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Top Fives - Appearance Makers

3 August 2014

Rich Judges' walk down memory lane reintroduces us to those who have made the most appearances for the club.

Every Wanderers fan has a favourite player and to pick one who everyone agreed is the best would be an impossible task. However, here is a list of the most appearances of Chairboys players to date.

1. Tony ‘Bodger’ Horseman (749 games) - pictured with Dave Carroll
High-Wycombe born Tony Horseman was a prodigious talent, who played for the club for 17 years. He still can be seen at Adams Park taking in matches, and he has the added honour of having the club's mascot ‘Bodger’ named in his honour.

'Bodger’ is Wycombe’s all time leading appearance holder, with 749 matches between 1961 and 1978. He had an eye for goal and scored an impressive 416 times at a 55% goal to game ratio, a record which still stands to this day.

Horseman had a particularly good season in 1966/67 when he scored an unsurpassed 60 goals in just 51 games.

‘Bodger’ was known equally for his salmon-like ability in the air and his dislike for training, and is reportedly seen in 1970s team photos with a packet of Rothmans Kingsize.

Nicknamed due to his work in the furniture trade, ‘bodger’ being the local term for a chair maker, in ‘Bodger’s’ time at Wycombe they claimed four Isthmian League titles in five seasons. 

Wanderers famously held Jackie Charlton’s table-topping First Division side Middlesbrough in the 1975 FA Cup third-round to a draw in front of a 12,000 strong crowd at Loakes Park, a game which was televised by London Weekend Television’s match cameras. Wycombe travelled to Ayresome Park for the replay, and played well in front of 30,128 fans – holding out until the last minute. The Blues’ hearts were broken as Boro’s David Armstrong slipped the ball under goalkeeper Maskell and into the corner of the net.

Middlesbrough paid a huge compliment to the Chairboys when their home crowd cheered “Wycombe, Wycombe” after the game, and the Middlesbrough chairman even provided a case of champagne to the gallant semi-pros to celebrate.

Horseman also played a part in the two-legged Anglo-Italian Trophy final, again in 1975, where Wycombe turned around a 0-1 deficit against AC Monza to win the return leg 2-1 on aggregate with goals from John Delaney and Dylan Evans.

2. John ‘Mask’ Maskell (616 games)
John Maskell is a club stalwart from the Isthmian League days of the 1960s; he gained a reputation for being a strong and athletic keeper with great reflexes and was considered a safe pair of hands in between the sticks. Maskell had a knack of letting his defenders know he was there with a series of comments, never being shy to make himself heard.

‘Mask’ would have to come through a cruel injury within two months of joining Wycombe, and his broken leg would lead to a frustrating wait on the sidelines for him, but to his credit he came back just as strong and firmly established himself as the club's regular shot-stopper for over a decade. 

When Maskell was injured in the 4-1 win against Barking on 1st of October 1966, his replacement Martin Priestley would become Wanderers' first ever substitute.

Like Horseman, Maskell played well in the two legs of the 1975 FA Cup third-round tie against Middlesbrough; he played a starring role in the replay and was only beaten by a low shot from David Armstrong late on.

Maskell’s playing career at Loakes Park extended for fifteen seasons, and after the end to his playing days, he took up the role of reserve team manager for Wycombe working under first-team manager Andy Williams.

His next step into coaching was with Isthmian League side Oxford City in the 1981/1982 season, joining up with another former Wanderer John Delaney as his assistant alongside Ian Rundle as the club's scout. 

Maskell would go on to replace Delaney as boss, with Rundle stepping up to the assistant role. He had a three season stint as manager there before resigning from his position in September of 1984, ultimately being replaced by Rundle. 

Maskell would again return to Loakes Park working under Alan Gane in 1986, before moving on to coach Abingdon Town and Witney Town thereafter.

3. Dave ‘Jesus’ Carroll (602 games)
Jim Kelman signed Dave Carroll for the recently promoted Conference side Wycombe in 1988 from Ruislip Manor of the Isthmian League; he would go on to be an essential part of Kelman’s successor Martin O’Neill’s team as he re-built the Wycombe squad and helped them achieve the leap into the Football League in 1993.

The Scot, who was a former Chelsea schoolboy, was picked up by Fulham at 17 and played for England at U-18s level; he turned down a professional contract at the London club in favour of a football scholarship in the USA, but came home early due to home-sickness. A friend would get him a chance of a trial for Crystal Palace which didn’t come to fruition, before he settled at Ruislip Manor.

He totalled 602 appearances in a Wycombe shirt, scoring 100 often crucial goals in the process. ‘Jesus’ gave Wanderers’ fans many happy memories, but arguably he will be remembered by most of those old enough for his second goal in the 4-2 victory over Preston North End in the 1994 play-off final at Wembley, a goal which was a sublimely struck shot and certainly one of Wycombe’s finest to date. In an interview with WWISC, Carroll said his favourite game for Wycombe was the last-day survival by virtue of a late Paul Emblen goal away at Lincoln City.

The winger's presence in a Wycombe shirt always seemed to be a boost for those around him, and he went on to form a strong working partnership with defender Jason Cousins down the right flank; Carroll always seemed to have the knack to swing a game in Wycombe’s favour with a lofted crossed ball or pin-point pass.

He was given a testimonial in November of 1997 against former boss Martin O’Neill’s Leicester City. In his final year at the club, fans-favourite Carroll was brought on in the final ten minutes of the famous FA Cup semi-final against Liverpool on the 8th of April 2001. In March of 2002, ‘Jesus’ moved to Aldershot on a free transfer, and he spent nine months there before ending his career with Windsor & Eton.

4. Keith ‘Rhino’ Ryan (517 games)
Amersham-born Ryan was one of the first signings made by Martin O’Neill, arriving from Berkhamsted Town in August of 1990 after being spotted playing alongside his cousin Steve Whitby. 

Ryan gained the nickname ‘Rhino’ from the Wanderers fans due to his battling midfield playing style, and when he played, he fought for every ball and he defended his backline with stout resiliency.

‘Rhino’ was a fresh faced 20-year-old when brought into the Wycombe squad permanently, although he did play three times for the Blues as an enthusiastic 19-year-old when on a trial, including scoring in a Capital League game against rivals Colchester United as a striker.

Initially brought in as utility player, Ryan was primarily used as a midfielder by O’Neill; he excelled in the new role and always gave his all. His debut season 1990/1991 ended in style with a place in the victorious Wembley side that beat Kidderminster.

Ever-present in the side during the 1990s, Ryan visited Wembley three times as a Wanderers player and won every match there. Ryan played 517 times for the first-team and scored 50 goals from midfield, forward and defence, and he would have been higher up the list of all-time appearances if he hadn’t suffered three separate career-threatening injuries. 

Of the many highlights of Ryan’s career at the club, the goal in the FA Cup semi-final against Liverpool in 2001 would be high up there. The ball was thumped up field by Martin Taylor, Paul McCarthy headed the ball up-field and Ryan looped the ball over Sander Westerveld. The Blues fans in the Holte End went in to rapturous celebrations, and the magic of the FA Cup was very much alive as Wycombe showed a fighting spirit and were certainly not overawed by their Premier League opponents, losing the game only in the last ten minutes 2-1.

At the age of 34 and after 16 seasons playing for the club, Ryan took on the caretaker manager role after Tony Adams left and was given the assistant manager's role alongside Steve Brown when new permanent boss John Gorman was brought in.

5. Len Worley (512 games)
Len Worley was known as the ‘Stanley Matthews of amateur football’, such was his wizardry with the ball at his feet. The popular winger spent 15 years with the Chairboys, scoring 67 times in 512 including two goals in the 1957 Amateur Cup semi-final, and also won a series of amateur international caps as well as representing the Great Britain Olympic football team.

Such was his devotion to the club, Len turned down a move to Tottenham Hotspur in 1959, and overcame two broken legs to become an all-time Wanderers hero, going on to play for Chesham, Wealdstone, Slough and Hayes before announcing his retirement in the mid-70s.

Len is still a regular visitor to Adams Park on matchdays and at events with the Ex-Players Association. 

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