Wycombe hero Sam Wood targets happier times for the Chairboys
SAM WOOD knows more than most what could have happened to this Wycombe side had they fallen out of the Football League.
Wood spent his formative years in Non-League with Cray Wanderers and then Bromley before his big break with Brentford in 2008.
It’s usually no place for talented but underdeveloped teenagers, with which this current Chairboys crop is filled to the brim with.
Wood is now an experienced member of the squad at 27 and is a wise head for the likes of youngsters Max Kretzschmar and Junior Morias.
Wood scored the first goal in Wycombe’s 3-0 win at Torquay to keep them in the Football League at the expense of Bristol Rovers in a dramatic final day.
And he says the naivety of some in Wanderers’ ranks actually helped when the pressure reached its climax.
“A lot of the players in our squad probably didn’t know what a relegation battle felt like,” he said.
“There are a few older players who all know what it meant to stay in the league and they realised how much survival meant. “But we were all in it together – no-one was just playing for themselves or a new contract. Gareth (Ainsworth, the manager) wouldn’t let that happen, we are a team and he said that from the day he took over.
“It’s Gareth’s first full season as a manager and it’s a year he will never forget. With his strong ties to Wycombe it meant a lot to him to keep us up. We had a few things go wrong in the season but we overcame them together.
“I worked really hard to become a professional so to stay up and be playing league football next year is massive. Everyone wants to play league football for as long as they can.”
The magic of the final day of the season wasn’t wasted on Wood, who says that he enjoyed it as much as the fans. Wycombe went into the game knowing their fate was out of their hands, but Rovers’ loss to Mansfield ensured survival by virtue of goal difference.
And Wood, whose contract expires this summer, admits celebrating with the 1,000 fans that made the 370-mile round trip to the West Country was one of the highlights of his career.
“Through the second half we could gather from the fans what the scores were,” he added.
“In injury time we found out that Bristol Rovers had lost so we played the last two minutes with big smiles on our faces.
“The plan was to get an early goal so the news would feed through to Bristol Rovers and Northampton, which would put pressure on them.
“We could tell what the other results were around the league through the chants of the fans. The Torquay fans chanted we were going down with them, then our fans came back at them saying they were going down with Bristol, so we know Mansfield had scored.
“The fans were fantastic, travelling all the way down when survival was out of our hands.
“They were just hoping and believing that we could stay up so we were all together on that day and that showed with the celebrations on the fulltime whistle.”
DREAM START: Sam Wood after setting Wycombe on their way to the crucial win at Torquay. Inset: Boss Gareth Ainsworth