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The arrival of Sid Cann

9 February 2013

Sid Cann was appointed as Wycombe Wanderers coach in July 1952, succeeding James McCormick, and the team made an encouraging start to the new Isthmian League campaign with a 5-2 thumping of Dulwich Hamlet in front of 6,000 fans at Loakes Park. 

The game saw the competitive debuts of goalkeeper Dennis Syrett, left-half Jim Moring and inside-left Jackie Tomlin, all of whom were to become mainstays of the side under Cann.

The campaign will be remembered for three games against Romford. The ’Boro’ thrashed the Chairboys 8-0 in a league clash at the Brooklands Stadium at the end of August, but revenge was gained in the return fixture at Loakes Park in January when a crowd of 7,000 saw the hosts win 3-2.

The Blues’ FA Cup run had ended with a 6-2 mauling at the hands of Headington United in a third-qualifying-round tie at the Manor Ground, but the club had embarked on a promising FA Amateur Cup run with Hitchin Town beaten in a first-round replay before Barnet were defeated 2-1 in front of 9,000 at Loakes Park with outside-right Ken Butler notching the winner with a stunning strike.

So it was Romford who they faced in a third-round tie at Loakes Park and they stunned the Wanderers, and the 11,000 crowd, as they romped to a 5-0 victory. The league form subsequently tailed off and the side finished in a disappointing eighth place. Cann had however begun to put the pieces in place and the 1953/54 season was an exciting one in both league and cup.

However, it didn’t start particularly well with a preliminary-round defeat to Banbury Spencer in the FA Cup, but results improved after Christmas with inside-forward Ron Rafferty making quite an impression. Leytonstone were finally beaten in an FA Amateur Cup second round, second replay with right-half Geoff Truett scoring the extra-time winner when he smashed the ball into the net direct from a Leytonstone goal-kick past the bemused keeper.

The game had been played on a frozen pitch at Dulwich Hamlet’s Champion Hill ground and despite pleas from the Wanderers, the third-round tie against Hounslow Town went ahead just three days later at Denbigh Road. With several of the Wycombe players suffering from blistered feet, the hosts recorded a comfortable 3-0 victory.

The side bounced back from that disappointment to make a strong finish in the Isthmian League to record an equal best third-place in the table, matching the achievement of the glorious side of 1931. There was more success in April 1954 when the Berks and Bucks Senior Cup was reclaimed after beating Slough Centre 3-1 in a replay at the Meadow, Chesham, with Rafferty bagging a brace. It was to be his last competitive appearance for the club as he turned professional in the summer and signed for First Division Portsmouth.

The summer of 1954 saw more changes at the club with George Partridge taking over as chairman from John Timberlake, who became president. The club installed a floodlit training pitch behind the main stand at Loakes Park, but the real excitement was reserved for the new season as the team grew even stronger and made a good start with inside-right Cliff Trott making a goalscoring debut in a 2-1 opening-day league win over Ilford at Loakes Park.

The season also marked the arrival of two players who would go on to become legendary. Centre-forward Paul Bates had made just two first-team appearances during the previous campaign as he banged in goals for the reserves, but was named at outside-left for the FA Cup first-qualifying-round tie against Slough Centre in September. In the same game a gentleman by the name of Len Worley was handed his full debut on the right wing and the Chairboys claimed a 3-1 victory at the Dolphin Stadium.

Bates would be given his chance as a centre-forward following a serious injury to regular Malcolm Hunt in March 1955 and he didn’t take long to make the position his own. The Blues embarked on yet another magical run in the FA Amateur Cup with Wealdstone, Woking and Ilford all seen off before they faced Pegasus in a quarter-final tie at Loakes Park.

Fourteen-thousand spectators packed out the ground and saw the visitors, a team comprised of Oxford and Cambridge University old boys, managed at the time by Joe Mercer, somehow keep the Wanderers at bay to earn a goalless draw. A capacity crowd of 6,500 saw the replay at Iffley Road with the visitors coming from behind to level through Trott with 20 minutes remaining before Jackie Tomlin snatched a dramatic last-minute winner.

The semi-final draw was again unkind as Wycombe faced Bishop Auckland at Doncaster Rovers’ Belle Vue ground. Over 5,000 fans made the trip from the Chair Metropolis to make up a crowd of 24,800. Centre-half Barry Darvill played despite suffering from a temperature of 100 degrees and the game showcased the skills of Worley.

The Bishops missed a 13th-minute penalty and the game was still goalless going into the final 20 minutes. Bates spurned a gilt-edged chance to score when he raced through on goal only to delay his shot and a defender got back to make a last-ditch challenge. Within 60 seconds, Oliver fired past Syrett to give Bishops a narrow 1-0 victory.

There was further disappointment as the Berks and Bucks Senior Cup was lost with Slough Town winning 2-1 in the final at the Meadow, Chesham. The side ended the season in fourth place in the Isthmian League, but these really were heady days and having come so close to glory, the 1955/56 season really would be one to savour.

There was an inauspicious start to the campaign, however, with Walthamstow Avenue handing out a 3-0 drubbing on the opening day at Loakes Park and the side then escaped from Marriott’s Close with a goalless draw against Witney Town in a FA Cup preliminary-round tie. The home side had missed an early penalty as well as numerous other chances to win it. The replay at Loakes Park the following Wednesday saw the hosts romp to a record 15-1 win with Bates and Truett both scoring five goals apiece.

It was the start of a memorable FA Cup run as the Blues made it through to the first round proper for only the second time in their history, although it ended in a disappointing 3-1 defeat to Birmingham and District League side Burton Albion in front of 9,696 at Loakes Park. A freak goal saw Hitchin Town knock the Chairboys out of the FA Amateur Cup in a third-round tie at a snow-bound Top Field, whilst Maidenhead United beat the Wanderers 3-2 in the replay of the final of the Berks and Bucks Senior Cup.

April 1956, goals from Bates, Trott and a Truett penalty sealed a 3-0 victory over Dulwich Hamlet to crown Wycombe Wanderers as Champions in front of 6,000 fans at Loakes Park.stIt was in the Isthmian League, however, that the side were to go on and create history. They went top on New Year’s Eve after thumping Romford 6-2 at Loakes Park and remained there for the rest of the season. The team lost just one of its last 18 matches and on 21


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