Aly McGowan

Memory Match – 11-09-62

Throughout the 2017/18 football season I will be contributing to the Wrexham AFC matchday programme. I will be penning a feature called Memory Match, a look back at classic Wrexham games from the past that I will share in this blog over the coming months.

This is the third successive season that I have been writing the Memory Match column. Indeed, when I have written a Memory Match for every Football League season I would like to compile all the columns into a book that will reflect the rich history of my beloved football club.

11-09-62

Northampton Town v Wrexham

League Division Three

County Ground

Result: 8-0

Northampton Town: Brodie, Foley, Woollard, Leck, Branston, Kurila, Sanders, Holton, Ashworth, Reid, Lines

Goalscorers: Holton (5, 20), Ashworth (32, 40), Reid (47), Lines (60, 63, 82)

Wrexham: Keelan, Peter Jones, McGowan, Ken Barnes, Fox, Tecwyn Jones, Ron Barnes, Bennion, Pythian, Metcalf, Colbridge

Attendance: 9,555

After winning promotion back to Division Three under Ken Barnes, the Reds adapted to life at this higher level with a very respectable ninth-placed finish. During the season though they did suffer the embarrassment of receiving their heaviest defeat in the League – to that point – losing 8-0 at eventual champions, Northampton Town.

Writing in the Leader, Ron Chaloner points to a “double disaster in the 20th minute” when Northampton’s monster of a left half, John Kurila, savagely floored Peter Jones with a hefty kick to the shin that left him writhing on the ground in agony. Kurila played on and passed the ball to Barry Lines who carved out an opportunity for Cliff Holton, who netted the home side’s second goal of the afternoon.

After the celebrations had died down, Jones was carried off and even though the player himself insisted that he had only suffered bruising and could return to the action, a doctor who examined his injury diagnosed a broken leg and subsequently ordered Jones to hospital in an ambulance. The X-ray examination proved that Jones was right. His leg was simply badly bruised, giving conspiracy theorists a field day. Northampton had increased their lead, Wrexham were disorganised without Jones and Kurila escaped any punishment.

The referee comes in for some scathing criticism from Chaloner, although he does hasten to add that this does not justify the ten-men of Wrexham from losing so heavily. Instead, the journalist points to a lack of co-ordination in a defence that was illustrated through a “foolhardy reliance” on the offside trap. It is also contended that some Wrexham players seemed so demoralised that they were resigned to a heavy defeat before the half-hour mark.

Apparently, Northampton were “tough, strong, very fast and – above all utterly merciless” although Chaloner did not have the stomach to share descriptions of all eight goals. Instead he merely concentrates on the last three goals scored by 20-year-old left winger Lines, whose speed was a constant embarrassment to Wrexham that afternoon.

His first came from a centre that would have sailed across the goalmouth if not for the needless intervention of shaky goalkeeper Kevin Keelan, who turned the ball into the far corner of the net. Lines then profited from a perfect pass from Wrexham player Tecwyn Jones for his brace. A fortunate hat-trick was confirmed after Lines crossed the ball into the danger area and watched as it deflected off both Ken Barnes and Alan Fox before rolling into the net with Aly McGowan making a valiant but vain attempt at a goal line clearance.

It was an afternoon to forget…

***

Wrexham’s 8-0 defeat at Northampton was their biggest-ever in a league match. Previous drubbings came in 1937 when they lost 1-7 at Lincoln and in 1938 when they also lost 3-8 at Lincoln. Sincil Bank was obviously not a happy hunting ground during this pre-war period.

Following the Second World War, Wrexham were thrashed 6-1 at Barnsley in 1960 and 6-2 at Mansfield in 1959.

Wrexham’s biggest defeat at this stage of their history was 9-1 at Wolverhampton Wanderers in an FA Cup encounter in 1931.

***

There was mixed success in cup competitions for the Town during 1962/63. The League Cup saw Brentford of the Fourth Division beat us 3-0 at Griffin Park to knock us out at the first round stage. It was not our year in the Welsh Cup either, as Hereford United were our conquerors in a sixth round tie at Edgar Street that finished 2-1 to the Bulls.

We fared a little better in the FA Cup. The Robins overcame Southport, after a replay, and demolished Barrow 5-2 at the Racecourse to set up a home encounter with Liverpool. The match attracted 30,826 spectators who watched Bill Shankly’s men run out 3-0 winners, thanks to goals from Roger Hunt, Kevin Lewis and Jimmy Melia.

Memory Match – 03-03-62

Throughout the 2016/17 football season I will be contributing to the Wrexham AFC matchday programme. I will be penning a feature called Memory Match, a look back at classic Wrexham games from the past that I will share in this blog over the coming months.

03-03-62

Wrexham v Hartlepools United

League Division Four

Racecourse Ground

Result: 10-1

Wrexham: Keelan, Jones (Peter), McGowan, Jones (Tec), Fox, Barnes (Ken), Barnes (Ron), Bennion, Davies, Ambler, Roberts

Goalscorers: Davies (3), Barnes (Ron) (3), Ambler (3), Bennion

Hartlepools United: Wilkinson, Bilcliff, Jones, Hinchcliffe, Lackenby, Burlison, Bircham, McLean, Folland, Edgar, Godbold

Goalscorer: Folland

Attendance: 6,546

 

Ken Barnes was appointed Wrexham player-manager on 4 May 1961 to replace Billy Morris, who coincidentally replaced Barnes when he left the club in March 1965. The new man in charge had an instant galvanising effect on his charges and a successful season was to follow.

The campaign began with four wins from the opening five games and this consistent form was to carry on throughout a season that ended in promotion to Division Three. The Reds finished in third position and climbed the League ladder with champions Millwall, second-placed Colchester United and fourth-placed Carlisle United.

The highlight of the season though was undoubtedly the record 10-1 victory over Hartlepools United – a victory that actually came at the end of a lean spell for the team. Indeed, it was Wrexham’s first home win of 1962 as they hadn’t won at home since defeating Aldershot on November 18, 1961. Mind you, five successive home draws meant they hadn’t lost either.

Ironically, clinical Wrexham equalled the record Fourth Division win – by Hartlepools against Barrow in 1958/59 – and completed a remarkable “double” over the visitors of 14 goals to two during 1961/62.

The afternoon was sparked into life by 19-year-old centre forward Wyn Davies who impressed watching scouts from Sheffield Wednesday and Bolton Wanderers by notching a hat-trick after only 24 minutes. It all began after six minutes when Hartlepools goalkeeper, Joe Wilkinson, mis-hit a goal kick straight to Davies who didn’t need asking twice to open the scoring.

Davies doubled his tally after ten minutes when he received a pass from Ken Barnes and smashed an angled drive into the net from ten yards. On 24 minutes his treble was complete when he shot home a deflected cross from Ron Barnes. Unfortunately, this was to be Davies’ last game for the club as he was snapped up by Bolton Wanderers, who paid £20,000 plus Ernie Phythian for his services.

We were not just a one man team though, as proved on 28 minutes with a little help from the hapless Hartlepools defence. United left back Ken Jones had a rush of blood to the head and delivered a kamikaze back pass to Wilkinson. The man between the sticks had to dive at full stretch to get a hand to the ball, but he could not stop it and Ron Barnes was on hand to make it four.

Hartlepools did show some spirit and actually pulled a goal back before the break when Harry Godbold squared the ball for Bobby Folland to strike despite the best efforts of Aly McGowan to clear the danger. However, this did not signal a change in the dominant tide as Wrexham made it 5-1 at half-time after a through ball from Tecwyn Jones allowed Ron Barnes to strike home with his left foot.

There was more of the same in the second period. On 55 minutes, Ken Barnes sent a free-kick into the goalmouth for Roy Ambler to head home. To add to the fairytale atmosphere, snow was now falling heavily as Wrexham composed a brilliant move that ended with Ron Barnes getting on the end of a pass from Tecwyn Jones, exposing the space available and shooting a seventh to complete his treble.

On 64 minutes, Ambler finished off good work from Ron Barnes who seemed to be allowed the freedom of the Racecourse, and 69 minutes had gone when Stan Bennion scored a spectacular over-head kick.

The supporters chant of “we want ten” were soon silenced by Ambler who scored the most memorable goal of all. Running down the left he suddenly unleashed a vicious left foot shot from 30 yards that left Wilkinson helpless as it thudded into the roof of the net. This completed a trio of hat-tricks on a remarkable afternoon.

Memory Match – 27-12-54

Throughout the 2015/16 football season I will be contributing to the Wrexham AFC matchday programme. I will be penning a feature called Memory Match, a look back at classic Wrexham games from the past that I will share in this blog over the coming months.

27-12-54

Wrexham v Oldham Athletic

League Division Three (Northern Section)

Racecourse Ground

Result: 2-1

Wrexham: Godding, Speed, McGowan, Griffiths, Green, Tapscott, Williams, Hewitt, Bannan, Rowley, Richards.

Goalscorers: Bannan, Hewitt

Oldham Athletic: D’Arcy, Jackson, Hardwick, Hobson, Whyte, Fawley, Walker, Chaytor, Travis, Scrine, McShane.

Goalscorer: Scrine

Attendance: 10,871

Season 1954/55 started with an embarrassing 6–2 defeat at the hands of York City at the Racecourse.  It was a result that equalled our heaviest-ever home defeat.  Things didn’t improve during the course of a wretched season that ended with the team languishing in 18th place.

On the back of a 3-3 draw at York City’s Bootham Crescent in the return fixture – unquestionably our strongest performance of the season – Wrexham entered a festive double-header against Oldham Athletic.  This began with a trip to Boundary Park on Christmas Day and the match was played on a mud heap of a pitch that meant free-flowing football was at a premium.   Nevertheless, Wrexham adapted to the conditions with a forceful style of play that denied Oldham the avalanche of goals that fans of the Lancashire team might have expected against an outfit marooned at the foot of the table.

Indeed, over an hour had gone before Tommy Walker and Don Travis netted for the home side with two quick goals. Tommy Bannan pulled one back for Wrexham with ten minutes remaining, but it was nothing more than a consolation.

Two days later the teams met again at the Racecourse. Wrexham had to replace wingers Glyn Hughes and Eric Betts, both injured on Christmas Day, with young Peter Williams making his first team debut in place of Hughes and Gordon Richards replacing Betts.

In a sensational start to the afternoon there were two goals within the first 90 seconds. Frank Scrine capitalised on a Kenny Chaytor pass to put Oldham in front before Arthur Rowley cracked a thunderbolt against the bar and Bannan netted the rebound.

Mick D’Arcy in the Oldham goal made a wonder save from a powerful header from Ron Hewitt, but the Wrexham livewire was not to be denied and he put the Robins in front after a mad scramble.  Hewitt’s first effort was blocked, as were similar ones from Bannan and Williams before Hewitt made sure.

Oldham fought back and almost equalised through Travis – his shot seemed destined to roll into an empty net before Aly McGowan saved the day by hacking clear. There were also many chances in the second half but none closer than when a Rowley drive rebounded off D’Arcy’s legs.

The final whistle signalled Wrexham’s first home victory since beating Bradford City on October 16. Incidentally, it was also the first League defeat for Athletic since October 9.

***

In February 1955 manager Peter Jackson left the club to take charge at Bradford City. Jackson also took with him his twin sons, Peter junior and David, who were the first twins to have played in the same Wrexham team.

***

After the Jackson clan had departed for Yorkshire the board turned to Cliff Lloyd to take temporary charge.

The Robins were still struggling in the League and were in 21st position when Lloyd took over.  He managed to inspire another five victories before the end of the season – including two 5–0 victories over Crewe Alexandra and Grimsby Town – that helped us to escape relegation by the skin of our teeth.  As a result Lloyd was given the manager’s job on a permanent basis.