Shrewsbury Town

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?

Memory Match – 13-01-51

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.

13-01-51

Wrexham v York City

League Division Three (Northern Section)

Racecourse Ground

Result: 4-3

Wrexham: Ferguson, Tunney, McAdam, Spencer, Spruce, McCallum, Lawrence, Wylliie, Fidler, Donaldson, Tunnicliffe

Goalscorers: Tunnicliffe, Wylliie, Donaldson, Fidler

York City: Ashley, Andrews, Simpson, Horton, Brenen, Spence, Linaker, Brown, Patrick (A), Storey, Patrick (M)

Goalscorers: Patrick (Alf) (2), Spence (pen)

Attendance: 5,159

Wrexham began the 1950/51 season without a permanent manager, following the departure of Les McDowall to his beloved Manchester City after only one season in charge. This had been a season of struggle and caretaker Cliff Lloyd could only lead the Reds to an inconsistent start to the new term. The high points of his stewardship up until November included home victories over Shrewsbury Town (1-0) and Chester City (2-0).

Peter Jackson was eventually unveiled as the new manager after we had endured a run of only one win in nine games under Lloyd. Jackson’s mission was to steady the ship and it could be argued that this was achieved with an anonymous 14th place finish in a newly expanded 24-team League.

This was Jackson’s fourth home game, having won two others and drawing one. With York City struggling for form it was hoped that our new boss could extend his unbeaten record at the Racecourse.

It took 20 minutes for Wrexham to open the scoring when Cyril Lawrence delivered a corner to the unmarked Billy Tunnicliffe who didn’t need asking twice to put the Reds in the lead. Frank Fidler had a chance to increase the lead with a flashing header, but it was the visitors who struck next on the half-hour. Alf Patrick made the most of Wrexham’s defensive shortcomings to equalise, albeit totally against the run of play.

It didn’t take the home side long to reassert their dominance though. Again it was a Lawrence corner kick that proved decisive, but this time it was Jimmy Wyllie who provided the finishing header. There was still time before the interval for Wrexham to increase their lead further. Fidler was unfortunate to see his header parried against the crossbar by Joe Ashley in the York goal, but the ball came down in play and Les Donaldson’s over-head kick secured our advantage going into the break. The only wonder was that York weren’t further behind.

The second half continued in much the same vein with Wrexham battering away at a defence that could not cope with the onslaught. Seven minutes after the re-start Fidler nodded in a Tunnicliffe cross to score his side’s fourth. Game over, or was it?

Whether it was a case of Wrexham becoming complacent or York digging deep to fight back is a moot point. Writing in the Leader, “Wanderer” complained about “Wrexham’s half-backs wandering hither and thither until all we could rely on was Eddie Tunney like the rock of Gibraltar crashing in and clearing when everyone else seemed unable to put a foot right”.

The Minstermen found their way back into the game thanks to an error of judgement from Wrexham goalkeeper Archie Ferguson. Matt Patrick delivered a corner that a poorly placed Ferguson could only watch sail over his head to his unmarked brother Alf, who was on hand to reduce the deficit for the final half-hour.

On 77 minutes disaster struck when Wrexham conceded a penalty following a “stupid push”. It was probably a harsh decision, but Ron Spence made no mistake from the penalty spot. This led to an uncomfortabl00e last 10 minutes, but had Wrexham increased their lead it would not have been an unfair result based on the overall standards of the two teams.

Memory Match – 20.09.30

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.

20.09.30

Wrexham v Crewe Alexandra

League Division Three (Northern Section)

Racecourse Ground

Result: 7-0

Wrexham: Finnigan, Jones, Crompton, Rogers, Burkinshaw, Donoghue, Williams, Mustard, Bamford, Taylor, Lewis

Goalscorers: Lewis (4), Bamford (2), Mustard

Crewe Alexandra: Brown, Thomley, Pringle, Morris (Harold), Morris (Harry), Rouse, Millington, Smelt, French, Owen, Wright

Attendance: 7,810

Those of you who know the history of our proud old club will realise that Wrexham haven’t always played in red. Indeed, according to the comprehensive Historical Kits website we played in a blue shirt and white short combination from our debut season in the Football League (1921/22) right through to 1939 when someone saw sense and we changed to red shirts and white shorts.

1930/31 saw a dramatic improvement in form for the “Blues” who finished the season in third position in the Third Division (North). We were only four points behind champions Chesterfield, three behind second-place Lincoln City and above fourth-placed Tranmere Rovers on goal average. Meanwhile, Crewe Alexandra finished in 18th position, so maybe it shouldn’t have come as a shock that we racked up a cricket score against our Cheshire rivals.

In all fairness to Crewe, they made a fair fist of things during a fairly even first half. The opening goal came after 25 minutes of play.  Les Williams sent in a cross that Crewe ‘keeper Arthur Brown failed to clear, which in turn provided Tommy Lewis with the opportunity he needed to score the first of the afternoon.

Alex didn’t roll over though. Visiting forward Alf French tested Dick Finnigan with a low drive that the goalkeeper did well to turn for a corner. The flag kick came to nothing and before the break Jimmy Owen tested Finnigan again.

Wrexham were obviously fired up for the second half and attacked from the offset. Tommy Bamford slipped the ball out to Lewis allowing the wide man to cross a perfect ball that Jack Mustard connected with.  Unfortunately, his header was inches wide of the goal. Crewe had been warned…

The second goal arrived shortly afterwards. Mustard and Williams took the ball up the wing and delivered possession to Bamford.  The master marksman appeared to dally with the ball and finally made the odd decision to push the ball towards the left wing.  However, Bamford could see what the fans couldn’t and Lewis raced in to double our lead.

A few minutes later Lewis returned the compliment when his pass to Bamford was met with a clever hook to make it 3-0. A rampant Wrexham pushed further ahead after Bamford beat Tom Thornley in a tackle. The Crewe defender appealed to the referee, but the reason for his grievance was not apparent.

With 10 minutes remaining, Wrexham won a hotly disputed corner that led to Mustard firing home through a crowd of players from 18 yards to make it five for the home team. Brown had no chance and was probably unsighted at the time.

Lewis then sent the crowd home in raptures with a late brace – the first of which came from a speculative cross-shot before Brown dropped a Williams cross at his feet to allow him to score his fourth of the afternoon.

***

Tommy Lewis finished his first season since joining from Everton with 15 League goals while Tommy Bamford led the goalscoring charts with an impressive haul of 38 goals in 38 League and FA Cup appearances. This was Jack Mustard’s debut campaign, which saw the wide-man contributing 15 goals to the cause in his most prolific season with the club.

***

Wrexham also lifted the Welsh Cup that season with another 7-0 victory at the Racecourse over local rivals. This time our opponents were Shrewsbury Town.

Two crushing victories over teams from Cheshire and Shropshire must have left their fans reeling. I guess that’s why they called us the Blues…

My Racecourse

Taken from the Wrexham AFC official website

Nathan Davies is a key member of the Wrexham Disabled Supporters Association, who is right behind our My Racecourse campaign. Despite a debilitating condition he does all he can to contribute to Wrexham AFC’s success.

He has agreed to pen for us a series of short stories over the summer detailing what the Racecourse means to fans and former players alike.

Here is the first and it the shares Nathan’s moving story of his My Racecourse memory against Barnet from nearly 25 years ago:

26/09/92

Wrexham v Barnet

Division Three

Racecourse Ground

Result: 2-3

Wrexham: Hughes, Jones, Pejic, Phillips, Humes, Sertori, Bennett, Owen, Connolly, Thomas, Paskin (Taylor)

Goalscorers: Bennett 35, Thomas 78

Barnet: Phillips, Howell, Cooper, Bodley, Barnett, Horton, Payne, Carter, Bull, Lowe (Stein), Showler (Naylor)

Goalscorers: Bull 21, 47, Carter 33

Attendance: 3,078

School days are supposed to be the best days of your life, but I can assure you that in my case nothing could be further from the truth. Academically there was no problem, but I was the victim of merciless bullies who I would do anything to avoid due to their repressive catcalls and punishing fists.

The problem was that I wasn’t like everyone else and in the black and white world of childhood being different is impossibly isolating.

I walked with a involuntary drunken stagger, which caused much amusement to my immature class mates. I was later to find out that my lack of co-ordination was caused by a progressive, genetic disease of the nervous system known as Friedreich’s Ataxia, but at the time clueless doctors just labelled me as lazy and clumsy. I had few friends and felt that no one understood me.

As you can imagine, I lived for the weekends and had started going to the Racecourse in the late eighties. One particular Saturday, my friends could not make it to the Cae Ras, so I had to decide whether to miss out on an afternoon’s entertainment – which had also been previewed on Saint and Greavsie – or go it alone…

It was ridiculously early. I purchased a copy of the matchday programme and spent the last few pounds of my pocket money to gain access to the near-deserted Kop. I had my choice of crush barriers to stand behind and after choosing a position on the upper left of this much loved terrace, I sat on the cold concrete steps to read about our 2-0 victory over Shrewsbury Town a couple of weeks previously.

This welcome three points against the Shrews had come against the formbook, which did little to suggest that season 1992/93 would be anything else other than our usual scrap amongst the dead men. Less than a month into the season we’d already suffered heavy-defeats on the road as Bury, York City and Gillingham had all scored four goals past us in three successive away defeats. How on earth would we cope against a second-placed Barnet side?

As the Kop slowly filled I realised that I was uncharacteristically relaxed and comfortable with those around me. I was not nervous or worried about being judged and took comfort from the fact that we were all there with the same aim in mind – three points for Wrexham. One bloke asked me the time, an old chap read the team line-ups from my programme and his mate shared his bar of Bourneville with me. Such interaction and unity with other human beings made a refreshing change from the assassination of my uniqueness by playground bullies.

I could be myself at the Racecourse…

I don’t remember too much about the game other than the novelty of Barnet boss Barry Fry running down the touchline in celebration of his side’s first half goals, Gary Bennett’s first league goal for the club, a disappointing attendance and the sliver of hope provided by Mickey Thomas when he reduced the deficit to 3-2 on 78 minutes.

We may have lost the game and left the ground full of frustration, but it didn’t matter to me, as I had enjoyed the afternoon of inclusion with my fellow Wrexham fans. This was my first real memory of acceptance by a group of supporters who have since become my extended family.

***
Inclusion and acceptance is what the Racecourse means to me. Over the summer months, I hope to compile a series of articles about our treasured Racecourse memories. We hope that this will promote the My Racecourse brand by showing how much this venue means to so many people and illustrate that it can be used by all of the community to create more memories in the future.

Memory Match – 19-09-84

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.

19-09-84

Wrexham v Porto

European Cup Winners’ Cup First Round First Leg

Racecourse Ground

Result: 1-0

WREXHAM: Parker, King, Cunnington, Salathiel, Keay, Wright, Williams (Muldoon 71), Horne, Steel, Gregory, Rogers

Goalscorer: Steel 78

PORTO: Borota, Joao Pinto, Inacio, Eduardo Luis, Eurico, Magalhaes (Agemar 45), Frasco, Quim, Gomes, Futre (Walsh 71), Vermelhinho

Attendance: 4,935

Some stories never grow old. This is one of them.

Our beloved club was in turmoil and struggling to keep its head above water in the basement division. Dire on-field performances under the tutorship of Bobby Roberts led to calls for his head, attendances had plummeted and the club was in financial dire straits. The only glimmer of hope on the horizon was entry into the European Cup Winners’ Cup following defeat in the previous season’s Welsh Cup final to English side Shrewsbury Town.

When the European draw was made in Zurich, the Reds were paired with the illustrious FC Porto who had reached the Final of the previous seasons’ competition, losing to Juventus. After the draw, Roberts said: “It’s going to be very hard because they are a top-class side.”

The first reaction of Porto President, Jorge Nuno Pinto da Costa, was “Where’s Wrexham?”

He was about to find out.

A confident Porto line-up began the match as if they could walk it, but after only five minutes Jim Steel rattled the crossbar with a powerful header to warn the Portuguese prima donnas that this would be no walkover.

Midway through the first-half the tables were turned when the woodwork came to our rescue – twice in four minutes. First up Fernando Gomes hit the inside of the post and could only watch helplessly as the ball rolled along the goal line before Reds defender Steve Wright headed against his own bar after a flick-on from Vermelhinho.

The match remained goalless at the break, but on 53 minutes Gomes unleashed a rocket from outside the box that whizzed past the despairing Parker. Fortunately, the crossbar saved the day yet again.

Just after the hour mark all eyes were on the linesman when Barry Horne cracked a first time shot that slammed against the underside of the bar and ricocheted down onto the line. Agonizingly the officials waved play on.

The breakthrough finally arrived with only 12 minutes remaining. Steel pushed the ball out wide to substitute John Muldoon who galloped down the wing and delivered an inviting cross for Steel to head home.

“I thought I’d scored in the first half and it was a real sickener when it hit the bar, but when I did score it was without doubt the best goal of my career. I couldn’t stop dancing when it went in.”

The Robins held on to record yet another memorable European night at the Racecourse in front of only 4,935 fans, which is less than attended our recent game against Welling United.

“The result is a very big shock for us,” said Porto boss Artur Jorge.

“Wrexham were strong and perhaps we didn’t expect them to be so strong.

We didn’t play as well as we could but we expect to recover the situation in the second leg. We can improve more than Wrexham can.”

We’ll see Arthur, we’ll see…