Edgeley Park

Memory Match – 30-01-37

It has been a while since I last wrote a Memory Match column. I spent 2015-2018 writing these articles for the Wrexham AFC matchday programme when we were proud to be a community club.

Unfortunately, the club’s treatment of disabled supporters is nothing short of a disgrace, while the treatment of the proactive Disabled Supporters Association leaves a lot to be desired. I am therefore withdrawing my support of the club until ALL disabled supporters are given adequate and inclusive facilities from which to enjoy the football served up at the Racecourse.

Instead I will go to watch 90 minutes of action, wherever I feel I am welcomed. It goes without saying that I will always have one ear on the Wrexham result as it is not the actual club that I have fallen out with. It is merely the way the club is being run that I have an issue with. I will continue to attend matches when it is my turn on the platform rota and away matches, but I am not wasting any more time at the bottom of the stand with an abysmal view of the action while exposed to the elements. It is a disgrace that disabled supporters are being treated in such a way at the start of the 21st century.

I still want to continue with these Memory Match articles as they proved popular. I also enjoy writing them and remembering a time when it was enjoyable to visit the Racecourse and watch a decent standard of football.

30/01/37

Wrexham v Oldham Athletic

League Division Three (Northern Section)

Racecourse Ground

Result: 1-1

 Wrexham: McMahon, Evans, Hamilton, Mitchell, Lewis, Snow, Barrow, White, Lapham, Lawrence, Burgon

Goalscorer: White

 Oldham Athletic: Caunce, Hilton, Price, Williamson, Milligan, Gray, Jones, McCormick, Davis, Robbins, Downes

Goalscorer: Gray

Attendance: 2,511

Season 1936/37 got off to an awful start, with a 4-1 drubbing at Chester. Under the guidance of manager Ernie Blackburn, Wrexham soon forgot this calamitous defeat and rose to a mid-table position as we entered the New Year. However, our 2-0 reverse against Stockport County at Edgeley Park on January 2nd proved to be Blackburn’s final game in charge.

Hull City tempted Blackburn away from the Racecourse and a committee was responsible for selecting our starting 11 for the next three games. This included an FA Cup third round clash with Manchester City at the Cae Ras which was witnessed by 20,600 spectators. The Division One side won the match 1-3, but Wrexham pushed them all the way and could be proud of their performance.

Ahead of our home encounter against Oldham Athletic at the end of January, the club appointed Captain James Logan as their fourth manager. We had won our previous two League games under the leadership of the selection committee, so hopes were high that we could continue this form against fifth placed Athletic.

Less than 2,500 supporters braved the wintry weather to spend a chilly afternoon watching their heroes try to play football, on a pitch that more closely resembled a skating rink, with a light dusting of snow. Subsequently, conditions threatened to spoil the game, but Wrexham adapted themselves and pursued a policy of passing that disorientated the scrappy and disjointed Latics.

The home team were on top in the early stages. According to the scribe in the North Wales Guardian: “[Archie] Burgon was like a terrier on the touchline, worrying the defence whenever the ball came anywhere near him, by his eagerness in seizing on the slightest chance”.

Oldham’s tactics seemed quite cynical, and when Burgon was brought down in the box by Billy Hilton, the crowd clambered for a penalty. However, the referee waved away these claims to the satisfaction of our friend from the North Wales Guardian, who suggests that the Nottingham-born winger simply slipped.

Alfie White got on the scoresheet after 35 minutes, following a free-kick that was given for another assault on Burgon. George Snow delivered a delightful ball from the resulting set-piece, that White headed past Lewis Caunce in the Athletic goal. Logan’s new charges then spent the final 10 minutes of the first half, bombarding the visitors’ goal, Matt Lawrence in particular had two shots in quick succession and was unfortunate to see them saved by Caunce.

The second half failed to produce as much goalmouth action, as the first 45 minutes had. The heavy cloud led to poor light, “which seemed to blur the players’ figures in to mere silhouettes, and make it difficult to distinguish individuals”. Pat McMahon was pressed in to action more often as the game progressed, but there seemed little sting to the visitors’ raids.

The Latics eventually capitalised on a mistake by McMahon late in the game. The Glasgow-born goalkeeper made a fatal mistake by punching away a threatening ball, when it seemed much easier to have gathered the ball safely in his arms. The feeble punch was insufficient to clear the danger, and landed at the feet of Matt Gray who returned a low, rasping drive past McMahon’s despairing dive.

***

 In the Leader, ‘XYZ’ highlights a number of elderly spectators who had attended the game on such a brutally cold day:

“One old player, who gained a Welsh cap fifty-nine years ago was present! Another of the old brigade, who was at Newton Heath in the eighties’, stood in the enclosure and a third sporting veteran who had seen seventy-three, or four winters – Mr T.H. Jones (‘The Artist’) – occupied his ‘box’ seat in the paddock, and smiled at the cold.”

***

I cannot move on without mentioning the other headlines that I discovered while looking through local newspapers from January/February 1937. Several articles tell of Wrexham footballers being embroiled in a licensing prosecution. It turned out that four prominent members of our playing staff – George Snow, Jack Lewis, Alfie White and Ambrose Brown – were caught consuming alcohol after permitted hours at the Horseshoe Inn, Bank Street on the evening of January 16th 1937. This was the same day that we had pushed Manchester City all the way in the third round of the FA Cup.

All the defendants pleaded not-guilty, but after a lengthy retirement the Chairman said that the bench had decided to convict in the cases of all four players. They were each fined 10s 6d for daring to enjoy a post-match pint after 22:00 following a gutsy Cup display. Heaven forbid.

Memory Match – 25-08-28

It has been a while since I last wrote a Memory Match column. I spent 2015-2018 writing these articles for the Wrexham AFC matchday programme when we were proud to be a community club.

Unfortunately, the club’s treatment of disabled supporters is nothing short of a disgrace, while the treatment of the proactive Disabled Supporters Association leaves a lot to be desired. I am therefore withdrawing my support of the club until ALL disabled supporters are given adequate and inclusive facilities from which to enjoy the football served up at the Racecourse.

Instead I will go to watch 90 minutes of action, wherever I feel I am welcomed. It goes without saying that I will always have one ear on the Wrexham result as it is not the actual club that I have fallen out with. It is merely the way the club is being run that I have an issue with. I will continue to attend matches when it is my turn on the platform rota and away matches, but I am not wasting any more time at the bottom of the stand with an abysmal view of the action while exposed to the elements. It is a disgrace that disabled supporters are being treated in such a way at the start of the 21st century.

I still want to continue with these Memory Match articles as they proved popular. I also enjoy writing them and remembering a time when it was enjoyable to visit the Racecourse and watch a decent standard of football.

25/08/28

Wrexham v Chesterfield

League Division Three (Northern Section)

Racecourse Ground

Result: 4-3

 Wrexham: Greatrex, Jones, Lumberg, Read, Bellis, Graham, Longmuir, Rogers, Mays, Woodhouse, Gunson

Goalscorers: Mays (4)

 Chesterfield: Bilcliff, Beeson, Bicknell, Wass, Fell, Neale, Bloxham, Roseboom, Cowan, Taylor, Lee

Goalscorers: Roseboom, Bloxham, Cowan,

Attendance: 5,463

Following yet another anonymous season in mid-table, Wrexham excelled in 1928/29 and finished third in the League table. Chesterfield visited the Racecourse on the opening day of the season and the club were hopeful that the arrival of Albert ‘Billy’ Mays from Merthyr Town would help propel them to greater heights. The centre-forward had previous League experience with Bristol City, Plymouth Argyle and the South Wales club, so hopes were high.

Writing in the Leader, ‘XYZ’ summed up his impression of the new marksman following this first match of the season:

Mays made a favourable impression and scored four goals. This was the best individual performance in League football on Saturday and the great ovation he received from the spectators was fully deserved.

Mays gave Wrexham the lead after 15 minutes, but just 10 minutes later Chesterfield equalised when Jack Lee raced away from Teddy Read and Alf Jones, to deliver a fine centre. Ken Greatrex punched clear, but the ball only found Teddy Roseboom, who got his name on the scoresheet.

Worse was to follow before the interval, as another attack down the left flank by Lee, led to William Cowan scoring a second for the visitors.

Wrexham fought back in the second period and showed plenty of aggression. Archie Longmuir fired in a couple of first-time shots, while Billie Rogers was very unlucky not to score with a ferocious cross-shot. Eventually, Mays restored parity from a Gunson centre, but Chesterfield were not to be outdone. Albert Bloxham was the man to put the visitors back in control, but this sensational game was still far from over. Gunson and Mays combined, before the centre-forward drew the keeper out and completed his hat-trick.

The fat lady hadn’t started to sing yet though and Wrexham carried on attacking. That man Mays headed home the winning goal from a corner in the last minute.

We were off to a winning start. Things would continue in a positive vein, with six more wins and three draws before we fell to our first defeat of the season, against Stockport County at Edgeley Park (6-2).

Bradford City eventually won promotion from the Third Division North that season. They finished a single point ahead of Stockport County, and 11 points clear of third placed Wrexham.

***

Billy Mays ended the season with 32 League goals. This was not the last time that he secured a 4-goal haul, as he repeated this trick on January the 5th 1929, in a 5-0 home thrashing of Barrow.

***

Season 1928/29 was also significant as it saw the first Wrexham goal by a certain Tommy Bamford. He struck in a 4-0 crushing of Accrington Stanley at the Racecourse, on the 30th of March 1929.

***

Unfortunately, our success in the League did not transfer to the Cup competitions. We were knocked out of the FA Cup at the First Round stage, when Carlisle United visited the Racecourse and scraped a 0-1 victory. It was a similar story in the Welsh Cup, as Rhyl secured a 2-4 victory at the Cae Ras at the Fifth Round stage. We had received byes for the previous rounds.