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Henning Wehn speaks to The Wanderer
Wed Jan 10, 2018 13:10

There was a lengthy interview with former Wanderer employee, now stand-up comedian, Henning When in the most recent issue of The Wanderer magazine.

This is a slightly shortened version


In March 2002, a young German pitched up in High Wycombe after leaving his homeland to take a job in the marketing department of Wycombe Wanderers. God only knows what happened to him at Adams Park, but fifteen years later Henning Wehn is now one of the biggest names in British stand-up comedy.

We managed to catch up with the German Comedy Ambassador to the UK during his successful run at the Edinburgh Fringe with his new show ĎWestphalia Is Not An Optioní. As the Scottish weather sent tourists and street performers scurrying for shelter, we settled ourselves down in a quiet corner of a noisy cafť for cups of tea, an unfeasibly large plate of scrambled eggs and a chat about all things Wycombe...

Q. How did your association with Wycombe Wanderers first come about?

The company I was working for back home in Westphalia was about to go under. I thought my CV looked alright, but I didnít speak English, so I applied for jobs in and around London. Iíve always worked in sport, so I applied to the 92 league clubs in England, managed to arrange a few interviews and then was very lucky timing-wise that I applied just when Simon Monkman started as the Chief Executive. I could essentially only offer a research project. I couldnít sell anything; my English was nowhere near good enough. But I knew I could work out how the club was seen by all the different stakeholders and where they wanted the club to go, be that staff or local businesses or sponsors. So I offered that and at the time Wycombe didnít really have anything like that, they didnít know much about their customers ó Iím sorry for saying customers ó but Simon said ĎThatís exactly what we need, letís give that a goí and then shortly after Simon went then I was gone as well, because he only lasted about four months or so.

Q. Were Wycombe your first choice, or were you working your way through the Football League alphabetically?

I think Wycombe was my choice number 88 when I sent out the application, because I sent it out in alphabetical order obviously, but all on the same day. Then I had that first meeting with Simon and was like ĎThis is good. This is a fun clubí. I had interviews with West Ham, Arsenal and Spurs, but essentially all they were offering was, at best, something like intern. I could see me..,l donít know... just tearing off the tickets on matchday or something. Simon offered something that I could actually do, so I thought ĎWell letís go for that.í

Q. What were your first impressions of High Wycombe? Did you do the Chair Museum on day one, or did you build up to it?

Iím still saving that one for a big day. Very positive first impressions of High Wycombe. Keith Allen immediately put me up with Cyril Rance. Cyril was in his eighties and it was like a rite of passage that if you came from out of town and joined Wycombe Wanderers, you would be staying in Cyrilís guest room. Keith had done that when he came down from the midlands and so had a few other people. So I ended up staying in some semi-detached with some elderly gentleman in Totteridge with a cat and a sticker on the fridge saying ĎMustnít grumbleí. In the evening there was always meat and two veg. It was an absolutely brilliant crash course for life in the UK in a bygone era.

Q. Can you remember your first Wycombe game?

Away to Swindon, I think Wycombe lost 3-0. That was the tail end of the 2001/02 season. I remember we were going there by coach and I rocked up there with three cans of lager - thinking thatís roughly how many you need to go to Swindon ó and then I was told you canít have any alcohol on the coach. What? Was this an Alcoholics Anonymous coach or something? I just couldnít comprehend it. You sit on the coach, going to the football and youíre not allowed to drink beer? Whatís the whole point of going to an away game? That was my first thought. So then you really have to cram in as many as you can once you get to the ground and then after that youíre sober and you drive home, it just seemed so ridiculous. Now Iím used to it, but at the time, I mean, thatís a very hard sell to anyone; Sit on a coach being driven to some industrial estate, go into some plastic-looking ground, endure something far too loud coming over the tannoy, then some average at best football, then get back on the coach and be driven back to some other industrial estate in High Wycombe. ĎOh, thatís my day out.í

Q. How did you make the obvious leap from marketing to comedy?

I left the club and I was working for a sports business magazine called ĎSoccer Investorí I was living in London and one night I happened to see a stand up night and thought ĎThatís enjoyable. I want to give that a go.í I just tried it, had it as a hobby, then I developed it and it became a paid hobby and then at some point I was at a crossroads: did I want to have a well-paid hobby or a shitty-paid job? I said ĎLetís go for the jobí and then carried on building it up. So essentially all it was was seeing that one night of comedy and saying ĎI like the concept of this ó stand on stage and say a few things. I wouldnít mind giving that a go.í

Q. Whatís the best Wycombe game youíve ever been to?
Thereís so many to choose from isnít there? Seeing them wining away to Char in the League Cup - that was quite impressive. Equally, not being outclassed at the Bridge playing away to Chelsea. I would probably say the Spurs game except I wasnít there.

Q. Who are your favourite Wycombe players, past and present?

Probably the best player Iíve ever seen for Wycombe would be Roger Johnson. How his career ended without ever playing for England Iíll never know. When you saw him at Wycombe, I mean obviously Wycombe isnít top flight, but he looked so much better than anybody else. And you have to give it to Matt Bloomfield. Heís still there doing a shift, year in year out. Itís phenomenal, being at that level and so loyal to a club is phenomenal. Heís already looking to the future; writing his column for the BBC and setting up his football academy. Heís really got his head screwed on.

Q. Last season you took over the clubís twitter feed to do live updates for our friendly with QPR. Would you ever want to have a go at joining the radio commentary team for a game? You and Bill Turnbull would be an interesting double act.

Well first of all I have to ask Matt Cecil why I wasnít asked back, thatís the first thing that wants finding out. I donít know how much I could possibly bring to the party, but itís seats on the halfway line isnít it, so thatís a win right there. The people might not get much out of it, but Iíve got a perfect view of the game.

Q. Has your Wycombe connection ever caused you trouble on stage in certain towns?

No, not even in Colchester. Itís an inoffensive club Wycombe, unless you go to Maidenhead or Chesham, theyíd probably tell you otherwise ó ĎWhy do you always win the Berks and Bucks Senior Cup? Give us a chance.í Beaconsfield probably think theyíre bigger than they are. I remember seeing a friendly away to Henley. It was funny because suddenly Wycombe were the big club from the big town with all ten away supporters.

Q. How do you think Wycombe will do this season? Do you think we can go up?

Well hopefully at least chasing for the playoffs. They havenít lost many players have they? The only player theyíve really lost is Pierre.

Q. What would you rather, Wycombe finish eighth, but Donald Trump gets impeached, or Wycombe get promoted but Trump gets a second term?

Depends very much on what would happen the season after. If we came straight back down with twenty points, then Iím not too bothered about promotion. Itís a good question, because you obviously want the team to do well, you want the team to win. But if Wycombe were winning everything for the next three seasons, then they would be in the Premier League. That would change the character of the club and everything you like about the club beyond recognition. You would end up with something that just isnít what attracted you to the club in the first place.

Q. Like Man City?

Perfect example, who gives a shit about them now? I was there last season and it was quieter than Arsenal. I mean, if all youíre interested in is great football, theyíve got Aguero, De Bruyne...itís brilliant to watch their football. If you go there just to watch exceptionally good football then yeah, you want your team to be like that. But if thereís anything else that attracts you to football, like all of you going down to The Hourglass and if you want to play Saturday at three oíclock rather than Sunday at twelve forty-five, are you sure you want to play up there? I want Ainsworth to win the Premier League, but not with Wycombe. You end up with foreign players, foreign owners, foreign supporters, the team off to bloody Asia pre-season for no good reason whatsoever and then all of a sudden youíve got a global brand in your town thatís got absolutely no connection to the town anymore. And thatís another beautiful thing about Wycombe, isnít it brilliant that the Trust runs the club? I think the only one who would benefit from Wycombe going up into the Premier League would be Ivor Beeks, because he could charge more for his training facilities. Heíd bloody love it.

Q. Do you get to many games these days?

Itís iffy because I work most Saturdays and thereís only so many gigs you can do at the Wycombe Swan, If they were playing more games on Monday mornings I would be there a lot more. Thatís something they could probably introduce. Thatís when it would be good to have Wycombe in the Premier League, if that meant they were playing more games on Monday morning at ten oíclock so that they could be broadcast in China or something.


Henning Wehn


The Wanderer Magazine

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