I AM a fan of Wycombe Wanderers and have been for 20 years. But I cannot pretend for a minute that I am a particularly fanatical, devoted or useful supporter of the club.
I avidly follow the results of each match while regularly scanning websites, TV and newspapers for team news.
Despite my best intentions though, I only ever manage to get to two or three home games each season.
And therein lies the problem – because I suspect that many thousands of people in south Bucks are exactly like me.
The Blues are finding life hard these days under new financial restraints, and no wonder when their crowds are between 3,000 to 4,000 per game. How can Football League clubs possibly keep going on these kind of attendances?
Yet, it would be wrong to necessarily blame the apathy of the masses who stay away. It’s an expensive and time-demanding business to go to 23 home games per season. Sadly, many people prefer to stay at home in their lounges and watch Premier League football on their digital TVs.
Last Tuesday, only 3,161 turned up to see Wycombe play Plymouth at Adams Park. Only 2,667 of these were Wanderers fans. Meanwhile, Manchester United and Chelsea were playing that same evening in the Champions League, so is there any surprise that Wycombe’s crowd was so low?
However, something simply has to change because WWFC suddenly now face the very real threat of being relegated from the Football League.
Maybe that doesn’t sound a big deal to some of you. But to me, it’s massive, because I remember when Blues won promotion from the Vauxhall Conference in 1993 under Martin O’Neill. I remember how so narrowly the team missed out on promotion a year earlier, and I recall all the blood, tears and sweat it took to get them up.
Since then, despite various relegations, Blues fans have been spoilt on a diet of success – including two epic cup semi-finals and three promotions.
When I was a boy, I was hopeless at geography but all my knowledge of English and Scottish towns came from watching the football results. Rochdale, Stockport and Halifax were all on the map for me because of this.
Believe you me, it is a huge feather in all of our caps to have a league team in our town. Underestimate this at your peril.
Recently, I went back to Adams Park and sat by the pitch watching Blues get beaten and totally outplayed by struggling AFC Wimbledon.
At one stage, the ball flew into the seat next to me and I threw it back. I swear that meant I had more meaningful touches than some of the Wycombe players on the pitch.
It was no surprise that boss Gary Waddock, decent guy that he was, was sacked after this match. It wasn’t the actual defeat that did for him; it was the sheer woefulness and lack of zest displayed by his team. It was truly embarrassing to see Wimbledon in their yellow shirts resemble Brazil, due to Wycombe’s ineptitude.
On Saturday, I was delighted to see (on TV, I admit) Blues beat Torquay and put in such a great shift of work.
But the most pleasing aspect was the way that caretaker manager Gareth Ainsworth took his team over to the fans at the end to thank them for their support.
Suddenly, the supporters and the team were one again.
Hopefully now, Ainsworth will complete the turnaround and lift Wycombe out of danger.
But that little cameo at the end with the fans has more significance than you may realise. For Blues to climb out of relegation and financial peril, they need us by their side. They need fair-weather fans such as me – and some of you – to come back to Adams Park as much as possible to reverse the decline.
Yes, like me, you probably don’t get much time for this. But stay away now and repent at your leisure.
If Wycombe Wanderers lose their Football League status, they may never get it back. And as the saying goes, you’ll never know what you’ve lost until it’s gone.
It’s vital, of course, that the players continue to perform and sweat their guts out for the club. However, the fans are equally, if not more, important. These are difficult days at WWFC and we are needed as never before.
Remember, you’ll never know what you’ve lost until it’s gone.