Racecourse Ground

Neil Dobie RIP: Tribute Planned

I was recently sad to learn of the tragic passing of Neil Dobie who was a valued and committed member of the Wrexham AFC Disabled Supporters Association.

It is only because of the DSA that I continue to attend the Racecourse on a regular basis and Neil was a committee member who always had time for those he encountered on a match day.

He actually worked as a Personal Assistant when he was in the country – he had a house in France where he would spend part of the year – and I was always eager to secure his services. Unfortunately, this never happened for a number of reasons, but the fact that I would have welcomed him onto my small team of staff shows how highly I thought of him.

This morning, the DSA  published a small note about the sad news and are proposing a minutes round of applause after 49 minutes of Saturday’s home game against Braintree.

I hope everyone will join in this tribute and show that Wrexham is a community club to be proud of – no matter what happens on the pitch.

***

Following the loss of our dear friend, committee member, and match day volunteer Neil Dobie at the young age of 49 recently.

With the families blessing, we at Wrexham DSA would be extremely grateful if all Wrexham fans attending this Saturday’s home game v Braintree 6th April, would join us for a minutes applause starting on 49 minutes played shortly after the second half is underway in his loving memory.

For those who may not recognise the name, you may know the face. Neil is pictured here on car park duty (back left in the bobble hat) in what may have been the last time he was with us before heading back to his home in France.

We are still coming to terms with the tragic news and this would mean so much to us all.

Thank you x

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Countdown to 2019

During the festive period I have been rather short staffed, which is always detrimental to my ability to type freely. It is difficult to explain the frustration of a writer who cannot actually write due to his deteriorating body and poor dexterity.

Subsequently, I have decided to set up this blog post which I will write in times of despair and creativity. It will be totally unstructured, contain random words relating to my mood, YouTube links, Tweets and ideas for future projects that I would like to work on after I have saved the Welsh Independent Living Grant.

So if you are sitting comfortably, I will begin:

This period will be updated at random intervals as we head towards 2019. Please note that there will almost certainly be lots of foul language used in this post as we focus on the frustration over life in a 21st Century Britain for a disabled person. 

***

THINGS TO LOOK FORWARD TO IN 2019:

On 30th May 2019 I have tickets to see John Cooper Clarke at Venue Cymru, Llandudno as part of his The Luckiest Guy Alive Tour.  His book, of the same name, was published in November 2018 and I have just downloaded a copy to my Kindle.

John Cooper Clarke_900x505

Following my poetic publications during 2017, it would be great to have the opportunity to meet this Poet; Movie Star: Rock Star; TV & Radio Presenter; Comedian; Social & Cultural Commentator.  I have just lost one hero, in the form of Pete Shelley, so it would be fitting to meet another.  I will look into ways of contacting JCC in the hope that he might offer me some tips advice and inspiration for my future poetic projects.

Here is the blurb for The Luckiest Guy Alive, which is available on Amazon or other outlets who actually pay their taxes.

The godfather of British performance poetry – Daily Telegraph

The Luckiest Guy Alive is the first new book of poetry from Dr John Cooper Clarke for several decades – and a brilliant, scabrous, hilarious collection from one of our most beloved and influential writers and performers. From the ‘Attack of the Fifty Foot Woman’ to a hymn to the seductive properties of the pie – by way of hand-grenade haikus, machine-gun ballads and a meditation on the loss of Bono’s leather pants – The Luckiest Guy Alive collects stunning set pieces, tried-and-tested audience favourites and brand new poems to show Cooper Clarke still effortlessly at the top of his game.

Cooper Clarke’s status as the ‘Emperor of Punk Poetry’ is certainly confirmed here, but so is his reputation as a brilliant versifier, a poet of vicious wit and a razor-sharp social satirist. Effortlessly immediate and contemporary, full of hard-won wisdom and expert blindsidings, it’s easy to see why the good Doctor has continued to inspire several new generations of performers from Alex Turner to Plan B: The Luckiest Guy Alive shows one of the most compelling poets of the age on truly exceptional form.

‘John Cooper Clarke is one of Britain’s outstanding poets. His anarchic punk poetry has thrilled people for decades … long may his slender frame and spiky top produce words and deeds that keep us on our toes and alive to the wonders of the world.’ Sir Paul McCartney

OBJECTIVE: Contact John Cooper Clarke through his agent and try to arrange to meet him in Llandudno.

http://johncooperclarke.com/contact

***

It is hard to look forward to anything while I am still in the middle of my reassessment by WCBC for Independent Living.  A Panel of Council representatives will apparently decide how many hours of support I deserve per week.  I am prepared for negative news as I am sure the hours I am offered will not match the hours I require to fulfil my ambitions and subsequently protect my mental well-being.

It is annoying to be left in a state of indecision over the festive period.  I am unable to make any long-term plans aside from my determination to take this decision over my future out of the hands of cash strapped local authorities and make sure that the Welsh Independent Living Grant is reinstated.  There are already some key dates in my diary for 2019 and believe you me, the fight to #SaveWILG is far from over.

***

***

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/46615328

 

***

SQUARE PEG, ROUND HOLE

THIS IS WHAT I AM NOT

THE PERFECT TIME TO DIE

FOOLS DON’T TRUST WHAT THEY DON’T UNDERSTAND

DANCING ON THIN ICE

***

I am really wanting to finish my book on Wrexham AFC. I plan on restarting my Memory Match column in the New Year. All proceeds from the volume will go to the Wrexham DSA. It will be easier to get things such as this done once I have completed the reassessment programme that Wrexham Council started but failed to finish before this annoying period between Xmas and New Year when no one is working and everyone pretends that family is the most important thing in the world. It is like being trapped in an Eastenders Omnibus.

I wish I could get a good nights sleep. It is impossible to do this when I am sleeping alone in my bungalow and I wake up at least twice a night to struggle with one of a number of things. Whether it is trying to grab hold of my urinal, straighten my fingers out of the clenched fist that they naturally curl into or attempting to straighten my leg after it bends at the knee and my foot ends up in my groin.

The simple solution to these problems would be to have a PA available overnight. This is not really what I want, but it is what I NEED. I haven’t had a proper nights sleep for many years and it definitely affects my mental health and well-being. I should be wearing hand-splints at night as well as using a T-bar underneath my knees to keep my legs straight. I can’t do either of these things without the support I need.

Whether or not Wrexham Council help me to find an agreeable solution to these problems remains to be seen, but I am not holding my breath and continuing my efforts to #SaveWILG.

***

OK, so I’m tired of sleeping in a half-empty bed, but a conventional relationship is the last thing I want. At £80 for a six-month subscription, is it really worth the hassle?

Maybe it just wasn’t meant to be this time around? Do I really need an outside distraction with the #SaveWILG Campaign is at a crucial juncture? Maybe I should be careful what I wish for after getting my hands burnt in the past?

According to Wikipedia, Mysinglefriend.com[1] is a UK online dating site which claimed, in July 2013, to have over 200,000 users.[2] One of the original founders is Sarah Beeny, a TV presenter on Channel 4.

The site describes itself as having “a no-nonsense approach to dating”,[3] as all of the dating profiles on the site are written by friends of single people, instead of the single person themselves. The single person can approve what has been written before it goes live, and their friend can also get involved by recommending other users on MySingleFriend to them.

The site aims to match make singles through their friend’s descriptions of them, building an online community and taking away the hassle and stigma of writing your own dating profile.

***

RIP Micky Metcalf.  The following article has been taken from the official Wrexham AFC website and was written by Peter Jones/Geraint Parry

It was with great sadness that we learnt of the passing of former Wrexham striker Mickey Metcalf, who spent almost six years at the Racecourse with a remarkable goalscoring average of a goal every other game, having scored 73 goals in 145 league and cup appearances for the then ‘Robins’.

Liverpool born (24 May 1939), upon leaving school Mickey joined Everton as a junior, and it was following Wrexham manager Cliff Lloyd’s visit to watch the Everton Youth side that he enquired about the possibility of signing Mike, and to his surprise Everton agreed to release him.

That was in May 1956, and Mike went on to make steady progress with the Wrexham reserve side in the competitive Cheshire County League.

He was eventually given his first team opportunity in October 1957, when he made his Football League debut at home to Hartlepool United in a 3-1 win and remained in the side the following match at Bradford, which Wrexham lost 2-0.

However, he then had to wait almost two years before appearing in the senior side again. His chance came in a 3-2 home defeat by Chesterfield in October 1959, and he made his mark by scoring both Wrexham goals. Mike played in the next three matches before being replaced.

Mickey Metcalf

It was the 1960/61 season that saw Mike make the inside-left position his own, as he helped Wrexham to reach the Quarter-Finals of the newly-formed Football League Cup competition, scoring a hat-trick against First Division Blackburn Rovers on the way.

His goals helped the ‘Robins’ to gain promotion in the following season, though he missed out on a Welsh Cup winners’ medal as Wrexham crashed to Bangor City in the Final. ‘A Clever ball player’, Mike’s impressive record for Wrexham averaged a goal every other game, but he was surprisingly allowed to leave the Racecourse in December 1963 to join rivals Chester.

At Sealand Road, Mike went on to make over 250 appearances for the ‘Cestrians’, scoring 86 goals in League and Cup competitions, collecting another Welsh Cup runners’-up medal in 1966, whilst forming part of Chester’s ‘Famous Five’ strike force in the mid-1960s.

That also included Gary Talbot, Jimmy Humes, Hugh Ryden and another former Wrexham player Elfed Morris, who all netted at least 20 goals each in the 1964/65 season, which included playing at Old Trafford in a FA Cup Third Round match that saw Chester come close to a shock in their 2-1 defeat.

It was following the signing of Derek Draper, that Mike decided to leave Sealand Road having scored 68 goals in 221 league appearances. In December 1968 he joined Cheshire County League side Altrincham, where he remained until the end of the season.

He then signed for Bangor City, where he spent a little under two years before being appointed player/manager of his local side, Connah’s Quay Nomads, in March 1971. However, he was on the move again at the end of the season, when he joined Welsh League side, Bethesda Athletic.

Mike took up another managerial appointment in 1972, as player/manager of Cheshire County League side Witton Albion. However, by October 1972 he had joined Hawarden, which was followed by playing for a number of local sides in the Chester district until well into his fifties.

After retiring from professional football Mike became a qualified chemist, later running his own highly successful laboratory supplies firm based on Deeside, where he was to live in retirement until passing away on Boxing Day aged 79.

He is survived by his widow Denise and sons Ian, Barry and David. A grandfather of seven, he died following a long illness.

Everyone at Wrexham Football Club would like to pass on their condolences to Mickey’s family.
 

Mickey’s impressive Wrexham record:

Season       League      FA Cup    Welsh Cup   League Cup   Total

                  apps gls      apps gls      apps gls      apps gls     apps  gls

1957/58       2    0             –   –              –   –                –   –              2    0

1959/60       4    2            1   0             –   –                –   –              5    2

1960/61      40   16         1   0           3   0              5   6            49   22

1961/62      28   17         3   3           1   0              1   0            33   20

1962/63      29   13         –   –             1   0              1   0            31   13

1963/64      18   10         3   2            –   –               4   4            25   16

                    121   58         8   5           5   0          11   10         145   73

 

***

***

Taken from the Disabled People Against Cuts website with thanks:

Sick of rising rail fares and chaotic commuting?Tired of the endless tinkering with our broken privatised railway system?

It’s time for a #RailRevolution.

Bring Back British Rail

Join our New Year Protests

On Wednesday 2 January 2019, as our rail fares rise again by 3.1%, we’re joining forces with our friends at We Own It, the Association of British Commutersand NOR4NOR to organise the Rail Revolution: National Day of Action calling for radical reform.

Coinciding with the public consultation for the government’s new ‘root and branch’ review of our railways: the Williams Rail Review, we’re calling on passengers all over the country to respond in favour of a re-unified national rail network run for people not profit.

On Wednesday 2 January 2019, protests will take place at stations across the country (see list below), with a central one at London King’s Cross from 7:30-9:00am. See the Facebook event page for details, print a Bring Back British Rail placard and come join us!

Then on Friday 18 January 2019, to mark the deadline of the Williams Rail Review public consultation, we’ll be delivering our Care2 Petition to Re-nationalise our Railways signed by 118,039 people to the Department for Transport to demonstrate the sheer weight of public support for public ownership. Make sure you add your name before then: www.bringbackbritishrail.org/care2

Join Protests at Stations across the Country

Wednesday 2 January 2019:

06:45-09:00 Kings Lynn Station

07:00-10:00 Levenshulme Railway Station

07:30-09:30 London King’s Cross Station

07:30-09:00 Cardiff Central Station

07:30-09:00 Liverpool Lime Street

07:30-09:00 Birmingham New Street

07:30-09:00 Manchester Piccadilly

07:30-09:00 Lewisham Railway Station

07:30-09:30 Whitehaven Railway Station

07:30-09:00 Warrington Central Station

08:00-09:00 Bristol Temple Meads

08:00-10:00 Leeds Railway Station

08:00-09:00 Watford Junction

08:00-10:00 Doncaster Railway Station

08:00-09:00 Newcastle Central Station

09:30-11:30 Sheffield Meadowhall Interchange

10:00-12:00 Norwich Railway Station

10:00-12:00 Stratford Railway Station

16:00-18:00 Millom Railway Station

16:00-18:00 Birmingham Snow Hill

16:30-18:30 Hastings Railway Station

16:30-18:00 Clapham Junction

Thursday 3 January 2019:

09:00-11:00 Edinburgh Waverley (Market Street)

Memory Match – 27-04-93

Throughout the 2017/18 football season I have contributed to the Wrexham AFC matchday programme. I penned a feature called Memory Match, a look back at classic Wrexham games from the past that I shared on this blog.

This was 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 that Wrexham AFC enjoyed,  I would like to compile all the columns into a book that will reflect the rich history of my beloved football club.

 

27-04-93

Northampton Town v Wrexham

League Division Three

County Ground

Result: 0-2

Northampton Town: Richardson, Parsons, Burnham, Harrison, Chard, Terry, Wilkin, Aldridge, Gavin, Brown, Bell

Wrexham: Morris, Jones, Hardy, Owen, Humes, Pejic, Bennett, Lake, Connelly, Watkin, Cross

 Goalscorers: Bennett (13, 42 pen).

Attendance: 7,504

We all know that history only tells a story, but I can assure you that stories from our past are much more interesting than the dreadful football that we have had to sit through this season. It is important to realise that things haven’t always been this bad and there is certainly the potential for things to improve…

Back in 1992/93, Brian Flynn’s blend of homegrown talent and experienced campaigners set our pulses racing. Few would have predicted that after a 1-1 draw at Hereford United at the beginning of October left us floundering in 18th position. We were beaten at the first round stage of both the League and FA Cup by Bury (5-4 on aggregate) and Crewe Alexandra (6-1) respectively, while Leyton Orient hammered us at Brisbane Road in the second round of the Football League Trophy (4-1).

We had already conceded four goals at Bury, York and Gillingham as our season threatened to implode. The heavy Cup defeat at Crewe was a genuine turning point though as Brian Flynn entered the loan market to sign Mike Lake following the dismissal of Mickey Thomas. With our new midfielder pulling the strings we proceeded to loose only one of the next 10 games, including five consecutive victories.

The confidence was flowing and before we knew it, we were in a promotion battle. Instead of under-performing and disappointing we actually dug deep and maintained our impressive form up to the end of the season.

With two games of the season remaining, Wrexham went into the game against relegation threatened Northampton Town knowing that a win would earn them promotion for the first time in 15 years. Approximately 3,000 Wrexham fans descended on the County Ground to watch their heroes in action, but the early stages suggested that the Cobblers were intent on spoiling our party. Indeed, the home side forced four corners in as many minutes in the opening period, but Mark Morris proved a safe pair of hands as he caught every one of Darren Harmon’s vicious in-swinging corners.

The Red’s quickly settled and in the ninth minute Mike Lake should have at least hit the target after he was presented with a glorious opportunity by Steve Watkin. Four minutes later and we took the lead when Gary Bennett smashed home his 22nd goal of the season. Watkin’s tame effort was surprisingly fumbled by Barry Richardson and our ace marksman didn’t need asking twice to put us ahead.

All memories from this point on are a little hazy, but according to match reports Morris then made an unbelievable save as he tipped over Steve Brown’s bullet header after 25 minutes.

There was only one team that was ever going to win this game though and we made the evening comfortable when Watkin was pulled down in the area by Phil Chard and Bennett smashed home the resulting penalty. Referee Trevor West decided that Bennett was celebrating rather too wildly and added him to his notebook, but Wrexham fans really couldn’t have cared less. Before the half-time whistle, Watkin hit the post with a diving header.

Wrexham were in control during the second half and pushed forward in search of more goals apparently. At the final whistle, Reds fans poured onto the pitch to create joyous scenes of celebration.

“When I came here my aim was to help get the club promoted and now we’ve done that we’ll be looking to take the second division by storm”, said Gary Bennett.

Club captain Mickey Thomas, who was kicking and heading every ball from the bench said: “They’ve deserved it and so have the fans. What a season and what a team.”

It’s nice to remember the good times…

***

Lining up at number seven for Northampton Town that evening was future Dragons’ boss Kevin Wilkin.

Memory Match – 13-11-26

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 that Wrexham AFC enjoyed,  I would like to compile all the columns into a book that will reflect the rich history of my beloved football club.

 

13-11-26

Wrexham v Accrington Stanley

League Division Three (Northern Section)

Racecourse Ground

Result: 5-0

Wrexham: Robson, Jones, Blew, Matthias, Griffiths, Graham, Miles, Longmuir, Regan, Smith, Gunson

Goalscorers: Longmuir (3), Regan (2)

Accrington Stanley: Hayes, Bell, Whittaker, Field, Hughes, Wilson, Gee, Jepson, Powell, Martin

Attendance: 3,099

At the end of 1925/26, Alfred McAlpine took over as our new chairman after previously holding a position as director at Manchester City. This move spelt the end of Charlie Hewitt’s reign as manager. Training sessions were taken by former player Tommy Gordon and Secretary Ted Robinson, with the team being chosen by a selection committee once again.

After recording their lowest position since joining the Football League during the previous season (19th), surely things could only get better? We started the season in moderate fashion, in and around the top ten, despite only winning four of our opening 12 matches.

Ahead of this fixture we had lost our previous three games, beginning with a 6-0 drubbing at Haig Avenue against Southport. We then had to stomach a 0-1 defeat at home to Tranmere Rovers and a 1-0 reverse to Durham City at Holiday Park. Subsequently, not a lot was expected from our boys on this November afternoon, even though Accrington were struggling at the foot of the table. Memories were fresh from the previous season’s meeting with Stanley at the Racecourse, where despite scoring five, including an Archie Longmuir hat-trick, we lost the match by conceding six goals.

This contest was played in appalling conditions thanks to torrential rain and gale-force winds. This helps to account for the disappointing attendance of just over 3,000, but those who stayed away lived to regret it as they missed some spectacular goals in our biggest home win of the season.

The conditions did not allow for free-flowing football, and the game descended in to a scrappy affair, although Wrexham adapted themselves with greater purpose and took the lead after only three minutes. It was Longmuir who opened the scoring, after he accepted a pass from the left and drove the ball wide of the advancing Billy Hayes as he left his goal.

John Jepson was unfortunate to see his header rebound off the crossbar as the visitors immediately tried to pull one back, but it wasn’t long before Longmuir secured a brace. The ubiquitous wide-man took up a delightful pass by Griffiths, to race forward and score with a clever cross-drive.

To their credit, the Lancashire side kept their heads up and attempted to get back in to the game with plenty of encouraging approach work. Despite this, we remained two goals to the good when the half-time whistle was blown.

There were no thoughts of protecting our lead and merely snuffing out our opponents, as the match resumed. Wrexham put Stanley under immediate pressure, as Uriah Miles just failed to find the target with a flying drive, before James Smith made ground on the left and played the ball in to the danger area. Ted Regan slashed at the ball and missed it, but Longmuir was on hand to rattle the ball home past a helpless Hayes. Cue angry protests from the Accrington players, who were adamant that Regan was in an offside position, and badgered the referee in to consulting with his linesman. After brief deliberation, the goal stood and Longmuir could celebrate another treble against Accrington.

The visitors still refused to give up, and peppered the goal with a number of long-range drives that were easily dealt with by Ed Robson between the sticks. Five minutes from the end, Regan netted a fourth when he guided home a Gordon Gunson cross. In the final stages, Regan hammered the final nail in the Accrington coffin with a low shot that eluded Hayes.

Although this was a convincing win, it did not signal a real upturn in our inconsistent fortunes and we finished the season in 13th position.

***

After suffering humiliation in the FA Cup second round, when we were knocked out by Rhyl Athletic (3-1) at Belle Vue, we did reach the semi-final stage of the Welsh Cup only to be knocked out by Cardiff City (2-1).

Memory Match – 11-01-30

hroughout 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 that Wrexham AFC enjoyed,  I would like to compile all the columns into a book that will reflect the rich history of my beloved football club.

11-01-30

Wrexham v West Bromwich Albion

FA Cup Third Round

Racecourse Ground

Result: 1-0

Wrexham: Finnigan, Jones, Lumberg, Dickie, Ross, Graham, Longmuir, Woodhouse, Mays, Bamford, Bell

Goalscorer: Mays

West Bromwich Albion: Ashmore, Finch, Shaw, Richardson, Evans, Darnell, Glidden, Carter, Cookson, Cresswell, Wood

Attendance: 16,600

Since the departure of our first manager Charlie Hewitt at the end of the 1925/26 season, our team had been selected by a committee. This was the case right up to October 1929, when Jack Baynes took over the reins.

The season had started badly, with only two wins from our opening ten games. This had left the team languishing in 15th position after ending the previous season in third position – our highest position since joining the Football League.

Baynes was chosen as our new manager from over 80 applicants, and the remainder of the season proved to be a struggle. Players such as George Bell and William Dickie were brought in, but it proved impossible to improve things after such a dismal start. We eventually limped home in a disappointing 17th place.

There were some bright spots in this campaign though, such as our 8-0 drubbing of Rochdale at the Racecourse which was our biggest-ever victory in the League at the time. Tommy Bamford scored four of the goals, with the others being netted by John Ascroft (2), Archie Longmuir and Roland Woodhouse.

We also continued our fine form in the FA Cup and progressed to the third round, after beating South Shields (2-4) at Horsley Hill and non-league Manchester Central (0-1) at Maine Road.

Our prize was a third round encounter with Second Division outfit West Bromwich Albion at the Racecourse. The away side had prepared for the encounter with a week in Rhyl, but after travelling to Wrexham by coach, they arrived to find the Racecourse covered with a thin layer of snow. Encouraged by the wintery conditions, the Town were also boosted by the recovery from injury of Alf Jones.

Leader journalist ‘XYZ‘, was glowing in his praise of the home team: “Wrexham’s victory was richly deserved. Albion forwards found the Wrexham halves formidable and the backs resourceful”. Apparently, “early Albion raiders were beaten off, and, at the end of half an hour, [Tommy] Bamford took advantage of a mistake by [Bob] Finch to race forward, and then to outwit his pursuer by passing back for [Billy] Mays to score the only goal of the match.”

In the second half, Albion made desperate attempts to get back into the game, but could not find a way past our stubborn defence, with their forward- thinking determination leaving them short at the back. Indeed, Wrexham had the opportunity to increase their lead on a number of occasions n the second period, before being handicapped by a series of unfortunate incidents. Jones picked up an injury and had to move to outside-right, while the attack-minded Longmuir spent a period as right full-back.

To make things worse, this was followed by an incident that left both Jimmy Cookson of the Baggies and Longmuir, having to leave the field. Cookson soon returned, but Longmuir had to be carried off with a torn muscle. This left Wrexham with only nine fit players on the pitch, but still the Albion forwards could not take advantage. We had won our last three games before this match, so confidence was high, and we were in determined mood. We managed to hang on for the win, and received a “large cheer” from the spectators present.

In the fourth round, the mighty Blues were drawn to play another Second Division side, Bradford City. After a goalless draw at the Cae Ras in front of 22,715 – the largest-ever crowd at the ground up to that point – they were knocked out of the Cup 2-1 at Valley Parade.

***

It was also an unsatisfactory season in the Welsh Cup. We beat Connah’s Quay (2-0) and New Brighton (4-0), before being knocked out at the semi-final stage by Cardiff City (0-2).

Memory Match – 05-11-86

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 that Wrexham AFC enjoyed,  I would like to compile all the columns into a book that will reflect the rich history of my beloved football club.

05-11-86

Wrexham v Real Zaragoza

European Cup Winner’s Second Round (2nd leg)

Racecourse Ground

Result: 2-2

Wrexham: Pearce, Salathiel, Cunnington, Williams, Cooke, Comstive, Massey, Horne, Steel, Charles, Emson, (Buxton)

Goalscorers: Massey 102, Buxton 106

Real Zaragoza: Cedrun, Casuco, Fraile, Blesa, Julia, Guerri, Senor, Herrera, Pineda, (Carlos 108), Ayneto, (Yanez 81), Sosa

Goalscorers: Yanez 98, 104

Attendance: 14,515

After securing a 0-0 draw at La Romareda, the Robins had a big opportunity to finish off the job at the Racecourse. Before moving on to focus on the second leg of this European tie, I want to underline the enormity of our achievement in Spain which is often overlooked in the history books.

Real Zaragoza had beaten Barcelona in the Spanish Cup final and had overcome AS Roma on penalties in the previous round. This was a seemingly impossible tie for Fourth Division strugglers and Dixie McNeil’s men deserve enormous credit for their performance.

McNeil said: “It was truly magnificent, and the lads responded to the occasion with a display that must rank as one of the greatest in the clubs history. They played with skill and commitment and would have been the envy of many a First Division side.”

Moving on to our mammoth task in the second leg and we knew we were in for a sterner test than we had experienced in the first round against Maltese side FC Zurrieq. We had destroyed them 0-3 in Malta and confirmed our progress with a 4-0 victory at home.

The Spanish side were low on confidence as they had experienced a bad start to their season and had sent a ‘spy’ over from Spain to watch us hammer Aldershot 3-0 in our last home encounter before the European clash. Roman Fernandez said: “A cold, wet night like this will be a tremendous advantage to Wrexham.” Wrexham supporters were praying for inclement weather.

In front of the biggest crowd since hosting West Ham United in January 1981, the Reds made a shaky start to the match but soon settled. In fact, they almost took the lead when Steel’s firm header clipped the bar. Paul Comstive came close with a flying header that forced an agile save from visiting goalkeeper Andoni Cedrun.

Shortly after half-time, Chris Pearce was also forced into action when he made a super save to deny Sosa. This apart, Pearce had an extremely quiet evening as Wrexham continued to push forward.  The visitors were grateful to Cedrun for denying Mike Williams and when Comstive did beat him with a header, the ball cannoned back off the crossbar.

With the game now in extra-time the introduction of substitutes proved to be decisive as it was Yanez who broke the deadlock when Senor sent him clear to beat Pearce. This away goal meant Wrexham now needed two goals to win the tie and hopes were raised when Steve Massey equalised.

The game was now really opening up as tiredness set in, but just two minutes later the unmarked Yanez found himself room on the right to score what looked to be the decisive goal from a Sosa cross. When have you ever known Wrexham and their supporters to give up, though? Substitute Steve Buxton pulled one back moments later to set up a frantic finale that included a wonder save by Cedrun to deny Steve Massey.

Dixie McNeil put on a brave face: “I am disappointed to say the least, but not with the lads. They played magnificently and did themselves proud. It was two defensive lapses that gave them the goals, but had not been for their goalkeeper, I am sure we would have won through to the quarter-finals.”

Star man Paul Comstive said: “I thought all through the game we were in with a good chance of winning. They did everything they could to keep us out and in the end it was their keeper who beat us. Apart from their goals, they hardly troubled us all night.”

Memory Match – 30-09-31

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 that Wrexham AFC enjoyed,  I would like to compile all the columns into a book that will reflect the rich history of my beloved football club.

 

30-09-31

Chester v Wrexham

League Division Three (Northern Section)

Sealand Road

Result: 2-5

Chester: Burke, Herod, Jones, Lambie, Skitt, Reilly, Matthews, Thompson, Jennings, Cresswell, Hedley

Goalscorers: Jennings, Thompson

Wrexham: Burrows, Jones, Brown, Clayton, Burkinshaw, Donoghue, Rogers, Ferguson, Bamford, Taylor, Lewis

Goalscorers: Lewis, Bamford (4)

Attendance: 13,656

Under the tutorship of Jack Baynes, season 1931/32 began with a 3-0 defeat against Crewe Alexandra, at Gresty Road. This was an interesting season in many respects –  most notably our first Football League encounter with our cross-border rivals Chester. The first contest between the clubs at this level took place at the Racecourse Ground on 2nd September 1931, when 18,750 spectators watched a 1-1 draw.

Later that month, Sealand Road hosted its first League derby match which saw the Blues – Wrexham were actually kitted out in blue shirts with a thick white bar running horizontally – well supported by a large number of fans, who made the journey by road and rail. Our travelling army were certainly rewarded for their efforts.

After a cagey opening half hour, Chester went to pieces and the visitors took full advantage. Tommy Lewis received a pass from Sam Taylor to drive the ball home for the opening goal. Before the break, Tommy Bamford struck a brace and a convincing away win was on the cards.

Wrexham picked up where they left off in the second half. Following a miss-kick by Alec Lambie it seemed that we would be profiting from an own-goal before Bamford managed to connect with the ball and claim his hat-trick.

Chester replied through Andy Thompson, but as the Wrexham Guardian reminds us, “play was mostly in the City’s half, and the Wrexhamites were superior in every department”. Much like today…

Wrexham’s fifth goal was also scored by Bamford, after a goalmouth scramble in which shots by Taylor and Chris Ferguson were somehow kept out. In the last few minutes Chester reduced the deficit, when Tommy Jennings steered the ball past Wrexham custodian Wilf Burrows following a drive by Billie Reilly.

This result saw Wrexham move up to fourth in the table and a real promotion push was on the cards. We won our next match against Tranmere Rovers at the Racecourse (2-1) before real disaster struck. Manager Jack Baynes was forced to relinquish control to captain Ralph Burkinshaw in order to start his personal battle against cancer.

He was admitted to Chester Royal Infirmary for an ‘operative treatment’ in early October. After many anxious weeks he seemed to be making steady progress, and he was able to return home. However, three weeks later he suffered a relapse and was moved to Croesnewydd Hospital in Wrexham where he passed away on December 14th 1931, aged just 43. The former Welsh international and Wrexham player, Reverend Hywel Davies led the service at Jack Baynes’s funeral. This was a sad chapter in our history.

***

Under caretaker player/manager Burkinshaw, the Blues began strongly and reached the heights of second position. However, following the sad passing of Baynes our form dipped alarmingly as the players obviously had their minds off-field matters. We lost three of the first four games, following his demise and the managerial reigns were given to Ernie Blackburn in late January 1932 – much to the disappointment of Burkinshaw. Under the guidance of Blackburn, we finished in 10th position.

***

We failed to make a mark in the FA Cup this season, as we were knocked out at the first round stage by Gateshead, 3-2 at Redheugh Park. We did do rather better in the Welsh Cup. After beating Holywell (3-0), Shrewsbury Town (4-2) and Rhyl (3-1, in a replay played at a neutral venue) we finished runners up to Swansea Town, who beat us 3-1 over two legs.

***

On October 24th we did play Wigan Borough at the Cae Ras.  We thrashed them 5-0 with goals from Taylor (2), Lewis (2) and that man Bamford. However, this game was later made void just two days later after Wigan Borough went out of business on 26 October 1931 . Was it something we said?