Ainsworth success something for Vale fans to cheer about

PORT Vale fans have had something to cheer about, after suffering the despair of seeing their team denied a possible place in the League Two play-offs, when the 2019/20 season was cut short by the coronavirus pandemic.

The fans been compensated with the joy from watching former popular Vale player Gareth Ainsworth steering Wycombe Wanderers to Championship status as the club's long-serving manager.

Ainsworth, 47, has the proud distinction of being the longest serving football manager in the top four divisions of English football.

He joined Port Vale in a £500,000 deal from Lincoln City in September 1998, making 54 appearances and scoring 10 goals during the 1997-98 season, before being sold to Premier League Wimbledon for £2million.

Ainsworth began as youth player with Blackburn Rovers before is career took on a somewhat nomadic existence, taking in no fewer than eight different clubs.

He eventually landed at Wycombe in 2010, after settling down at at QPR, where he made 131 appearances and scored 36 goals during seven years at Loftus Road.

His association with Wycombe initially began on loan before he was signed by the club at the start of the 2010-11 season and went on to make 112 appearances, scoring 16 goals.

Ainsworth was appointed Wycombe player/manager in 2012 after two spells as caretaker boss at QPR in 2008 and 2009.

He led Wycombe to promotion from League Two at the end of the 2017-18 season and then from League One to the Championship this week, after beating neighbours Oxford United in the play-off final at an empty Wembley Stadium.

It's a fairy-tale achievement for Wycombe who operate on a tight budget and attracted an average attendance of 5,500.

Next season they will be attracting the likes of newly-relegated Premier Division club Norwich City and Ainsworth's former club QPR to their modest Adams Park ground.

Wycombe's other Potteries connection is Stoke City manager Martin O'Neill who led the club out of non-league football in 1993 during his early managerial career.


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