Do you want to experience football in a provincial English town? The great news is that there are many clubs within an hour of the bright lights of London, and one definitely worth a visit is Wycombe Wanderers.
Since arriving in the Football League three decades ago they are now firmly established among the 92 league clubs of English football. Despite their relatively small resources, they have made headlines by reaching the Championship and recording some epic cup runs. Their charming stadium on the outskirts of High Wycombe is a delight and a day at the Wanderers is an excellent footballing day out from the capital.
Where is Wycombe?
Board one of the regular regional trains from the historic Marylebone Station in London, close to Baker Street and Paddington, and after passing Wembley Stadium you head north west out of the capital and into open countryside. In just half an hour you are in the heart of beautiful Buckinghamshire and you pull into the station at High Wycombe.
Wycombe is less than 40km from Oxford and has a population of 125,000, with the name derived from the River Wye that runs through it. In Victorian times it was known as a centre of furniture making, in particular Windsor Chairs – a fact recognised today in Wanderer’s very unusual nickname, the Chairboys! These days the manufacturing is largely gone and it is a popular place to live for London commuters.
The thriving town centre is largely pedestrianised and although modernised still features many attractive 18th and 19th Century buildings.
Wycombe stadium: Adams Park
Wycombe’s Adams Park opened in 1991 at the far end of the Sands Industrial Estate, on the western edge of High Wycombe. It means the stadium enjoys a charming rural location with fields and hills on three sides.
The stadium has a capacity of around 10,000 with four distinct covered stands. The main stand, the Frank Adams Stand, is on two tiers and has nearly 5,000 seats for spectators. It also includes the prestigious Woodlands Lounge, should you wish to enjoy a hospitality experience.
To the left is the only terrace remaining in the stadium, known as the Valley End, where the home fans gather. Opposite is the small North Stand, that also houses the club offices and changing rooms. The final stand is the East Stand, with seats for visiting supporters.
The low stands on three sides afford great views of the countryside surrounding Adams Park. For more than 10 years Wycombe shared the stadium with London Wasps rugby union side – they have since relocated to Coventry.
Wycombe Wanderers were first formed in 1887 after a meeting in a pub in the town. They spent the first century of their existence playing in the English non-leagues at their Loakes Park ground. Highlights included winning the now defunct FA Amateur Cup in 1931, and a run to the FA Cup Third Round in 1968 when they took First Division Middlesbrough to a replay.
The club’s fortunes dramatically changed when they relocated to Adams Park in 1991 and appointed Martin O’Neill, the former European Cup winning Nottingham Forest player, as their manager. They won the FA Trophy, the leading non-league competition, twice in three seasons and in 1993 achieved promotion to the Football League for the first time in their history.
Wanderers took the league by storm, winning the play-off final 4-2 in their first season to secure promotion to the third tier of English football. O’Neill left a season later, going on to manage numerous clubs with distinction including Leicester City, Celtic, Aston Villa and the Republic of Ireland.
He was replaced by Lawrie Sanchez, who scored the winning goal for Wimbledon’s ‘Crazy Gang’ in the 1988 FA Cup final against Liverpool. In 2001 the club went on an amazing FA Cup run from the First Round to the semi-finals, beating Wolves, Wimbledon and Leicester along the way. They ran giants Liverpool close in the semi-final at Villa Park but lost 2-1. The club then bounced between the third and fourth tiers and in 2012 become one the few fan-owned clubs in the English Football League.
Wycombe in the Championship
The appointment of the Chairboys’ popular former captain Gareth Ainsworth in 2012 proved to be inspirational. After escaping relegation from the league on the final day, Wanderers made significant progress, rebuilding their squad, and three years later recorded their highest-ever points tally to take them to the League Two play-off final, only to lose on penalties to Southend at Wembley.
Promotion to League One finally arrived in 2018. Despite being one of the smallest clubs in the third tier, two years later Wycombe finished third in League One and won the play-off final against Oxford to reach the Championship for the first time in their history.
Sadly Covid-19 restrictions meant that Wycombe had to play their Championship fixtures in front of largely empty stadiums. With a budget far smaller than any other Championship club, they were heavily tipped to be the division’s ‘whipping boys’. It was a tough campaign but Wycombe won huge plaudits for their fighting spirit all season. In the end the Chairboys were relegated, but this was only confirmed on the final day when, despite winning 3-0 at Middlesbrough, they finished just one point behind Derby County who edged to safety.
Visit Wycombe at Adams Park
A match at Wycombe provides the perfect contrast to a match in London. Why not make the most of your weekend in London and double up with a Premier League game and an EFL fixture at Adams Park?
Nickes.Com are delighted to be an official agent of Wycombe and together we will be delighted to make your day at Adams Park one to remember! Contact Nickes.Com and we will help you with your football trip to London.