Peter Jones

Memory Match – 11-09-62

Throughout the 2017/18 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.

This is the third successive season that I have been writing the Memory Match column. Indeed, when I have written a Memory Match for every Football League season I would like to compile all the columns into a book that will reflect the rich history of my beloved football club.

11-09-62

Northampton Town v Wrexham

League Division Three

County Ground

Result: 8-0

Northampton Town: Brodie, Foley, Woollard, Leck, Branston, Kurila, Sanders, Holton, Ashworth, Reid, Lines

Goalscorers: Holton (5, 20), Ashworth (32, 40), Reid (47), Lines (60, 63, 82)

Wrexham: Keelan, Peter Jones, McGowan, Ken Barnes, Fox, Tecwyn Jones, Ron Barnes, Bennion, Pythian, Metcalf, Colbridge

Attendance: 9,555

After winning promotion back to Division Three under Ken Barnes, the Reds adapted to life at this higher level with a very respectable ninth-placed finish. During the season though they did suffer the embarrassment of receiving their heaviest defeat in the League – to that point – losing 8-0 at eventual champions, Northampton Town.

Writing in the Leader, Ron Chaloner points to a “double disaster in the 20th minute” when Northampton’s monster of a left half, John Kurila, savagely floored Peter Jones with a hefty kick to the shin that left him writhing on the ground in agony. Kurila played on and passed the ball to Barry Lines who carved out an opportunity for Cliff Holton, who netted the home side’s second goal of the afternoon.

After the celebrations had died down, Jones was carried off and even though the player himself insisted that he had only suffered bruising and could return to the action, a doctor who examined his injury diagnosed a broken leg and subsequently ordered Jones to hospital in an ambulance. The X-ray examination proved that Jones was right. His leg was simply badly bruised, giving conspiracy theorists a field day. Northampton had increased their lead, Wrexham were disorganised without Jones and Kurila escaped any punishment.

The referee comes in for some scathing criticism from Chaloner, although he does hasten to add that this does not justify the ten-men of Wrexham from losing so heavily. Instead, the journalist points to a lack of co-ordination in a defence that was illustrated through a “foolhardy reliance” on the offside trap. It is also contended that some Wrexham players seemed so demoralised that they were resigned to a heavy defeat before the half-hour mark.

Apparently, Northampton were “tough, strong, very fast and – above all utterly merciless” although Chaloner did not have the stomach to share descriptions of all eight goals. Instead he merely concentrates on the last three goals scored by 20-year-old left winger Lines, whose speed was a constant embarrassment to Wrexham that afternoon.

His first came from a centre that would have sailed across the goalmouth if not for the needless intervention of shaky goalkeeper Kevin Keelan, who turned the ball into the far corner of the net. Lines then profited from a perfect pass from Wrexham player Tecwyn Jones for his brace. A fortunate hat-trick was confirmed after Lines crossed the ball into the danger area and watched as it deflected off both Ken Barnes and Alan Fox before rolling into the net with Aly McGowan making a valiant but vain attempt at a goal line clearance.

It was an afternoon to forget…

***

Wrexham’s 8-0 defeat at Northampton was their biggest-ever in a league match. Previous drubbings came in 1937 when they lost 1-7 at Lincoln and in 1938 when they also lost 3-8 at Lincoln. Sincil Bank was obviously not a happy hunting ground during this pre-war period.

Following the Second World War, Wrexham were thrashed 6-1 at Barnsley in 1960 and 6-2 at Mansfield in 1959.

Wrexham’s biggest defeat at this stage of their history was 9-1 at Wolverhampton Wanderers in an FA Cup encounter in 1931.

***

There was mixed success in cup competitions for the Town during 1962/63. The League Cup saw Brentford of the Fourth Division beat us 3-0 at Griffin Park to knock us out at the first round stage. It was not our year in the Welsh Cup either, as Hereford United were our conquerors in a sixth round tie at Edgar Street that finished 2-1 to the Bulls.

We fared a little better in the FA Cup. The Robins overcame Southport, after a replay, and demolished Barrow 5-2 at the Racecourse to set up a home encounter with Liverpool. The match attracted 30,826 spectators who watched Bill Shankly’s men run out 3-0 winners, thanks to goals from Roger Hunt, Kevin Lewis and Jimmy Melia.

Memory Match – 05-11-21

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.

I am particularly proud of this edition as I have set right something that has been wrongly taken for fact for many years. I am chuffed that my historical research has uncovered this information and has helped the excellent work of official club historian, Peter Jones.

Read on to find out who really scored the first hat-trick for Wrexham AFC in the Football League…

05-11-21

Wrexham v Chesterfield

League Division Three (Northern Section)

Racecourse Ground

Result: 6-1

Wrexham: Godding, Ellis, Simpson, Matthias, Moorwood, Roberts, Burton, Cotton, Elvidge, Regan, Lloyd

Goalscorers: Cotton (3), Regan (3)

Chesterfield: Mitchell, Stirling, Saxby, Clarke, Broome, Paltridge, Smithurst, Fisher, Cooper, Connor, Marshall

Goalscorer: Smithurst

Attendance: 6,000

Season 1921/22 was our first in the Football League and began with a 0-2 defeat against Hartlepools United at the Racecourse Ground. Our form had since been inconsistent – as you might expect from a team that was adapting to life in a new set-up – and we went into the encounter with Chesterfield in a solid, if unspectacular, mid-table position. Meanwhile, our opponents were licking their wounds at the bottom of the league after conceding 26 goals in their opening 10 games – including a 7-0 demolition at Darlington.

The Wrexham forward line had been changed for this match with Bert Goode and Reg Leck missing out. Billy Cotton came back to spearhead the attack, 21-year-old Ted Regan was moved to inside-right and Chris Elvidge was given a trial at inside-left.

The first half-hour of the game was goalless and George Godding in the Wrexham goal was by far the busiest goalkeeper as Chesterfield threatened. The Caergwrle-born shotstopper made a good save early on, but was injured in the process and had to spend some time on the sidelines. Defender Jack Ellis took over in goal and was called upon to punch clear a high dropping shot from Tommy Broome before Godding returned. At the other end of the pitch, the Wrexham attack – as originally constituted – misfired.

This new-look forward line was struggling and, according to the mysteriously named X, Y, Z in the Leader, the fact that they eventually clicked into gear was only due to the foresight of Bobby Simpson who directed Cotton and Regan to swap positions. This change certainly proved effective as the game was quickly turned on its head. Before half-time, Cotton headed home from Matt Burton’s well-placed corner and Regan added a second after good work from Elvidge.

On the hour mark, Regan added a third and Cotton was then on the end of a well-executed passage of play to head a fourth. The race was now on to see which player could score the first hat-trick for Wrexham in the Football League.

Before Wrexham could continue the goal glut, Chesterfield scored a consolation when Edgar Smithurst delivered a high centre into the Wrexham area. The flight of the ball deceived Godding who could not prevent the visitors from getting on the scoresheet.

The history books and Internet pages tell us that Ted Regan was actually the first player to land a hat-trick in this game and become the club’s first ever hat-trick hero in the Football League. However, according to match reports in the Leader and North Wales Guardian this honour belongs to Billy Cotton. Two newspaper journalists who attended the game agree that Cotton claimed our fifth by accepting a pass from Jack Moorwood and shooting with speed and power from 30 yards to electrify the crowd. Regan then completed the rout late on with his fifth goal in his first two games for the club.

I’m glad I have the opportunity to set the record straight and celebrate the achievement of Billy Cotton who deserves recognition after spending so many years in the shadow of Ted Regan.

***

In those days teams faced each other on a double-bill basis – at home and away ­– before moving on to their next opponent. Unfortunately this gave Chesterfield a chance for revenge just seven days later at the Recreation Ground. Charles Buttrell, Horace Clarke and Tommy Broome scored for the Derbyshire side in a 3-0 revenge mission.

This was only the third win of a long season for Chesterfield. Their form only improved with five straight victories in the final games of the season to lift them to 13th position in the League table. Wrexham finished the campaign just two points better off in 12th.

Wrexham Supporters Trust members give go ahead to Racecourse Lease

On Tuesday, March 29 I was part of history when I attended a Wrexham Supporters Trust Special General Meeting. Details of the evening can be found below:

 

MyRacecourseAt a packed Special General Meeting held at the Catrin Finch Centre on Tuesday night, members heard presentations from Board members recommending the entering into a 99 year lease for the Racecourse Ground as well as the transfer of the stadium operations and staff to WAFC. Detailed information had already been made available to the membership including on the website.

Trust Chairman Peter Jones introduced members of the Board and set out the background to this momentous decision which, if passed, would see the Club taking back control of its iconic home, the Racecourse Ground.

Gavin Jones, Board member and lead negotiator with Glyndwr (ably assisted by Trust member and solicitor Rob Parry), explained that under the lease there would be a Rent of £100,000 per annum payable between WST Assets Ltd and Glyndwr University with the Ability to make capital payments to reduce the rent for the residue of the term based on a value of £1.35m being retained throughout the term of the lease.

Responsibility for all statutory compliance and carrying out any works associated with compliance with the stadium safety certificate would rest with the Club who would be able to sublet or licence the use of the Stadium to Crusaders Rugby League Club (or a successor club).

Should we remain under the current licence agreement with Glyndwr costs would rise from £205,000 pa to £350,000 pa anyway with no ability to increase income from the Stadium.

The proposed deal also included the Transfer of all stadium operations and staff to Wrexham AFC, subject to consultation, with the Club to honour existing bookings. The premises alcohol license will be transferred to Wrexham AFC and all sponsorship including stadium naming rights, the GUS stand and title shirt sponsors will cease at the end of 2015/16 with the Club able to secure future deals.

There then followed a question and answer session with Board members about the implications of the proposed deal.

The University did not wish to sell the freehold. A 99 year lease was the next best option to secure the Clubs tenure at our historic ground. The creation of WST Assets Ltd was to ensure that the lease was safe from “predatory hands” and was separate from the Club. One of the resolutions ensured that members had to approve the selling of shares etc. in that company.

The proposed deal did not include Colliers Park which was a separate piece of real estate but talks had begun about its future use and plans put in place should the Club not have access to it in the future.

As well as those present at the meeting, members had the opportunity to vote on the resolutions online and by proxy.

Voting

Independent Trust Secretary Alan Fox announced the results of voting on the seven resolutions necessary to authorise the lease and the transfer of stadium operations etc. as follows:

Resolution 1 (directing the Board to enter into the 99 year lease between WST Assets Ltd and Glyndwr University etc. on the terms of the heads of terms)
For: 777
Against: 11
Abstain: 1
This motion was carried

Resolution 2 (directing the Board to give guarantees by the Trust in favour of Glyndwr University to the obligations of WST Assets Ltd pursuant to the lease)
For: 772
Against: 12
Abstain: 5
This motion was carried

Resolution 3 (authorising the Board to direct WAFCs acquisition of the business operation of the Racecourse from Glyndwr University on the terms of the heads of terms)
For: 779
Against: 8
Abstain: 2
This motion was carried

Resolution 4 (directing the Board to direct that WAFC gives guarantees in favour of Glyndwr University to the obligations of WST Assets Ltd pursuant to the lease)
For: 768
Against: 10
Abstain: 11
This motion was carried

Resolution 5 (authoring the Board to enter into such agreements and take such actions necessary to give effect to these resolutions)
For: 774
Against: 10
Abstain: 5
This motion was carried

Special Resolution 6 (that the Rules of the Society be amended so that it may not sell etc. its interest in WST Assets Ltd without a special resolution passed by Trust members)
For: 778
Against: 7
Abstain: 4
This motion was carried

Special Resolution 7 (that the Articles of WST Assets Ltd be amended so that it cannot sell etc. the lease without a special resolution of Trust members )
For: 780
Against: 6
Abstain: 3
This motion was carried

All the resolutions necessary to direct the Board to complete the deal were therefore passed with very large majorities.
Spencer Harris, Trust and Club Board member then gave a presentation outlining the Boards vision for the future of the stadium and how we could meet the significant challenges which lie ahead.

The key issues were:
• Racecourse is not being fully utilised throughout the year and loses money
• The Racecourse is an expensive asset
• It will take time to turn around the stadium fortunes
• We need to minimise the impact on the first team and quest for success

We need to rescue the Racecourse

We together will need to turn around the business as there is currently a gap of around £200k and we have to close it one way or another. That means generating income both on match days and crucially throughout the year.

“My Racecourse” is going to be our way of positioning the Racecourse to generate income on matchday and non matchday – to use the stadium for parties, conferences and concerts.

My Racecourse is the plan for how we engage people to utilise the stadium and fans to help us generate breathing space.

Members shared their memories of what the Racecourse meant to them.

We need to Generate Breathing space – buy ourselves time to turn things around and, if we get that breathing space, we need to build the offer and infrastructure to generate income. That offer needs to be good quality and make people want to come back for more. This needs to be worked through and can only be delivered over time and is why we need the breathing space. Longer term, building the offer should lead to us strengthening the club financially’

The breathing space challenge means we need to generate an additional £200k income for next season.
• We have a gap on day 1
• We cannot magic another £200k per annum income overnight. £200k is an additional £550 profit every day for 365 days in the year over and above what the Racecourse does today
 Our Vision is that the Racecourse impact is eradicated by 2019
• 2019 onwards if we’ve done a great job then we hope the Racecourse can be a profit generator to go into the first team
• We would build the business year on year and therefore the breathing space challenge will lessen

We ALL need to pitch in if we are to achieve this.

My Membership- If 2,000 members upped their club ownership contribution by £1per week in a standing order -just £1 this would give us £100k and put us a long way on the road to generating the breathing space we need. That’s just half of our membership making this conscious decision.

My Commitment-If we can get a crowd of 7,000 plus at the My Racecourse “house warming” game v Braintree this would be an additional £40k
– If we could get on average every fan through the gate next season to spend £1 come earlier, drink in the centenary, the 1873 suite not in town this is £100k
– Think about using the Racecourse for any non matchday occasions you might be looking for a venue:
– Birthday Parties / Anniversary Celebrations
– Persuade your boss or if you have your own business use the Racecourse for your Christmas Party

My Donation-If 2,000 season ticket holders donated back their early bird discount [£30 for an adult] again equivalent to £1 per week this would give us £60k and give us the breathing space we need. If our average crowd donated £25 each equivalent to 50p per week this would give us £100k and the breathing space we need.

We need to turn around the Racecourse

Again it’s fallen to this generation of fans to secure a community asset for North Wales.

Breathing Space is vital to give us the time to do it, if everything suggested tonight came true that would give £300k into the budget and help us minimise the impact on the first team and our quest for success.

We all have to help create that breathing space whilst we build the offer and the business of the Racecourse.

What we do together will be the sacrifice that will continue to be enjoyed by your childrens, childrens, childrens children.

The meeting discussed ways to create this Breathing Space.

Chair Peter Jones closed the meeting by thanking everyone for using their vote to authorise the Board to bring the Racecourse back within the control of the Club and its owners- the fans.

The full WST SGM 2016 Presentation is available HERE

Memory match – 22-08-64

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.

22-08-64

Wrexham v Notts County

League Division Four

Racecourse Ground

Result: 4-0

WREXHAM: Dunlop, Jones, McClelland, Barnes, Morrall, Johnson, Colbridge, Griffiths, Phythian, McMillan, Williams

Goalscorers: Barnes (2 pens), McMillan, Griffiths

NOTTS COUNTY: Smith, Edwards, Agnew, Sheridan, Gibson, Carver, Kavanagh, Astle, Bly, Hannah, Barber

Attendance: 7,911

 

Both clubs were at a low-ebb as they began season 1964/65.

Wrexham found themselves back in the Fourth Division under player-manager Ken Barnes following a disastrous 1963/64 campaign, which included a record 9-0 defeat at Brentford. Our form at the Racecourse was not much better, gate receipts plummeted by more than £11,000 on the previous term and no one was surprised that the season culminated in relegation to the basement. Furthermore, according to local journalists, the club were £24,000 in the red and dependant on handouts from a well-organised Supporters’ Association.

As a result, there had been little transfer activity during the summer with the exceptions of former Welsh international Graham Williams (Swansea Town), Joe McClelland (Hibernian) and Dennis Lambourne (Llanelly). Williams and McClelland both cost nothing while 18-year-old Lambourne was signed for a “nominal” fee after impressing in a Welsh Cup tie the previous season.

“I hope this season will bring better things and, with the normal breaks, I feel that we can be back in the Third Division at the end of it,” said Barnes at his annual meeting with shareholders.

“I certainly didn’t envisage what would happen last season, but that’s football.”

Notts County were the only club to finish below Wrexham in the third tier during the disastrous 1963/64 season and were in something of a tailspin. Crowds at Meadow Lane had dwindled to around the 3,000 mark, Forest had established themselves as the dominant team in Nottingham and the County chairman had been voted off the board. It seemed as if things couldn’t get much worse for the Magpies, but as the new season dawned, any attempt to restore pride were hindered by an injury list that included no fewer than seven players.

Arthur Dunlop was selected ahead of Steve Fleet in the Wrexham goal with the opening exchanges suggesting that he would be in for a much busier afternoon than his County counterpart, George Smith.

The visitors had every reason to be hopeful after a controlled opening period saw their right-winger Eddie Kavanagh beat Joe McClelland to set-up a glorious opportunity for Mick Barber. However, the attacker then contrived to hit his shot from 10 yards against the post when it looked easier to score. This was a lucky escape that shook the Robins from their slumber.

Suddenly, after 20 minutes, Wrexham turned the tables and began to dominate proceedings. Clive Colbridge shaved a post, Graham Williams mis-hit an effort with the goal at his mercy and Sammy McMillan went close after some effective interplay between Arfon Griffiths and Ernie Phythian.

County had lost their early composure and were hanging on for dear life as they struggled to cope with wave after wave of attack. Overworked defender Dave Agnew headed a McMillan lob off the goal line and Phythian smashed a 25 yard drive against the bar before Wrexham eventually took the lead through a scrappy effort from Arfon Griffiths.

If Wrexham were good in the first half then they were simply irresistible in the second. The County defence just could not cope. The forlorn figure of Smith made excellent saves from Eric Johnson, McMillan, McClelland (twice) and Barnes, but three times he was lucky when a header by McMillan and shots by Griffiths and Johnson struck the bar.

The panic stricken away side were under so much pressure that they ended up conceding two penalties on 59 and 72 minutes. The first followed a trip by Agnew on Colbridge while the second was awarded when Dick Edwards saved Peter Jones cross-shot with both hands. Ken Barnes converted both penalties in opposite corners of the net.

Two minutes from the end, Phythian’s fine pass sent McMillan racing away to score a brilliantly taken goal.

“I am quite pleased about our display. I’m not going to go in to ecstasies, but with a little luck we could’ve scored ten,” said Barnes.