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(Thursday 24th August 2000)

Garner - Give that bloke a medal - Wembley 1994Simon Garner will make a dramatic return to Adams Park on Bank Holiday Monday as he heads up new pre-match entertainment in the Vere Suite bar prior to the League games. The ex-Wycombe and Blackburn player retired from playing football at the end of last season but will now join a growing band of ex-footballers getting involved in corporate hospitality and media work.

The highest scorer in the history of Blackburn Rovers spent close to two years with Wycombe in the mid 1990's and was a scorer for The Wanderers in the 1994 play-off final against Preston North End. Signed by Martin O'Neill in February 1994, Garner made his Wycombe debut in the dramatic penalty shoot-out victory over Fulham in the Southern Area Semi-Final of the AutoGlass Trophy. His first goal in a Wycombe shirt came at Swansea in the Southern Area Final and although Wycombe lost out over two-legs to the Welsh side, Garner's hero status took shape in the Division Three play-offs at the end of that season. 'Garns' notched goals in both legs of the semi against Carlisle United and then scored an exquisite goal in the final at Wembley where his now famous leaning against the corner flag routine came into play.

Super Simon Garner - Pure Genius - logo Chairboys on the NetThe following season Division Two held no problems for the experienced Garner. He became the first ever player to score a goal at Huddersfield's new McApline Stadium as Wycombe silenced the locals with a 1-0 victory in August. Wycombe completed an amazing double of Huddersfield later that season when ten man Wycombe, inspired by the genius of Garner, came back from a goal down to win 2-1 - the man himself getting the goal as Town were left ball watching. That game is still regarded by many as one of the finest performances seen by a Wycombe side at Adams Park. Just for good measure, a week before that game, Garner scored a hat-trick for Wycombe in a Second Round FA Cup match at Hitchin. The media came looking for a giant-killing but all they got was exhibition stuff from Garner and Co.

With the departure of O'Neill in the summer of 1995, Garner's time at Wycombe was now running out. At 35 years old he was reluctantly used by new Manager Alan Smith. His last game for Wycombe turned out to be a substitute appearance in the 2-0 home victory over Shrewsbury on 23 December 1995. Garner remained at Wycombe until the end of the 1995/96 season but was loaned out to Torquay United and eventually joined non-League Woking. He has since played for Wealdstone and Flackwell Heath before finally calling it day on the playing front during the summer.

He has remained in contact with the Club since his departure four years ago and is a great friend and drinking partner of Club Groundsman Jim Gardner. In March 1996 he drew the half-time raffle when Wycombe played Blackburn's bitter rivals Burnley. He was also waiting in the wings the following season but opted to stay in the safety of the stand bearing in mind that Wycombe were leading 4-0 and the Burnley fans couldn't see the funny side.

Garner will now step into a different side of football, with Wycombe hoping that his personality can attract the missing punters back into the Vere Suite for a pre-match drink and revive the community feel that has been slowly eroded away in recent years.

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