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.
Wrexham v Southport
League Division Three (Northern Section)
WREXHAM: Wilkinson, A. Jones, Lumberg, Matthias, Parker, Beever, Longmuir, Lyons, J. Jones, Nock, Bailey
Goalscorers: Nock, Bailey, Jones (Jimmy)
SOUTHPORT: Halsall, Tyler, Mulligan, Sinclair, Bellis, Bimson, Aitken, Brown, Ball, Sambrook, MacDonald
Goalscorers: Sambrook, Brown
It was a different era.
While researching this article at Wrexham museum, I discovered the following piece of poetry by H. Wilbraham, printed in The Leader, prior to this opening game of the 1925/26 season.
Well, Saturday, the 29th, will see our fellows out,
And Southport must be careful or we’ll put them all to rout;
You see we have the King of Beasts, a Lion, by the way,
The Southport backs, I’ll bet a bob, cant hold this man at bay.
And then we have a Bailey, but Bailey’s not a bum,
He’s just come down to show us how to make the leather hum;
Then there’s Holland comes with Bennett, from Swansea, hand in hand,
And there’s Parker, up from Portsmouth, and Wilkie play the band.
Now don’t think I’ve forgotten the boys who played last year,
They’re here, as fit as fiddles, of that you need not fear;
Last season ended gradely, we had successful tries,
And opponents stood and wondered how the dust got in their eyes.
Now all of you get ready, the time is drawing near,
And if you play together, to victory you’ll steer;
Please don’t be individualists, this game will never pay,
Be brothers on the field, my lads, this surely wins the day.
It’s a pity that we don’t see examples of poetry in the local press nowadays, but hopefully Lee Fowler et al can inspire some poetic tributes before the season is out…
The match in question was characterised by a “stiff breeze”, which aided Southport during the first half. Not only did the Wrexham defence have to contend with such conditions, but it also struggled to adapt to a change in the offside rule.
The new rule required only two defending players – as opposed to three players in tedious seasons of the past – to be in advance of the forward for him to be onside. This change made the rules more conducive to attacking football and helped reverse declining attendance figures.
It was a lively opening from Southport and they found themselves two goals to the good after only 20 minutes through wind-assisted efforts from Jack Sambrook and Ernie Brown.
The pre-match favourites seemed to be cruising when, all of a sudden, Wrexham found some composure and confidence to attack. From one of a series of corners – taken expertly by right-winger Archie Longmuir – the ball was steered into the net by Jack Nock. This goal was received with so much enthusiasm that the press reported that the cheers could be heard by traders in Charles Street!!
With Wrexham resurgent, Southport had to be warned by the referee following some over-zealous tackles, especially from right-back Jimmy Mulligan.
Just before half time, Longmuir was fouled near the corner flag and from the resultant free kick – taken by Longmuir himself – Rowland Bailey levelled the scores.
Wrexham had the wind in their favour during the second half and they made effective use of the advantage. Longmuir delivered numerous crosses and Billy Halsall made a brilliant save from Nock.
Wrexham scored the deciding goal on 71 minutes. Defender Tom Parker delivered an excellent pass to Jimmy Lyons who conjured an opportunity for Jimmy Jones to run through and score what was apparently “a capital goal”.
Wrexham were now in control and went close on three more occasions through Jones, Lyons and Longmuir, but there were no further goals for the crowd of 10,041 to enjoy.
The team was still being chosen by a selection committee prior to the appointment of Mold Town boss Charlie Hewitt who took up his duties on November 10th.
At the end of season, Wrexham finished 19th – their lowest position since joining the Football League in season 1921/22.