Kidderminster Harriers

Memory Match – 15-10-85

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.

15-10-85

Wrexham v Cambridge United

Canon League Division Four

Racecourse Ground

Result: 6-2

Wrexham: Hooper, Cunnington, Comstive, Jones, Keay, Edwards, Hencher, Horne, Steel, Charles, Gregory

Goalscorers: Steel 39, Edwards 43, 45, 52, Hencher 58, Charles 87

Cambridge United: Hansbury, Rayment (Lee), Bennett, Finney, McPherson, Scott, Sinton, Pyle, Massey, Comfort, Crown

Goalscorers: Comfort 84, Crown 86

Attendance: 1,651

After winning four and drawing one of their opening five League games, season 1985/86 got off to a flying start. Dixie McNeil was duly named Manager of the Month for August, but our form was soon on the decline.

Following a shambolic 4-0 defeat at Port Vale in early October, McNeil totally lambasted his players:

“For the past ten weeks I have been telling them that they are not professional enough. They played schoolboy football today and they are going to pay for it. I am very annoyed with them and that is why they are back in on Sunday morning.

“I am not that annoyed about being beaten today. You are going to get games when you are beaten three or four nil, but what made me furious is the way we lost. Their last two goals [an own goal and a penalty] were jokes.

“I am very concerned about the goals we are giving away. There is no discipline at all and the greatest need at the moment is to be more professional. We had 20 shots at Port Vale’s goal and only one of them was on target.

“Until they learn to behave in the right sort of manner they will be in trouble.

“We are so devoid of ideas it’s unbelievable. Our reactions are nil and we are not bright, we are not alert. You have got to be b*****ds in this game and that is what we are not”.

With these words still ringing in the ears of the squad, Wrexham did scrape a 2-1 home win against Halifax Town in their next League game – though their performance left a lot to be desired. With crowds declining and the club walking a financial tightrope, performances had to improve to win back stay-away fans. Cue an avalanche of goals against a shaky Cambridge defence on a Tuesday night in front of fewer than 2000 spectators.

Jim Steel had put the Robins ahead with a brave diving header in the 38th minute. This resulted with him having to have two stitches in a gash above his left eye. However, the night belonged to local boy Andy Edwards who scored a hat-trick with his strikes coming in the 43rd, 45th and 52nd minutes. The other goals came from Nick Hencher and Steve Charles.

Hat-trick hero Edwards said: “I’m pretty chuffed and it’s the first game I’ve really enjoyed this season. I’ve been troubled with an ankle injury from the start of the season and I played when I should have rested it.

“The boss has had me in twice to give me a telling off because he thought I wasn’t sharp enough. But I think it was due to my injury. Now that it has cleared up I hope to be amongst the goals again.”

Lack of concentration in the Wrexham defence led to Alan Comfort scoring for Cambridge in the 84th minute followed by David Crown two minutes later.

Unfortunately, this was a flash in the pan and an inconsistent season followed that saw us finish in 13th position. To make matters worse, Chester were promoted as runners-up.

***

February 1986 saw the lowest ever crowd at the Racecourse for a League game, when just 957 turned up for the 1-0 win over Hartlepool United. The club took just £1,550 in gate receipts.

***

The lone highlight of a frustrating season of struggle was when we reached the Welsh Cup final after beating Cardiff City 6-2 on aggregate in the semi-final. Kidderminster Harriers were our opponents and held us to a 0-0 draw at the Racecourse. The Reds won the replay at Aggborough, despite Kim Casey giving Harriers an early lead. Jim Steel was our saviour with a crucial brace to ensure more European adventures.

Memory Match – 19-04-03

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.

19-04-03

Kidderminster Harriers v Wrexham

Nationwide League Division Three

Aggborough

Result: 0-2

Kidderminster Harriers: Brock, Smith (Foster), Stamps, Bennett, Hinton, Scott, Flynn, Williams, Bishop (McAuley), Parrish, Shilton

Wrexham: Dibble, Whitley, Carey, Ferguson (Barrett), Roberts, Lawrence, Edwards, Green, Morrell, Trundle, Edwards

Goalscorer: Trundle 37, 64

Attendance: 3,689

Our first-ever League trip to Aggborough gave Denis Smith’s men the opportunity to gain revenge for a highly eventful defeat at the Racecourse in December 2002. Before that game, goalkeeper Paul Whitfield was injured in the warm-up and replaced by Kristian Rogers. On 63 minutes, Darren Ferguson was sent-off for allegedly stamping on Sean Parrish and after 84 minutes former Wrexham player Danny Williams was booked only a minute after coming on as substitute. It was a wretched performance by the home side and we slumped to a 0-2 defeat.

By the time we turned up at Aggborough the team had tapped into a rich vein of form and were on the promotion trail. Now would be the perfect time to avenge that defeat and extend our unbeaten run to ten games.

Kidderminster still had a play-off position to play for, but Denis Smith’s side overwhelmed their opponents with a scintillating performance in front of 1,400 travelling fans. Midfielder Scott Green – on loan from Wigan Athletic – had an early opportunity, but he couldn’t find the net after good work from leading scorer Andy Morrell.

The match was played in difficult conditions with a swirling wind causing all manner of problems, including a stoppage of ten minutes in the first half after scaffolding blew onto the pitch. This disruption didn’t stop Lee Trundle from concentrating on the job in hand and putting Wrexham ahead with an excellent goal eight minutes before half-time.  Trundle ran with the ball and, despite having options, he found the bottom of the net from 25 yards with his left foot.

It was all one-way traffic in the first half, but three minutes after the break captain Darren Ferguson picked up an injury and had to be replaced by Paul Barrett. Still, this did not stop the charge of the Red Army. On 64 minutes the confident visitors doubled their lead when Brian Carey was on hand to meet a cross – though his header was somehow kept out by Stuart Brock in the Kidderminster goal and Trundle was on hand to convert the loose ball from close range.

In the latter stages of the match Dennis Lawrence had a header saved by Brock and although dominant Wrexham did not add to their tally, neither did they look like conceding. This was the Red Dragons’ fourth consecutive victory of an eight game winning streak as they eased to promotion in style – albeit they still only finished in third position on 84 points behind champions Rushden and Diamonds, and runners-up Hartlepool United. However, we did end up ten points clear of the fourth placed club, AFC Bournemouth.

***

Andy Morrell scored 34 league goals in the 2002/03 season, making him top scorer in all four divisions that year, having only scored two goals the entire previous season. This impressive haul set a new post-war scoring record for Morrell as he eclipsed Gary Bennett’s total of 32 in the 1993/94 season.

Denis Smith said: “I’m delighted for Andy. He’s had a superb season. Every club I’ve been at we’ve produced goal scorers. You’ve got to be there to finish them off and Andy does that brilliantly. He gets good service and I’m delighted for the lad.”