Gren Jones

Memory Match – 20-08-60

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.

20-08-60

Peterborough United v Wrexham

League Division Four

London Road

Result: 3-0

Peterborough United: Walls, Stafford, Walker, Ravner, Rigby, Norris, Hails, Emery, Bly, Smith, McNamee

Goalscorers: Emery (25), McNamee (75), Bly (80)

Wrexham: Johnson, Holland, McGowan, Davis, Fox, Styles, Jones, Griffiths, Evans, Harbertson, Hunter

Attendance: 17,294

After being relegated from Division Three the previous season, Wrexham began life in the basement with a difficult fixture against Football League newcomers, Peterborough United at London Road. The Posh were famous FA Cup giantkillers and had slain a number of League clubs over the years, so a tough task was in store as Colwyn Bay-born Billy Morris took charge of the Reds for the first time.

Wrexham’s sixth post-war manager was quoted by Ron Chaloner in the Leader as saying: “I’ll stand or fall by my methods.  If things don’t go right, there will be no need to ask me to go, I shall be on my way.”

He asked supporters to have patience and not to expect miracles.

“I can’t make greyhounds out of fox terriers but I can make some improvements,” said the former Burnley player who did not plunge into the transfer market, but decided to weigh up the assets he had at his disposal before spending money.  Wrexham started the season with only one new player – former Halifax Town goalkeeper Arthur Johnson who was actually signed before Morris took over at the Racecourse.

***

Fortune was not on our side that afternoon. We fell behind only 25 minutes following a Denis Emery strike. The lanky striker seemed to miss-hit his effort from 20 yards but Johnson appeared to be a fraction late making his dive and the ball nestled in the bottom corner.

The Robins stuck to their fine approach play and were clearly not beaten. An equaliser seemed inevitable, especially when Gren Jones found the ball at his feet – 3 yards from goal. Somehow, the ball struck goalkeeper Jack Wallis’ boot and cannoned clear.

For the majority of the second period, the Town were in control. After 55 minutes Johnson launched a clearance that went almost to the edge of the United penalty area and the bouncing ball panicked the opposition defence, beating centre-half Norman Rigby. Visiting forward Ron Harbetson gave chase desperately, but Wallis came out to collect and calm the situation.

The Posh found their way back into the game after Emery smacked a shot against the post to rejuvenate the home supporters. 75 minutes had been played when outside-left Peter McNamee took a glorious pass from Ray Smith who skipped past Reg Holland for the first time that afternoon. McNamee surprised everyone by dancing into the penalty area and aiming a right foot shot past the helpless Johnson.

Wrexham were now under the cosh and conceded a third in the 81st minute when Terry Ely scored an opportunistic goal with a header from Emery’s cross.

***

Peterborough manager, Jimmy Hagan said: “If Wrexham are a sample of the sort of team we are going to meet in the Fourth Division, we are going to have a very hard time indeed. Wrexham are a very good side, particularly some of their forwards and they were very unlucky not to score. We won because we took our chances while they did not take theirs.”

Billy Morris said: “What disappointed me more than anything was that our forwards did not play as a closely knit unit and seemed to forget all the moves we had planned and practiced. There was too much shooting from 30 or 40 yards which was just a waste of time.

“I am almost certain now that this is not the best team Wrexham can field and I may make a couple of changes for our next match.”

Memory Match – 28-09-57

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.

28-09-57

Wrexham v Hull City

League Division Three (Northern Section)

Racecourse Ground

Result: 6-0

Wrexham: Ugolini, McGowan, Parker, Davis, Fox, McNab, Jones (Gren), Dignam, Smith, Bannan, Jones 

Goalscorers: Smith (2, 1 pen), Jones (Gren) (3), Jones (David)

Hull City: Round, Cubie, Nielson, Collinson, Fease, Bulless, Stephens, Clarke, Davidson, Bradbury, Cripsey

Attendance: 8,755

 

Season 1957/58 was to be the last in which the Third Division was split into Northern and Southern sections. The following season saw the formation of the new Third and Fourth Divisions. Wrexham therefore had to finish in the top half of the table to enter the higher division.

The season started badly with Wrexham only winning two of their opening nine league games, which just happened to be against our hapless local rivals Chester.  When mid-table Hull City came to town, we were struggling in 20th position on the back of a 0-1 home defeat against bottom-of-the-table Crewe Alexandra.

Manager Cliff Lloyd was absent from the Racecourse for this game as he was suffering from flu, but this did not adversely affect the players – quite the opposite. Wrexham sparked into life after Tommy Bannan was tackled from behind by Neil Cubie as he was racing towards goal after 20 minutes. A penalty was awarded and converted by Barry Smith to kick-start a mauling for the Tigers.

Writing in the Leader, the Sports Editor bemoans our previous performances in a few months of dreadful form, but notes that: “It was as if some wizard had waved a magic wand and transformed a side of struggling individuals into a close knit, classical combination that conjured up memories of the many brilliant performances of last season”.   In the 36th minute the Reds built on their lead when Joe Dignam galloped down the right wing to send over a perfect cross for Barry Smith to head home his fourth of the season.

Smith was at it again when he beat two men and squared the ball to Bannan, who mis-kicked. Fortunately, Gren Jones had the simple task of notching the third.

Before the referee signalled half time, Smith bulldozed his way forward through despairing defenders and saw his shot palmed away by the beleaguered Len Round in the Hull City goal.  Again, Jones was on the spot to rattle the ball home.

The second half started in much the same fashion when Tommy McNab stabbed a crossfield pass to David Jones who was standing on the corner of the penalty box. The left-winger beat Neil Cubie and crashed a right-footed screamer to make it five.

The last goal came after 72 minutes when Bannan carved an opening in the Hull defence and Gren Jones lobbed the ball over Round from an acute angle to seal his hat-trick.

In October, secretary-manager Cliff Lloyd decided to resign as manager and concentrate on his secretarial duties. He was, however, to continue as manager until a new man could be found.

John Love was to be that man and took up his new duties in December. But even with a new face at the helm, the rest of the season also proved to be a struggle with Wrexham in the bottom half of the table throughout the campaign.

In their last home game, against Accrington Stanley, Wrexham needed to win to stand any chance of qualifying for the new Third Division, with a game at Tranmere to follow. Accrington also needed a win to stand any chance of promotion to the Second Division.

Tommy Bannan was to be Wrexham’s hero of the day when he scored the only goal of the match.

Then it was off to Tranmere, who also needed to win to be in the new Third Division. A large contingent of Wrexham fans formed part of the big crowd of 19, 170 and saw their side lose 2-1 which meant that Wrexham had to wait for the result of the Scunthorpe – Carlisle match which was being played the following evening.

Carlisle had to win for Wrexham to miss out and when the final score came through, it was in Wrexham’s favour with Scunthorpe wining 3-1 to leave the Welsh club in 12th place.

 

Memory Match – 27-09-58

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.

27-09-58

Southampton v Wrexham

League Division Three

The Dell

Result 1-2

Southampton: Christie, Page, Traynor, Davies, Parker, Stevens, Paine, Mulgrew, Reeves, Hoskins, Sydenham

Goalscorer: Reeves

Wrexham: Ugolini, McGowan, Jones (Ken), Davis, Fox, Evans, Jones (Gren), Murray, Bannan, Crispey, Anderson

Goalscorers: Jones (Gren), Murray

Attendance: 18,048

 

“I like Wrexham. It’s a nice town and I am sure we will be happy here.”

So said Mrs Brian Cripsey after being given a car tour of the town and giving her husband the go-ahead to leave Hull City and sign for the Robins. Manager John Love  signed the 26-year-old left-winger for the princely sum of £4,000 – probably the highest fee the club had ever paid for a player at that time – just hours before his first-team debut at Mansfield Town.gue

While the formalities were being completed, the team coach left for Field Mill leaving a mad dash for Love and Cripsey to catch up with the team coach at Macclesfield – where Cripsey met his new team mates for the first time.

The last-minute escapade did not stop Cripsey from proving his worth when he accepted a slick pass from Don Weston and smashed home from 18 yards. Unfortunately this was nothing more than a consolation as Wrexham slumped to a 3-1 defeat.

Our away record for the start of the 1958/59 season did not bare much scrutiny. We had lost all five games on our travels; conceding nine goals and scoring just two. To increase anxiety our next match was a first-ever trip to Southampton who were undefeated in their last nine home games.

However this match turned out to be a real coupon buster. It was such an impressive display that Leader reporter Ron Chaloner remarked that it was one of the finest away performances he had ever seen by Wrexham – claiming 1-5 would have been more accurate reflection of the game.

Wrexham had two goals disallowed, should’ve been awarded a penalty and Ken Murray was unlucky with a shot that hit a post. Southampton fans showered Wrexham with warm applause for their glorious football. Unfortunately, they were not so kind to their own team who were given a slow-hand clap in the second half. Serious stuff!!

Eight minutes before the interval Wrexham scored the long overdue opener that their flowing football always threatened when Gren Jones burst down the middle, beat three men in a dazzling dribble and slipped the ball to Murray. The inside-forward returned it smartly and Jones, still racing on, smashed it in.

Murray notched the second after the break when Cripsey – who levelled up a lopsided Wrexham attack that had been crying out for a left sided outlet for years – crossed a fine centre that the Geordie met to direct a powerful header into the bottom corner.

Derek Reeves scored Southampton’s consolation five minutes from the end, but Wrexham didn’t panic. They stuck to their fine football and ran out deserving winners.

According to Chalanor, if all Wrexham fans had seen this performance then they would’ve been “as happy as a dog with ten tails”.

***

I wish I could say that this victory was the dawn of an exciting period of stylish football and not a freak flash in the pan, but sadly this level of performance wasn’t repeated all season and the club finished an unforgettable season – the first in the newly reorganised national Third Division – in 18th position.