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.
Wrexham v Barnsley
League Division Four
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
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.