Roland Woodhouse

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 – 05-11-27

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.

05-11-27

Wrexham v Ashington

League Division Three (Northern Section)

Racecourse Ground

Result: 5-1

Wrexham: Robson, Jones, Crompton, Regan, Bellis, Graham, Longmuir, Rogers, Smith, Woodhouse, Gunson

Goalscorers: Rogers (2), Smith (3)

Ashington: Ridley, Robson, Best, Carlton, Price, Grieves, Hopper, Noble , Graham, Watson, Randall

Goalscorer: Randall

Attendance: 3,531

Wrexham had started the season strongly. After beating Stockport County at the Racecourse in September they topped the table for a week at least. In the run up to this game, they had fallen to fifth position, but were very much still looking upwards at a promotion tilt.

Ashington may be a new name to many of you. They are based in Northumberland and can claim to be the most northerly team to have played in the Football League. At the time of our encounter with them in the Third Division (North) they were struggling at the foot of the table and only managed to survive for another season at this level. In 1928/29 they lost their bid for re-election after finishing rock bottom. They were replaced by York City.

Remarkably, Ashington had yet to win a league game in 1927/28, so Wrexham were firm favourites. Before arriving at the Racecourse they had played 13 matches of which eight had been lost and five drawn. They had only managed to find the net on 14 occasions while conceding 41 goals. Indeed, the visitors were no match for the Welshmen and we could have won by a cricket score if the game had been played in less inclement conditions. A harsh wind and torrential rain led to Wrexham players taking their foot off the gas. We had recorded a four goal margin of victory, but it could have been so many more…

Writing the match report, Wrexham Leader journalist XYZ states that the “game was so one-sided that only a few brief details of the play are necessary”. Our first goal was scored after six minutes when a high centre from Gordon Gunson was converted by Billie Rogers. The Ashington defence were pulled apart by Roland Woodhouse and Gunson with visiting goalkeeper Ralph Ridley pulling off a number of fine saves before the Blues doubled their lead on 23 minutes. Archie Longmuir baffled the opposition with his wing work and when he centred, Cecil Smith took the ball in his stride to net his second goal of the season.

Just before half-time, Smith added a third that was vehemently disputed by the visitors who felt that both Woodhouse and Smith were offside. They managed to persuade the referee to consult his linesman, but this conversation only lasted a couple of seconds and the goal was awarded.

In the second half, Smith completed his hat-trick and this was followed by a degree of slackness edging in to our game. This led to Jimmy Randall taking advantage and getting on the scoresheet. Wrexham replied with a second goal for Rogers. The fact that they didn’t score more was clearly a source of frustration for XYZ who states that the Wrexham forwards could have scored a dozen goals and underlines the fact that “championships have been decided on goal average”. I hope a few Wrexham players of today are reading this…

Ashington benefitted from their football lesson at the Cae Ras as they ended their winless streak in their very next game – a 3-0 triumph against Tranmere Rovers at Portland Park.

Our quest for promotion fizzled out after Christmas and we finished the season in 11th position.

***

Blue-shirted Wrexham might have disappointed in the league but during 1927/28, they recorded their best run in the FA Cup up to that point. A crowd of 12,000 turned up at the Racecourse to see the third round encounter with Second Division Swansea Town. A fine 2-1 win ensured that the town was now gripped with Cup fever and this was heightened when we drew First Division Birmingham at home. A 12,228 crowd saw Wrexham go down fighting 1-3.