With Wycombe Wanderers being taken over by investors from the USA, it was appropriate there was an American theme to our eleventh Ex-Players Association annual dinner. It was new Director Peter Couhig who led the celebrations on behalf of the whole Couhig Clan as we helped him piece together some more of our history with a look back to the 80s.
For him and over 200 other special guests, there were lots of laughs, a few tear-provoking moments and loads of memories as player after player – and managers alike - recounted memories of their time at Loakes Park nearly 40 years ago. The first surprise was when we reintroduced John Kerr to a packed Caledonian Suite. He only played with the Blues for two seasons but made a huge impact off the field and on it - scoring 22 times in his 48 games, before returning to America.
He's still there today, Coach at Duke University in North Carolina. But such is his affection for the club and his colleagues from the late 80s, he had no hesitation in flying back especially for the dinner. There was an emotional reunion with his old manager Jim Kelman, who had driven up from his home in Cornwall. Also returning were Kerr’s old teammates Matt Crossley, Simon Stapleton, John Granville, Andy Robinson, Glyn Creaser and Dave Carroll. There was an additional twist when Peter Couhig revealed he’d been coached in the USA by John Kerr’s father!
Then Alan Gane’s 1987 title-winning heroes were saluted along with the champions of 1983 in the shape of Anton Vircavs, Dave Burgess, Mark Hill, Ken Wilson and surprise guest Kevin Collins, just back from Australia after 35 years Down Under. Kevin Keen, son of early 80s boss Mike Keen, was an appropriate choice to present our new Life Member awards to Bob Dell, Gary Lester and Mark West.
Joining in honouring our triple award winners were three of our 1957 FA Amateur Cup Final side – Mike Wicks, Len Worley and Jim Truett, with help from Derrick Draffan, Mike Brown and Ray Howson. And there was our usual great support from those who turned out at Loakes Park in the 60s, 70s and 90s to cheer on the 80s men who were stars of the night.
Kevin Keen spoke movingly about the role of his Dad Mike at the club between 1980-84 when he led his side to the 1983 Isthmian League title and many other pieces of silverware. And despite over 500 League games for West Ham, Wolves and Stoke, Kevin spoke with pride about setting the then Wanderers’ record as their youngest debutant at 15 years & 209 days back in 1982.
But it wasn’t all about the past. Gareth Ainsworth, Richard Dobson and Andy Fairman represented the current squad and talked glowingly about today’s record breakers as they top Division 1. We put our own video shots to Gareth’s version of The Wanderer which should now be a No 1 hit at Christmas. And thanks to some pictures purloined from their families, we reminded everyone what Gareth and Dobbo were up to in the 80s.
The verdict from all – our best ever effort. So thanks to everyone who took part and who supported as we raised more much-needed funds for this year’s charity, the Stroke Association.
Full gallery available here.