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PAUL HYDEWycombe Wanderers July 1991 to February 1996
When Paul Hyde left Wycombe during early February it brought to an end a very messy and prolonged fallout with Manager Alan Smith. Many Wycombe supporters have expressed great disappointment at the loss of Hyde as the first choice 'keeper at Adams Park and Smith has won few friends over the whole affair. Ben Roberts has done a commendable job as stand-in but money now has to be spent unnecessarily on a replacement.
It's difficult to comment on the exact cause of the dispute but the general assumption is that Hyde wanted to discuss a new contract just before Christmas, while Smith wanted to wait until the end of the season when the existing contract expired. Hyde went on the transfer list and he never played another game for Wycombe. Reserve 'keeper Chuck Moussaddik expected to fill-in for 'Hydey' while the dispute was settled but again Smith had other plans and in came Ben Roberts on loan from Middlesboro'. Moussaddik soon found himself on his way to Slough Town and Wycombe were left without a permanent first team 'keeper.
Hyde joined Wycombe at the start of the 1991/92 season and immediately etched his mark on Wanderers supporters. In the first few games that season he showed enormous confidence between the posts and anyone who was lucky enough to attend those early games may remember several breathtaking saves, including exceptional 'stops' away at Welling and Stafford. This was also Hyde's first encounter with Ken McKenna (then playing for Altrincham) - Ken was getting just a little too close for comfort at drop kicks and 'paid for it' with a firm glove in the face. Unfortunately for Paul that season will always be remembered for a freak goal conceded against Colchester United at Adams Park. The game was heading for a 1-1 stalemate when Scott Barrett in the Col U goal made a wind assisted clearance up field - one bounce later and the score was 2-1. National recognition followed on Question of Sport via the 'What happened next?' spot. We also don't need reminding that the lads from Essex finally beat us to the Championship that season on goal difference. For Hyde the only consolation was that he remained ever present in the Conference side that season and the Supporters voted him player of the season.
The following season, however, it was party time with Hyde conceding just 36 goals in his 40 League appearances, including 16 clean sheets. By this time Hyde was building up his reputation as a tough guy, he was never one to walk away from trouble - indeed he was more likely to run the length of the pitch in the course of justice than just be a spectator. Despite his hard man image, Hyde picked up few bookings and therefore retained his place in goal even though Chuck Moussaddik and Trevor Roffey were waiting in the sidelines. The only two League games he did miss were because of the Wanderers' fixture congestion near the end of that campaign. Highlights of that season include two stunning late saves at home to Witton Albion when the score was 2-1 and another solid performance in front of the Sky cameras at home to West Brom. A confident display at Wembley in the 1993 Trophy final against Runcorn and his old friend Ken McKenna earned him a winners medal to go with the awards and rewards for winning the Conference title.
Having made the decision to go full time, along with the majority of the Wycombe squad, Hyde took well to the challenge of League Football Between 14th August 1993 and 2nd September 1995 Hyde played in all of Wycombe's games in the Football League including the memorable play-off final game with Preston North End at Wembley. It later turned out that Hyde had been ill all of the week preceding the game and only had a 50/50 chance of playing. Hyde played a key part in the 4-2 success that took Wycombe to their highest status to date in the world of football and again emphasised his sheer dedication to Wycombe Wanderers Football Club. It was finally a suspension, caused by a sending off in the Coca Cola cup game at Leyton Orient, that ended the ever present spell and Chuck stepped in for the home game with Peterborough. Hyde returned to the side immediately and played in all games up to the 4-2 defeat at Carlisle on 26th November 1995.
So a great servant and popular character at the Club has been lost. Hyde's contract was terminated on the 13th February 1996 and within days Martin O'Neill had picked him up on a free transfer and taken him to Leicester City I'm sure I speak for everyone when I wish him and all his family all the best for the future. I'll doubt if we'll ever see anyone reach the bar so soon after the final whistle!
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