Up, up and away with a final day win.Part 21 - Season 2010/11 – Wanderers instantly bounce back!
Following relegation after just one season back in League 1, Gary Waddock did a major rebuilding job on the squad over the summer. There was a total of nine new signings to ensure there was competition for every place in the team. Nicki Bull soon proved himself an outstanding keeper. In front of him Dave Winfield and Alan Bennett were solid central defenders while Danny Foster and Andy Sandell settled into the full back positions. Scott Rendell was to be leading scorer whilst fellow striker Ben Strevens also weighed in with some crucial strikes. Gareth Ainsworth meanwhile was named as club captain.
The pre-season highlight was the Adams Park friendly against a Chelsea XI watched by a 5,875 crowd that ended in a 5-1 victory including a hat-trick in just four second half minutes by Jon-Paul Pittman. Sadly Pittman suffered a ruptured tendon in his knee in the warm-up against Macclesfield in September that sidelined him for several months.
The start to the league campaign was unspectacular with just one win in the first eight fixtures (there were six draws). The next eight fixtures though brought six victories to lift the side into the play-off positions. There was an undefeated away run of eight league games before the side lost 1-2 at Port Vale in late November. Turning to the cup competitions, Millwall ended our League Cup aspirations at the first stage whilst Bristol Rovers scored six at Adams Park in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy leaving Rendell’s hat trick counting for nothing. Wins though over Hayes & Yeading and Chelmsford took the Chairboys into the third round of the FA Cup for the first time in nine years.
Squad news saw Matty Phillips off to Blackpool, while Scott Davies returned for another loan spell and midfielder Stuart Lewis joined from Dagenham & Redbridge. Adams Park had hosted the England Under 18s’ 3-0 win over Poland in a friendly international in November. After that game Roger Burden, acting Chairman of the FA commented, "I would like to express my thanks on behalf of the FA to Wycombe Wanderers Football Club for allowing us to use their excellent facilities at Adams Park for this prestigious international."
At the turn of the year Wycombe were 4th but there was disappointment when struggling Hereford won a delayed FA Cup 3rd round tie 1-0 at Adams Park, watched by just 2,353. League form though was excellent and a run of seven wins out of eight outings saw Waddock’s side in second place at the end of January. February saw three consecutive league defeats but the side responded with a 4-1 home win over Burton Albion, Stuart Lewis scoring twice. Joining Lewis in midfield was Scott Donnelly, signed on loan from Swansea City. March form was also patchy with a heavy 1-4 defeat at promotion rivals Chesterfield and a 0-1 home defeat to Stevenage, former Wanderer John Mousinho scoring the only goal. A crucial point was then gained at Shrewsbury with the month ending with a fine 3-0 win at Morecambe, Rendell scoring twice. This left Wycombe in 2nd place.
April saw the departure of assistant manager Martin Kuhl after a 0-0 draw at Hereford, and two goals from Rendell earned a 2-0 home win over Crewe to end a run of four consecutive draws. The penultimate Saturday saw a trip to second placed Bury where a superb team performance with two goals from Strevens earned the side their 10th away win of the campaign. Going into the final day Chesterfield and Bury were already assured of automatic promotion. Wycombe were third, a single point above Shrewsbury. Both sides were at home – Wycombe entertained Southend who earlier had beaten them 3-2 at Roots Hall, while Shrewsbury hosted mid table Oxford. If the Shrews won, and Wycombe dropped any points, the Chairboys would once again be in the play-off lottery.
Many of the 8,567 crowd (the fourth ever highest league attendance at Adams Park) feared the worst when former Wycombe loanee Anthony Grant put the visitors ahead. Minds went back to that nail biting final afternoon two years earlier against Notts County, but by the interval Wycombe had responded with goals from Donnelly and Rendell. News that Shrewsbury were only drawing further helped the nerves. In the second period Rendell netted his 19th of the season and Wycombe ended comfortable 3-1 winners thus regaining their League 1 status at the first attempt. It was tight with Shrewsbury, who beat Oxford 3-0, finishing just one point behind.
Aided by the final day crowd, average home league attendance averaged out at 4,546, a drop of almost 1,000 from the previous season in League 1. Rendell finished leading marksman with an overall total of 19 followed by Ainsworth on 10. Keeper Nikki Bull played in all 52 league and cup fixtures.
Inevitably owner Steve Hayes’ vision of the Community Stadium to be shared with London Wasps rumbled on throughout the season. Early season saw a consultation period with the Wycombe DC wanting to hear opinions about the different options for the types of facilities that could be provided. The Groups Against the Stadium Proposals (GASP) was formed in November comprising of 16 associations, parish councils and interested groups, to fight the proposals. In January the Wycombe DC’s Cabinet gave the go-ahead for the next stage of investigation and consultation with the Council leader claiming that a move to a new Community Stadium at Booker Air Park would “ensure the future of Wycombe Wanderers Football Club”.
There was however a growing band of Wanderers followers still looking for answers to key questions relating to how the football club would benefit from the scheme. In June 2011 the DC announced a new date for their Cabinet to review the 'Community Stadium' project. This was eventually set as 18 July to give more time for information to be gathered. This clearly would be a crucial meeting and will be covered in Part 22 of this series of articles. As for the club’s tenants, Wasps finished 9th in the Premiership table – their worst position since season 1997/98. Their nine Premiership fixtures at Adams Park were watched by an average of 7,903. The season saw no sell outs with a best of 9,206 for the visit of Northampton Saints in late October.
This article first appeared in the club's matchday programme on Friday 25th March 2016.