Since I’ve decided match previews are about as interesting as watching people sleep on E4’s night time coverage of Celebrity Big Brother, the ‘Interview with an away fan’ series I’ve randomly done will serve as a direct replacement.

This week, with Wycombe the visitors to Elland Road on Saturday (assuming enough people can figure out how to drive in the snow) we’re joined be the co-editor of Wycombe Wanderers fan site, SMBU for what has to be one of the most entertaining interviews to date. 

TSS - Hi SMBU, thanks for taking the time to talk to TSS. Wycombe’s current form leaves a lot of space for improvement with four losses and one draw in your last five games. Not the best time to visit Elland Road, is it?

SMBU - There’s not really been a good time to visit anywhere this season. We’ve looked ill-prepared for the campaign from the opening day and though League One is seen by most Wycombe fans as our natural level, we’ve looked like League Two tourists on a minibus with bring-your-own binoculars most of the time. Obviously the trip to Elland Road was the one everyone sought out in June but while we probably thought you’d be top, I don’t think anyone thought we’d be so marooned in the mire come January.

TSS - Our top-goalscorer Jermaine Beckford revealed he wanted to leave this week and has submitted a transfer request to the club. This hasn’t gone down well with the fans of Leeds United and the chances of him playing Saturday are slim at best. Do you think that’s a good thing for Wycombe, or are you worried a defiant Leeds will go out intent on proving they can win this league without him?

SMBU - There’s nothing worse than a talented but grumpy wantaway striker. We had the same problem with Jermaine Easter a couple of seasons ago when he wept with rage at Wycombe denying him his rightful place in the upper echelons of the Premier League. How did that go Jermaine? To be frank, I’m sure whoever Leeds bring in on Saturday will still have enough to bring mayhem and muddle to the existentially ragged Wycombe defence so don’t worry on that account. Looking from the outside, it seems disappointing that he’s willing to jump ship when you’re homing in on the title but agents need their slice of pie, especially when you’ve got the central heating on all day.

TSS - Anyone in your team that we can buy to replace Beckford’s 30 a season?

SMBU - Yeah, tell Ken to make a sensational £30m bid for our entire squad and we’ll meet him in a layby near Chesterfield.

TSS - You’ve got the wrong Ken mate. Ours doesn’t spend money! As I said in my first question, you’re not in the greatest of form at the minute and lie 23rd in League One. Is relegation an inevitability or can you turn this round?

SMBU - A few weeks it looked like we were turning a corner but a traditionally bleak Christmas (we’ve won once on Boxing Day in 16 seasons as a league club) has dumped us back in the doom zone. Certain brands of Wycombe fan may swan about town boasting about our undersoil heating but when it only allows you to lose games that could have been postponed it’s a bit pointless. I think there are enough poor teams in the division for us to make a dramatic escape but we’ll need to strengthen in the transfer window and I don’t know whether that will happen.  

TSS - Back in 2005-06, you were riding high in the league, but everything went wrong after the sad death of young midfielder Mark Philo, and John Gorman’s (manager at the time) wife dying. 21 matches undefeated turned into 6 straight losses as Gorman took time off to grieve. Gorman was later “relieved of his duties” as the club didn’t think he was in the right state of mind to continue managing the club, despite the fact he took over Northampton a few days later. What are your feelings on this?

SMBU - That was a very odd season. Some of the football played under Gorman beggared belief, all out attack and a defence made of play-dough. The deaths were an awful & bleak interlude and to see a record unbeaten run and a record run of defeats in the same season summed up the unreal nature at the time. John Gorman is one of the nicest men in the game but he came back too early after his wife died and the club probably did the right thing, for him more than anyone. His spell at the wretched shoe-goons in Northampton showed as much. It was good to see him back in the game at QPR.

TSS – Odd seasons hey? I once had a dream that we’d appointed an idiotic chairman who went crazy and threw money at over-rated players like Michael Dubious. It resulted in us going into financial meltdown and crashing down into League One… Oh wait…

Anyway, staying with management, like Leeds, you seem to go through them quite quickly. Paul Lambert and Peter Taylor followed Gorman, and Taylor has since been replaced by Gary Waddock. Is he the right man for the job, or do you wish one of the others had stayed?

SMBU – Lambert was a good manager, and turned the players that Gorman had signed into a proper unit, as evidenced by our run to the League Cup semis (indeed, Manchester City may be chipper at the moment but we’ve still been to more domestic cup semis this century than they’ve managed in the past 30 years). Taylor should be spoken of in great terms, the first manager since Martin O’Neill to get Wycombe promoted, but the football last season was like watching battery acid run down some double glazing and there were no tears when he departed in the autumn. Gary Waddock has turned things around, in the entertainment stakes at least. Even if we go down, he should be given a chance to get us back up but modern football likes to encourage relentless change like a divorcee at a one armed bandit.

TSS - Funnily enough, the afore mentioned Duberry currently plays for Wycombe. Not someone I’m particularly keen on given his involvement in the Bowyer-Woodgate incident. It also didn’t help that we paid him a ridiculous amount of money when the fish in Ridsdale’s office were on a par in terms of usefulness. The last time I saw him, he looked a little on the heavy side; Is this still the case and how is he getting on as captain of Wycombe?

SMBU – Duberry may currently be paid by Wycombe but there’s not much chance of seeing him on Saturday. He’s done more lumbering than a Canadian truck driver this season and to say the Wycombe fans are unimpressed is an understatement. He was appointed captain based on his reputation but has shown nothing but chunky thighs and the turning circle of the Austrian naval fleet. Clubs like Wycombe should be bringing through young talent and hunting through the non-leagues for rough diamonds, not paying faded stars to bring some glamour and a carbon footprint to the training ground car park. 

TSS – Another ex-Leeds player Ian Westlake also plays for Wycombe. I met him when he was younger and was always a fan of the lad. Always thought he’d do well at Leeds, but wasn’t to be. How’s he getting on?

SMBU – Bit of a panic signing by Taylor at the end of the summer and hasn’t featured too much. Has shown some nice touches on occasion but has also looked well off the pace and injury prone, plus it’s fairly clear that Waddock is keen to get rid sooner rather than later.

TSS – That’s a shame, he’s a nice lad and the talents definitely there. Guess he’s doomed to be another ‘could have been’ though. Aside from Dubious and Westlake, what other players should we be keeping an eye on this Saturday?

SMBU – Midfielder Tommy Doherty is one of the classier players in the lower leagues though has a temper on him, while wideman Matty Phillips has come through the youth team and is showing some genuine promise. We’ve also got local lad Scott Davies on loan from Reading, a youngster who started with Wycombe as a kid before moving to Berkshire in the Nathan Tyson deal, and he’s been a step above most players in the past few months, This will probably be his penultimate game, sadly.

TSS – I’m always quite interested in what other clubs think of Leeds, especially since we were voted the most hated club in football (despite our demise). What are your feelings on us?

SMBU – I always have soft spot for any big club who slip down to the third tier, like seeing a heavyweight boxer fighting at the local carnival for candyfloss and a bus fare. We were the only team to do a league double against Man City in 98-99 but they still escaped at the first attempt. You should clamber out this time and we’ll wave you on your way. Let’s be frank, Wycombe and Leeds have no history so any Wanderers fan dishing it out is skating on thin ice. Then again, it works both ways so if you start saying that a club formed in 1887 has no history then you’re just as bad.   

TSS – A soft spot for Leeds? That could well be a first! Finally, what’s your prediction for the game?

SMBU – Leeds to cruise into an early lead before the ref abandons the game due to frost on the stanchions. 

TSS – I’d be more confident in the game being called off by frost than Leeds romping to an early lead. Even when we’re on the up I can’t help but feel the next fall is just around the corner. Years of experience taking it’s toll I guess! Thanks for taking the time to talk to TSS and best wishes for the rest of the season.

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  • Markus

    Good stuff from both of you, a really funny and interesting read. Much better than the boring match previews elsewhere MOT

  • As another Wycombe fan reading this, I thought I’d add my views.

    Duberry: Complete waste of space, seems to have bought the whole team down on occasions with his sloppy uninterested attitude. If the rumours are to believed, he seems more interested in stuffing his overpaid face in Nando’s than he is in playing football for us. The worst Wycombe captain ever without a shodow of a doubt and one of the few players I have genuinly disliked whilst still at Wycombe. I may be tempted to join in with some of the Leeds fans chants on Saturday!!

    Westlake: After a very promising start where he looked like he was going to be the goalscoring midfielder we had been looking for in….. well since the start of the 20 years I have been watching us, he has faded and is harsly ever on the team sheet. At his best he could be a great player, but he has been largely annonymous

    Beckford: should be still giving 100% for Leeds whilst he is being paid by them. But I suppose that is just a typical footballer, sulking when he doesn’t get his own way and being a Prima Donna. But with or without him, Leeds will be a massive threat.

    Waddock: Is the right man for the job. The football is miles better under him and although it’s looking shaky for our survival at the moment, if he is allowed to make the signings he wants (within reason) in January, I believe we have a chance.

    Our chances tomorrow and Leeds in general: Well I give us no chance whatsoever and see a heavy defeat on the cards. If we keep it down to 2 goals defeat or less then at least we will be able to retain some respect. But you never know, we tend to raise our game against the bigger sides and get shock results more often than we should. Even if we have to do it with backs to the wall for 89 minutes and win it with a scuffed shot in our only chance of the game I will be happy. And my feelings on Leeds.. It’s kind of amusing seeing them stuck down in Division 3 for so long, mainly as the fact that it is such a shock to see them there. This will be the year however where you bid farewell and hopefully for you start your climb back up the leagues. I’ve got no problem with Leeds, it’s crazy that Wycombe are playing them in a League game, as they really do belong in the top flight

    • TSS

      Hi Russell, thanks for your comments. It seems Dubious is disliked nationally!

      Really disappointed with what I’ve heard about Westlake. I always hoped he’d do well, but just doesn’t seem to be working out for him. A real shame.

      I think in reversed roles, everyones entitled to enjoy the demise of a big club. Luckily, ours seems to be over (although I’m not holding my breath just yet)

      Was at the reverse fixture early in the season and you gave us a really tough game, totally dominating procedings in the first half and we were lucky to come away with three points, so I wouldn’t be surprised if you performed well tomorrow.

      Best of luck for the rest of the season.

      • Chris

        What did Duberry do that was so wrong in the Bowyer/Woodgate affair?

        • TSS

          He didn’t do anything wrong as such, he was just involved and gave evidence in court. Whatever that evidence was isn’t the point, it’s the point that these professional footballers got into that mess in the first place. I don’t like any of them for the trouble they caused the club.

  • Matt

    Beckford will be playing :(

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