Southport

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 – 11-09-62

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 – 29-03-15

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.

29-03-15

North Ferriby United v Wrexham

FA Trophy Final

Wembley

Result: 3-3 (North Ferriby United win 5-4 on pens)

North Ferriby United: Nicklin, Toliss, Wilde, King, Wilson, Hone, Clarke, Fry, Denton, Bolder, St Juste

Goalscorers: King (76 pen), Kendall (86, 101)

Wrexham: Coughlin, Tomassen, Smith, Hudson, Ashton, Harris, Keates, Clarke, Morris, Moult, Jennings Goalscorers: Moult (11, 118), Harris (59)

Attendance: 14,585

 

Do I really have to write this? Surely, it’s best forgotten, but sometimes if we revisit nightmares we can learn lessons to prevent making the same mistakes again.

On their road to Wembley, Wrexham have beaten Southport, Stockport County, Gateshead, FC Halifax Town and Torquay United 5-1 over two legs in the semi-final. Meanwhile, our opponents, North Ferriby United of the Vanarama North, had beaten Mickleover Sports, Boston United, Hyde, Farnborough, Ebbsfleet United and Bath City (on penalties) in the semi-final, after drawing 3-3 with the Romans over two legs.

Surely Wrexham would have no trouble picking up their second FA Trophy title in two years against a team of part-timers from a Yorkshire village?

It all started so well. On the 11th minute, Louis Moult managed to put Kevin Wilkin’s men ahead when he tapped the ball in from inside the six-yard box. Joe Clarke and Connor Jennings had worked the ball well on the left wing with the latter finding Moult in the box to give the Dragons an early lead.

Billy Heath’s North Ferriby side squandered their best chance of the half on 32 minutes and Andy Coughlin was alert to save well from winger Danny Clarke.

Wrexham did make it 2-0 on 59 minutes through Jay Harris. The midfielder had just returned to the pitch after receiving treatment and he raced through from the right side to slot past Adam Nicklin at the near post.

Seemingly in control, Kevin Wilkin then made the biggest mistake of his managerial career when he substituted Dean Keates on 70 minutes. Our experienced captain had been controlling the midfield and organising his troops as usual, so to take him off when he wasn’t even injured seemed bizarre.

The Villagers were handed a lifeline on the 76th minute when Clarke was fouled in the box by Coughlin. Captain Liam King stepped up and smashed the ball into the back of the net to make it 2-1. Things were beginning to unravel.

Seven minutes after replace Russell Fry, substitute Ryan Kendall grabbed the equaliser when he was in the right place at the right time to convert Jason St Juste’s cross and force extra time.

Just after the 100-minute mark, North Ferriby took the lead for the first time when Kendall doubled his tally. St Juste’s deflected cross found the head of Kendall who nodded past a helpless Coughlin. What was going on?

Wrexham piled the pressure in the final 15 minutes and were rewarded for their efforts when Moult smashed in the equaliser with minutes left on the clock.

The shootout went to sudden death and Steve Tomassen was the unlucky player to miss the deciding spot kick to confirm North Ferriby as 2015 FA Trophy winners.

Wrexham manager Kevin Wilkin said: “I’m gutted. We had a great opportunity to put ourselves in the driving seat and to give the game away like we have, I feel we’ve left people down today.

“There were no issues, but then we started dropping off and getting deep again. We didn’t defend crosses, we didn’t get tight to people and gave them time and space. But credit to North Ferriby, they stuck to their work.

“I’m here to do a job. I’ve worked hard at it, had a couple of great cup runs but the league form hasn’t been exactly where we need it to be. There’s been a lot of changes, and we need to keep pushing that on for Wrexham.”

Wilkin was relieved of his duties the following day, but what is particularly depressing is that worse was to follow…

 

Memory Match – 14-01-33

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.

14-01-33

Wrexham v Southport

League Division Three (Northern Section)

Racecourse Ground

Result: 6-0

Wrexham: Adams, Jones, Brown, Bulling, McMahon, Lawrence, Hughes, Frewin, Bamford, Lewis, Waller

Goalscorers: Lewis (2), Bamford, Frewin, Bulling, Waller

Southport: Middleton, Robinson, Birkett, Taylor, Wyness, Lydon, Sellars, Bell, Appleby, Williams, Turner

Attendance: 5,915

According to the match report in the North Wales Guardian, Wrexham did not need to over-exert themselves in this contest, as Southport never really showed the form that was expected of them.  The visitors were accused of being “sadly disjointed” and the reporter wonders aloud what had caused this slump in a team that threatened at the top of the league earlier in the season.

Meanwhile, the Blues were fresh from hammering Hartlepools United 8-1 at the Cae Ras and were obviously out to prove this was not a mere flash in the pan. Apparently, they tore Southport apart by “playing spirited football and bewildering them with dashing attacks and swift defensive measures.”

Wrexham were in electric form and unleashed wave after wave of attack on goalkeeper Matt Middleton. During 1931/32, the Southport custodian frustrated our forwards with a fine display in a 2-0 defeat at Haig Avenue in Ernest Blackburn’s first match in charge, but he was unsupported on this occasion and powerless against the awesome force of Tommy Bamford and company.

Wrexham had the better of the opening exchanges and it quickly became clear that this would be an afternoon of one-way traffic with Southport having to employ the offside trap to stave off danger.  However, it did not take long for Tommy Lewis to weave his way through static defenders to score the opener on 23 minutes.  A minute later Bamford netted with a neat flick from Harry Waller’s centre and a whirlwind period was complete when George Frewin notched a third with his head from a Jack Hughes cross.

It was now time for toothless Southport to have a go. They pressed forward only to find Alf Jones and Jack Brown were equal to all calls made upon them.  At least the Sandgrounders were trying to make a game of it, even though Hughes hit the woodwork with an excellent drive before Lewis completed an emphatic opening period by heading the fourth.

Southport rarely crossed the half-way line in the second half and the Blues extended their lead through Jim Bulling – who converted a Hughes corner after Ted Robinson had cleared off the line – and a simple tap-in from Waller.

***

Writing in a Supporters’ Club News column, “J.H.W” notes that the first three games in 1933 had yielded six points, with 16 goals for and only two against. Our latter day statistician also noted that, at the time, we had scored more goals at home than any other team in the English Leagues, and only Arsenal had a greater aggregate of goals, home and away, than Wrexham.

***

The 1932/33 season was to be Wrexham’s best-ever in the Third Division North when they finished runners-up to Hull City, only two points adrift of the Humberside club. So close, yet so far…

During the season, Wrexham’s home record was remarkable: they won 18 matches, drew two and lost only one, to Chester. The home wins consisted of some high-scoring victories. The 106 League goals scored that season is still a record.

***

Alas, more frustration and heartache laid in store in the cup competitions.

In the FA Cup, Wrexham beat non-League Spennymoor United at home (3-0) before losing a second round replay at the Racecourse to Brighton & Hove Albion (2-3).

The Blues reached the Welsh Cup final yet again after beating Oswestry (4-1 after replay), Bangor (2-1) and Southport (3-1 after replay). In the final they met their old rivals Chester at Sealand Road in front of a 15,000 crowd who were to see the Cestrians win 2-0, thereby lifting the Welsh Cup for the second time in their laughably sparse history.

Memory Match – 29-08-25

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.

29-08-25

Wrexham v Southport

League Division Three (Northern Section)

Racecourse Ground

Result: 3-2

WREXHAM: Wilkinson, A. Jones, Lumberg, Matthias, Parker, Beever, Longmuir, Lyons, J. Jones, Nock, Bailey

Goalscorers: Nock, Bailey, Jones (Jimmy)

SOUTHPORT: Halsall, Tyler, Mulligan, Sinclair, Bellis, Bimson, Aitken, Brown, Ball, Sambrook, MacDonald

Goalscorers: Sambrook, Brown

Attendance: 10,041

It was a different era.

While researching this article at Wrexham museum, I discovered the following piece of poetry by H. Wilbraham, printed in The Leader, prior to this opening game of the 1925/26 season.

Well, Saturday, the 29th, will see our fellows out,
And Southport must be careful or we’ll put them all to rout;
You see we have the King of Beasts, a Lion, by the way,
The Southport backs, I’ll bet a bob, cant hold this man at bay.

And then we have a Bailey, but Bailey’s not a bum,
He’s just come down to show us how to make the leather hum;
Then there’s Holland comes with Bennett, from Swansea, hand in hand,
And there’s Parker, up from Portsmouth, and Wilkie play the band.

Now don’t think I’ve forgotten the boys who played last year,
They’re here, as fit as fiddles, of that you need not fear;
Last season ended gradely, we had successful tries,
And opponents stood and wondered how the dust got in their eyes.

Now all of you get ready, the time is drawing near,
And if you play together, to victory you’ll steer;
Please don’t be individualists, this game will never pay,
Be brothers on the field, my lads, this surely wins the day.

It’s a pity that we don’t see examples of poetry in the local press nowadays, but hopefully Lee Fowler et al can inspire some poetic tributes before the season is out…

The match in question was characterised by a “stiff breeze”, which aided Southport during the first half. Not only did the Wrexham defence have to contend with such conditions, but it also struggled to adapt to a change in the offside rule.

The new rule required only two defending players – as opposed to three players in tedious seasons of the past – to be in advance of the forward for him to be onside. This change made the rules more conducive to attacking football and helped reverse declining attendance figures.

It was a lively opening from Southport and they found themselves two goals to the good after only 20 minutes through wind-assisted efforts from Jack Sambrook and Ernie Brown.

The pre-match favourites seemed to be cruising when, all of a sudden, Wrexham found some composure and confidence to attack. From one of a series of corners – taken expertly by right-winger Archie Longmuir – the ball was steered into the net by Jack Nock. This goal was received with so much enthusiasm that the press reported that the cheers could be heard by traders in Charles Street!!

With Wrexham resurgent, Southport had to be warned by the referee following some over-zealous tackles, especially from right-back Jimmy Mulligan.

Just before half time, Longmuir was fouled near the corner flag and from the resultant free kick – taken by Longmuir himself – Rowland Bailey levelled the scores.

Wrexham had the wind in their favour during the second half and they made effective use of the advantage. Longmuir delivered numerous crosses and Billy Halsall made a brilliant save from Nock.

Wrexham scored the deciding goal on 71 minutes. Defender Tom Parker delivered an excellent pass to Jimmy Lyons who conjured an opportunity for Jimmy Jones to run through and score what was apparently “a capital goal”.

Wrexham were now in control and went close on three more occasions through Jones, Lyons and Longmuir, but there were no further goals for the crowd of 10,041 to enjoy.

***

The team was still being chosen by a selection committee prior to the appointment of Mold Town boss Charlie Hewitt who took up his duties on November 10th.

***

At the end of season, Wrexham finished 19th – their lowest position since joining the Football League in season 1921/22.