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JUNE 1997

Victory for the fans

Sick of the kit The recent announcement of the return of the quarters brings an end to an embarassing and unnecessary sequence of events for Wycombe Wanderers Football Club. The club were told it would fail - they didn't listen and consequently the shirts are now being sold off to local park sides - assuming of course they want to be burdened with wearing the symbol of disaster for WWFC. This is the story of how the quarters came home - those with nervous afflictions to disgustingly perverse images should beware. Activate "gloat" and "told you so" mode.
The story of how the quarters were desecrated goes back as far as January 1996. The hint of drastic change was immediately greeted with concern by supporters. In response, the local paper, the Bucks Free Press, conducted a telephone poll, the results from which strongly indicated that the fans wanted the quarters to stay - meanwhile the Club had other ideas, intent on pursuing commercial suicide.
SHIRT DESIGN A SHIRT DESIGN B In order to quell the controversy, Wycombe fans were then given the chance to decide between two newly proposed first team kits (as shown) in a poll carried out before the home game with Swindon Town on 2 March 1996. The vote coincided with the announcement of MIZUNO as the new supplier of the Wycombe strip from the start of the 1996/97 season. However, despite being given the chance to vote, the general feeling among Wycombe fans was one of great disappointment. Both the choices could tactfully be described as "not up to standard", alternatively they could have been described as "third rate designs thrown together by people who knew and cared nothing about Wycombe Wanderers". In effect they only gave the option of voting for the least disliked design or not to vote at all! The outcome was a 62% vote in favour of the striped design (shown on the right hand side above). The Club claim there were "hundreds" of votes with 26 papers spoilt.
The Club's point of view was that they had to significantly change the design from previous versions in order to encourage sales and generate much needed revenue. Sadly the Club underestimated the level of bad feeling aimed at the new design but at least they could claim "it was your vote" - a comment so shallow and insulting that only the most desperate of people would ever contemplate using it.
Just Say No As a result of this bad feeling a JUST SAY NO campaign was launched by a group of unnamed supporters. This helped to bring to the club's attention the point of view of the fans. In addition several letters and comments were printed in the Bucks Free Press. At an Independent Supporters meeting held in April 1996, a show of hands prior to a forum with then Manager Alan Smith, indicated that not one of the 300 supporters in attendance was in favour of the new kit.
NEW SHIRT The new kit finally surfaced for the first home game of the 1996/97 season - it was met with mixed reaction but after a whole season of seeing the team run out wearing it - it's generally felt you don't get used to it and more to the point it was not Wycombe. Words used during descriptions of the kit included - "pygamas", "Tesco bag", "vicars collar", "brewery", "heap of" and "bald headed git"
The quartered design had been popular since it was reintroduced at the start of the 1990/91 season. This followed a twenty year spell of wearing just plain light blue shirts and dark blue shorts. The quarters were first worn by Wycombe in the 1890's and became 'the' Wycombe kit between the late 1920's and the late 1960's. Most supporters were keen to see a return to the quarters - a design that is associated with the most succesful periods in the Club's history not with a period when some smart alec from the smoke tries to make us look like Crystal Palace2. An Internet poll carried out by Chairboys on the Net during the summer of 1996 showed 87% 'didn't like' the new kit - and that was before it was on sale!

It's the long awaited return of the popular quarted shirt so tragically
lost thanks to Alan SmithThat train of thought continued as the season unfolded and sales tailed off. The arrival of new Manager John Gregory in October 1996 increased the dislike of the kit as he publicly slagged it off at an official Supporters Forum. It was these comments that led to further consultation with the fans - this time in a more organised manner - and subsequnetly the release of a new 'third choice' yellow and blue quartered kit in time for the end of the season.
This particular chapter closed when the Club announced that as from Wednesday 2 July 1997 supporters will once again be able to buy a light and dark blue quartered shirt with matching dark blue shorts - simple really - why didn't they do that to start with? "Gloat" and "Told you so" mode now returning to normal.
Uploaded and updated 28 June 1997

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