, despite having a man sent off in the first half. I was away in Albania and 5Live had the game as their main commentary match and I’ll never forget Mark Lawrenson summing up the performance.

“This is the worst display from a Football League side in the FA Cup that I have ever seen.” 

Ouch. The magic can go both ways.

Last season, Wycombe took Aston Villa to a replay before bowing out in the third round. This was a great achievement, but with Villa going through a horrendous season it lacked the sparkle of previous cup endeavours.

Since falling into commentating a few years ago, Wycombe Wanderers have provided me with a real rollercoaster ride to describe. From survival at Torquay to losing on penalties in the play off final at Wembley, I’ve loved every single minute of it. With White Hart Lane being demolished at the end of this season, I knew that the FA Cup with Wycombe  was my only realistic shot of being able to commentate on a game there. Somehow, I just knew it would happen.

Thirty years have passed since my first ever game at Loakes Park and I’m delighted that both my dad and brother will also be at White Hart Lane to see our two teams walk out side by side. I just I hope I can hold it together on the commentary…

gazbelieve

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Accrington Stanley (A)

With Christmas fast approaching, table topping Wycombe Wanderers and their fans face a long trip to Accrington Stanley. The Chairboys haven’t kept a clean sheet since 18th October and Accrington Stanley have one of the most porous defences in L2. With Wycombe being the top scorers in the division and Accrington the second most prolific in front of goal, could we be in for a goalfest? Tune into Chairboys Player at 2.55pm for full commentary to find out.

Here are the thoughts of Gareth Ainsworth ahead of the game at the Crown Ground

Mobile & tablet version here

Safe journeys to all those making the trip. #COYB!

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Wycombe Wanderers 2 AFC Wimbledon 0

‘There is no substitute for hard work’ – Thomas A. Edison

Wise words indeed and the current Wycombe Wanderers team are a fantastic example of where working hard can get you. There are absolutely no passengers in the Wycombe team so far this season, the work ethic is evident from front to back and on this solid base confidence is growing. It’s wonderful to witness the audacity of shooting from forty yards (especially when they go in), Peter Murphy ghosting past five players to create an excellent chance and players who are comfortable in possession. There is a swagger developing with the Chairboys, and I mean this in the positive sense as this team have earned the right to play through hard work. The performance against AFC Wimbledon was a tremendous illustration of this.

Much was made of the attacking threat of the visitors in the build up to the game. The predatory prowess of Matt Tubbs coupled with the effective battering ram of Adebayo Akinfenwa has produced an impressive seventeen goals so far for the Wombles. The sigh of relief was almost audible around Adams Park as the news filtered through that Aaron Pierre was fit and in the team, whilst the return of Danny Rowe added defensive cover on the bench. Pierre and Mawson were superb but it was a team effort which left both Tubbs and Akinfenwa with just yellow cards to show for a frustrating first half. The Chairboys were pretty much first to everything, cutting down the supply line to the gravitationally gifted Akinfenwa which in turn gave nothing for Tubbs to feed off. Wimbledon had to resort to pumping long balls from the goalkeeper and each time Peter Murphy got in front of Akinfenwa to assist the defence. Wingers Sean Rigg and George Francomb could not get a footing in the game up against Wycombe’s full backs who were offered further protection by Sam Wood and Paris Cowan-Hall. Personally, I thought it was Cowan-Hall’s best all round performance in the quarters, a consistent attacking threat which was more than matched by his defensive endeavours. A true ‘Ainsworth’ style of wing play.

The breakthrough came shortly into the second half, with Josh Scowen bursting onto an excellent header from Steven Craig and calmly slotting past James Shea. Peter Murphy could have doubled the lead after a fantastic run but was thwarted by a great save but all the while the Chairboys were never in any danger. The game was wrapped up by a flying Sam Wood, whose header diverted an off target effort by Craig into the empty net following some good build up play.

I asked Neal Ardley after the game where he thought it went wrong for his side and he candidly responded ‘all over the pitch’. The Wimbledon manager conceded that they were second best and that Gareth and his team had certainly done their homework before the game.

So that’s ten games unbeaten in the league now and over half way to the magical points total. The only cloud that remains is the size of the squad ahead of the long winter. As the doubt around Pierre highlighted last week, it could only take a few injuries to reveal that there are not many substitutes for the hard workers.

For my post match interview with Gareth Ainsworth, click here

Here are the commentary highlights from the game and a special mention for Will Vince, who made a very assured home debut behind the mic as summariser. Many thanks to Keith Cummings for the audio.

Mobile & tablet version here

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Wombles

Last season’s defeat at home to AFC Wimbledon was one of the real low points at Adams Park for me. For many Wycombe fans, the gutless second half display was a confirmation of the pain that was to come for the rest of the campaign. The previous season, the Wombles victory not only spoilt the Chairboy’s birthday celebrations but was enough for Gary Waddock to be removed as manager too. A lot has changed for both clubs since then and this game promises to be a cracker. The visitors have an in form striking partnership in Adebayo Akinfenwa and Matt Tubbs, who shot down table topping Bury last time out, giving Wycombe the chance to take over at the summit. They will be looking to repeat the trick again and could possibly come up against a re-jigged back line. Aaron Pierre is a serious doubt for the match following his knock against Morecambe and with no sign of Danny Rowe returning yet, the defence is incredibly stretched. However, Wycombe Wanderers are brimming with confidence too, especially with the two wonder strikes at the Globe Arena coupled with another goal for Paul Hayes. That’s twelve goals in eighteen games in a Wycombe shirt for the skipper.

Here are the thoughts of Gareth Ainsworth

Mobile & tablet version here

Wycombe Wanderers at the Footballers Battalion Memorial

Geoff Doyle of BBC3CR summed it all up in this tweet.

So wonderful & classy that boss Gareth Ainsworth took L2 leaders not to La Manga but to the Somme this week for life education

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