Wycombe's blues are the visitors to The Valley this weekend as the club gears up for the annual Red, White & Black series of events which kick off next week with two free webinars to remember Stephen Lawrence.
Wycombe have wandered a long way since their League Cup victory over us in a time that's coming close to twenty years. That was the December night when unfortunately (Jermaine) Easter popped up instead of Christmas. It was also our first competitive meeting with the Chairboys who only gained promotion into the Football League as Conference champions in 1992–93.
Unlikely as we might have imagined it in the halcyon days of 2006, we've now faced them nine times in the intervening period. Though we won the first six of those games, we've not won any of the last three. They've not only had the better of us in recent seasons but have also had better seasons as a whole. They leapfrogged us into the Championship in that freakish 2019/20 season of Covid and even though they got relegated the following year, they've been a force to be reckoned with in League One ever since, hovering around the play-offs once again this season.
However, right now it feels like Dean Holden's side are burning hot as Wycombe's legendary Hellfire Club with a couple of convincing away wins over Cambridge and Morecambe, even more emphatically.
Though those wins might seem largely cosmetic at this stage, it is important for the team to build momentum between now and the end of the season to consolidate Dean Holden's options for next season. Even if much may depend on issues around ownership and funding, there is a real sense that the gaffer is starting to lay solid foundations for the future. But he will need the right backing to build a squad to try and get out of this evermore competitive division in what will be our fourth consecutive season at this level in 23/24.
It's highly possible (and sorry Wycombe fans) we will be facing each other again next season when there's also likely to be another London club in the division slightly closer to home. Leyton Orient are firing on all cylinders in League Two at the moment. Again no disrespect to either Wycombe and Orient since both of these clubs have had some fantastic partnerships with Supporters Trusts down through the years but we have to be honest; that night in December 2006 we never imagined a situation where we would be fighting to be the best placed of these three teams less than 20 years later.
Thankfully though we are still ahead of the field when it comes to diversity, inclusion and the fight for equality. This is a battle that isn't won yet, as we keep seeing all the time with some of the behaviour that's out there on social media especially. But this is a club that has pride in its history of fighting causes. When it comes to that, we have been and always will be in the Premier League.