Gareth Davis

Memory Match – 03-01-81

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.

03/01/81

West Ham United v Wrexham

FA Cup Third Round

Upton Park

Result: 1-1 

West Ham United: Parkes, Stewart, Lampard, Bonds, Martin, Devonshire, Holland, Goddard, Cross, Brooking, Pike

Goalscorer: Stewart (57 pen)

Wrexham: Davies, Hill, Jones, Davis, Cegielski, Arkwright, Buxton (Fox), Sutton, Edwards, McNeil, Cartwright

Goalscorer: Davis (87)

Attendance: 30,137

1981 began with a tasty cup-tie against FA Cup holders West Ham United who had lifted the famous trophy the previous May, thanks to a Trevor Brooking diving header against Arsenal. The Hammers were a Second Division side when they won the Cup and were aiming to follow their Cup success with promotion back to Division One. In November 1980 they had visited the Racecourse to play out a 2-2 draw.

Our third round pairing against the league leaders looked a tough one on paper. The Upton Park club had won every home match in every competition since defeat to Luton Town on the opening day of the season.

However, Arfon Griffiths’ men had recorded three wins and a draw in their last four away games and had a good record in encounters with West Ham, who had only won one in five meetings.

Arfon Griffiths said: “I think we are in with a chance of beating them – but we must play well.

“It will be a hell of an occasion and will be a tremendous atmosphere and a big crowd. It will be a great challenge for our lads, but they prefer that kind of environment and we’ll be looking for another good result in London to add to our collection. We shall not go there just to defend. We’ll play our normal game.”

The Reds were suffering from a long list of injuries and illness. Frank Carrodus, who had missed the last three games with an ankle ligament injury, was still missing along with Steve Kenworthy. On the plus side, Steve Buxton and Les Cartwright were re-introduced to the team after both having treatment for knee injuries.

Never write off the Town in the Cup. It is true that we were under the cosh for most of the match, but a superb defensive display restricted the home side to just one goal from the penalty spot after 59 minutes. The controversial decision to award a spot-kick came after Alan Hill was adjudged to have upended Pat Holland. Visiting defenders lead furious protests to the referee and felt that Holland had dived. These protests fell on deaf ears and Ray Stewart sent Dai Davies the wrong way to give United the lead. Davies had a superb game despite a dislocated finger. This did not stop him making fantastic saves to deny Paul Goddard and Geoff Pike.

West Ham seemed to be on course for their 17th home victory in succession, but our never-say-die efforts paid off after 87 minutes. Les Cartwright launched a long throw in into the penalty area which Ian Edwards back-headed before Dixie McNeil flicked it on for Gareth Davis to smash home a volley from eight yards.

***

This draw resulted in a replay at the Racecourse just three days later. This match was instantly forgettable and ended in a goalless stalemate. Cue a second replay at the Racecourse following the toss of a coin. Dixie McNeil scored the only goal of the game in the first period of extra time to finally dump John Lyall’s men out of the Cup and send us through to the fourth round, where we dispatched Wimbledon (2-1). Wolverhampton Wanderers finally ended our progress in the FA Cup after a 3-1 defeat at Molineux.

***

Our success in the Cup masked a disappointing league campaign, which saw us finish in 16th position. In our penultimate match of the season, we travelled to Upton Park yet again, where we were on the receiving end of a 1-0 defeat to the runaway champions of the Second Division. After all our efforts, we could not stop those pretty bubbles from floating in the air…

Memory Match – 28-09-68

Throughout the 2015/16 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.

28-09-68

Wrexham v Notts County

League Division Four

Racecourse Ground

Result: 3-2

Wrexham: Livsey, Ingle, Bermingham, Davis, May, Bradbury, Beanland, Moir, Charnley, Smith, Kinsey

Goalscorers: Charnley (2), Ingle

Notts County: Rose, Ball, Worthington, Oakes, Gibson, Farmer, Pring, Murphy, Bradd, Masson, Bates

Goalscorers: Bradd, Masson 

Attendance: 4,277

Reds manager Alvan Williams tended his resignation after an inconsistent start to 1968/69 that saw a League Cup exit, the sale of David Powell and Steve Stacey, to Sheffield United and Ipswich Town respectively, and subsequent bitter demonstrations from the fans.

The official line was that the departure of Williams was caused by “a disagreement with the Board of Directors over club policy”, but word on the grapevine suggested that club directors wanted to curtail his power as general manager with a demotion to the specific role of team manager only.

Despite the fact that the vacant post was not advertised, Wrexham still had 14 applications for the job, which was eventually given to John Neal. George Showell became first-team trainer. This new managerial duo certainly had their work cut out as we prepared to play bottom-of-the-table Notts County as we’d suffered five straight defeats without scoring.

The Magpies started the brighter and conspired to hit the woodwork, miss a sitter and had a penalty claim turned down before Ray Charnley ended Wrexham’s goal drought on 23 minutes. Charnley hit the ball past Mick Rose who had failed to deal with Ray Smith’s shot. Rose may still have been feeling the effects of his collision with Smith just four minutes earlier.

County equalised on the half-hour mark when Don Masson headed home from an inviting free kick. This parity only lasted for three minutes as Charnley out-jumped several defenders to connect with Alan Bermingham’s cross.

Wrexham were at their brightest during this period as Steve Ingle and Albert Kinsey tested Rose, but it was County who struck after 44 minutes with another headed goal. This time it was Les Bradd who met a centre from Ron Farmer.

From the re-start, Ingle restored the home sides lead with a fine solo effort when he collected a loose ball, raced forward and unleashed a thunderbolt from 20-yards to put us ahead at the break.

The second period promised much, but actually delivered little in terms of goalmouth action as the closest we came to adding a fourth goal was when a late effort from Eddie May went a foot wide. It also says a lot that Charnley’s only competition for man of the match was goalkeeper Gordon Livesey.

According to Reg Herbert of the Leader, the majority of our players performed under par. Apparently, Ian Moir had a “nightmare game” characterised by “erratic passing” that frustrated the fans while Kinsey and Smith were deemed to be “still struggling for form and luck”. Bermingham was criticised for “not being his usual ebullient self” and Gareth Davis was lambasted for a “first half miskick” that presented County with a chance that they should’ve scored from.

John Neal looked on the bright side: “Not having scored and won a match for so long a time the players were all tensed up.  If they had relaxed it might have been so different.  Still, we achieved our main objectives – we scored goals and we won.”

As underwhelmed Reds fans trudged home that afternoon, little did they realise that the new man in charge was sowing the seeds of a Racecourse revolution…