Statistically speaking… (#1)

The first part of a new series accompanying the relaunched Chairboys Trivia

On 26th October last year, Wycombe produced a defensive masterclass to win 1-0 at Rotherham. The onset of COVID-19 meant the scheduled reverse fixture in League One never took place, though – so a meeting on the opening day of the Championship season will have to suffice! An unprecedented 406 days on from the start of the last league campaign – and 189 days since the end of it for the visitors – we go again.

And we go in search of a fifth win in eight curtain-raisers under Gareth Ainsworth. In fact, Adams Park has proved impenetrable on day one since Accrington – who we’ve still not beaten on home turf – took all three points with a 1-0 victory back in 2007. We’ve actually kicked off the campaign at home 17 times in our 27 years in the Football League, with our only other loss coming at the hands of Luton by the same scoreline in 1998.

Speaking of Luton – potentially our first Championship opponents in front of a crowd, albeit away from home – our last home clash with the Hatters in September 2017 (the less said about that game, the better…) sparked a sequence that could continue today/on Saturday: eight home league games unbeaten against teams nicknamed after land-based professions. For the record, those are: Railwaymen (Crewe); Glovers (Yeovil); Hatters again; Brewers (Burton); Iron (Scunthorpe); Saddlers (Walsall); Brewers once more; Tractor Boys (Ipswich). Rotherham are, of course, the Millers. Just to balance things out, we’ve fared altogether less well against sides with maritime monikers, with Bristol Rovers (Pirates), Southend (Shrimpers) and Fleetwood (Cod Army) all winning at Adams Park in that time.

The ongoing floodlight upgrades (no, I don’t have any stats on the wattage of the new bulbs) may have seen kick-off brought forward to the earlier time of 12:30, but in terms of the date, this is our latest Football League season opener. It’s not the latest start to a season in club history, though. We’ve got underway on this date or even later on 16 occasions – although you’d have to be in your 80s to remember the most recent one. That was the last wartime season, which began with a quite ridiculous 6-5 triumph at Windsor Works. We ended up as the 1944/45 Great Western Combination champions. There you go; that’s your omen.

While we’re on the subject of major disruptions to the game, it’s worth venturing all the way back to March 1919. The Football League was preparing to resume normal service after World War I, but there was one complication: the First Division was about to be expanded from 20 to 22 teams, following a proposal put forward by Blackpool. Long story short: Arsenal were voted into the top flight – despite having finished sixth in 1914/15, the last completed season before the conflict – at the expense of – you guessed it – Tottenham. They’ve remained there ever since. So there’s another omen: teams promoted in unconventional circumstances are immune to relegation. Or something.

2020/21 may technically have begun on Sunday at Brentford, but this – our Championship bow – feels like the real dawn of Wycombe Wanderers Football Club’s biggest – and hopefully greatest – ever season. One final omen? Well, the last time the League Cup started before the league (2012/13), we were also knocked out by stinging insects (the Hornets, Watford). Then we went and beat York 3-1 in our first League Two match. And who do we have here today? Oh yes, another Yorkshire opponent. What do you mean none of this means anything?

Header graphic: Dan Clark

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