The Story of The Blues
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Games so far:
1st Round - London Caledonians 1 Wycombe Wanderers 4
2nd Round - Wycombe Wanderers 6 Walthamstow Avenue 1
3rd Round - Wycombe Wanderers 6 Romford 2
4th Round - Metropolitan Police 1 Wycombe Wanderers 1
4th Round replay - Wycombe Wanderers 2 Metropolitan Police 1
Semi-Final - Wycombe Wanderers 3 Woking 0
Final - preview - what they said in the press
On Saturday 11th April 1931 the waiting was finally over and Wanderers were off to Highbury to take on Hayes in the final of FA Amateur Cup. More than 4,000 Wycombe supporters travelled to watch the game against the Athenian League opponents. Bucks Free Press reporter 'Goalpost' described the scene, "Wycombe emptied itself on Saturday. The streets lacked the usual throngs until visitors crowded into the town from the country districts, towards evening, to await the result of the game at Highbury. Official figures from the High Wycombe railway station show that 4,200 passengers availed themselves of the cheap train facilities offered." He went on "Motor coaches, lorries and motor cars - both of ancient and modern types! - were requistioned and scores of private vehicles were used. As Highbury was reached some of the thoroughfares were jammed and a good many folk did not get to the scene until after the start of the game. The Wanderers' supporters like those of Hayes, did not forget to show their colours and hundreds of yards of ribbon, to say nothing of miniature chairs and golly-wogs, were used. Mothers even decorated their babes in arms" Meanwhile, a Fire Officer from High Wycombe was reported in the Bucks Free Press as saying, "If there are any fires in High Wycombe today, they must bring them to Highbury so that we can put them out.", as he set off for the ground on Saturday morning with his Chief.
Wycombe Wanderers versus Hayes
At Highbury, Arsenal FC - Attendance: 32,489 (receipts £2,222)
The Wanderers Selection Committee had their job made easy when Club Captain John Timberlake, who had missed the semi-final through injury, had very sportingly declared himself unfit to play in the final with Arthur Greenwell continuing to deputise, with Pat Badrick taking the captain's armband. The Committee noted their "very sincere appreciation of his action" in their minutes. Timberlake was named as one of Wanderers' emergency reserves along with Tapping, Richards, Druce, Mines, Bates and Grafton.
The Blues opponents had reached in final in unlikely circumstances, winning their way through from the Qualifying Rounds to the final, and had played all nine matches away from home. Their greatest result was beating Bishop Auckland in the semi-final. They caused more surprise when their new signing, Bill Caesar was chosen at left-half ahead of regular Arthur Butcher.
Those who brought the 12 page programme issued for the game may have made those changes to the team line-ups detailed in the centre pages. Progammes then were fairly unglamorous affairs with this particular issue being much like a regular Arsenal edition with just a few notes on the final in question. Arsenal themselves were currently top of 'Division One' and on the same day as the final were playing away to 14th placed Grimsby Town. Manchester United were bottom of the division.
The attendance of 32,489, paying £2,222 in receipts, saw a close game. Wanderers played much of the first-half with ten men after right-back Sid Crump suffered a head injury. Consequently Hayes had marginally the better of a slightly disappointing first 45 minutes. Jim Kipping in the Wanderers goal had to save well from Rowe, and then from Eric Caesar, as the Middlesex side pressed for that all important first goal. Wycombe responded and Alf Britnell crossed twice for Doug Vernon to head over on both occasions. Crump re-joined the action but played on the right wing, with Bill Brown dropping back. Ten minutes before half-time the Missioners glovesman Holding brought off a wonderful save from Dick Braisher rasping piledriver.
Half-time: Wycombe Wanderers 0 Hayes 0
Crump resumed his normal position at the start of the second half and Wycombe began to have the better of the game. Holding again saved well from an Arthur Greenwell shot and Bill Brown lashed in a fierce drive that flew inches wide of the upright. It seemed that a goal was just a matter of time but there was more frustration when following a free-kick Alf Britnell's shot skimed the top of the Hayes crossbar. Hayes too had chances to score, striker Lloyd wasting a good chance before the Wanderers survived a real scare with just 15 minutes to go. Sid Crump appeared to have handled the ball in the area yet despite claims for a penalty, Referee, Mr Graham, awarded Hayes a free-kick on the edge of the box.
The game was into the last ten minutes and a Wanderers attack developed into a goalmouth scramble, and whilst laying on the ground, Hayes' Bill Caesar handled the ball. This time the referee had no doubt and pointed straight to the spot. Wanderers Bill Brown stood forward to take the penalty for Wycombe, but fired the ball straight at Missioners 'keeper Holding. However, he could only push the ball back out and Alf Britnell reacted first to the re-bound to fire the ball into the back the net.
Wycombe played out the last few minutes of the game without any problems, and final whistle blew to herald Wanderers first, and only, Amateur Cup triumph. Captain Pat Badrick went up to collect the cup amid joyful scenes of celebration.
Final score: Wycombe Wanderers 1 Hayes 0
Wycombe Team: Kipping, Crump, Cox, Badrick, Rance, Simmons, Greenwell, Brown, Vernon, Braisher and Britnell.
Scorers: Britnell 81
Hayes Team: Holding, Maskell, Gower, E Caesar, Wainwright, W Caesar, Knight, Rowe, Morgan, Welsh and Lloyd.
An estimated 10,000 people cheered their triumphant team home when they returned to Guildhall in High Wycombe later that evening where the scenes were described by the local press as "unprecendented in the history of the old borough." Crowds amassed nearly two hours before the train carrying the Wanderers players eventually arrived back in town at around 9pm. They were welcomed by Mayor Healey and the Bucks Free Press report added, "The cheers were deafening and could have been heard miles away." A waiting brake vehicle which had been towed from Wooburn Green carried the players on a procession through the High Street and to the Guildhall where speeches were made and each player given an ovation in turn.
The Mayor said in his speech, "In the name of our dear old town I say to the Wanderers - Welcome Home! We honour you tonight for the distinction you have, by your determination and clean sportsmanship brought to High Wycombe. We're proud of you and proud of what you have so well done to add to the fame of our wonderful old borough (cheers)" The Mayor went on to pay tribute to "our twelfth man - Timberlake". The Mayor then added in his speech, "Realising how difficult I have found it to restrain myself from becoming perhaps, not altogether dignified - (cheers) - I cannot blame you if the joy of such a crowd of 'happy faces' should become boisterous but I am confident we shall curb our enthusiasm so that, looking back, this night will long be recorded in the history of our old borough, with nothing but justifiable pride (cheers)" Holding aloft the Cup, the Mayor then said "Now show them what we think of them." The cheers were loud and long.
The following month four hundred people attended a celebration dinner in the Town Hall where amongst numerous speeches and toasts conducted by former Club Captain Frank Adams, it was revealed that John Timberlake had been permitted an Amateur Cup winners due to a special ruling by the FA.
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