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Club News

Highs and lows in the Thirties

8 December 2012

The summer of 1932 saw the club invest more of the proceeds from the FA Amateur Cup success into improving Loakes Park with the dressing rooms being enlarged.

Former player Bob Spatchett was elected chairman after George Miles stepped down following 44 years of service with the Blues.

The new season began with 3-0 home win over Tufnell Park in the Isthmian League at Loakes Park but the excitement was again reserved for the cups. This time the club made history as it reached the first round proper of the FA Cup for the very first time. There was a thrilling 3-2 win over local rivals Slough, with goals from Alf Britnell, Pat Badrick and Dick Braisher winning the third-qualifying-round tie at the Dolphin Stadium.

The fourth qualifying round saw the Chairboys drawn away to Surrey Senior League Champions Camberley and Yorktown but a hat-trick from Bill Brown and another from Britnell sealed a 4-0 win and ensured that the team would create yet more history. Their reward was an away tie against Division Three (South) side Gillingham.

A crowd of 6,428 were at the Priestfield Stadium to see the Wanderers take on Football League opposition for the very first time. The hosts tried to use the strong wind to their advantage in the first half but couldn’t get the better of a back three of Sid Crump, Dickie Cox and Badrick who adopted a ‘thou shall not pass’ attitude.

Goalkeepers Holland and Jim Kipping were both kept busy and the Gills stopper made a superb double save to deny both Brown and Braisher. The deadlock was broken six minutes before the break when Liddle’s long-range effort was blown all over the place by the wind and flew into the top corner past Kipping.

Despite having the wind at their back in the second half, Wycombe were forced to defend for much of the time. They put up a determined rearguard action and with 15 minutes remaining they were rewarded with an equaliser when Britnell got the better of his marker before crossing low for Braisher, who fired a shot into the bottom corner of the net.

The replay took place on the following Wednesday afternoon and 7,597 packed out Loakes Park to see a pulsating tie, despite many of the crowd having to take time off work. Dickie Cox put through his own net inside the opening minute but the hosts fought back to lead at half-time with Brown equalising before Braisher’s penalty made it 2-1.

Sadly the visitors had too much power after the break and fought back to win 4-2. The side suffered as a consequence of the cup run and endured a miserable December with six successive defeats, including a first-round exit to Wimbledon in the FA Amateur Cup. The league form tailed off and the side eventually finished in a disappointing 11th place.

There was at least some silverware to celebrate at the end of the season with the Blues beating Chesham United 1-0 courtesy of Youens’ winner in front of 7,339 fans at Maidenhead’s York Road to lift the Berks and Bucks Senior Cup.

The next six seasons would be ones of perennial struggle as the Amateur Cup-winning side broke up and the club entered a downward spiral of results. The 1933/34 campaign saw early exits in both FA competitions and the side failed to win a single league game away from home, contributing to a 10th-place finish in the Isthmian League.

Leading goalscorer Frank Jordan sadly died of meningitis in February 1934. The season ended with a 3-0 defeat to Chesham United in a replay of the Berks and Bucks Senior Cup final. During the close season full-back Gerry Darvill left the club to turn professional and signed for Reading.

The 1934/35 season was the worst since 1907/08. The side finished second bottom of the 14-strong Isthmian League and endured the ignominy of having to apply for re-election. Aylesbury United knocked the Blues out of the FA Cup in the preliminary round with a  3-0 victory at Turnfurlong Lane, but there was a fourth consecutive appearance in the Berks and Bucks Senior Cup final.

Revenge was sweet as Aylesbury United were beaten 3-0 in front of 7,000 at Reading’s Elm Park with Brown, Newens and Young getting the goals. The club decided to act after such a poor campaign and advertised for a coach in the national press. James Seddon was chosen out of 70 applicants but rejected the terms offered and George Harris was re-elected to his old job.

The fall from grace of the Chairboys was no better illustrated by the fact that the side had to begin their 1935/36 FA Amateur Cup campaign in the first qualifying round. They made it through five ties before losing 2-0 to eventual winners Casuals in front of 6,300 at Loakes Park in a second round proper tie.

The inconsistency of the team can be seen by the 5-0 league defeat suffered at Nunhead in February 1936, only to be followed by 6-3 victory over the same side at Loakes Park at fortnight later. That win saw the debut of 22-year-old Scottish striker William ‘Jock’ McCallum. He certainly made an impression as he bagged a hat-trick and would go on to become a much loved member of the side. 

There was a much improved sixth-place finish in the Isthmian League and that was equalled again in the 1936/37 season. That campaign brought some excitement with the side playing nine consecutive ties in both the FA Amateur and Berks and Bucks Senior Cups in January and February 1937. There was disappointment, however, when the side were beaten 4-1 by Northern League Stockton in front of 7,559 at the Victoria Ground.

The 1937/38 season saw the side finish in fifth place in the Isthmian League, but there was an embarrassing 4-2 defeat to Kent side Aylesford Paper Mills at their Cobdown ground. The season ended in disappointment as the Berks and Bucks Senior Cup final was lost for the second successive year to Windsor and Eton.

There was an unfortunate situation in 1938 when a bank was made up at the east end of Loakes Park (later to become the Hospital End) which was objected to by the Trustees of the Carrington Estate. It was a contravention of the club’s lease but an agreement was eventually reached to shape up the bank and sow grass seed. 

The 1938/39 season wasn’t particularly memorable for footballing reasons with the side finishing ninth in the Isthmian League and knocked out of the three main cup competitions at the first time of asking, including a dreadful 5-1 defeat to local rivals Slough in an FA Amateur Cup first-round tie at Loakes Park.

Events in mainland Europe were leading to increasingly grave concerns and understandably the focus quickly switched away from football. Loakes Park was used for Gas Chamber demonstrations during the season and in June 1939 the local Military and Civil Defence began to use the ground, stands and dressing rooms but explained that they would only use their authority when absolutely necessary.

At 11.15am on Sunday 3rd September 1939 British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain announced that “this nation is at war with Germany.”

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