Lawrie Sanchez - playing in his Wimbledon days

Lawrie Sanchez in Profile

by Chairboys on the Net
Born: Lambeth 22 October 1959
Playing Career: (Midfielder)
Reading 1977 - 1984 262 apps-28 goals
Wimbledon 1984-1993 228 apps-27 goals
Swindon Town 1993-1994
Northern Ireland 3 caps
Managerial Career:
Sligo Rovers (Ireland) 1994-1995 Player/Manager
Wimbledon August 1995-Feb 1999 Reserve Team Manager
Wycombe Wanderers Appointed 5th Feb 1999 - Sacked 30th Sep 2003

SANCHEZ - MISSION'S IMPOSSIBLE

Lawrie Sanchez became the local hero when he guided Wycombe to safety at the end of the 1998/99 season. He led the side to six away wins from the last eight to sneak out of the relegation zone on the last day of the season at Lincoln. Two years later he very nearly guided Wanderers to the completely unbelievable position of FA Cup finalists.

Sanchez became the third consecutive Wycombe Manager to have previously appeared in an FA Cup Final when he moved into the hot seat at Adams Park in February 1999. Sanchez's moment was more special than John Gregory (QPR 1982) or Neil Smillie (Brighton 1983) though. As a member of the Wimbledon 'crazy gang' team of 1988 he scored the winning goal against all the odds versus Liverpool. His headed goal means that Sanchez is folklore with Dons fans.
Sanchez began his professional career at Reading following a period as an Associate Schoolboy. He made his Football League debut in October 1977 against a Wimbledon side that included Dave Bassett. After seven years at Elm Park, Wimbledon, now managed by Bassett and still in the old Second Division, paid 30,000 for Sanchez. During his eight years with 'The Dons' he hit the headlines by scoring the goal that secured promotion to the old First Division in 1986 with a goal against Huddersfield and two years later with his famous cup winning goal.
It was also during his time at Wimbledon that Sanchez first encountered John Fashanu. Sanchez claimed that the striker had attacked him in a training session and suggested that there had been aggravation between the two since Fashanu joined 'The Dons' in 1985. During an interview talking about this period Sanchez said "You could say we hated each other". It was also during this time that he won three caps for Northern Ireland under the Managership of Billy Bingham.
Sanchez finally left Wimbledon in 1993 but spent an unhappy season at newly promoted Swindon Town. Swindon were relegated after just one season in the Premiership and Sanchez left to join Sligo Rovers on the west coast of Ireland. Sanchez took over from Willie McStay who during the previous season had won promotion to the Premier League of Ireland and achieved a memorable Irish Cup win against Derry City. The cup victory meant that Sanchez had the honour of leading Rovers into Europe in the Cup Winners Cup and actually played as Rovers overcame Florianna 3-2 on aggregate in the Preliminary Round before losing 5-2 over two games to FC Brugge. In their defence of the Irish Cup, Sanchez took the team to the semi-finals before losing 3-1 to Shelbourne. In the league, just one victory from their last nine games saw Rovers finish 8th in the table out of 12 with a record of:
Played 33 Won 12 Drew 7	Lost 14	Goals 43 Goals Ag 42 Points 43
During the summer of 1995 Wimbledon took him back to Selhurst Park as Reserve Team Manager where he was successful in leading his side to the Combination title. Sanchez applied for the Wycombe job when John Gregory left for Aston Villa in February 1998 but was told no.

Twelve months later he was successful in his application and his first appointment as Wycombe Manager was former Wimbledon teammate Terry Gibson as his assistant. His feats at the end of 1998/99 season earned him the respect of the fans, players and club officials alike.

His Mission Statement for the 1999/2000 season was to avoid the relegation struggle and bring the missing fans back to Adams Park. This was achieved with ease as Wycombe finished 12th in the table while the crowds started to come back.

2000/2001 was seen as another year of consolidation but with the possibility of sneaking into the play-offs. However, an amazing FA Cup overshadowed all League form as Sanchez guided The Wanderers to within one game of the FA Cup Final. It took the mighty Liverpool to finally end the run on an emotional day at Villa Park.

With money to spend in 2001/2002 hopes were high that a serious challenge for promotion to Division One could be achieved. However, despite record Season Ticket sales and subsequent record crowds at Adams Park (average of close to 7,000), the team failed to live up to expectations and slumped badly in the second of the half of the season to finish in 11th place.

It was a clean sheet again for 2002/2003 but with several more faces on the playing side departed it was a testing season for those on and off the pitch. Form dipped towards the end of the season, Wanderers finished in 18th position and average crowds had dropped back down below 6,000.

The 2003/2004 season was never going to be easy with several more crowd favourites and experienced players sent packing in an attempt to cut the wage bill. Ironically, Wanderers won for the first time in nine seasons on the opening day of the season while the Club parading as Wimbledon were dumped out of the League Cup in another encouraging display at Adams Park. The victory against Sanchez's former Club turned out to be his final victory in charge of Wycombe as a run of ten league games without a victory followed and it proved too much for the Wanderers Board to handle despite giving him the vote of confidence right up until the same month as his eventual departure.
Further reading:
Web: Wimbledon - Quick Guide Sligo Rovers www.sligorovers.net/
Books: "There's only one Red Army" by Eamonn Sweeney published by new island books
A supporters story of the 1994/95 season at Sligo Rovers
(ISBN number 1-874597-48-0) available to buy in association with amazon.co.uk

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