Billy Morris

Memory Match – 20-08-60

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 that Wrexham AFC enjoyed,  I would like to compile all the columns into a book that will reflect the rich history of my beloved football club.

20-08-60

Peterborough United v Wrexham

League Division Four

London Road

Result: 3-0

Peterborough United: Walls, Stafford, Walker, Ravner, Rigby, Norris, Hails, Emery, Bly, Smith, McNamee

Goalscorers: Emery (25), McNamee (75), Bly (80)

Wrexham: Johnson, Holland, McGowan, Davis, Fox, Styles, Jones, Griffiths, Evans, Harbertson, Hunter

Attendance: 17,294

After being relegated from Division Three the previous season, Wrexham began life in the basement with a difficult fixture against Football League newcomers, Peterborough United at London Road. The Posh were famous FA Cup giantkillers and had slain a number of League clubs over the years, so a tough task was in store as Colwyn Bay-born Billy Morris took charge of the Reds for the first time.

Wrexham’s sixth post-war manager was quoted by Ron Chaloner in the Leader as saying: “I’ll stand or fall by my methods.  If things don’t go right, there will be no need to ask me to go, I shall be on my way.”

He asked supporters to have patience and not to expect miracles.

“I can’t make greyhounds out of fox terriers but I can make some improvements,” said the former Burnley player who did not plunge into the transfer market, but decided to weigh up the assets he had at his disposal before spending money.  Wrexham started the season with only one new player – former Halifax Town goalkeeper Arthur Johnson who was actually signed before Morris took over at the Racecourse.

***

Fortune was not on our side that afternoon. We fell behind only 25 minutes following a Denis Emery strike. The lanky striker seemed to miss-hit his effort from 20 yards but Johnson appeared to be a fraction late making his dive and the ball nestled in the bottom corner.

The Robins stuck to their fine approach play and were clearly not beaten. An equaliser seemed inevitable, especially when Gren Jones found the ball at his feet – 3 yards from goal. Somehow, the ball struck goalkeeper Jack Wallis’ boot and cannoned clear.

For the majority of the second period, the Town were in control. After 55 minutes Johnson launched a clearance that went almost to the edge of the United penalty area and the bouncing ball panicked the opposition defence, beating centre-half Norman Rigby. Visiting forward Ron Harbetson gave chase desperately, but Wallis came out to collect and calm the situation.

The Posh found their way back into the game after Emery smacked a shot against the post to rejuvenate the home supporters. 75 minutes had been played when outside-left Peter McNamee took a glorious pass from Ray Smith who skipped past Reg Holland for the first time that afternoon. McNamee surprised everyone by dancing into the penalty area and aiming a right foot shot past the helpless Johnson.

Wrexham were now under the cosh and conceded a third in the 81st minute when Terry Ely scored an opportunistic goal with a header from Emery’s cross.

***

Peterborough manager, Jimmy Hagan said: “If Wrexham are a sample of the sort of team we are going to meet in the Fourth Division, we are going to have a very hard time indeed. Wrexham are a very good side, particularly some of their forwards and they were very unlucky not to score. We won because we took our chances while they did not take theirs.”

Billy Morris said: “What disappointed me more than anything was that our forwards did not play as a closely knit unit and seemed to forget all the moves we had planned and practiced. There was too much shooting from 30 or 40 yards which was just a waste of time.

“I am almost certain now that this is not the best team Wrexham can field and I may make a couple of changes for our next match.”

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 – 08-01-66

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.

08-01-66

Wrexham v Barnsley

League Division Four

Racecourse Ground

Result: 6-3

Wrexham: Beighton, Wall, Lucas, Smith, Turner, Powell, Lloyd, Griffiths, Webber, McMillan, Campbell

Goalscorers: Webber (3, 1 pen), McMillan (3)

Barnsley: Hill, Parker, Brookes, Jackson, Swallow, Addy, Hayes, Bettany, Kerr, Ferguson, Hewitt

Goalscorers: Kerr, Hewitt, Hayes

Attendance: 4,149

Jack Rowley, former Manchester United and England centre-forward and ex-manager of Plymouth Argyle and Oldham Athletic, became Wrexham’s ninth post-war manager and the third in less than 12 months. He was appointed in January 1966 after Billy Morris had been sacked in October 1965.  Cliff Lloyd had acted as caretaker manager in the interim period.

Speaking to Ron Chaloner in the Leader, Rowley said: “I am a strong one for discipline.  If the players are told to start training at 10am I want them there then – not at five minutes past.”

Rowley’s first game in charge against Barnsley looked tough on paper as the Yorkshire side were in the top ten while the Reds only had two clubs below them in the league. Subsequently, Rowley demanded “nothing less than 100% effort” and he wasn’t to be disappointed.

Unfortunately, there seems to be some confusion over the afternoon’s goalscorers.   Our local newspaper claims that Webber scored four goals and McMillan two, our official history books suggest  that Webber only got a hat-trick,  McMillan scored twice and we profited from an own goal while the English Football Data Archive suggest that Webber and McMillan both scored hat-tricks.  It’s confusing.  What I do know for sure is that we won the game convincingly.

Somehow, I had to solve such a glaring inconsistency, so I spoke to none other than Sammy McMillan himself. He assures me that he definitely scored a hat-trick that afternoon and tells how debutant John Lloyd – son of former caretaker Cliff Lloyd – talks about this match as a popular after dinner speaker, recounting tales of a double hat-trick in his first of only two games for Wrexham.

According to the information at my disposal from the Leader, it seems that things didn’t start well as a rare lapse by David Powell enabled Dick Kerr to strike a beauty from 20 yards after six minutes to put the visitors ahead.  However, just five minutes later Arfon Griffiths was tripped from behind in the penalty box and Webber converted the spot kick.

On 34 minutes, Barnsley re-took the lead when Dick Hewitt despatched a hard cross-shot from the left.  This was the beginning of a breathless period of play that saw Wrexham equalise on 39 minutes through McMillan.

Things got even better for the resurgent Reds in the 42nd minute when Webber ran nearly half the length of the pitch and blasted Wrexham 3-2 in front from 20 yards.  Our jubilant fans were still celebrating this spectacular goal when Webber proceeded to beat two men and slammed in the fourth goal, completing his hat-trick.

Seven minutes into the second half the home side increased their lead, though controversy surrounds this goal in particular. The Official Handbook credits this goal to Barnsley defender Eric Brookes, but the Leader states that his teammate Brian Jackson was responsible.  I believe that this is the goal that should be credited to McMillan as he and John Lloyd are both adamant that no own-goals were scored that afternoon in line with the statistics provided by the English Football Data Archive.

Such was Wrexham’s superiority at this point that Ron Chaloner believed Jack Rowley must have possessed a magic wand. However, Barnsley were by no means finished and their lively forwards continued to test Graham Beighton who was finally beaten in the 68th minute through a fine shot from Joe Hayes.

The final thrill of an action packed afternoon saw McMillan score his third with just two minutes remaining to leave the fans chanting “We want seven”.

***

Jack Rowley’s prediction that we would climb the league table before the end of term proved to be unfounded as we won only one game in the last thirteen of the season to finish rock bottom for the first time in our history. Fortunately, we were comfortably re-elected and lived to fight another day.