The play-offs begin here…
COVID-19 has changed the world. It’s changed football too – but yesterday showed that it hasn’t drained the emotion from it. At all. Wycombe Wanderers FC made history and while we had to live it on a screen, no one can take this away from us. 9th June 2020: the day we achieved the highest league finish in our 133-year existence. We’re not done yet, but this is cause for celebration.
I distinctly remember a conversation I had with Phil Catchpole pretty much exactly this time last year. We were discussing our respective upcoming projects – the brilliant Ringing The Blues podcast and this blog. Yet we weren’t discussing how we’d cover Wycombe’s bid for a place in the Championship come the following spring (well, summer as it’s transpired). Far from it.
Bill Luby and Jim Collis had not long withdrawn their investment interest, the squad was threadbare (only 14 players reported for that first day of pre-season last June, one of whom was the then-uncontracted Darius Charles), and we were staring down the barrel. The full story of what followed will be told in due course – and chronicled in Neil Harman‘s upcoming book – but the abridged version is this: Gaz, Dobbo and the rest of the management team, the Couhigs, and a group of lads so fantastic they’d pop Harry Redknapp all came together to perform a miracle in South Bucks.
It will probably take pulling off the unthinkable and actually winning the play-offs for this to go down as my favourite Wycombe season in 17 years as a fan – 2017/18 still holds that crown – but I’m sure many will already rank it as their number one – with good reason. Whichever way you look at it, the last ten months have been truly momentous. And to think things could get even better. We’ve gone from 3/1 for the drop to 5/1 for promotion to the second tier. Ridiculous.
Being a football supporter is about the journey as much as the glory at the end of it – and we have been on one hell of a ride, not just this season but ever since 3rd May 2014 – since 26th April 2014, depending on how you look at it. Some might even say since May 1995, when we missed out on a third tier play-off spot only because of the pyramid restructure (more on that next week). We deserve this moment, our chance to shine brighter than ever before and go beyond the furthest extent of our wildest dreams.
I’m not going to mention those who continue to try and discredit our achievement and all the hard work that went into it. We all know who they are and we’ve defended ourselves in the face of baseless demonisation for weeks. We’ve reacted with justifiable ridicule, but now … stuff ’em. We don’t need their validation. At the end of the day, whether we rewrite club history or get pumped 11-0 on aggregate, we’ve already won. Worst case scenario, little old Wycombe Wanderers are a competitive League One side in 2020/21.
One of the buzz words from events of recent days and weeks has been ‘unfair’. What they mean is ‘unfortunate’. It is unfortunate that certain teams have missed out on a shot at promotion or been relegated by a whisker, but that’s none of our concern. We know why we voted the way we did – just like 17/22 other clubs – and we don’t have to explain ourselves to anyone.
Those all-important dates are yet to be announced, but one thing is for sure:
WYCOMBE BLOODY WANDERERS ARE IN THE PLAY-OFFS WITH A CHANCE TO GO UP TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP.
This is our time. Let’s enjoy it.