High Wycombe

Where chairs were made and the Chairboys were formed

Teams, tales and tips – a guide to the local game

The Chairboys is one of football’s more unusual nicknames but one entirely appropriate for a club from High Wycombe.

Wycombe Wanderers bear the chained swan crest of their home town, their rustic little ground, Adams Park, cut into a rectangle of woodland on the western outskirts of High Wycombe.

Still completely surrounded by green belt, just north of the Thames at Marlow, this Buckinghamshire market town was best known for its furniture manufacture. Apprentice chair makers were among those who founded the original club, in the 1880s, the name agreed upon in a pub on Station Road.

Welcome to High Wycombe/Peterjon Cresswell

The club’s varsity colours of dark and light blue may have been a link to the rowing tradition at Marlow – no-one really knows. Football had long taken root in the affluent riverside community four miles from High Wycombe. Founded at the Compleat Angler in 1870, Marlow FC hold the distinction of being the only club to register for FA Cup participation every single season since the tournament was introduced in 1871.

Marlow also competed in the first final of the Berks & Bucks Challenge Cup in 1879, losing to Reading. Now the Berks & Bucks Senior Cup, its record winners are Wycombe, whose recent history has taken an entirely different path from that of their former local rivals.

First Southern League, then Spartan League, then Isthmian League, the Chairboys became a top amateur club, causing Middlesbrough a shock in the FA Cup of 1974-75.

Success came under Martin O’Neill, in his first major managerial posting in the early 1990s, leading Wycombe into the Football League. The later manager of Celtic and Ireland also played in the last game at Loakes Park, the club’s home from 1895, its famous sloping pitch foxing that Boro side in 1975. The farewell match there, in 1990, featuring O’Neill’s former Northern Ireland team-mate George Best, gave the venerable ground a suitable send-off.

Adams Park/Peterjon Cresswell

Its grand gates were duly moved to new-build, named after the club’s former captain Frank Adams, who had purchased Loakes Park from Lord Carrington and donated it to the club. He also provided the trophy for the FA Vase, the non-league competition that superceded the FA Amateur Cup in 1974.

Backdropped by overflowing greenery, Adams Park opened in 1990 and was a Football League ground within three years. Within 12 years, the Wycombe’s 125th anniversary, a supporters’ trust had taken control of club, Adams Park and training ground, ensuring that the future of the Chairboys was in dedicated hands. At the same time, Wycombe Wanderers won the Football League Family Excellence Award.

In 2015, 7,750 packed into Adams Park to see Wanderers overcome Plymouth in a League Two play-off semi-final. The final against Southend, in front of 38,000 at Wembley, went to penalties. And all this only one season after Wycombe needed a last-ditch victory to stay in the League on goal difference.

Long-term manager Gareth Ainsworth, a cult figure at Adams Park since 2009 and amateur rock guitarist, then led the club out of League One with a play-off win over Oxford in 2020. A community club with the tightest of budgets, Wycombe had reached the second tier for the first time in their history, their achievement overshadowing the short length of stay thereafter.

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Getting Around

Arriving in town, local transport and timings

Heathrow is 35km (22 miles) from High Wycombe. Carousel the airline LHR service runs every 30mins-1hr from Heathrow bus station to High Wycombe Coachway (single £8/return £15), journey time 30-40mins. Carousel the airline LGW service runs every 2hrs from Gatwick Airport 97km (60 miles) away (single £18/return £30) via Heathrow, journey time 1hr 40mins.

There is no direct public transport from London Luton Airport, 64km (40 miles) away – a National Express bus leaves every 2hrs for High Wycombe Coachway, changing at Heathrow (advance single £20-£25, overall journey time 2hrs 20mins).

High Wycombe Coachway is south of town by the M40 motorway. The train station is just north-east of the centre. The frequent train to High Wycombe (25-30mins) from London Marylebone is £18. Direct from Birmingham Moor Street (1hr 45mins) can be as cheap as £14 in advance. From Manchester, you need to go via London or Leamington Spa.

Several bus companies serve High Wycombe, including Carousel, First Group and Arriva. Adding a £3.60 PlusBus supplement to your train ticket allows you to use local buses provided by each of three companies all day.

The ground is way out in the western outskirts of town – you’ll need to get a bus or taxi there.

Based on the main road on the stadium side of town, Yellow Cars (01494 44 44 02) offers affordable local fares and Heathrow transfers.

Where to Drink

The best pubs and bars for football fans

A mix of chains and traditional pubs dot the town centre.

Starting with the High Street itself, The Three Tuns , the former Hobgoblin, offers real ales, live music and TV football. A few buildings down, there are TV screens at The Falcon, the town Wetherspoon.

On Desborough Road, the Rose & Crown has always been a popular destination for TV sport, with ales and Sunday roasts further attractions. On nearby Bridge Street, the Phoenix Bar opens from 4pm weekdays, noon at weekends, a live venue with TV sport and a fire for a warming pint before the band takes centre-stage.

The Antelope on Church Square is a historic landmark opened in 1795 whose rustic exterior hides one of the finest music venues around, with regular DJ takeovers. Vegan food and TV football are other features, along with a decent beer garden.

More geared towards dining than drinking, The Sausage Tree is also known for its ales by the bottle such as Brewdog 5am Saint and Ilkley The Mayan.

Flint Cottage, the former Bootlegger, is the first pub you come to as you walk down from the train station. Here, craft brews and quality eats can be enjoyed on the side terrace and in the back garden.

Where to stay

The best hotels for the ground and around town

Visit Buckinghamshire has a database of hotels across the county.

Local accommodation is quite limited, with the honourable exception of the George & Dragon, the other side of the National Trust land from Adams Park. It probably wouldn’t be more than a fiver in a cab, and you get to stay in a restored coaching inn close to West Wycombe Park.

The nearest lodging to the ground is the dated but affordable Clifton Lodge on the main West Wycombe Road, with its own restaurant and garden. Further along, nearer town, the Buckingham Hotel is a notch nicer and in the same price bracket.

The chains are in the town centre, the Premier Inn and Travelodge High Wycombe Central.