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League One

Leather jackets, music and a Play-Off Final

10 July 2020

For some people football is a hobby, for Wycombe Wanderers boss Gareth Ainsworth it's a way of life.

But away from the training ground, the pre-match meetings and the tactics board, how does a football manager switch off? Some play golf, some go out for dinner with their mates and some might enjoy the taste of an expensive bottle of wine.

For Ainsworth however, his hobby is different to any other manager’s, sticking to his unique and unorthodox style that he’s so well known for, he loves to create music. The 47-year-old is not just the front man at a football club in High Wycombe, but he also leads the line for the Cold Blooded Hearts.

With the release of their song, aptly named ‘The Wanderer’ back in December, Ainsworth has had to put any new material on the back-burner, to concentrate on the day job.

“I had to make a call to the band and cancel on them again,” he reveals speaking ahead of the Sky Bet League One Play-Off Final on Monday.  

"I had to call them last week and cancel Monday’s practice because of the Fleetwood Town game, and I’ve had to do it again this week.

“I said to them that I hoped I'd have to cancel this coming Monday, but I’m really glad that my Bass guitarist and my lead guitarist have accepted that I have a Play-Off Final to attend this coming Monday!"

Most musicians would agree that it’s not just about having the talent, it is about having the style as well, something that Ainsworth has in abundance. The longest-serving manager in the EFL is not his only title in the game, he is hotly tipped as one of the best-dressed manager’s in the EFL as well.

His dress sense came under some scrutiny in their Play-Off Semi-Final first leg clash with Fleetwood last Friday, but that won’t deter him from sporting a rather unique number at Wembley on Monday.

“The leather jacket away at Fleetwood last Friday made quite a stir and that seemed to go down quite well and the result wasn't bad either, so as long as it's not 30 degrees on Monday - I will try and come out with something against the grain so to speak,” he continues.

“I have a couple of pairs of cowboy boots that you never know might just grace the turf at Wembley too, but we'll see - I’m too rock and roll to just ditch the leather.

“It won’t be about me, but If I can distract and take the pressure off the players at all, then I am happy to take some stick about my gear.”

From nearly dropping out of the Football League in his first full season as manager of the Chairboys, coupled with a Play-Off Final defeat a season later, the road to their current position has not been a smooth one, but incredible all the same. 

And it certainly hasn’t dampened Ainsworth’s spirit or mentality, something that he has worked on his with his players this season.

“We had a mountaineer in and he spoke to the lads about how lonely it can be climbing up a mountain,” he reveals.

“And that resonated with us - the boys took it on really well, where it's not just about getting to the top, it's about the process.

“My assistant manager Richard Dobson is huge into player mentality and making sure that that players are on the right track.

“We had everything to lose at Torquay back in 2014, whereas at Wembley on Monday we have nothing to lose - nobody expects Wycombe Wanderers to be in the Championship and even those two words together sounds a bit funny.”

Oxford United stand in the way of Wycombe Wanderers’ Championship dream becoming a reality, after seeing off Play-Off favourites Portsmouth over two legs.

Karl Robinson’s side were victorious when the two sides met in December, James Henry’s 23rd minute strike sinking the Chairboys on that occasion, at that time inflicting only their second defeat of the season.

“Karl has done a really good job in a league where you have all these huge teams. Anyone that finished inside of the Play-Offs, I think, are going to look back with a fantastic sense of achievement,” adds Ainsworth.

“He is a good guy, he's managed quite a few clubs and has had success with those clubs too, so it's no shock to me that they are where they are - like I said, the competitiveness of our league this year has been phenomenal.

“Anyone who finished inside those top six places deserved to be there, he is a really good guy and I am looking forward to seeing him on Monday night.” 

As Wycombe Wanderers look to make history and reach the Championship for the first time, you can follow all the action from the Sky Bet League One Play-Off Final live on Sky Sports or on Twitter via @SkyBetLeagueOne.

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