Away Day Memories – Enjoying a masterclass in Wycombe’s Dark Arts in 2019

Micky Lough takes us back to the halcyon days of 2018-19, when Jack Ross inspired us to a 1-1 draw at a tempestuous Adams Park
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If, for some strange reason you asked Alexa or your favourite virtual assistant to show you a game of football to capture the essence of League One football, it would likely respond with, ‘playing Wycombe 1-1 Sunderland from March 2019.’

Before a ball was even kicked, the stage was set for the true personification of football in the third tier.

A predictably sold out away end was complemented with an equally packed home end (and presumably car park), the game was live exclusively on IFollow and Bill Turnbull of BBC Breakfast fame was on the comms.

Due to the 3pm blackout on Saturday afternoons, myself and Mathew Keeling were forced to board a plane and fly to an undisclosed location on the continent to take in the action, although the travelling hordes from Wearside probably had to leave earlier than us to make it in time for kick-off.

Once the game got underway, a League One masterclass unfolded in front of our very eyes as Wycombe proceeded to try and kick the living daylights out of both the football and their visitors for the afternoon.

The strategy proved to be effective and the hosts should have taken the lead after 17 minutes when Luke Bolton somehow contrived to divert the ball wide of an open goal from inside the six-yard box.

Ten minutes before the interval, they did manage to take the lead through former Young Conservative Chairman Paris Cowan-Hall, I have no way of proving the validity of the latter part of that statement but with a name like that, it’s a fair assumption.

Sunderland’s first half performance was not one that lived long in the memory, but the antics of Bill Turnbull in the Wycombe press box were comically memorable.

Mr Turnbull may have performed admirably on the Breakfast couch for a number of years, but his ability in the commentary department was so bad that he was heckled but by the majority of Sunderland fans in the pub, and at times there was audible laughter at some of his quips.

A particular highlight was him remarking, “and the Sunderland fans are appealing for a free kick, which is quite frankly just silly.”

He also seemed to be preoccupied with the lads having possession in our own half and delivered long lectures on Sunderland being ‘pampered’ and couldn’t adapt to ‘real football.’

The second half did, at least see the visitors put up more of a fight and Tom Flanagan was desperately unlucky not to bundle home the equaliser with little over five minutes on the clock.

We finally levelled matters in stoppage time when Grant Leadbitter’s speculative effort was spilled by Ryan Allsop and Duncan Watmore lashed the rebound into the back of the net.

This sparked pandemonium in the away end as some fans made their way onto the pitch and Watmore was mobbed by those who stayed on the approved side of the advertising hoardings.

An exciting conclusion to the game, yeah? Well things were actually just getting started as the closing few minutes saw no fewer than three sendings-off.

In the aftermath of the goal, a scuffle broke out between the two sets of substitutes and coaching staff which saw George Honeyman and Nathan Tyson both sent off despite having already been subbed earlier in the game.

In the tenth minute of added time, Marcus Bean was sent off for a horror tackle on Duncan Watmore who would spend further time on the sidelines as a result of the tackle.

Our first ever trip to Adams Park was an absolute classic of the League One genre, three sendings-off in added time, loser behaviour everywhere you looked, more time was wasted than actual football played and a 1-1 draw under the management of Jack Ross firmly planted a chef’s kiss on proceedings.

Hopefully, Saturday will be our last ever visit to High Wycombe and Gareth Ainsworth is booed off at whichever local his tribute band happens to be performing come Saturday evening.

Ha’way The Lads!