Ray Smith

Memory Match – 20-08-60

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.

20-08-60

Peterborough United v Wrexham

League Division Four

London Road

Result: 3-0

Peterborough United: Walls, Stafford, Walker, Ravner, Rigby, Norris, Hails, Emery, Bly, Smith, McNamee

Goalscorers: Emery (25), McNamee (75), Bly (80)

Wrexham: Johnson, Holland, McGowan, Davis, Fox, Styles, Jones, Griffiths, Evans, Harbertson, Hunter

Attendance: 17,294

After being relegated from Division Three the previous season, Wrexham began life in the basement with a difficult fixture against Football League newcomers, Peterborough United at London Road. The Posh were famous FA Cup giantkillers and had slain a number of League clubs over the years, so a tough task was in store as Colwyn Bay-born Billy Morris took charge of the Reds for the first time.

Wrexham’s sixth post-war manager was quoted by Ron Chaloner in the Leader as saying: “I’ll stand or fall by my methods.  If things don’t go right, there will be no need to ask me to go, I shall be on my way.”

He asked supporters to have patience and not to expect miracles.

“I can’t make greyhounds out of fox terriers but I can make some improvements,” said the former Burnley player who did not plunge into the transfer market, but decided to weigh up the assets he had at his disposal before spending money.  Wrexham started the season with only one new player – former Halifax Town goalkeeper Arthur Johnson who was actually signed before Morris took over at the Racecourse.

***

Fortune was not on our side that afternoon. We fell behind only 25 minutes following a Denis Emery strike. The lanky striker seemed to miss-hit his effort from 20 yards but Johnson appeared to be a fraction late making his dive and the ball nestled in the bottom corner.

The Robins stuck to their fine approach play and were clearly not beaten. An equaliser seemed inevitable, especially when Gren Jones found the ball at his feet – 3 yards from goal. Somehow, the ball struck goalkeeper Jack Wallis’ boot and cannoned clear.

For the majority of the second period, the Town were in control. After 55 minutes Johnson launched a clearance that went almost to the edge of the United penalty area and the bouncing ball panicked the opposition defence, beating centre-half Norman Rigby. Visiting forward Ron Harbetson gave chase desperately, but Wallis came out to collect and calm the situation.

The Posh found their way back into the game after Emery smacked a shot against the post to rejuvenate the home supporters. 75 minutes had been played when outside-left Peter McNamee took a glorious pass from Ray Smith who skipped past Reg Holland for the first time that afternoon. McNamee surprised everyone by dancing into the penalty area and aiming a right foot shot past the helpless Johnson.

Wrexham were now under the cosh and conceded a third in the 81st minute when Terry Ely scored an opportunistic goal with a header from Emery’s cross.

***

Peterborough manager, Jimmy Hagan said: “If Wrexham are a sample of the sort of team we are going to meet in the Fourth Division, we are going to have a very hard time indeed. Wrexham are a very good side, particularly some of their forwards and they were very unlucky not to score. We won because we took our chances while they did not take theirs.”

Billy Morris said: “What disappointed me more than anything was that our forwards did not play as a closely knit unit and seemed to forget all the moves we had planned and practiced. There was too much shooting from 30 or 40 yards which was just a waste of time.

“I am almost certain now that this is not the best team Wrexham can field and I may make a couple of changes for our next match.”

Memory Match – 28-09-68

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.

28-09-68

Wrexham v Notts County

League Division Four

Racecourse Ground

Result: 3-2

Wrexham: Livsey, Ingle, Bermingham, Davis, May, Bradbury, Beanland, Moir, Charnley, Smith, Kinsey

Goalscorers: Charnley (2), Ingle

Notts County: Rose, Ball, Worthington, Oakes, Gibson, Farmer, Pring, Murphy, Bradd, Masson, Bates

Goalscorers: Bradd, Masson 

Attendance: 4,277

Reds manager Alvan Williams tended his resignation after an inconsistent start to 1968/69 that saw a League Cup exit, the sale of David Powell and Steve Stacey, to Sheffield United and Ipswich Town respectively, and subsequent bitter demonstrations from the fans.

The official line was that the departure of Williams was caused by “a disagreement with the Board of Directors over club policy”, but word on the grapevine suggested that club directors wanted to curtail his power as general manager with a demotion to the specific role of team manager only.

Despite the fact that the vacant post was not advertised, Wrexham still had 14 applications for the job, which was eventually given to John Neal. George Showell became first-team trainer. This new managerial duo certainly had their work cut out as we prepared to play bottom-of-the-table Notts County as we’d suffered five straight defeats without scoring.

The Magpies started the brighter and conspired to hit the woodwork, miss a sitter and had a penalty claim turned down before Ray Charnley ended Wrexham’s goal drought on 23 minutes. Charnley hit the ball past Mick Rose who had failed to deal with Ray Smith’s shot. Rose may still have been feeling the effects of his collision with Smith just four minutes earlier.

County equalised on the half-hour mark when Don Masson headed home from an inviting free kick. This parity only lasted for three minutes as Charnley out-jumped several defenders to connect with Alan Bermingham’s cross.

Wrexham were at their brightest during this period as Steve Ingle and Albert Kinsey tested Rose, but it was County who struck after 44 minutes with another headed goal. This time it was Les Bradd who met a centre from Ron Farmer.

From the re-start, Ingle restored the home sides lead with a fine solo effort when he collected a loose ball, raced forward and unleashed a thunderbolt from 20-yards to put us ahead at the break.

The second period promised much, but actually delivered little in terms of goalmouth action as the closest we came to adding a fourth goal was when a late effort from Eddie May went a foot wide. It also says a lot that Charnley’s only competition for man of the match was goalkeeper Gordon Livesey.

According to Reg Herbert of the Leader, the majority of our players performed under par. Apparently, Ian Moir had a “nightmare game” characterised by “erratic passing” that frustrated the fans while Kinsey and Smith were deemed to be “still struggling for form and luck”. Bermingham was criticised for “not being his usual ebullient self” and Gareth Davis was lambasted for a “first half miskick” that presented County with a chance that they should’ve scored from.

John Neal looked on the bright side: “Not having scored and won a match for so long a time the players were all tensed up.  If they had relaxed it might have been so different.  Still, we achieved our main objectives – we scored goals and we won.”

As underwhelmed Reds fans trudged home that afternoon, little did they realise that the new man in charge was sowing the seeds of a Racecourse revolution…