Archie Burgon

Memory Match – 13-09-37

It has been a while since I last wrote a Memory Match column. I spent 2015-2018 writing these articles for the Wrexham AFC matchday programme when we were proud to be a community club.

Unfortunately, the club’s treatment of disabled supporters is nothing short of a disgrace, while the treatment of the proactive Disabled Supporters Association leaves a lot to be desired. I am therefore withdrawing my support of the club until ALL disabled supporters are given adequate and inclusive facilities from which to enjoy the football served up at the Racecourse.

Instead I will go to watch 90 minutes of action, wherever I feel I am welcomed. It goes without saying that I will always have one ear on the Wrexham result as it is not the actual club that I have fallen out with. It is merely the way the club is being run that I have an issue with. I will continue to attend matches when it is my turn on the platform rota and away matches, but I am not wasting any more time at the bottom of the stand with an abysmal view of the action while exposed to the elements. It is a disgrace that disabled supporters are being treated in such a way at the start of the 21st century.

I still want to continue with these Memory Match articles as they proved popular. I also enjoy writing them and remembering a time when it was enjoyable to visit the Racecourse and watch a decent standard of football.

13/09/37

Wrexham v Hartlepools United

League Division Three (Northern Section)

Racecourse Ground

Result: 6-3

Wrexham: McMahon, Evans, Bellamy, Smith, Lewis, Odell, Jones, Fraser, Lapham, Phillips, Burgon

Goalscorer: Fraser (2), Jones, Lapham (3)

Hartlepools United: Taylor, Proctor, Allison, Thomas, Reid, Telling, Scott, Curtis, English, West, Self

Goalscorer: Curtis, English, West

Attendance: 2,752

It had been a dreadful start to the 1937/38 season – Jimmy Logan’s first full term in charge. The opening five games produced three defeats, one draw and only one victory – at home to Lincoln City with the only goal of the game coming from a player making his debut, Sidney Barnard. Nevertheless, our inconsistent run in form had left us floundering near the foot of the table. Ahead of the Hartlepools match we were in 19th position.

This game was originally scheduled for a Wednesday evening, but due to a carnival in town it was moved to a Monday evening. This, along with the atrocious weather, affected the attendance with only 2,752 supporters turning up to enjoy the goal fest. It is reported in the North Wales Guardian, that the game was due to kick off at 18:15, but began five minutes earlier because of poor visibility, which made it more likely that the game would end in semi-darkness.

Wrexham opened strongly with Archie Burgon, Ronnie Jones and Harold Lapham all threatening the visitors’ goal. It had been a good start on a slippery pitch, but it was Pools who took the lead after 14. Ernie Curtis swung the ball over from the right, and Norman West shot first time in to the bottom corner of the net. Surely another defeat was not on the cards?

The Blues retaliated almost immediately, and Dai Phillips forced Hartlepool goalkeeper Allan Taylor to make a superb save from his rasping, low drive. We would not have to wait long to celebrate parity though, as the equaliser was scored on 17 minutes through Lapham just three minutes later. According to the Wrexham Leader, this was “one of the finest goals seen on the Racecourse for some time”. Lapham received a throw in from Walter Odell, that he stylishly flicked over his own head. A defender cleared the danger, but only returned the ball to the feet of Lapham who rattled the ball home with pure force.

United could not cope with the dazzling work of the Wrexham forwards, and Jones scored a second just three minutes later. Phillips lofted the ball in to the penalty box, but surely the danger would be snuffed out by the advancing figure of Taylor. However, Jones took advantage of hesitation from the man between the sticks, raced in, robbed his opponent and tapped the ball home.

The game was fast and entertaining, despite the ice-rink of a surface, which frequently caused the visiting defence to miss-kick. Unbelievably though, Hartlepools found themselves on level terms at the interval. Curtis again found himself in a threatening position, after good work down the left flank. The Welsh inside-forward obviously felt at home on the Cae Ras, and slammed the ball high in the roof of the net over a despairing Pat McMahon.

Straight from the restart, Nathan Fraser restored our lead when he skipped past a challenging defender, and hammered an unstoppable ball past Taylor “from an angle which would have puzzled Pythagoras”. Fraser quickly grabbed his second, following a well placed free-kick by Walter Odell.

Jimmy Hamilton’s men still hadn’t had chance to catch their breath, when Lapham made it five with a great solo effort. There had been some great goals for the crowd to enjoy, but Lapham’s third of the match was the cream of the crop. According to the Guardian scribe, “he whipped in a terrific shot, of which the goalkeeper could hardly have caught a glimpse”.

Hartlepools refused to admit defeat though, despite trailing 6-2. Amidst the gathering gloom, the visitors pulled one back when Sam English headed home a perfectly judged corner kick.

***

We finished a largely inconsistent season in a respectable 10th position. Hartlepools managed to beat us 0-2 in the reverse fixture on the final day of the campaign at Victoria Park.

The Cup competitions also provided little to shout about. We managed to beat Oldham Athletic (2-1) at the Racecourse in the first round of the FA Cup, but were knocked out after another home fixture against Bradford City (1-2) at the second round stage.

Shrewsbury Town eliminated us from the Welsh Cup at the sixth round stage, with a 1-3 victory in north Wales.

Memory Match – 30-01-37

It has been a while since I last wrote a Memory Match column. I spent 2015-2018 writing these articles for the Wrexham AFC matchday programme when we were proud to be a community club.

Unfortunately, the club’s treatment of disabled supporters is nothing short of a disgrace, while the treatment of the proactive Disabled Supporters Association leaves a lot to be desired. I am therefore withdrawing my support of the club until ALL disabled supporters are given adequate and inclusive facilities from which to enjoy the football served up at the Racecourse.

Instead I will go to watch 90 minutes of action, wherever I feel I am welcomed. It goes without saying that I will always have one ear on the Wrexham result as it is not the actual club that I have fallen out with. It is merely the way the club is being run that I have an issue with. I will continue to attend matches when it is my turn on the platform rota and away matches, but I am not wasting any more time at the bottom of the stand with an abysmal view of the action while exposed to the elements. It is a disgrace that disabled supporters are being treated in such a way at the start of the 21st century.

I still want to continue with these Memory Match articles as they proved popular. I also enjoy writing them and remembering a time when it was enjoyable to visit the Racecourse and watch a decent standard of football.

30/01/37

Wrexham v Oldham Athletic

League Division Three (Northern Section)

Racecourse Ground

Result: 1-1

 Wrexham: McMahon, Evans, Hamilton, Mitchell, Lewis, Snow, Barrow, White, Lapham, Lawrence, Burgon

Goalscorer: White

 Oldham Athletic: Caunce, Hilton, Price, Williamson, Milligan, Gray, Jones, McCormick, Davis, Robbins, Downes

Goalscorer: Gray

Attendance: 2,511

Season 1936/37 got off to an awful start, with a 4-1 drubbing at Chester. Under the guidance of manager Ernie Blackburn, Wrexham soon forgot this calamitous defeat and rose to a mid-table position as we entered the New Year. However, our 2-0 reverse against Stockport County at Edgeley Park on January 2nd proved to be Blackburn’s final game in charge.

Hull City tempted Blackburn away from the Racecourse and a committee was responsible for selecting our starting 11 for the next three games. This included an FA Cup third round clash with Manchester City at the Cae Ras which was witnessed by 20,600 spectators. The Division One side won the match 1-3, but Wrexham pushed them all the way and could be proud of their performance.

Ahead of our home encounter against Oldham Athletic at the end of January, the club appointed Captain James Logan as their fourth manager. We had won our previous two League games under the leadership of the selection committee, so hopes were high that we could continue this form against fifth placed Athletic.

Less than 2,500 supporters braved the wintry weather to spend a chilly afternoon watching their heroes try to play football, on a pitch that more closely resembled a skating rink, with a light dusting of snow. Subsequently, conditions threatened to spoil the game, but Wrexham adapted themselves and pursued a policy of passing that disorientated the scrappy and disjointed Latics.

The home team were on top in the early stages. According to the scribe in the North Wales Guardian: “[Archie] Burgon was like a terrier on the touchline, worrying the defence whenever the ball came anywhere near him, by his eagerness in seizing on the slightest chance”.

Oldham’s tactics seemed quite cynical, and when Burgon was brought down in the box by Billy Hilton, the crowd clambered for a penalty. However, the referee waved away these claims to the satisfaction of our friend from the North Wales Guardian, who suggests that the Nottingham-born winger simply slipped.

Alfie White got on the scoresheet after 35 minutes, following a free-kick that was given for another assault on Burgon. George Snow delivered a delightful ball from the resulting set-piece, that White headed past Lewis Caunce in the Athletic goal. Logan’s new charges then spent the final 10 minutes of the first half, bombarding the visitors’ goal, Matt Lawrence in particular had two shots in quick succession and was unfortunate to see them saved by Caunce.

The second half failed to produce as much goalmouth action, as the first 45 minutes had. The heavy cloud led to poor light, “which seemed to blur the players’ figures in to mere silhouettes, and make it difficult to distinguish individuals”. Pat McMahon was pressed in to action more often as the game progressed, but there seemed little sting to the visitors’ raids.

The Latics eventually capitalised on a mistake by McMahon late in the game. The Glasgow-born goalkeeper made a fatal mistake by punching away a threatening ball, when it seemed much easier to have gathered the ball safely in his arms. The feeble punch was insufficient to clear the danger, and landed at the feet of Matt Gray who returned a low, rasping drive past McMahon’s despairing dive.

***

 In the Leader, ‘XYZ’ highlights a number of elderly spectators who had attended the game on such a brutally cold day:

“One old player, who gained a Welsh cap fifty-nine years ago was present! Another of the old brigade, who was at Newton Heath in the eighties’, stood in the enclosure and a third sporting veteran who had seen seventy-three, or four winters – Mr T.H. Jones (‘The Artist’) – occupied his ‘box’ seat in the paddock, and smiled at the cold.”

***

I cannot move on without mentioning the other headlines that I discovered while looking through local newspapers from January/February 1937. Several articles tell of Wrexham footballers being embroiled in a licensing prosecution. It turned out that four prominent members of our playing staff – George Snow, Jack Lewis, Alfie White and Ambrose Brown – were caught consuming alcohol after permitted hours at the Horseshoe Inn, Bank Street on the evening of January 16th 1937. This was the same day that we had pushed Manchester City all the way in the third round of the FA Cup.

All the defendants pleaded not-guilty, but after a lengthy retirement the Chairman said that the bench had decided to convict in the cases of all four players. They were each fined 10s 6d for daring to enjoy a post-match pint after 22:00 following a gutsy Cup display. Heaven forbid.