Comments made in the Fulham v Wycombe programme from 17 January
1998 caused uproar in the Wycombe camp. The controversy came after the
former failed manager at Crystal Palace and Wycombe, Alan
Smith, claimed credit for signing several of Wycombe's promising
young players. The words fired up Wycombe officials and supporters alike.
These are the facts - unless you know otherwise.
Smith, now Youth Team Coach at Craven Cottage said in his column "We entertained Wycombe here on Tuesday and I was delighted to see Alan Beeton, Aaron Patton and Gary Wraight making the first team squad as all these players were signed by me as first year apprentices when I was manager at Wycombe" He went on to add "In particular the performance of Maurice Harkin which was so good after this player had been released by Watford." The comments provoked strong reaction from those connected with Wycombe .
Speaking after the game, current Manager John Gregory said "Alan Smith had nothing whatsoever to do with bringing the four boys to the club. Steve Walford was directly responsible for bringing them, for which I'm very grateful. For the previous manager to come out and take credit is very galling" Smith's programme notes came before Wycombe earnt a creditable draw against the club owned by Harrods boss Al Fayed. Gregory added "It was Harrods against the cornershop and we showed there's still plenty of life in the cornershop"
The comments also stirred up hot-headed Wycombe director Alan Parry, who in his programme notes the following week said "I'm sure that our former manager Alan Smith won't mind me correcting a wrong impression which might have been created by his article in the match programme for the Fulham v Wycombe game" He went on to quote from the programme before stating "The truth is somewhat different. All four of these players were brought to Wycombe Wanderers by our former Youth Team Manager, Steve Walford. At the time they signed as first year apprentices Wycombe's manager was Martin O'Neill. The four players concerned were all at this club before Mr Smith was appointed manager in the summer of 1995." After praising the players, Youth Development Officer, Adrian Cole, and Neil Smillie and John Gregory, Parry concluded with the tongue in cheek comment "I'm sure Mr Smith would not wish to take credit for the ability and hard work of other people."
The final word, however, goes to the fans. Chairboys on the Net asked for opinions at the recent game with Blackpool and got plenty. These are the few comments that remain ,that are either printable or not libellous. Names have been withheld to protect the innocent. One Wycombe fan said "He makes me sick everytime I hear his grating squeaky voice - if I saw him in the street I'd punch him for all the pain he's caused Wycombe fans to suffer." This was complemented by a fellow Wycombe fan who said "It's just what you'd expect from the slimey toad that he is" Finally on a more articulate note, a bitter supporter said "These are the words of a man desperate to distort the truth to his advantage - the only thing Smith brought to Wycombe was doom and gloom and those bloody awful shirts"
So is this the last of Smith's tales of the unexpected?- let us know what you find or hear.
THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE