Baby, Life`s What You Make It
Happy New Year folks! I doubt reading this bilge will help your hangovers much but hey, life`s what you make it, celebrate it. You can`t beat 80s pop lyrics for inspiration! So 2012 is here and we`re all off to the seaside. Sunny Bournemouth is our destination and we`ll be looking forward to an improved showing on some of our previous visits to Dean Court.
We`ve now played all 23 League One sides this season, and I`ve bored you senseless with the histories of their towns and football club as well as their famous fans and some of the talented footballers that have kissed the badges of both clubs. From here on in it`s all about the football and in the Cherries case there`s quite a bit to talk about.
"Steve Perrin`s back"
We`ve met on eleven occasions in Dorset and it has probably never got any better than on our first ever visit back in December 1974. That happens to be around the time that I was conceived (what do you mean you feel nauseated?) so it was a very, very long time ago. The Chairboys were Isthmian League Champions and riding the last wave of Amateur footballing glory under Manager Brian Lee.
The Cherries had been drawn at Loakes Park in a second round F.A. Cup tie and escaped with a goal-less draw. The replay was played at Dean Court on the following Wednesday evening and their captain John Delaney, a Wanderers legend, was missing through injury. It didn`t stop the Football League side from taking the lead after just nine minutes and they dominated the opening 45 minutes.
The Blues got a break at half-time when home goalkeeper Kevin Charlton had to come off injured and he had to be replaced in goal by right-winger John Wingate. Lee`s men seized their chance and Tony Horseman soon levelled. With time running out Horseman had another pop and his shot deflected off the back of striker Steve Perrin and flew into the net. It sealed a historic 2-1 victory and sent Wycombe through to the third round of the F.A. Cup for the very first time in their history.
It was more than twenty years before the sides clashed again. This time it was in the third tier of the Football League and the Wanderers were now above their hosts in the table. In fact whilst we were pushing for a third successive promotion under Martin O`Neill, the Cherries were mounting a great escape from relegation. Over 1,500 Chairboys made the trip down the M3 and they were left raging.
Referee Paul Rejer decided he was to be the star of the show by awarding two of the most ludicrous penalties you`re ever likely to see. His partner in crime was Bournemouth winger Jason Brissett who twice tumbled to the ground under the most innocuous of challenges. Both spot-kicks were scored with O`Neill sent to the stands and Alan Parry throwing a few verbal volleys in the ref`s direction. The 2-0 defeat dealt a significant blow as the Blues finished agonisingly outside of the play-offs.
Striker John Williams was something of an enigma. He scored some memorable goals for the Blues but will always be inextricably linked with Alan Smith. The two were in tandem when the sides met again in February 1996. An own goal and a strike from midfielder Gary Patterson looked to have earned a 2-2 draw before the flying postman notched a late winner. It was the side's first victory in half-a-dozen matches.
In October 1996 the Cherries began a sequence of comfortable victories against the Blues. The visitors were under the caretaker charge of Neil Smillie after Smith had been canned and the home side recorded a 2-1 win with first-half goals from midfielder Matt Holland and Mark Watson. David Farrell did pull a goal back after the break when a clearance hit him and rebounded into the net and we almost levelled late-on when Steve Brown crashed a shot against the post.
Almost 18 months later and Smillie was again in temporary charge, this time after John Gregory had legged it back to Villa. This April meeting wasn`t memorable in the slightest. A strong wind didn`t help and both sides put on a yawn-fest that couldn`t be livened-up even when striker Mark Stallard was sent off after failing to retreat at a free-kick and receiving a second yellow card. The game ended goal-less.
"Sunshine and Sanchez"
Lawrie Sanchez had been in charge less than a month when the Blues returned to the seaside. Those who visited the old Dean Court will recall being blinded by the sun whilst standing in the old away end but it failed to mask our fragility at set-pieces.
Midfielder Steve Robinson was left completely unmarked at a corner and he volleyed home from ten yards. Three minutes later and a free-kick into the Wycombe box again found Robinson unmarked and he shot low into the net to make it 2-0 before half-time. Dave Carroll missed the visitors` best chance in the second half as the home side cruised to three points.
Thirteen months later and there was a repeat performance. This time the goals came in the second half with goalkeeper Martin Taylor fumbling Steve Fletcher`s shot from 25 yards and striker Wade Elliott tucked home the rebound. It was one-way traffic and Fletcher saw his header crash against the crossbar before substitute Scott Mean thumped a fantastic 30-yard into the postage stamp with Taylor helpless.
A third successive 2-0 defeat came in April 2001 but this was a different story. The side had just lost to 2-1 to Liverpool in the semi-finals of the F.A. Cup and was playing catch-up with their League fixtures. This re-arranged game took place on a Monday evening with the away fans squashed in the corner of the Main Stand with a trumpet-playing loon next to us in the home end.
He was soon tunelessly parping away as the hosts dominated the game against a clearly shattered Wanderers side. The first half ended goalless thanks to goalkeeper Martin Taylor, who made a great save to keep out Richard Hughes penalty.
Striker Warren Feeney, on loan from Leeds United, broke the deadlock midway through the second half although he appeared to be in an offside position. Wade Elliott doubled the lead six minutes later after capitalising on a slip from Jason Cousins and it could have been more had it not been for the outstanding Taylor.
After years of trudging back up the M3 with nothing but a sun-induced headache as reward, the Blues finally claimed victory with a last-gasp winner. Dean Court had now been rotated 90 degrees into a soul-less all-seater 3-sided monstrosity! These were halcyon days for the Chairboys under Sanchez, although none of us knew it at the time.
After a dull and uneventful opening period Sean Devine tapped home to give the visitors the lead midway through the second half when he pounced on the re-bound after the goalkeeper Gareth Stewart could only parry Danny Senda`s shot. Unfortunately the lead lasted just ten minutes with current Burnley boss Eddie Howe firing home the equaliser.
With the match deep into injury-time Michael Simpson swung the ball into the box from the right and Jermaine McSporran met it with a downward header that beat Stewart and nestled in the bottom corner. It sent the 1,000 plus away fans bonkers and that journey home was full of dreams of a play-off place at the end of the season. Football can be so cruel sometimes.
Wycombe had to wait more than two years for their next visit to Dorset but there was little joy to be found this around. The visitors were cut adrift at the bottom of the third tier and looked doomed to relegation under boss Tony Adams. The hosts claimed all three points with a 1-0 win; Warren Cummings crashing a volley past goalkeeper Steve Williams from twenty yards. It left the Wanderers without a win in their last ten games but the game was notable for the full league debut of the late Mark Philo.
After a sensational first half to the 2008/09 season under manager Peter Taylor, the New Year was accompanied by a severe case of the promotion jitters. Striker Matt Harrold was gifted the opening goal after just nine minutes when home goalkeeper David Button made a complete hash of a routine back-pass but with Mike Williamson left out of the squad as he discussed a move to Watford the defence soon buckled.
Striker Brett Pitman curled a superb 25-yard free-kick past goalkeeper Scott Shearer to level and defender Jason Pearce headed home from a corner to put the Cherries ahead before the break. Midway through the second half Jake Thomson`s cross somehow looped over Shearer and into the net to seal a 3-1 win for the home side. Despite the loss the Blues still enjoyed a six point lead at the top of the League Two table.
"All that`s left are memories"
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