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Blues on TV: a recent history

15 November 2014

Tom Bowers recalls recent Wanderers fixtures which have been broadcast live on TV.

The Sky Sports cameras descend on Adams Park for the first time in nearly three years on Monday night, as two of the top performing teams in League Two this season lock horns under the floodlights.

In fact you have to go back to the 4th February last year for the last time the live TV cameras were on the Blues as they travelled to table topping Gillingham in the 2012/13 season. After taking permanent charge of the side when they were rock bottom of the table back in November 2012, Gareth Ainsworth enjoyed a dramatic turn of fortunes as they steadily marched up the table under his stewardship.

Few gave them a chance against Martin Allen’s in-form Gills, however the Blues turned in a near-perfect away performance to grab a 1-0 win at Priestfield with substitute Matt McClure scoring an instinctive late winner. The goal ensured the young striker’s blushes were spared after dragging the ball agonisingly wide when clean through just a minute or so earlier.

Before then the live cameras caught two games against Huddersfield that are best to be forgotten, in particular a home clash in which Jordan Rhodes displayed the talent that will surely one day see him in the Premier League as he helped himself to a personal haul of five goals.

However a Blues game I do look fondly on being televised was against potential FA Cup second round opponents AFC Wimbledon at Kingsmeadow in 2008. Screened on the short-lived Setanta Sports channel, Matt Harrold notched a hat-trick and Matt Phillips his first professional goal as the side put in an assured performance to despatch the spirited home side.

With a sticking reputation as giant killers and cup specialists, it is the cup competitions that have understandably given the Blues their best national exposure in front of the live cameras. However it is fair to say that Wycombe’s most recent heroic cup run, the 2006/07 run to the League Cup semi-finals, crept under the radar somewhat with fans having to wait until the two-legged semi-final with Chelsea before the Sky cameras came calling.

The first leg certainly gave me one of my most memorable evenings of supporting the club, as Jose Mourinho brought his megastars to South Buckinghamshire in what they thought would be a routine passage into the final at the Millennium Stadium.

It looked to be the case as makeshift left winger Wayne Bridge opened the scoring in the first half, lofting the ball over the advancing Ricardo Batista into the net. However the goal came at a cost, with a nasty collision between the pair resulting in Bridge being withdrawn from the action and having no recollection of the goal at all.

Things didn’t get any better for Chelsea as Wycombe upped the ante in the second half and put pressure on the makeshift central defensive duo of Michael Essien and Paulo Ferreira. Their tenacity and perseverance paid off and Jermaine Easter, who had scored in every round of the competition, kept up his impressive feat as he feasted on a beautiful knockdown by Tommy Mooney, shrugged off Essien and rolled a tidy finish into the far corner.

Watching it back on TV still gives me chills now, as a sea of overjoyed fans in the Valley Terrace punched their delight into the night sky. The goal provoked a similar reaction from then manager Paul Lambert, who gave Mourinho flashbacks of his animated celebration down the touchline at Old Trafford with his Porto side back in 2004.

While I believe Sky Sports do a great job in pushing their Football League coverage, it’s natural that the further down the pyramid you are, the less chance you have of your game being screened to the nation. At the end of the day viewing figures are everything, and it’s understandable that the Championship earns most of the Football League airtime, with well-supported clubs like Leeds always attracting numerous viewers.

However the international break provides a perfect chance to put the spotlight on both League One and League Two, earning clubs some valuable money as well as potentially attracting new fans who haven’t had the chance to see the team in action and what they’re all about.

Both Ainsworth and new Brewers manager Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink are no strangers to a live camera, and it looks to be an enticing clash between the pair who will hopefully provide a fantastic advert for lower league football for the watching nation to enjoy.

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