Dick Finnigan

Memory Match – 17-03-23

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.

17-03-23

Wrexham v Tranmere Rovers

League Division Three (Northern Section)

Racecourse Ground

Result: 2-1

Wrexham: Finnigan, Holmes, Cope, Regan, Savage, Roberts, Warburton, Cotton, Jackson, Jones, Sheldon

Goalscorers: Jackson, Warburton

Tranmere Rovers: Bradshaw, Thompson, Stuart, Campbell, Halstead, Sewell, Cook, Sayer, Crowther, Hilton, Evans

Goalscorer: Sayer

Attendance: 6,150

Our second season in the Football League and we were still looking to beat Tranmere Rovers for the first time in this competition, following a goalless draw at Prenton Park and a comprehensive 1-3 defeat at the Racecourse in 1921/22.

Despite a poor start to season 1922/23 and some heavy defeats – 0-4 at Grimsby, 0-5 at Rochdale – things improved after the festive season. Wrexham went into this derby match in 12th position in the 20 team league on the back of three successive wins against Yorkshire opposition – Halifax Town were beaten 2-1 at the Cae Ras before we recorded a double over Bradford Park Avenue.

Rovers, who were also playing their second season at this elevated level after being elected alongside Wrexham and sixteen other clubs to form the Third Division (North) in 1921/22, were struggling to adapt and were floundering in 18th position ahead of this game on the back of a 0-4 trouncing at Darlington.

Our poor results against relegation-haunted sides are not a modern phenomenon though and after a poor opening half we trailed 0-1 at the break. The visitors profited from winning the toss and opted to play with a stiff breeze at their backs during the first 45 minutes. As a result they dominated proceedings and forced some fine saves from Dick Finnigan in the Wrexham goal. There seemed to be no way through for Tranmere with Jabez Evans, Stan Sayer and George Crowther all wasting good opportunities. Indeed, Leader reporter E.H.K suggested that Tranmere were “particularly clever in midfield and played delightful football but the finishes were feeble”.

However, the home forwards were equally ineffective and shortly before half-time Sayer – a new signing from Millwall – opened the scoring from a centre from Evans.

Wrexham had it all to do in the second period and got off to a great start when Billy Jackson connected with a cross from Richard Warburton to equalise. We were now in the ascendency but failed to find the decisive goal, despite much pressure. Hopes were high when Jack Jones played a lovely ball through to Jackson, but he failed to connect properly with the ball and his tame shot was easily saved by Harry Bradshaw in the Tranmere goal.

There then followed a spell of pressure from the visitors though this was eased when Wrexham won a free-kick as Jones was brought down as he threatened to burst through on goal. Edward Roberts floated in an accurate delivery from the resulting set-piece for Warburton to thump home a header and put us on course for the two points.

It was a very pleasing victory as it was achieved without George Godding and Tommy Matthias who were away on international duty with Wales for their match against Scotland in Paisley. Finnigan and Roberts were able deputies.

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The return match at Prenton Park was a day to forget for Wrexham fans as we lost 4-0, with Sayer and Sammy Beswick each scoring a brace in front of 8,000 spectators.

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Wrexham finished the season in 10th position while Tranmere – revived by the goals of Stan Sayer – finished in 15th.

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Our FA Cup campaign began at the fifth qualifying stage with a 0-2 victory against Port Vale, in a match played at the Old Recreation Ground at Hanley. Billy Jackson was the difference between the two sides and netted a brace.  In the sixth qualifying round we met Hartlepools United at the Racecourse with Tommy Matthias scoring the only goal of the game from the penalty spot to send us into the first round proper. Bristol City of the Third Division (South) were our opponents, but our trip to Ashton Gate ended in a 5-1 defeat.

Memory Match – 20.09.30

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.

20.09.30

Wrexham v Crewe Alexandra

League Division Three (Northern Section)

Racecourse Ground

Result: 7-0

Wrexham: Finnigan, Jones, Crompton, Rogers, Burkinshaw, Donoghue, Williams, Mustard, Bamford, Taylor, Lewis

Goalscorers: Lewis (4), Bamford (2), Mustard

Crewe Alexandra: Brown, Thomley, Pringle, Morris (Harold), Morris (Harry), Rouse, Millington, Smelt, French, Owen, Wright

Attendance: 7,810

Those of you who know the history of our proud old club will realise that Wrexham haven’t always played in red. Indeed, according to the comprehensive Historical Kits website we played in a blue shirt and white short combination from our debut season in the Football League (1921/22) right through to 1939 when someone saw sense and we changed to red shirts and white shorts.

1930/31 saw a dramatic improvement in form for the “Blues” who finished the season in third position in the Third Division (North). We were only four points behind champions Chesterfield, three behind second-place Lincoln City and above fourth-placed Tranmere Rovers on goal average. Meanwhile, Crewe Alexandra finished in 18th position, so maybe it shouldn’t have come as a shock that we racked up a cricket score against our Cheshire rivals.

In all fairness to Crewe, they made a fair fist of things during a fairly even first half. The opening goal came after 25 minutes of play.  Les Williams sent in a cross that Crewe ‘keeper Arthur Brown failed to clear, which in turn provided Tommy Lewis with the opportunity he needed to score the first of the afternoon.

Alex didn’t roll over though. Visiting forward Alf French tested Dick Finnigan with a low drive that the goalkeeper did well to turn for a corner. The flag kick came to nothing and before the break Jimmy Owen tested Finnigan again.

Wrexham were obviously fired up for the second half and attacked from the offset. Tommy Bamford slipped the ball out to Lewis allowing the wide man to cross a perfect ball that Jack Mustard connected with.  Unfortunately, his header was inches wide of the goal. Crewe had been warned…

The second goal arrived shortly afterwards. Mustard and Williams took the ball up the wing and delivered possession to Bamford.  The master marksman appeared to dally with the ball and finally made the odd decision to push the ball towards the left wing.  However, Bamford could see what the fans couldn’t and Lewis raced in to double our lead.

A few minutes later Lewis returned the compliment when his pass to Bamford was met with a clever hook to make it 3-0. A rampant Wrexham pushed further ahead after Bamford beat Tom Thornley in a tackle. The Crewe defender appealed to the referee, but the reason for his grievance was not apparent.

With 10 minutes remaining, Wrexham won a hotly disputed corner that led to Mustard firing home through a crowd of players from 18 yards to make it five for the home team. Brown had no chance and was probably unsighted at the time.

Lewis then sent the crowd home in raptures with a late brace – the first of which came from a speculative cross-shot before Brown dropped a Williams cross at his feet to allow him to score his fourth of the afternoon.

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Tommy Lewis finished his first season since joining from Everton with 15 League goals while Tommy Bamford led the goalscoring charts with an impressive haul of 38 goals in 38 League and FA Cup appearances. This was Jack Mustard’s debut campaign, which saw the wide-man contributing 15 goals to the cause in his most prolific season with the club.

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Wrexham also lifted the Welsh Cup that season with another 7-0 victory at the Racecourse over local rivals. This time our opponents were Shrewsbury Town.

Two crushing victories over teams from Cheshire and Shropshire must have left their fans reeling. I guess that’s why they called us the Blues…