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Strummerville to Waterlooville November 1976
(Research, memories and words by Paul Lewis - First published 18th November 2016 to mark the 40th anniversary)
Waterlooville v Wycombe - November 1976 - Click to enlargeBack in mid November 1976 Wanderers fans were looking forward to the start of the FA Cup competition proper. Merthyr Tydfil had been dismissed 3-1 at Loakes Parrk in the final qualifying tie thanks to goals from Micky Holifield, Alan Phillips and Ian Pearson. Opponents in the First Round proper to be played on Saturday 20th November 1976 were the relatively unknown Waterlooville.

The Southern League, Division One South, side had battled through all the qualifying rounds to reach this stage, including a 4-1 home victory over Wanderers’ fellow Isthmian Leaguers Hendon. The tie could not be taken lightly and local interest in the game was high with the Hampshire side having only reached the First Round stage on one previous occasion.

Interest from Wycombe fans was high too. It was just two seasons since Wanderers had hit the national headlines as they reached the Third Round before bowing out to Middlesbrough, while the 1975/76 campaign had ended with a gallant Second Round defeat away to Cardiff City. An estimated 600 were expected to travel to support the Wanderers in Hampshire. Many would use one of several official coaches organised by the Supporters Club, while others would risk the delights of an independently arranged coach, known affectionately at the time as a ‘Nutters Express’.

The Clash at The Nags Head 18th November 1976 - advert from the Bucks Free PressWhile demand to see Wanderers’ tie at Waterlooville, some 80 miles from High Wycombe, was impressive, an event closer to home, just two days prior to the trip to Hampshire, failed to capture the imagination of the Buckinghamshire public.

Playing down The Nag’s Head, on the London Road, High Wycombe on Thursday 18th November 1976 were an up and coming punk band called The Clash. 50p would have gained you entry that night to the Ron Watts promoted gig – this assuming you could have drawn yourself away from watching the live coverage of Miss World broadcast by the BBC from The Albert Hall. The Nag’s Head was half-full that night, with much of the audience made up of record company A&R men eager to see why there was such a fuss about a band who had only debuted on the live circuit the previous July – a support slot for The S*x Pistols at a Sheffield pub.

Lead singer Joe Strummer came on stage at The Nag's Head sporting freshly dyed blonde hair and a boiler suit with HATE AND WAR painted across the back. They blasted through a set including ‘White Riot’, ‘London’s Burning’ and ’48 Hours’. Just over two weeks later The Pistols said some rude words on national TV and punk was truly born – a month later The Clash signed a £100,000 record deal with CBS.

An extended article on The Clash gig at The Nag's Head in November 1976 is due to be published on the soon to be launched www.wycombegigs.co.uk website.

Less then ’48 Hours’ after The Clash had secretly blown away The Nags’s Head, Wanderers rolled into Hampshire with a swagger. The ‘Nutters Express’ poured off its passengers and joined the majority of the Wycombe following crammed immediately behind the goal on an open terrace at Waterlooville’s 4,000 capacity Jubilee Park ground. It probably wasn’t safe but this was the 1970’s.

Kicking towards their own fans, Wanderers got off to flyer. After just 14 minutes Tony Horseman shrugged off the challenge of a home defender before chipping the ball back across the face of the goal where John Priestley hooked home a volley. The Wycombe fans celebrated wildly with many hardly able to see the ball cross the line, such was the squeeze.

Five minutes later the lead was doubled when Horseman was the provider again, crossing from the left for Dylan Evans to send a header against the crossbar. With Waterlooville ‘keeper Richard Damerell on the ground, Howard Kennedy was first on hand to jump and head in the rebound.

This time the surge to see the action caused part of the pitch surround rail behind the goal to give way. Some Wycombe fans spilled onto the pitch but the incident left several fans injured in the crush. The game was stopped for around five minutes while medical staff attended - taking one unfortunate Wycombe supporter to a nearby hospital with a broken leg.

The incident took the edge off the support for the Wanderers but the action on the pitch continued in a frenzy but without any further goals before the break. Wycombe had chances to completely wrap the tie up during the second period but having refused to sit back on the lead were pegged back on 68 minutes – Mick Bennett crossing low for an unmarked John Robson to convert.

There were nervous looks from the Wycombe fans but a solid display from central defenders Keith Mead and Alan Phillips, plus goalkeeper John Maskell, ensured it was Wanderers who went into the Second Round draw where they were rewarded with a home tie with Reading.

There was relatively happy news too for the Wycombe fan with the broken leg. Steve Stroud (nicknamed 'Cheese Roll' at the time) was discharged later that evening and despite his injury managed to travel back to High Wycombe on one of the ‘special coaches’. Now that is punk.
Wycombe: J.Maskell; P.Birdseye, K.Mead, A.Phillips, R.Davies; H.Kennedy, J.Priestley, M.Holifield, A.Horseman, (sub 75 A.Davies 75), D.Evans, I.Pearson
Scorers: Priestley 14, Kennedy 19
Waterlooville: R.Damerell; A.Gill, J.Kill, A.Avery, A.Stones, K.Finley, T.Williams, M.Seymour, J.Robson, M.Bennett, K.Manns - sub not used: R.Sykes
Scorers: Robson 68
Referee: A.Gunn Attendance: 3,600

Also see:

Wanderers into the record books and the night Ron Watts first saw The S*x Pistols

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