Billy Cotton

Memory Match – 26-04-24

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.

26-04-24

Durham City v Wrexham

League Division Three (Northern Section)

Holiday Park

Result: 4-3

Durham City: Hugall, Robson, Gallagher, Woodhouse, Hopkins, Robson, Best, Stokoe, Elliott, Bertram, Barker

Goalscorers: Bertram (3), Elliott

Wrexham: Godding, Jones, Edwards, Regan, Matthews, Savage, Bird, Cotton, Jackson, Toms, Williams

Goalscorers: Jackson, Toms, Matthews (pen)

Attendance: 3,000

 

Right-back Alf Jones made the first of his 503 League appearances in the season opener – a convincing 4-0 home win against Ashington. After winning our first three matches and being held by Walsall, we found ourselves sitting pretty at the top of the table. However, a run of only one victory in eleven matches soon killed off any title-chasing ambitions we may have harboured and a season of sporadic form ensued.

After beating Barrow at the end of November, our next League victory didn’t come until mid-March when Lincoln City lost 2-1 at the Racecourse. During this barren spell we fell as low as 17th in the newly expanded 202-team League and as the season drew to a close we were languishing in 15th position.

The season concluded with a double-header against Durham City. Before meeting at the Racecourse on the final day of the season, the two teams clashed at Holiday Park for the first time. Durham had previously entertained Wrexham at their former home of Kepier Haughs.

To write a match report of this game is quite a task when my only source of reference is a piece of journalism that was written at a time when newspapers used the English language in a rather different way to what we are used to today. For example, when learning about an early Durham attack the reader has to paint their own picture out of the following clunky language: “The City were immediately on the offensive and a handling offense by [George] Savage just outside the penalty area brought danger to the Welsh citadel, but the ball was got away.”

Anyway, as far as I can decipher the first goal was scored by Durham after half an hour when Billy Bertram received a pass from Bobby Best and proceeded to beat George Godding with ease.  With half-time fast approaching Jackson was in the right place at the right time to score an opportunist effort from close range.  Unfortunately, there was still time before the interval for Bertram to score his second and put Durham back in the driving seat.

It seems that the match was finely balanced with both teams playing exciting and attacking football. This resulted in a flurry of second half goals that began when Tom Elliott connected with a Billy Barker cross to increase Durham’s advantage.  Wrexham displayed fighting qualities though and pulled one back immediately through Bill Toms.  We were not going down without a fight.

However, Durham’s fourth goal and Bertram’s hat-trick arrived just a couple of minutes later, but still we fought on.  Indeed, we were actually awarded a penalty late-on that Billy Matthews converted past the despairing dive of Jimmy Hugall.  We were even close to snatching a deserved equaliser, but man-of-the-match Toms just missed the mark with a cross-shot that flashed across the face of the goal.

We were unfortunate to lose by the odd goal in seven.

***

Just seven days later the teams played out a 0-0 draw at the Racecourse to conclude a disappointing term. Wrexham finished in 16th spot while Durham finished just one point and one place above us.

***

Wrexham lifted the Welsh Cup once again after beating Merthyr Tydfil 1-0 at the replay at the Racecourse. Billy Cotton scored the winning goal.  They drew the first match 2-2 at Pontypridd.

They didn’t fare as well in the FA Cup. Despite beating Port Vale 5-1 at home they lost their second round clash at Accrington Stanley by the only goal of the game.

Memory Match – 05-11-21

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.

I am particularly proud of this edition as I have set right something that has been wrongly taken for fact for many years. I am chuffed that my historical research has uncovered this information and has helped the excellent work of official club historian, Peter Jones.

Read on to find out who really scored the first hat-trick for Wrexham AFC in the Football League…

05-11-21

Wrexham v Chesterfield

League Division Three (Northern Section)

Racecourse Ground

Result: 6-1

Wrexham: Godding, Ellis, Simpson, Matthias, Moorwood, Roberts, Burton, Cotton, Elvidge, Regan, Lloyd

Goalscorers: Cotton (3), Regan (3)

Chesterfield: Mitchell, Stirling, Saxby, Clarke, Broome, Paltridge, Smithurst, Fisher, Cooper, Connor, Marshall

Goalscorer: Smithurst

Attendance: 6,000

Season 1921/22 was our first in the Football League and began with a 0-2 defeat against Hartlepools United at the Racecourse Ground. Our form had since been inconsistent – as you might expect from a team that was adapting to life in a new set-up – and we went into the encounter with Chesterfield in a solid, if unspectacular, mid-table position. Meanwhile, our opponents were licking their wounds at the bottom of the league after conceding 26 goals in their opening 10 games – including a 7-0 demolition at Darlington.

The Wrexham forward line had been changed for this match with Bert Goode and Reg Leck missing out. Billy Cotton came back to spearhead the attack, 21-year-old Ted Regan was moved to inside-right and Chris Elvidge was given a trial at inside-left.

The first half-hour of the game was goalless and George Godding in the Wrexham goal was by far the busiest goalkeeper as Chesterfield threatened. The Caergwrle-born shotstopper made a good save early on, but was injured in the process and had to spend some time on the sidelines. Defender Jack Ellis took over in goal and was called upon to punch clear a high dropping shot from Tommy Broome before Godding returned. At the other end of the pitch, the Wrexham attack – as originally constituted – misfired.

This new-look forward line was struggling and, according to the mysteriously named X, Y, Z in the Leader, the fact that they eventually clicked into gear was only due to the foresight of Bobby Simpson who directed Cotton and Regan to swap positions. This change certainly proved effective as the game was quickly turned on its head. Before half-time, Cotton headed home from Matt Burton’s well-placed corner and Regan added a second after good work from Elvidge.

On the hour mark, Regan added a third and Cotton was then on the end of a well-executed passage of play to head a fourth. The race was now on to see which player could score the first hat-trick for Wrexham in the Football League.

Before Wrexham could continue the goal glut, Chesterfield scored a consolation when Edgar Smithurst delivered a high centre into the Wrexham area. The flight of the ball deceived Godding who could not prevent the visitors from getting on the scoresheet.

The history books and Internet pages tell us that Ted Regan was actually the first player to land a hat-trick in this game and become the club’s first ever hat-trick hero in the Football League. However, according to match reports in the Leader and North Wales Guardian this honour belongs to Billy Cotton. Two newspaper journalists who attended the game agree that Cotton claimed our fifth by accepting a pass from Jack Moorwood and shooting with speed and power from 30 yards to electrify the crowd. Regan then completed the rout late on with his fifth goal in his first two games for the club.

I’m glad I have the opportunity to set the record straight and celebrate the achievement of Billy Cotton who deserves recognition after spending so many years in the shadow of Ted Regan.

***

In those days teams faced each other on a double-bill basis – at home and away ­– before moving on to their next opponent. Unfortunately this gave Chesterfield a chance for revenge just seven days later at the Recreation Ground. Charles Buttrell, Horace Clarke and Tommy Broome scored for the Derbyshire side in a 3-0 revenge mission.

This was only the third win of a long season for Chesterfield. Their form only improved with five straight victories in the final games of the season to lift them to 13th position in the League table. Wrexham finished the campaign just two points better off in 12th.