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|Retro - A look back on the 1986/87 season|
Going into December 1986 with a five point lead over second placed Yeovil Town, Wanderers travelled to 9th placed Hendon on Saturday 6th December 1986 looking for a ninth succesive victory in the Isthmian League and the third straight success on the road. However, before the game there was activity in the transfer market for Wycombe. It came after two squad players had opted to try their luck elsewhere - young 'keeper Trevor Bunting moved to local rivals Slough Town, while fringe midfielder Kevin Connoly joined Oxford City. First to arrive was Wokingham Town defender Kirk Corbin while 22 year old college goalkeeper Steve Curry would be the new deputy for Gary Lester. On signing for Wycombe, Corbin commented, "Wokingham are going nowhere at the moment and I want to be part of a successful set-up like Wycombe." Another late signing prior to the trip to Claremont Road came in the form of highly rated Woking striker Mark Dawber. Reports in the local press suggested that Alan Gane had 'used his charm to beat a posse of professional and non-league clubs' in the race for the 23 year old's signature. Gane said 14 clubs had been after him, including Wimbledon and Brighton. Wanderers declined to reveal the fee paid for Dawber but was understood to be between £2000 and £3000.
Both Corbin and Dawber would make their Wycombe debut's as substitutes in what turned out to be an eventful afternoon in Cricklewood. Hendon were seeking revenge for a recent drubbing at Loakes Park but found themselves 3-0 down at the break after goals from Kevin Durham (9 minutes), Andy Graham (20 minutes) and Mark West (41 minutes). Graham's goal was the pick of the bunch after he volleyed home from Jason Seacole's cross. Corbin replaced Kevin Day at the break with the former Wokingham man used in midfield while Graham Bressington dropped into defence. Hendon pressed to get back into the game but still trailed by three goals as the game passed the hour mark. It was on 62 minutes when the game threatened to turn sour. An fierce challenge on Gary Lester saw Bressington react angrily and in a style that had seen him dubbed 'Rambo' by Wanderers fans. Punches were thrown, with the end result Bressington and Hendon Phil Gridelet being shown red cards. Wanderers were still reeling from the dismissal when Hendon sub Danny Worley's shot found it's way past Lester via an unfortunate Anthony Riley. Hendon saw blood and a dubious penalty given against Andy Graham saw Dermot Drummy make the score Hendon 2 Wycombe 3 with just three minutes remaining. Thankfully for Wanderers time ran out for the home side and another three points were in the bag. Alan Gane was gratefull for the victory but was not happy with Bressington's actions at Claremont Road. He told the Bucks Free Press, "I thought what he did was unforgivable. He shouldn't have been involved at all. He has already been suspended twice this season and now faces another one."
Three days later Alan Gane's side made it ten on the trot with a less controversial 2-0 home victory over Wokingham Town. Both goals came from Mark West who despite his regular goalscoring knack for the Wanderers had come under fire from a certain faction of the Loakes Park crowd. West's first goal on 11 minutes was a typical poachers strike as he nipped in between the Town defence after chasing a long punt upfield. Mark Dawber almost opened his Wycombe account on 75 minutes but it was left to West to seal the points with an 83rd minute goal, his 17th of the season to date. Sitting on the bench for Wycombe as an unused sub was Jamie Bates who had returned to Wanderers on loan from Brentford. Bates had been a regular in the first team at Brentford since appearing for Wycombe at Bromley earlier in the season. However, his place at Griffin Park had been taken place by new signing Micky Droy and Bees boss Frank McLintock had phoned Gane to advise that he was available again.
Dulwich Hamlet were Wanderers' next victims as first half goals from Mark West, Andy Graham (2) and Anthony Riley sent Alan Gane's team on their way to a comfortable 4-1 winning margin at Loakes Park on Saturday 13th December 1986. It was a rare goal for Riley who had become a popular player at Loakes Park and had recently won the November 'Player of the Month' award.
The Yeovil Town hoodoo struck Wanderers again on Tuesday 16th December 1986 when the Somerset side travelled to Loakes Park for the Third Round meeting the in AC Delco Cup. This time The Glovers went away 2-1 victors. Wanderers had their chances early on but the visitors took the lead on 36 minutes when John McGinlay was allowed space to direct a shot past Lester. Wycombe eventually equalised on 67 minutes when Andy Graham forced home a Kevin Durham corner but as the tie entered extra-time it was Yeovil who grabbed the winner on 109 minutes as Gerry Pearson smashed home a loose ball in the Wycombe box.
The following Saturday (20th December 1986), Wanderers were in cup action again, this time in a home meeting with Leatherhead in the First Round of the FA Trophy. The visitors weren't expected to give Wycombe much of a problem but a dreadful game ended 0-0 and three days later at Fetcham Grove, Wanderers slumped out of the competition after a 77th minute goal from Andy Fisher saw 1-0 victory for the home side. The defeat meant that Wanderers had exited from all the major national cup competitions before the end of the year. Wanderers fans were hoping that the cup exits would be a blessing in disguise, with the priority remaining promotion back to the Conference.
Wanderers returned to League action for what would be their final game of 1986 with a home meeting with Kingstonian. And as Wanderers looked to put aside the dissapointment of going out of the Trophy, the events during the game turned out to be some of most dramatic ever seen at Loakes Park. An attendance of 1,084 saw the visitors, managed by the former 'Leatherhead Lip' Chris Kelly, give Wanderers the run around and race into a 2-0 lead. There was controversy too when Kingstonian's fiery defender Richard Parkin clashed with the usually mild mannered Noel Ashford and both players were shown the red card - Parkin for the foul and Ashford for his comments to the official.Jason Seacole pulled a goal back for Wycombe just before the break but with the score remaining 2-1 to the visitors with less than 5 minutes remaining it looked like the winning run was at an end. Cue Mark West to slot in an equaliser and then with the Hospital End clock showing time up, a corner landed at the feet of 'Westie' who managed to force the ball over the line for a dramatic winner. Simon Burrage, writing in issue No.4 of Chairboys Gas, summed up the victory, "In years to come most of us who were present will only remember those incredible last few minutes when an apparently dismal defeat was miraculously turned into spectacular victory, earning three points and a Club record for consecutive league wins. There were wonderful scenes of hysterical celebration at the Hospital End and better still when the 'Tannoy Man' announced Yeovil's home defeat by Croydon. Bliss!"
There was potential good news on the transfer front for Wycombe too with former striker Declan Link in the crowd for the Kingstonian game after his return from playing football in the USA. Alan Gane had been aware of the situation and was keen the re-sign the player. Meanwhile, Link commented to the Bucks Free Press, "If everything worked out I would love to come back here. I really enjoyed my time here before and everyone has made me very welcome again." Gane added, "I'll be talking to Declan this week - I would be foolish not to because he is a class player."
Vauxhall Opel League Premier Division Up to and including Sat 3rd Jan 1987 Top six only PL W D L GF GA Pts 1. Wycombe W 25 20 1 4 63 23 61 2. Yeovil Town 26 16 7 3 40 18 55 3. Bognor Regis 21 12 7 2 55 28 43 4. Farnborough 23 13 4 6 50 40 43 5. Slough Town 22 13 3 6 44 24 42 6. Hendon 22 11 5 6 40 34 38
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