Gordon Richards

Memory Match – 25-04-53

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.

25-04-53

Wrexham v Chester

League Division Three (Northern Section)

Racecourse Ground

Result: 7-0

Wrexham: Egglestone, Parker, Fisher, Jones, Capper, Tapscott, Heggie, Hewitt, Bannan, Tilston, Richards

Goalscorers: Jones, Tilston (2), Bannan (2), Richards, Hewitt

Chester: Wright, Dickens, Gill, Hughes, Coffin, Astbury, Deakin, Moremont, Travis, Sutcliffe, Whitlock

Attendance: 10,914

 

In 1952/53, Peter Jackson almost led Wrexham to the uncharted heights of the Second Division. The Robins finished a successful season in third position, just three points behind champions Oldham Athletic. One of the main reasons behind this success was our forward line of Tommy Bannan, Glyn Hughes, Ron Hewitt, Tommy Tilston and Billy Tunnicliffe, who reaped 70 goals between them.

The undoubted highlight of the season was a staggering 7-0 victory over our cross-border rivals in the penultimate game. This was Wrexham’s biggest-ever derby win and completed a League double over Chester following a 1-2 victory at Sealand Road just ten days previously. For balance, I suppose I should also note that this double helped avenge a 4-3 defeat by the Englishmen in a Welsh Cup fifth round tie that same season.

Just three days after our heaviest defeat of the season – a promotion-denying 4-0 trouncing at relegation-threatened Workington – hopes were high that we could bounce back from such disappointment against an injury–depleted Chester side.

The Cestrians were always going to find it tough without regular outside-left Billy Windle and right-back John Molyneux. These reliable and effective regulars were replaced by Phil Whitlock and Leo Dickens. The crowning misfortune for the visitors saw centre-half Eric Hall deemed unfit meaning that centre-forward Geoff Coffin had to cover as a makeshift defender.

Conversely, Wrexham were only forced to play without Glyn Hughes (flu). This allowed Bill Heggie to get an outing at outside-right as Wrexham showed their attacking intentions from the off. George Jones wasted a free-kick that sailed yards wide before Ron Hewitt shot inches off-target. We were getting closer…

On five minutes, Chester goalkeeper Dick Wright collided with the substantial frame of Scottish-born Heggie. It took extensive use of the magic sponge to get the dazed Wright back on his feet, but it wasn’t to be his day as just minutes later the bemused ‘keeper, “flitting around his goalmouth like a fly trapped into a bottle”, collided with an unnamed Wrexham forward and had to be stretchered from the field of play. Chester were reduced to ten-men and forced to put Ralph Moremont into goal. Writing in the North Wales Guardian, Ron Chaloner noted that the defence in front of the versatile wing-half “looked about as safe as a prefab would be to an atom bomb”.

As the half-hour mark approached – depending which newspaper you believe – Bannan sent over a corner for Hewitt to head home the first of three goals in a nine-minute spell. Tilston was then officially credited with a brace before the break, despite the fact that watching journalists agreed that his first goal appeared to have been helped in by Chester’s Tommy Astbury.

Five minutes into the second period, Jones made it four when he headed past Moremont after Dickens had cleared off the goal-line. Bannan, who was the spearhead of a fast-moving attack, headed home the fifth from Heggie’s cross and completed his brace nine minutes from time when he sent in a high cross-shot that floated over Moremont’s hands and under the bar.

Chester’s disastrous afternoon was complete three minutes from time when Dickens handled the ball in the penalty area and conceded a clear spot-kick that was powered home by Gordon Richards.

The Wrexham Advertiser and Star moaned that the match lost all interest as a spectacle when Chester lost Wright and called for a new rule allowing substitute goalkeepers. Somehow, if something similarly unfortunate was to happen to our visitors this afternoon, I can’t see many Wrexham fans complaining…

***

Chester finished the season in a lowly 20th position – five points clear of relegation.

 

Memory Match – 27-12-54

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.

27-12-54

Wrexham v Oldham Athletic

League Division Three (Northern Section)

Racecourse Ground

Result: 2-1

Wrexham: Godding, Speed, McGowan, Griffiths, Green, Tapscott, Williams, Hewitt, Bannan, Rowley, Richards.

Goalscorers: Bannan, Hewitt

Oldham Athletic: D’Arcy, Jackson, Hardwick, Hobson, Whyte, Fawley, Walker, Chaytor, Travis, Scrine, McShane.

Goalscorer: Scrine

Attendance: 10,871

Season 1954/55 started with an embarrassing 6–2 defeat at the hands of York City at the Racecourse.  It was a result that equalled our heaviest-ever home defeat.  Things didn’t improve during the course of a wretched season that ended with the team languishing in 18th place.

On the back of a 3-3 draw at York City’s Bootham Crescent in the return fixture – unquestionably our strongest performance of the season – Wrexham entered a festive double-header against Oldham Athletic.  This began with a trip to Boundary Park on Christmas Day and the match was played on a mud heap of a pitch that meant free-flowing football was at a premium.   Nevertheless, Wrexham adapted to the conditions with a forceful style of play that denied Oldham the avalanche of goals that fans of the Lancashire team might have expected against an outfit marooned at the foot of the table.

Indeed, over an hour had gone before Tommy Walker and Don Travis netted for the home side with two quick goals. Tommy Bannan pulled one back for Wrexham with ten minutes remaining, but it was nothing more than a consolation.

Two days later the teams met again at the Racecourse. Wrexham had to replace wingers Glyn Hughes and Eric Betts, both injured on Christmas Day, with young Peter Williams making his first team debut in place of Hughes and Gordon Richards replacing Betts.

In a sensational start to the afternoon there were two goals within the first 90 seconds. Frank Scrine capitalised on a Kenny Chaytor pass to put Oldham in front before Arthur Rowley cracked a thunderbolt against the bar and Bannan netted the rebound.

Mick D’Arcy in the Oldham goal made a wonder save from a powerful header from Ron Hewitt, but the Wrexham livewire was not to be denied and he put the Robins in front after a mad scramble.  Hewitt’s first effort was blocked, as were similar ones from Bannan and Williams before Hewitt made sure.

Oldham fought back and almost equalised through Travis – his shot seemed destined to roll into an empty net before Aly McGowan saved the day by hacking clear. There were also many chances in the second half but none closer than when a Rowley drive rebounded off D’Arcy’s legs.

The final whistle signalled Wrexham’s first home victory since beating Bradford City on October 16. Incidentally, it was also the first League defeat for Athletic since October 9.

***

In February 1955 manager Peter Jackson left the club to take charge at Bradford City. Jackson also took with him his twin sons, Peter junior and David, who were the first twins to have played in the same Wrexham team.

***

After the Jackson clan had departed for Yorkshire the board turned to Cliff Lloyd to take temporary charge.

The Robins were still struggling in the League and were in 21st position when Lloyd took over.  He managed to inspire another five victories before the end of the season – including two 5–0 victories over Crewe Alexandra and Grimsby Town – that helped us to escape relegation by the skin of our teeth.  As a result Lloyd was given the manager’s job on a permanent basis.