Wycombe’s playoff match winner Joe Jacobson tells us about the sensational sounding celebrations following their ascension to the Championship…
It’s probably a relatively common occurrence to find a selection of slightly merry men attempt to get into a football ground in the early hours of the morning after a night out.
On this occasion though, the men in question were the Wycombe Wanderers players, having arrived back at Adams Park after their brilliant victory in the League One playoff final on Monday.
Joe Jacobson scored the winning goal from the penalty spot as they beat Oxford United 2-1, and it’s fair to say the whole squad enjoyed their evening afterwards.
“These these kind of moments never happen,” Jacobson told the Totally Football League Show this week.
“Some people can have their whole career and never go through it. I’ve been fortunate: that was my fourth promotion, but I’ve never been on the pitch and won a Wembley playoff final. I didn’t realise how good it was to do that, to have a one off game, with the build-up and the emotion and everything that went with it – it was incredible.
“The first thing you want to do is just go and grab a beer in the changing room and celebrate with everyone. But there’s press to do, there’s people trying to drag you here and there and everywhere. All the boys started getting their parents and their wives and girlfriends on FaceTime. There’s a picture of me: I’m just sat on the pitch on my own, FaceTiming and my parents just being like “what have we done? This is ridiculous.”
“I think in the end the people at Wembley had to kick us out. I think we overstayed our welcome a little bit. Some of the boys didn’t even have time to shower after the game, so we went back to the training ground – they’re still in their full kit with their medals around their heads. It was good fun.
“There was a little venue open for us where we just had a few beers and sat there talking about what we’ve done and the magnitude of it. It’s nice just having the players and the staff and a couple of directors who have been with us all the way to to enjoy it with.
“Then when they kicked us out, we went back to the stadium – people started drifting off but there’s photos of the boys still on the pitch at Wycombe at five or six in the morning when the sun was out. We’ve had the WhatsApp group still going off, with some of the boys today [Wednesday] still in their shirts with their medals around their necks, just going to the shops. It’s amazing what it does.”
If that speaks to the team spirit in the squad, then so does the very vocal army of cheerleaders that encouraged Gareth Ainsworth’s side in the otherwise empty, echoey, eery Wembley.
“I’d like to say it was all my idea,” said Jacobson. “We actually spoke about it before the first Fleetwood game and said “look, there’s no fans in here, but can we use the subs and the boys not involved and the guys in the stand to kind of create an atmosphere for us?” Every tackle, every header, every shot: let’s cheer it, as if it’s the best thing, like a goal.
“From the first minute at Fleetwood, it was like we had like we had fans there. It was amazing. We made sure that there was subs warming up the whole time, giving encouragement. It helped us a lot. The second game against Fleetwood, they definitely took that on board, because all of a sudden they had people dotted around the stadium shouting and giving us abuse
“But even though Wembley is this huge arena, we could hear the boys up in the stands who were not even close to the bench. We could hear him shouting and screaming and giving us encouragement. And it helped a lot. I think if you ask the Oxford players, they would’ve heard it as well. There wasn’t much coming from their side.
“A masterstroke from the gaffer, to get all the boys to jump on board. They were so happy to do that: they could have been disappointed being on the bench, but they were their biggest fans out there, and it it helped us massively.”
Jacobson’s penalty was coolly slotted away, but he might have been forgiven for not being massively confident.
“I was actually quite calm, especially after I missed the one in the first leg against Fleetwood. We did some practicing shootouts the day before in training and missed again and I was like “oh, right, here we go.” I looked over to the gaffer where he looked at me like “this isn’t a good sign right now.”
“But luckily, I spoke to our goalie coach and he was talking me through their goalie and where he likes to dive and what he’s done to me in the past. So he just said “go down the middle and he’ll dive out the way, basically.” Thankfully I trusted him and it worked out. And the feeling of seeing the ball hit the net…I’ll have that with me forever.”
As for Jacobson, his contract is up, having signed a temporary deal to take him to the end of the playoffs. But he did have a bit of good news for Wycombe fans on that score.
“Yes, I’ve had word. It’s getting sorted out – nothing’s been released or anything yet. It looks like I’ll be staying for a little while. Yeah. That’s all I’ll say for now.”
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