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 Hull City
League Division Three (Northern Section)
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
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.