By Neil Fissler
DAVE CARROLL says that Wycombe Wanderers’ first season in the Football League was an adventure into the unknown.
Unlike manager Martin O’Neill who had won League Championship and European Cup winners’ medals with Nottingham Forest, only a handful of Wanderers had League experience.
Midfielder Carroll, an England youth international, had been captured from Ruislip Manor for a four figure sum five years earlier.
Carroll, who had started his career with Wembley, says that initially the Football League was a bit of a shock. But it wasn’t until the middle of September that Wycombe tasted defeat for the first time, against Colchester who two years earlier had pipped them to promotion.
Wanderers even recorded a 4-2 win over Premier League Coventry City in the League Cup although they went out on aggregate after losing the first leg 3-0.
“It was a bit of an adventure to be honest with you,” said Carroll. “Everyone had come through the non league system. So there was a lot of desire to do well.
“Nobody had made it as a pro, so there wasn’t any expectation. The year before getting promoted we had lost out to Colchester United on goal difference.
“After a while Martin brought in Simon Garner, the leading scorer at Blackburn Rovers, and we added a few others.
“We had a good side and the bottom line was the manager. When we got promoted we weren’t sure what to expect.
“We had to adjust to doing the job full-time, because that was totally different to what the lads had been used to.
“When we first got into the league it was a bit of a culture shock, the tackles were slightly stronger and fitness was certainly an issue.
“Then, after the first five or six weeks there was nothing really to fear, we started quite well and it just went on from there.”
Right at the end of the season hopes of automatic promotion were ended when they failed to win any of their last five games. Instead, Carlisle United, their opponents on the opening day of the season, were disposed of in the play-off semi finals and a date was booked against Preston.
Wembley didn’t hold any fears for Wycombe who had won the FA Trophy final in 1991 and 1993. Carroll, who netted in the 1991 Trophy final went on to score twice against Preston in a 4-2 win.
“Even going into the play-offs there were no expectations which gave us a free licence to go out and enjoy it really,” he said.
“Preston were steeped in history and we had none. Even though we went 2-1 down just before half time there was a real belief that we were going to win.
“Ultimately we did, of course. I got the third and fourth goals. Playing in two of the previous three Trophy finals helped us a lot.”
1. Steve Guppy: Won England semi pro and full England honours coached at Rochester Rhinos and Colorado Rapids before reuniting with O’Neill at Sunderland.
2. Simon Stapleton: Still living in his native Oxfordshire and has been working as an independent financial advisor. He was previously a properties restorer.
3. Keith Scott: Has managed Leighton Town, Windsor & Eton and Windsor. He lives in High Wycombe and is business development manager for Advanced Interior Solutions.
4. Matt Crossley: Now a part time trader in stocks and shares, is also a house husband and coaches at Woking’s academy.
5. Anton Vircavs: Lives in Kidlington, Oxfordshire and is a plumber running APV Boiler Services
6. Hakan Hayrettin: Has managed Waltham Forest, Thurrock and Grays Athletic and is now first team coach at Conference champions Luton.
7. Dave Jones (physio): Is now running his own private practice and travels around giving university lectures.
8. Jim Melvin (youth): He has coached at Leicester, Flackwell Heath, Marlow, Chertsey and Windsor & Eton. Also managed Yeading.
9. Dave Carroll: Has spent seven years working for Space Station plc in Uxbridge and is now manager of the Brentford branch.
10. Jason Cousins: The brother- in-law of Keith Scott has spent the last decade running his own chauffering business.
11. Andy Kerr: A former sports and leisure salesman, he moved to the Far East where he was working as a financial advisor.
12. Paul Hyde: He now teaches physical education at Ashford Friars Prep School in Kent and is goalkeeper coach at Whitstable Town.
13. Keith Ryan: He went into the flooring industry and is now a director of Now Flooring in Flackwell Heath.
14. Geoff Cooper: Now lives in Auckland, New Zealand where he has held a number of coaching and football development jobs and works in insurance.
15. Duncan Horton: Living in his native Kent and was last known to be working in London.
16. John Reardon: Served Wycombe as manager, assistant manager, kitman and club secretary and is now a vice president of the club.
17. Glyn Creaser: Is based in Milton Keynes working as a warehouse manager for John Lewis and is a director of Blackmills Industrial Estate
18. Mark West: Scored the winner in the 1991 Trophy Final. A former sales engineer who manages a production workshop he is the manager of Thame United.
19. Tim Langford: A postman in Telford before turning professional with Wycombe, he went back to working for the Royal Mail.
20. Martin O’Neill: Managed Norwich City, Leicester City, Celtic, Aston Villa and Sunderland and, since November 2013, the Republic of Ireland.
21. Paul Franklin: Coached at Wycombe, Norwich City, Leicester, and managed Norwich United and Diss Town. Working in business supplies.
22. Dennis Greene: A former photocopier salesman has managed St Neots Town, Histon and, since March 2013, Boston United.
23. Steve Thompson: A fitness instructor in the RAF, he served Yeovil Town for a decade. Has since managed Truro and is assistant manager of Woking and manages a college.
24. Kim Casey: Has been the assistant manager of Redditch United and worked in a solicitor’s office and for financial services.
25. Simon Hutchinson: An ex-schools football coach who is now living and working in his native Sheffield.