Lincoln City

Memory Match – 07-04-90

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.

07-04-90

Wrexham v Maidstone United

League Division Four

Racecourse Ground

Result: 4-2 

Wrexham: O’Keefe, Salathiel, Kennedy, Reck, Beaumont, Youds, Preece (Armstrong), Thackeray, Sertori, Worthington, Bowden

Goalscorers: Youds (4), Worthington (6, 75), Sertori (85)

Maidstone United: Johns, Barton, Rumble, Berry, Golley, Roast, Pritchard, Elsey, Charlery, Butler, Lillis (Gall)

Goalscorer: Butler (9, 57)

Attendance: 2,806

 

After the heartbreak of defeat in the 1988/89 Division Four Play-Off final, Wrexham struggled to bounce back. Preparations for the new season were difficult with Kevin Russell joining Leicester City for £175,000, and Charlton Athletic paying £100,000 for Mike Salmon.

Replacements were signed in the form of Vince O’Keefe on a free transfer from Blackburn Rovers, Gary Worthington joined from Darlington at a price of £15,000, Sean Reck was snapped up from Oxford United for £35,000 and Robbie Barnes signed from Manchester City on a free transfer. However, these new arrivals failed to gel and a poor start to the season saw a frustrated Dixie McNeil resign at the end of October with the team struggling near the foot of the table.

Enter Brian Flynn. Things got even worse before they got better as the new man in charge won only one of his opening 18 League matches. Relegation to the Conference looked a real possibility before centre-half Eddie Youds was loaned from Everton and the club stumped up £30,000 for Mark Sertori from Lincoln City to kick start a revival based on a new 3-5-2 formation.

The new-look Robins seemed to be making little progress when all of a sudden they won five games on the trot and hauled themselves off the bottom of the table. After a couple of blips on the road against Aldershot and Cambridge United that left us in 22nd position, it was time for promotion-chasing Maidstone United to visit the Racecourse.

Wrexham profited from home advantage and made a blistering start with two goals in the opening seven minutes. Eddie Youds was first off the mark with a belter from a Sean Reck free-kick before Gary Worthington ended a fine five-man move by calmly lifting the ball over the advancing Nicky Johns in the Maidstone goal.

However, it wasn’t long before the visitors – unbeaten in five – got back into the game. Ken Charlery eased past Alan Kennedy and delivered a cross that was met by the head of Jason Lillis who saw the ball crash against the crossbar. Steve Butler reacted to the rebound before Vince O’Keefe and Youds to keep the game alive with his head.

The Stones were now in the ascendency with Warren Barton and Karl Elsey running the show. O’Keefe reacted well to keep out a deflected Charlery shot at his near post and we were lucky to maintain our lead after a speculative Reck back pass fell ideally for Butler who was denied an equaliser by an in-form O’Keefe.

It was only a matter of time though and on 57 minutes Butler got the better of our Warwickshire-born shot stopper for his second of the afternoon after good work from Elsey and Barton.

With only a handful of games remaining to decide which team would be relegated to the Conference, Wrexham could not afford to settle for a point. The Robins had to dig deep and were rewarded when Worthington restored the lead after Mark Sertori had failed to control a perfect through ball from Jon Bowden.

The high flyers were not giving up without a fight and O’Keefe was on call again to deny substitute Mark Gall before Sertori sealed a vital victory with a shot on the turn after Chris Armstrong had headed down a Reck free-kick.

***

Wrexham won a further three League games that season and finished the campaign in 21st spot. The club that fell through the trap door that season was Colchester United…

Memory Match – 26-04-24

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.

26-04-24

Durham City v Wrexham

League Division Three (Northern Section)

Holiday Park

Result: 4-3

Durham City: Hugall, Robson, Gallagher, Woodhouse, Hopkins, Robson, Best, Stokoe, Elliott, Bertram, Barker

Goalscorers: Bertram (3), Elliott

Wrexham: Godding, Jones, Edwards, Regan, Matthews, Savage, Bird, Cotton, Jackson, Toms, Williams

Goalscorers: Jackson, Toms, Matthews (pen)

Attendance: 3,000

 

Right-back Alf Jones made the first of his 503 League appearances in the season opener – a convincing 4-0 home win against Ashington. After winning our first three matches and being held by Walsall, we found ourselves sitting pretty at the top of the table. However, a run of only one victory in eleven matches soon killed off any title-chasing ambitions we may have harboured and a season of sporadic form ensued.

After beating Barrow at the end of November, our next League victory didn’t come until mid-March when Lincoln City lost 2-1 at the Racecourse. During this barren spell we fell as low as 17th in the newly expanded 202-team League and as the season drew to a close we were languishing in 15th position.

The season concluded with a double-header against Durham City. Before meeting at the Racecourse on the final day of the season, the two teams clashed at Holiday Park for the first time. Durham had previously entertained Wrexham at their former home of Kepier Haughs.

To write a match report of this game is quite a task when my only source of reference is a piece of journalism that was written at a time when newspapers used the English language in a rather different way to what we are used to today. For example, when learning about an early Durham attack the reader has to paint their own picture out of the following clunky language: “The City were immediately on the offensive and a handling offense by [George] Savage just outside the penalty area brought danger to the Welsh citadel, but the ball was got away.”

Anyway, as far as I can decipher the first goal was scored by Durham after half an hour when Billy Bertram received a pass from Bobby Best and proceeded to beat George Godding with ease.  With half-time fast approaching Jackson was in the right place at the right time to score an opportunist effort from close range.  Unfortunately, there was still time before the interval for Bertram to score his second and put Durham back in the driving seat.

It seems that the match was finely balanced with both teams playing exciting and attacking football. This resulted in a flurry of second half goals that began when Tom Elliott connected with a Billy Barker cross to increase Durham’s advantage.  Wrexham displayed fighting qualities though and pulled one back immediately through Bill Toms.  We were not going down without a fight.

However, Durham’s fourth goal and Bertram’s hat-trick arrived just a couple of minutes later, but still we fought on.  Indeed, we were actually awarded a penalty late-on that Billy Matthews converted past the despairing dive of Jimmy Hugall.  We were even close to snatching a deserved equaliser, but man-of-the-match Toms just missed the mark with a cross-shot that flashed across the face of the goal.

We were unfortunate to lose by the odd goal in seven.

***

Just seven days later the teams played out a 0-0 draw at the Racecourse to conclude a disappointing term. Wrexham finished in 16th spot while Durham finished just one point and one place above us.

***

Wrexham lifted the Welsh Cup once again after beating Merthyr Tydfil 1-0 at the replay at the Racecourse. Billy Cotton scored the winning goal.  They drew the first match 2-2 at Pontypridd.

They didn’t fare as well in the FA Cup. Despite beating Port Vale 5-1 at home they lost their second round clash at Accrington Stanley by the only goal of the game.

Memory Match – 11-10-47

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.

11-10-47

Wrexham v Chester

League Division Three (Northern Section)

Racecourse Ground

Result: 2-1

Wrexham: Bayley, Tunney, Jackson, Roberts, Wilson, Bellis, Jones, Beynon, Boothway, Sharp, Tunnicliffe

Goalscorer: Tunnicliffe (2)

Chester: MacLaren, Butcher, McNeil, Marsh, Walters, Cole, Turner, Burden, Coffin, Astbury, Hamilton

Goalscorer: Marsh (pen)

Attendance: 21,131

Wrexham went into this derby clash whilst riding high at the top of the league although they had failed to win their last three matches. Defeat at eventual champions Lincoln City was followed by successive 1-1 draws against Accrington Stanley and Hull City.  Hopes were high that Tom Williams’ men could get their promotion charge back on track against our mid-table local rivals. Chester had been fairly inconsistent up until this point, but were fresh from a 4-1 home win against Carlisle United.

Goalkeeper Tom Bayley was making his home League debut, but had a fairly quiet introduction to life at the Racecourse as the home team dominated proceedings. Indeed, Wrexham took the lead after only three minutes through a Billy Tunnicliffe effort that was deflected by Chester’s Reg Butcher.

After weathering fierce Wrexham pressure to keep the scoreline respectable, Chester found their feet and went close through Tommy Burden and Geoff Coffin.  At half-time, Racecourse regulars fretted over the fact that despite their dominance they only had a one goal lead. Thankfully, they didn’t have to wait much longer to increase this lead as Tunnicliffe completed his brace after 57 minutes. The outside-left accepted a through ball by Jack Boothway and beat Jimmy MacLaren with a well-placed cross shot.

Chester got back into the game late on when they were awarded a controversial penalty after Wally Roberts was deemed to have fouled Tommy Burden. Frank Marsh converted the resulting spot kick.  This was the final goal of the afternoon, but if Wrexham players had been wearing their shooting boots then the margin of victory would surely have been greater.

Norman Sharp was particularly unfortunate not to get on the scoresheet due to a fine save from MacLaren after earlier shooting over the bar. Jack Jones also warmed the hands of MacLaren with a rasping drive while Boothway, on his return from injury, could not find the form that had brought him a glut of goals following his move from Crewe Alexandra the previous season. Chester defender Trevor Walters – the backbone of a defiant defence – also deserves grudging praise for containing the dangerous Wrexham attack.

Wrexham finished the season in third position, but were lagging ten points behind Lincoln City.  Meanwhile, Chester just avoided having to seek re-election after limping to 20th position with just Halifax Town and New Brighton below them.

***

However, Wrexham did not fare so well in cup competitions. They suffered the embarrassment of losing a Welsh Cup semi-final to Lovell’s Athletic, 2-1 despite beating Rhyl and Penrhyn Quarry in earlier rounds.

In the FA Cup, Wrexham beat Halifax Town 5-0 in the first round, but there was more heartbreak to follow.  The second round saw Wrexham travelling to non-league Colchester United and with just a few minutes remaining a shock was on the cards as we trailed 1-0.  Our desperation turned to hope when we were awarded a penalty at the death and as regular penalty-taker Billy Tunnicliffe strode forward it seemed as if we had found redemption.  Unfortunately Tunnicliffe promptly fainted, leaving Jack Boothway as the man responsible for taking the crucial spot-kick.  With the pressure on, Boothway stubbed the ground as he shot and the ball trickled into the arms of an amused Colchester goalkeeper.  Our cup dreams were over for another season…

***

At the end of this season, Wrexham travelled to Germany to play three matches against Army teams stationed on the Rhine.  They met BAOR in Celle, the Rhine Army XI in Hanover and the combined services XI in Rothesan.

Memory Match – 20.09.30

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.

20.09.30

Wrexham v Crewe Alexandra

League Division Three (Northern Section)

Racecourse Ground

Result: 7-0

Wrexham: Finnigan, Jones, Crompton, Rogers, Burkinshaw, Donoghue, Williams, Mustard, Bamford, Taylor, Lewis

Goalscorers: Lewis (4), Bamford (2), Mustard

Crewe Alexandra: Brown, Thomley, Pringle, Morris (Harold), Morris (Harry), Rouse, Millington, Smelt, French, Owen, Wright

Attendance: 7,810

Those of you who know the history of our proud old club will realise that Wrexham haven’t always played in red. Indeed, according to the comprehensive Historical Kits website we played in a blue shirt and white short combination from our debut season in the Football League (1921/22) right through to 1939 when someone saw sense and we changed to red shirts and white shorts.

1930/31 saw a dramatic improvement in form for the “Blues” who finished the season in third position in the Third Division (North). We were only four points behind champions Chesterfield, three behind second-place Lincoln City and above fourth-placed Tranmere Rovers on goal average. Meanwhile, Crewe Alexandra finished in 18th position, so maybe it shouldn’t have come as a shock that we racked up a cricket score against our Cheshire rivals.

In all fairness to Crewe, they made a fair fist of things during a fairly even first half. The opening goal came after 25 minutes of play.  Les Williams sent in a cross that Crewe ‘keeper Arthur Brown failed to clear, which in turn provided Tommy Lewis with the opportunity he needed to score the first of the afternoon.

Alex didn’t roll over though. Visiting forward Alf French tested Dick Finnigan with a low drive that the goalkeeper did well to turn for a corner. The flag kick came to nothing and before the break Jimmy Owen tested Finnigan again.

Wrexham were obviously fired up for the second half and attacked from the offset. Tommy Bamford slipped the ball out to Lewis allowing the wide man to cross a perfect ball that Jack Mustard connected with.  Unfortunately, his header was inches wide of the goal. Crewe had been warned…

The second goal arrived shortly afterwards. Mustard and Williams took the ball up the wing and delivered possession to Bamford.  The master marksman appeared to dally with the ball and finally made the odd decision to push the ball towards the left wing.  However, Bamford could see what the fans couldn’t and Lewis raced in to double our lead.

A few minutes later Lewis returned the compliment when his pass to Bamford was met with a clever hook to make it 3-0. A rampant Wrexham pushed further ahead after Bamford beat Tom Thornley in a tackle. The Crewe defender appealed to the referee, but the reason for his grievance was not apparent.

With 10 minutes remaining, Wrexham won a hotly disputed corner that led to Mustard firing home through a crowd of players from 18 yards to make it five for the home team. Brown had no chance and was probably unsighted at the time.

Lewis then sent the crowd home in raptures with a late brace – the first of which came from a speculative cross-shot before Brown dropped a Williams cross at his feet to allow him to score his fourth of the afternoon.

***

Tommy Lewis finished his first season since joining from Everton with 15 League goals while Tommy Bamford led the goalscoring charts with an impressive haul of 38 goals in 38 League and FA Cup appearances. This was Jack Mustard’s debut campaign, which saw the wide-man contributing 15 goals to the cause in his most prolific season with the club.

***

Wrexham also lifted the Welsh Cup that season with another 7-0 victory at the Racecourse over local rivals. This time our opponents were Shrewsbury Town.

Two crushing victories over teams from Cheshire and Shropshire must have left their fans reeling. I guess that’s why they called us the Blues…

Memory Match – 10-09-05

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.

10-09-05

Wrexham v Cheltenham Town

Coca-Cola League Two

Racecourse Ground

Result: 2-0

Wrexham: Ingham, Linwood (Spender), Smith, Ferguson, Bennett, Warhurst, Jones (Mackin), Williams, Walters, Foy (McEvilly), Holt

Goalscorers: Holt 8, Walters 69

Cheltenham Town: Higgs, Gill, Victory, Taylor, Townsend (Caines), Wilson, Melligan, Finnigan (Bird), Spencer (Vincent), Odejayi, McCann

Attendance: 3,671

Wrexham actually had to postpone the previous match against Lincoln City as they had three players on international duty. Michael Ingham (Northern Ireland) and Simon Spender (Wales) both reported back for duty in time for the Cheltenham game, but Dennis Lawrence (Trinidad and Tobago) was not so lucky.

The club captain had been playing for his country in Costa Rica, but his flight home had to be diverted after smoke was smelt in the cabin. This meant that our defensive lynchpin missed his connecting flight and did not return to Manchester until shortly before kick-off.

This was another headache for Wrexham manager Denis Smith as the start of the 2005/06 season had already been ravaged by injury and suspension. Lee Roche, Shaun Pejic, Dean Bennett and Lee McEvilly had all crowded the treatment room while Simon Spender and Dave Bayliss had both seen red in the opening matches.

Smith had subsequently been forced to bleed a number of youngsters and make some emergency loan signings such as Paul Linwood from Tranmere Rovers who replaced the absent Lawrence for the visit of unbeaten Cheltenham Town. Despite being promoted from the Conference in 1999, this was actually the first League meeting between the clubs.

Our patched up team certainly proved their worth with a magnificent performance full of slick passing and attacking intent to record their third home win of the season. The Red Dragons were fiery from the first whistle with Paul Warhurst and Jon Walters – whatever happened to him? – both having shots blocked inside the box.

After only eight minutes Andy Holt scored the goal we’d been threatening from the outset when he met Darren Ferguson’s corner with a bullet header that went in off the underside of the crossbar.

It was all one-way traffic as the midfield trio of Ferguson, Danny Williams and Mark Jones dictated play. In a hectic four minute period we had four chances to double our lead. Walters headed over from Holt’s cross, Robbie Foy – on-loan from Liverpool – had a shot saved by Town goalkeeper Shane Higgs, Walters was then denied by Jamie Victory’s block and his next attempt was well-dealt with by Higgs.

Wrexham’s passing and movement was exceptional, but on the stroke of half-time they were almost made to pay for not extending their lead when Kayode Odejayi saw his shot turned around the post by Ingham. The fleet-footed Odejayi also threatened early in the second-half when he raced past Linwood only to see his shot hit the side netting.

At the other end of the pitch, Walters had a penalty appeal turned down following a challenge by JJ Melligan. He was promptly booked for diving.

Warhurst, Dean Bennett and Foy all had opportunities to increase our advantage, but it was left to Walters to do the damage on 69 minutes with his first competitive goal for the club. Smith found Jones who played a superb ball through for Walter’s to dispatch beyond Higgs.

Reflecting on the game, Smith said: “I think it was a performance which deserved a better crowd than we had and people who didn’t come today missed an absolute treat. That’s as good a football game as you’ll see at most levels, never mind this level. I thought some of the football was outstanding.”

Cheltenham manager John Ward said: “I said before the game that Wrexham shouldn’t be in this League, but because of administration they are. This is a good side and anyone who gets a point or three here will have to be very lucky or play very well.”

 

Memory Match – 27-08-49

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.

27-08-49

Wrexham v Lincoln City

League Division Three (Northern Section)

Racecourse Ground

Result: 4-0

Wrexham: Ferguson, Wynn, Jackson, Spruce, Wilson, Speed, Grainger, Graham, Boothway, Rowell, Tunnicliffe

Goalscorers: Boothway (3), Grainger

Lincoln City: Payne, Green, Stillyards, Wright, Emery, Owen, Windsor, Finch, Dodds, Eastham, Windle

Attendance: 13,162

This was our first full season under the tutorship of player-manager Les McDowall after the departure of Tom Williams in February 1949. McDowall had been at the helm for the last seven matches of a fairly successful season in which we finished ninth. However, on closer inspection McDowall’s initial impact was hardly impressive –winning two, drawing two and losing three. The jury was still out…

The only new signing in the close season was a four figure deal for outside-right John Graham from Aston Villa who scored on his debut in a 2-2 draw against Rotherham United. This well-earned point came against a side that had been runners-up in Division Three North for the previous three seasons and was followed by a fortunate 1-1 draw against Bill Shankly’s Carlisle United side at the Racecourse. This game saw much criticism, frustration and barracking of the team for a below par performance strewn with errors.

The catcalls and jeers must have been vociferous as they resulted in the following paragraph from match reporter “The Wanderer” in the Leader.

“Let us have a little more practical demonstration of the word “supporter” and a lot less criticism, and the team will profit by it in good games as well as in bad.”

Next up were newly relegated Lincoln City.

In their failed attempt to stave off relegation from the Second Division, the Imps spent £25,000 on players, so hopes were high that the team would bounce straight back up under the guidance of Bill Anderson. However, it was the Robins who surprised many – including their own fans – by recording such a resounding victory.

After 39 minutes of grumbling from the home fans, Wrexham clicked into gear and took the lead through Jack Boothway after good work from Fred Rowell and a pinpoint cross from Billy Tunnicliffe. A combination of defensive heroics, good goalkeeping and misfiring meant that the Reds went in at half-time with a mere one-goal advantage.

The second period was only 30 seconds old when Boothway doubled his tally after a direct dribble down the middle of the pitch. The 6ft 2in marksman ran out of options, so whipped the ball out wide to Tunnicliffe and continued his race towards goal. When Tunnicliffe eventually centred the ball it was met by the head of the in-rushing Boothway to give Frank Payne no chance in the Lincoln goal.

Boothway completed his hat-trick after an hour following a sublime dribble from Rowell that ended when he pushed the ball out to Dennis Grainger on the flank. The cross that followed was inevitably converted by Boothway who was popularly regarded as the best centre-forward at the Cae Ras since the legendary Tommy Bamford.

Four minutes later the rout was completed with a powerful header from Grainger.

***

After such a promising start to the season Wrexham quickly faded and finished a season of struggle in 20th position in the League table. Les McDowell left the hot-seat when former club Manchester City came calling for his managerial services. McDowall was an instant success at Maine Road by securing promotion to the top flight at his first attempt. This began a distinguished 13 year reign in the job after learning the ropes at Wrexham.