Cae Ras

Memory Match – 05-11-27

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.

05-11-27

Wrexham v Ashington

League Division Three (Northern Section)

Racecourse Ground

Result: 5-1

Wrexham: Robson, Jones, Crompton, Regan, Bellis, Graham, Longmuir, Rogers, Smith, Woodhouse, Gunson

Goalscorers: Rogers (2), Smith (3)

Ashington: Ridley, Robson, Best, Carlton, Price, Grieves, Hopper, Noble , Graham, Watson, Randall

Goalscorer: Randall

Attendance: 3,531

Wrexham had started the season strongly. After beating Stockport County at the Racecourse in September they topped the table for a week at least. In the run up to this game, they had fallen to fifth position, but were very much still looking upwards at a promotion tilt.

Ashington may be a new name to many of you. They are based in Northumberland and can claim to be the most northerly team to have played in the Football League. At the time of our encounter with them in the Third Division (North) they were struggling at the foot of the table and only managed to survive for another season at this level. In 1928/29 they lost their bid for re-election after finishing rock bottom. They were replaced by York City.

Remarkably, Ashington had yet to win a league game in 1927/28, so Wrexham were firm favourites. Before arriving at the Racecourse they had played 13 matches of which eight had been lost and five drawn. They had only managed to find the net on 14 occasions while conceding 41 goals. Indeed, the visitors were no match for the Welshmen and we could have won by a cricket score if the game had been played in less inclement conditions. A harsh wind and torrential rain led to Wrexham players taking their foot off the gas. We had recorded a four goal margin of victory, but it could have been so many more…

Writing the match report, Wrexham Leader journalist XYZ states that the “game was so one-sided that only a few brief details of the play are necessary”. Our first goal was scored after six minutes when a high centre from Gordon Gunson was converted by Billie Rogers. The Ashington defence were pulled apart by Roland Woodhouse and Gunson with visiting goalkeeper Ralph Ridley pulling off a number of fine saves before the Blues doubled their lead on 23 minutes. Archie Longmuir baffled the opposition with his wing work and when he centred, Cecil Smith took the ball in his stride to net his second goal of the season.

Just before half-time, Smith added a third that was vehemently disputed by the visitors who felt that both Woodhouse and Smith were offside. They managed to persuade the referee to consult his linesman, but this conversation only lasted a couple of seconds and the goal was awarded.

In the second half, Smith completed his hat-trick and this was followed by a degree of slackness edging in to our game. This led to Jimmy Randall taking advantage and getting on the scoresheet. Wrexham replied with a second goal for Rogers. The fact that they didn’t score more was clearly a source of frustration for XYZ who states that the Wrexham forwards could have scored a dozen goals and underlines the fact that “championships have been decided on goal average”. I hope a few Wrexham players of today are reading this…

Ashington benefitted from their football lesson at the Cae Ras as they ended their winless streak in their very next game – a 3-0 triumph against Tranmere Rovers at Portland Park.

Our quest for promotion fizzled out after Christmas and we finished the season in 11th position.

***

Blue-shirted Wrexham might have disappointed in the league but during 1927/28, they recorded their best run in the FA Cup up to that point. A crowd of 12,000 turned up at the Racecourse to see the third round encounter with Second Division Swansea Town. A fine 2-1 win ensured that the town was now gripped with Cup fever and this was heightened when we drew First Division Birmingham at home. A 12,228 crowd saw Wrexham go down fighting 1-3.

Memory Match – 14-01-33

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.

14-01-33

Wrexham v Southport

League Division Three (Northern Section)

Racecourse Ground

Result: 6-0

Wrexham: Adams, Jones, Brown, Bulling, McMahon, Lawrence, Hughes, Frewin, Bamford, Lewis, Waller

Goalscorers: Lewis (2), Bamford, Frewin, Bulling, Waller

Southport: Middleton, Robinson, Birkett, Taylor, Wyness, Lydon, Sellars, Bell, Appleby, Williams, Turner

Attendance: 5,915

According to the match report in the North Wales Guardian, Wrexham did not need to over-exert themselves in this contest, as Southport never really showed the form that was expected of them.  The visitors were accused of being “sadly disjointed” and the reporter wonders aloud what had caused this slump in a team that threatened at the top of the league earlier in the season.

Meanwhile, the Blues were fresh from hammering Hartlepools United 8-1 at the Cae Ras and were obviously out to prove this was not a mere flash in the pan. Apparently, they tore Southport apart by “playing spirited football and bewildering them with dashing attacks and swift defensive measures.”

Wrexham were in electric form and unleashed wave after wave of attack on goalkeeper Matt Middleton. During 1931/32, the Southport custodian frustrated our forwards with a fine display in a 2-0 defeat at Haig Avenue in Ernest Blackburn’s first match in charge, but he was unsupported on this occasion and powerless against the awesome force of Tommy Bamford and company.

Wrexham had the better of the opening exchanges and it quickly became clear that this would be an afternoon of one-way traffic with Southport having to employ the offside trap to stave off danger.  However, it did not take long for Tommy Lewis to weave his way through static defenders to score the opener on 23 minutes.  A minute later Bamford netted with a neat flick from Harry Waller’s centre and a whirlwind period was complete when George Frewin notched a third with his head from a Jack Hughes cross.

It was now time for toothless Southport to have a go. They pressed forward only to find Alf Jones and Jack Brown were equal to all calls made upon them.  At least the Sandgrounders were trying to make a game of it, even though Hughes hit the woodwork with an excellent drive before Lewis completed an emphatic opening period by heading the fourth.

Southport rarely crossed the half-way line in the second half and the Blues extended their lead through Jim Bulling – who converted a Hughes corner after Ted Robinson had cleared off the line – and a simple tap-in from Waller.

***

Writing in a Supporters’ Club News column, “J.H.W” notes that the first three games in 1933 had yielded six points, with 16 goals for and only two against. Our latter day statistician also noted that, at the time, we had scored more goals at home than any other team in the English Leagues, and only Arsenal had a greater aggregate of goals, home and away, than Wrexham.

***

The 1932/33 season was to be Wrexham’s best-ever in the Third Division North when they finished runners-up to Hull City, only two points adrift of the Humberside club. So close, yet so far…

During the season, Wrexham’s home record was remarkable: they won 18 matches, drew two and lost only one, to Chester. The home wins consisted of some high-scoring victories. The 106 League goals scored that season is still a record.

***

Alas, more frustration and heartache laid in store in the cup competitions.

In the FA Cup, Wrexham beat non-League Spennymoor United at home (3-0) before losing a second round replay at the Racecourse to Brighton & Hove Albion (2-3).

The Blues reached the Welsh Cup final yet again after beating Oswestry (4-1 after replay), Bangor (2-1) and Southport (3-1 after replay). In the final they met their old rivals Chester at Sealand Road in front of a 15,000 crowd who were to see the Cestrians win 2-0, thereby lifting the Welsh Cup for the second time in their laughably sparse history.