Tag Archives: Fairytales

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.

Upon 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:

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 hope I can hold it together on the commentary…

gazbelieve

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I Believe In Fairytales Too

It’s almost impossible to believe that it was just one year ago since ‘The Great Escape’. My memories of the day in Torquay are a bit fuzzy. I’d been DJing in London the night before and got home at 4am, but felt so odd about the game I didn’t sleep a wink and arrived at Plainmoor driven by nervous energy and adrenalin (and some fish & chips). History was made and I’m pretty sure I could have run all the way back to London afterwards. That day has certainly been the catalyst in reviving the club’s fortunes. And now we all find ourselves on the eve of another potentially monumental day in the history of Wycombe Wanderers. Whatever happens against Northampton Town, at Prenton Park and The Globe Arena, this season has already been a fairytale in itself. When the final whistle blew against Morecambe and the other results were confirmed, I must admit to having a pang of disappointment to see The Chairboys cruelly slip out of the top three for the first time since September. However, two short post match interviews with Gareth Ainsworth later and the realisation of just how far the whole club has come in the last twelve months sunk in. He is a truly inspirational bloke, even when the dice was heavily loaded against him whilst having to learn the harsh lessons of management under the microscope of a relegation battle, Gareth remained positive. So can lightening strike twice? History dictates that you would be unwise to bet against it. Even if automatic promotion is a fairytale too far, the safety net of the play-offs is a touch more comforting than the Vanarama Conference and financial oblivion. Here are the thoughts of Gareth Ainsworth, talking to me for BBC3CR ahead of the game… For mobile & tablet version click here I also spoke with Matt Ingram… For mobile & tablet version click here Also, to get some insight into the camp of Southend United as they are in the box seat going into the final day, I spoke with my good friend and journalist, Brian Jeeves. For mobile & tablet version click here For those of you who didn’t get a ticket or will not be on the hill at Sixfields tomorrow, the game will be live on BBC Three Counties 98FM and on Chairboys Player around the world with myself and Scotty. #COYB!

JUST five minutes to go... Imagine going into injury time back in the top three against Northampton...!

JUST five minutes to go… Imagine going into injury time back in the top three against Northampton…!

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