When Saturday Comes Part 1...
It was a new dawn at Wycombe in June 2006 as the Gorman era came to a premature end after he was deemed not to be prepared to manage a football club in his current emotional state. A controversial decision amongst Wycombe fans and even more so when he joined Northampton as manager only a week later.
We waited and waited for a new manager to be named, the excuse being 'time need to be taken' but I believe this put us at a disadvantage already as most of the free transfers had been snapped up by football league clubs and we needed to settle for what we could get.
When Paul Lambert was named as manager on the 30th June, the appointment was met with a mixed reaction. Many were excited by the prospect of a new, fresh manager straight from the mould of Martin O'Neill but it also seems many were concerned about a Tony Adams scenario all over again.
Like I said before, despite many free transfers already being snapped up, Lambert's signings were promising and all impressed in the home friendly against Watford. Anthony Grant looked like the ruthless midfielder we had missed last season who was more then ready to get stuck in, experienced Sam Stockley added stability to the back four and versatile Chris Palmer flashed pace and skill and showed he can cross by setting up Tommy Mooney's first goal in that game against Watford.
The signings still came in and goalkeepers Ricardo Batista and Jamie Young were signed to fill the gap left by Frank Talia who had suffered an injury that would rule him out for the entire campaign.
So, the first game of the season arrived, a home game as it has normally been with Wycombe in recent years, the opponents for Lambert's first competitive game were Wrexham. Before we had time to settle, the Adams Park crowd was on it's feet. Sublime skill by Chris Palmer on the left which took him past 3 players set up Mooney who's shot slipped through the hands of the Wrexham 'keeper. However, no-one would have expected the manner in which Wrexham equalised, Martin's short back pass left Batista in no man's land and after two sliced clearances he perfectly picked out Welsh international Mark Jones who looped it into a net with Batista 25 yards from his own goal. 1-1 it ended, the result had both apprehension and optimism for the season ahead really.
An impressive 2-1 win at Bristol Rovers followed with goals from Betsy and a sublime effort from Mooney which completed a good result at a very difficult place to goal. We then got a poor result at Notts County which left Wycombe fans thinking what team will turn up in the next game as we had now achieved all 3 possible results we could.
Then, the coming to form of a forgotten man kickstarted the Blues' season. When Matt Bloomfield limped off against Bury after 35 minutes, no-one expected what was to come. The revelation of the season, Jermaine Easter scored a 31 minute hat-trick and answered the groans and grumbles of the Wycombe fans who gasped at his £80,000 transfer fee. Including the Bury result, we went on to win 8 games in a row with Easter's scoring very much at the forefront, the pinnacle of this run winning at Rochdale on the Saturday and going top of the league because of it and then pulling off an unbelievable 2-1 win away at Fulham in the Carling Cup 2nd round with Easter again taking the plaudits after opening the scoring that night.
The season then took an inconsistent and rather eratic turn but one competition stood out where the big players certainly came to the forefront.
To be continued....