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Happy birthday Wycombe Wanderers

24 September 2015

Today marks the 128th anniversary of the club's first ever fixture, and is therefore considered the Chairboys' official birthday.

The work of Dave Finch and Steve Peart in the book 'Wycombe Wanderers: The Official History' tells us that football grew in popularity in High Wycombe in the latter half of the 19th century, and that High Wycombe FC played their first official match on the Rye Mead in 1871.

Football teams had to compete for space with cattle on the long stretch of land, and an attempt to merge all local clubs into one was vetoed by Marlow FC, who were enjoying plenty of success on their own, reaching the FA Cup semi-final in 1882.

A group of young aspiring footballers collaborated to establish North Town Wanderers in 1884, most likely taking their name from the first ever winners of the FA Cup who had defeated High Wycombe FC in the town seven years previously. However, after three years of informal matches against hastily arranged ‘scratch elevens’, the players and management decided they wanted to compete against better sides, and met at the Steam Engine public house on Station Road to form a new club – one which would play in the light and dark blue colours of the Oxford and Cambridge universities.

After a heated discussion, the name ‘North Town’ was discarded due to the new club being made up of players from all over the town, and thus, Wycombe Wanderers Football Club was born.

With each player contributing 6d per week to represent the club, captain ‘Datchet’ Webb and secretary Jim Ray worked tirelessly to secure new players and arrange transport – a horse and wagonette – to get to games. Their first fixture was against Wycombe Nose Club, a 0-0 draw on Saturday 24th September 1887, before Ray became Wanderers’ first ever goalscorer in a 3-1 defeat to Wycombe Rovers four weeks later.

Team vs Wycombe Rovers: John Randell, Noel Curtis, Datchet Webb, Jim Hearne, A. Thorne, George Johnson, R. Stallwood, Joe Norton, Ted Ball, George Cook, Jim Ray.

The club's 125th anniversary was celebrated three years ago at a special event starring former manager Martin O'Neill, coincidentally on the same day that Gareth Ainsworth was appointed caretaker manager.

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