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The pursuit of glory

24 November 2012

The 1920s saw Wycombe Wanderers find their place in the Isthmian League and grow comfortable with themselves as a football club.

was made their home and the objective was to become the greatest amateur side in English football. It would be a pursuit of glory that would last for more than 50 years.Park Loakes

The club had made an enquiry to the Marquess of Lincolnshire regarding the possible purchase of Loakes Park in 1921 and discussions eventually concluded with the signing of a new 14-year lease. This was subsequently extended to 21 years in 1923. With the lease on Loakes Park extended, plans were announced to extend the stand along the length of the pitch at the top with dressing rooms to be built behind it.

The team made a dreadful start to the 1922/23 season as they were thrashed 7-1 at Nunhead. Goalkeeper Jim Munday suffered an injury and the hosts kindly allowed Walter Ball to replace him at half-time. He would be the first substitute to appear for the club in a competitive match.

Results slowly improved and in January 1923 there was great excitement as the extension to the stand was officially opened before a second round FA Amateur Cup tie with St Albans City. A new record crowd of 7,000 saw the visitors win 2-1 with Joey Grace scoring for the Blues.

The season ended with more silverware as the Berks and Bucks Senior Cup was again held aloft by Frank Adams. A brace from Tim Hinton and goals from Klon Smith and Tommy Jackman sealed a resounding 4-0 victory over Maidenhead United in front of 11,500 spectators at Slough.

The new dressing room was used for the first time in the opening Isthmian League game of the 1923/24 season against Nunhead. A Hinton hat-trick and a brace from Reg Boreham sealed a fine start with a 5-2 win in front of 5,000 at Loakes Park.

The season will be remembered, however, for another exciting run in the FA Amateur Cup. It was very much considered as a priority for amateur clubs at the time with some seeing it as the Holy Grail. Revenge was sweet as St Albans City were beaten 2-1 in a first-round replay with Alex Weaver notching the winner with the last touch of the game.

The Blues saw off both Ilford and Staines Lagonda to see up a quarter-final tie with holders London Caledonians at Loakes Park. Another new record crowd of 9,288 saw the visitors put in an outstanding performance to beat the hosts 3-0. The side bounced back from that disappointment to finish fourth in the Isthmian League table, their best finish to date.

The 1924/25 season didn’t match up, with a disappointing defeat away at the Aldershot Traction Company in the FA Amateur Cup. There was cause for celebration at the end of the campaign though, as the Berks and Bucks Senior Cup was won courtesy of goals from Hinton and Boreham in a 2-0 victory over Windsor and Eton in a replay at Slough.

Bernard Hooper’s resignation as secretary was reluctantly accepted at the club’s AGM in the summer of 1925. It ended his 27-year association with the Wanderers. There was another departure with goalkeeper Jim Kipping signing for Queens Park Rangers, but fans who turned up to watch matches at Loakes Park in the 1925/26 season were treated to goals, goals, goals!

The team again finished fourth in the Isthmian League where they notched an incredible 97 goals in just 26 league games. It was a similar story at the other end as they conceded 83 goals - and it was no different in the cups either. In just four ties over the three main competitions the Blues scored 13 and conceded 16 goals.

It was a veritable goal buffet and Hinton certainly filled his boots as he finished the campaign as leading goalscorer with 50 goals. Naturally such a tally caught the attention of the bigger clubs and at the season he left to sign for Division Three South side Millwall.

There was little chance of such an incredible season being repeated in 1926/27, and in October there was a new record low as the Wanderers were hammered 9-0 by Slough of all clubs in a FA Cup Preliminary Round tie at the Dolphin Ground. It still remains as the club’s record cup defeat to this day.

Horrifically the same scoreline was repeated three weeks later as the side were humiliated in an Isthmian League game at St Albans City. There was some good news with goalkeeper Kipping returning to the club and results soon improved with the side embarking on yet another FA Amateur Cup run.

They reached the quarter-finals again but goals from Finch and Burnard weren’t enough to prevent the side losing 3-2 at Barking Town. The 3-2 second-round victory over London Caledonians at Loakes Park in January saw the very last appearance of Boreham in a Blues shirt.

At the club’s AGM in the summer of 1927 it was announced that a new 50-year lease on Loakes Park had been signed, with an annual rent of £50. The side struggled to make any impression on the Isthmian League and faired little better in the cups either during the 1927/28 campaign. There was more disappointment in the Berks and Bucks Senior Cup as Maidenhead United beat the Wanderers 1-0 in front of 8,500 in the final at Slough.

Results were again disappointing in the 1928/29 season although there was an 11-1 thumping of Henley Town in a FA Cup Preliminary round tie at Loakes Park, with striker Bill Brown scoring eight of the goals! The season will, however, be remembered for the final appearance of Adams.

On 4th February 1929 he played his last game for Wycombe Wanderers at the age of 37, with the side losing toOxford City in an Oxford Hospital Cup tie. He was made a life member of the club shortly afterwards but his greatest contribution was still yet to come.

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