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Berks & Bucks Senior Cup is finally won

23 October 2012

The fallout from the final of the Berks and Bucks Senior Cup in 1900 was to last for decades.

In the immediate aftermath Wycombe Wanderers refused to enter the following year’s competition in protest. It cost the Berks and Bucks FA a pretty penny and they subsequently amended their rules to make it compulsory for members clubs to enter.

The club applied to join the London League, but were rejected by the FA after the Berks and Bucks FA had a word in someone’s ear. The side again started the 1900/01 season playing their home matches at Daws Hill Park and there was soon more controversy in the opening Southern League Division Two fixture against Shepherd’s Bush.

Saturday 13th October 1900 had seen the result of the General Election declared that morning and consequently many of the 500-strong crowd were rather sozzled by kick-off. Both the referee and visiting players were given plenty of earache and the home side were reduced to nine men with both Archie Green and Charlie Buchanan sent-off as the hosts were beaten 3-0.

Green was sent off for asking the referee “How much did you get for that?” although the player claimed he was posing the question to someone else. The Blues were reported to the FA with both players receiving bans, the ground closed for two weeks and the club banned from playing football within a 10-mile radius.

The Wanderers had been drawn at home to Richmond Association in the FA Cup but the tie was to be switched to their opponents Athletic ground so the club decided to withdraw from the competition instead. The league campaign tailed off alarmingly with an 11-1 defeat away at Brentford due partly to the Blues only being able to name 10 men after Fred Keen missed the train. It was rumoured he went ice-skating instead!

The nadir came in April 1901 when only one first-team player, goalkeeper Eddie Reynolds, made himself available for an away game at Grays United. Several people “who had hardly touched a ball” were picked up on the way and unsurprisingly crashed a 15-0 defeat, still a club record to this day! The side finished second bottom of the league and there was a sober atmosphere at the AGM that summer.

Gladly there was plenty to celebrate during the 1901/02 season and it started on a high with the club returning a brand spanking new Loakes Park. Results improved in the league and the team finished in fourth place (in a nine-team Division Two). The club also competed in the inaugural Berks and Bucks Senior League South Bucks and East Berks Division but finished bottom of the four competing sides.

The greatest success that season came in the Berks and Bucks Senior Cup. Having returned to the fold the Blues saw off Maidenhead, Aylesbury United and Chesham Generals to reach the final played against Slough at Maidenhead on 31st March. A crowd of 6,500 saw goals from Bill Buchanan, Fred ‘Sunny’ Rouse and Bob White seal a 3-0 victory to win the cup for the first time. Marlow had now been usurped and would have to wait until 1991 before winning the competition again. 

Wycombe Wanderers may well have become the dominant force in local football but it was a different story against the professional teams they were competing against in the Southern League. Fred Rouse left the club in the summer of 1902 to join Shepherd’s Bush and went on to play in the Football League. It was a disappointing season with Aylesbury United knocking the Blues out of both the FA Cup and the Berks and Bucks Senior Cup.

The 1903/04 season was memorable for the development of the club off the pitch. A fund was established to pay for the building of a stand on the top side of Loakes Park. It was built at a cost of £400 with the money raised through a share issue. The stand boasted a capacity of 400 seats and was opened in January 1904 for the visit of Southampton Reserves. 

That Christmas saw both president Robert Wood and secretary Charley Harper tender their resignations, but they were persuaded to stay on. The team finished ninth out of eleven teams in Division Two, but the clubs finances appeared rather healthy at the AGM in the summer of 1904 and they began the next season as the last amateur club standing in the Southern League.

It was clearly a disadvantage as the side finished second bottom in 1904/05 and then finished bottom of the pile for the next three seasons in succession. The poor results saw declining attendances and Harper was again persuaded to stay on after offering his resignation at the 1905 AGM. The debate over whether to adopt professional status became a hot topic of discussion but the club remained steadfastly amateur.

In January 1907 the club’s headquarters were connected with the National Telephone Company and its first ever telephone number was 128. There was little to celebrate on the pitch, however, and the 1907/08 season remains as the worst in the club’s history. The team lost 16 of its 18 matches in Division Two, winning one and drawing the other.

That summer’s AGM saw Harper’s resignation finally accepted and the invitation to join the Southern League for another season was politely declined. The club finally bit the bullet and entered the Great Western Suburban League instead, with the hope that more local derbies would bring in much needed income. 1908 would prove to be an end of an era for the club. 

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