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.
** This was written before the Coronavirus outbreak. But l see no reason why my opinions should change. It goes without saying that l wish everyone associated with the club the very best of health, but I remain convinced that Wrexham AFC will only prosper by being inclusive for ALL supporters. **
Wrexham v Stockport County
League Division Three (Northern Section)
Wrexham: Connor, Speed, Fisher, McCallum, Spruce, Tapscott, Wynn, Hewitt, Bannan, Tilston, Tunnicliffe
Stockport County: Ward, Staniforth, Kavanagh, Wilmott, Paterson, Cocker, Haddington, Connor, Black, Weigh
It is always important for any team to get off to a good start to the season, but the 1951/52 campaign began with six consecutive defeats for Peter Jackson’s men. An opening day defeat at Chester (2-1), was not a good omen for things to come, and our confidence obviously took a battering. Defeats against Barrow (3-1), Chesterfield (0-3), Barrow (2-4), Bradford Park Avenue (5-0) and Workington (2-0) left us rock bottom of the table with little hope for the months ahead.
We didn’t manage to climb the league ladder until late December, when we whacked Southport 3-0 at the Racecourse. Although we managed to stay clear of bottom spot for the remainder of the season, it should be noted that we didn’t manage to climb above 15th, in a terribly inconsistent run of form.
Players and fans alike were probably relieved to be staging the final game of a rotten term. Expectation was low as the visitors had been pushing for promotion to Division 2, and were only denied by Lincoln City, who eventually finished ten points clear of the chasing pack. The form of the Hatters had been so impressive that Division 1 strugglers Huddersfield Town had poached their manager, Scotsman Andy Beattie, in a failed bid to prevent relegation. The joint managerial team of Alex Herd and Billy Newton arrived at the Racecourse hoping to secure a permanent position with the club.
The form book went out of the window this afternoon, as Wrexham were on top for the fist 20 minutes. A neutral would have thought it was the home side who had been challenging at the summit throughout the season.
It really was a sparkling display by the Robins and only a lack of incisive finishing kept the game goalless. Hatters keeper Denis Ward made a fine save after Tommy Bannan looked certain to score, but this was one of the only times that Ward would be called into action during the opening period. We were on top, but the pressure we were piling on to a shambolic visiting defence, did not result in any shots on goal.
At the other end, Bob Connor was largely a spectator. He was only called into action on one occasion during the first half, when he was forced to scramble away an effort by Stockport’s Jack Connor. Meanwhile, Ward was lucky not to concede when both Ron Wynn and Tommy Tilston threatened to break the deadlock.
It seemed that the second half would follow a similar pattern to the first, as Ron Hewitt struck the crossbar shortly after the restart. His effort rebounded , and signalled the start of more sustained Wrexham pressure, which was dealt with by dogged County defenders Fred Kenny and Gordon Wilmott.
Despite being in the driving seat, the Wrexham defence still had to stay alert. This was underlined when full back Les Speed made a mistake that led to an opportunity for visiting attacker Ray Weigh. His shot cannoned back off Connor’s legs. Stockport did come back in to the game from this stage onwards, but neither side really threatened to steal both points.
County finished the season in third spot, while Wrexham’s final position depends on which source you believe. According to Wrexham: A Complete Record 1872 – 1992 we achieved a fourteenth place finish at the start of the book, but the season by season data near the end of the book states that we limped to a disappointing eighteenth. Wikipedia also shows us in eighteenth, whilst the English National Football Archive suggests we ended up seventeenth.
Just two days after the end of the season, Peter Jackson released his retained list. The squad was cut substantially from 35 professionals, to just 20 for the following season. Willie Jessop and Cyril Lawrence could feel particularly disappointed as according to the North Wales Guardian, both were “ninety-minute triers” and popular amongst fans. Eyebrows were also raised by those not included on the list:
“In contrast, one player who has said quite frankly more than once, that he wants a transfer is retained! That player is Archie Ferguson – a very good goalkeeper – but is it wise to keep a player who is not happy with his club? Is it fair to the player or the club?”
It is also interesting to note that Tommy Griffiths, who had been trainer-coach for two seasons relinquished his position. A former centre-half and captain of Wales, he had begun his playing career at Wrexham. He had taken up a role as a director at the Cae Ras three years previously, but resigned to become trainer-coach.
We failed to find any glory in the cup competitions either. A lacklustre season was summed up by a second round defeat in the FA Cup, at the hands of Leyton Orient. We did push the East Londoners all the way though. A first round triumph over Halifax Town (3-0), set up a contest with the O’s that finished 1-1 at the Racecourse. The Third Division (South) side hosted the replay, which they eventually won 3-2, after extra time. Brisbane Road has never been a happy hunting ground…
A thumping 7-2 victory over Colwyn Bay in the fifth round of the Welsh Cup promised much. Chester held us to a goalless draw at the sixth round stage, so it was off to Sealand Road to turn them over 0-2 on their own patch. The semi-final saw a clash with Merthyr Tydfil, in a game played in Cardiff. Unfortunately, we lost the match 2-0.
Lawrence was on Blackpool’s books, but never made a first team start for the club before leaving for Rochdale. After 4 seasons and 44 appearances for the Dale he was transferred to the Town where he racked up 50 games in a 2 year spell.
I have just looked up Cyril’s date of birth and in a weird coincidence it is tomorrow – 12/06/1920.
My thoughts and condolences go out to his family and friends.