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.
Wrexham v Chester
League Division Three (Northern Section)
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)
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.