Stourbridge

Memory Match – 14-03-25

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.

 

14-03-25

Wrexham v Wigan Borough

League Division Three (Northern Section)

Racecourse Ground

Result: 6-2

Wrexham: Connell, Jones, Pugh, Matthias, Griffiths, Savage, Longmuir, Goode, Jones, Nock, Jones

Goalscorers: Nock (3), Jimmy Jones (3).

Wigan Borough: Goodwin, Jennings, Fare, Fenner, Brown, Welsby, Simpson, Mercer, Ormston, Glover, Kettle

Goalscorers: Ormston, Fenner

Attendance: 5,223

On November 10th 1924, Charlie Hewitt was appointed as Wrexham’s first-ever manager after luring him from Mold Town. The team had previously been chosen by a selection committee. Something had to be done as the Town were underperforming and had just endured a run of six defeats in eight games, culminating in a 5-0 defeat at Springfield Park, home of Wigan Borough – our heaviest defeat of the season.

Hewitt – known as the Captain because of his days as a naval skipper – did not have all the answers though, with just one win in his first 14 games in charge. It wasn’t until March that things began to improve when we beat Crewe Alexandra 2-1 at Gresty Road to set us up for a home encounter with Wigan Borough. Could we take our chance for revenge?

Jack Nock gave Wrexham the lead after only six minutes and we never looked back with the forwards running the show. Writing in the Leader, a journalist with the pseudonym ‘Tee’ says that all of the goals “were the result of clever midfield work coupled with fine opportunism”. I wouldn’t mind seeing some of that this evening …

The home side were aided by a strong wind and when Jimmy Jones put the Blues further ahead it seemed too good to be true. Indeed, we had only won six games at the Racecourse Ground all season, so when Wigan got one back through Arthur Ormston following a defensive mishap, the cynics were expecting the worst

Fortunately, their bitter bile did not have time to ferment as Jones scored his second almost immediately. Jones received a pass from Archie Longmuir and powered forward, skipping past a challenge from Harry Fare with ease before sending in a low shot which goalkeeper John Goodwin completely misjudged and the ball squeezed through his legs.

The fourth goal came after a flowing movement between Goode, Longmuir, Jones and goal-scorer Nock. The race was now on to see who could be the first player to register a hat-trick between Jones and Nock who had both scored a brace. The winner of this contest was Nock who scored after a free-kick delivered by Jimmy Pugh.

Wrexham’s final goal of the afternoon came courtesy of Jimmy Jones after sterling work from Frank Jones who fended off three opponents before finding the unmarked Jones.

The last action of a breathtaking match came when Tom Fenner scored a consolation goal for the visitors, thanks to a mistake from Wrexham custodian Billy Connell. A speculative effort from Fenner was mis-calculated by Connell who allowed the ball to slip under his body and in to the net.

After this game we moved up to 20th position in the league table while Wigan Borough dropped one place to 15th.

Our leading goal-scorer in the league that season was centre-forward Jimmy Jones who scored 11 times. He just pipped Jack Nock to the post as the Stourbridge-born inside-forward had 10 goals to his name.

***

At the end of a difficult season, Wrexham finished in a disappointing 16th spot.

Despite a poor showing in the League, the Welsh Cup gave us a reason to be cheerful. We managed to retain the trophy after beating Llanelli, Newport County and Swansea Town before finally overcoming Flint Town (3-1) in front of 6,565 spectators.

We did not enjoy any success in the FA Cup as we were demolished 4-0 by Barrow at Holker Street at the fifth-qualifying round stage.

 

 

Memory Match – 21-12-74

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.

21-12-74

Wrexham v Watford

League Division Three

Racecourse Ground

Result: 5-1

Wrexham: Lloyd, Jones, Fogg, Evans, May, Whittle, Tinnion, Sutton, Davies, Smallman, Griffiths

Goalscorers: Smallman 25, 44, Whittle 26, 31, Davies 45

Watford:  Rankin, Craker, Williams, Joslyn, Keen, Goodeve, Bond, Jenkins, Mayes, Scullion (Bristow), Downes

Goalscorer: Joslyn 55

Attendance: 4,128

 

When writing about a John Neal side of the Seventies there are certain words that usually feature, such as “giantkillers” and “Europe”. However, neither of these words could be used in connection with 1974-75, which failed to explode into the expected promotion charge. Instead, during a season of transition we had to settle for a few sparks of hope in an ultimately disappointing campaign.

After losing to Stourbridge in the previous season’s Welsh Cup semi-final, there were no memorable European encounters while Fourth Division sides Crewe Alexandra (1-2) and Mansfield Town (3-1) knocked us out of the League and FA Cups respectively – both at the first round stage.

Prior to this featured game against mid-table rivals Watford, the Leader spoke about how victory was vital for 12th placed Wrexham to keep in touch with the promotion-chasing pack. Manager Neal was in an optimistic frame of mind: “What we need is a good run. We have dropped a few silly points which would have put us among the front runners, but we have been working hard on trying to sort out one or two little problems we have had.”

Goals were what we needed and the players responded to their pep talk by putting on their shooting boots. Wrexham scored five goals in a remarkable first half. The avalanche started in the 25th minute when Dave Smallman sent a glancing header past Watford goalkeeper Andy Rankin after Arfon Griffiths floated a free kick into the box.

Less than a minute later, Wrexham doubled their lead. Griffiths sent Smallman away down the left and his cross was knocked back across the box by Brian Tinnion for Graham Whittle to turn on a sixpence and shoot low into the corner of the goal.

Watford were all over the place. Whittle grabbed the third after good work from Smallman and Geoff Davies allowed him to score from 12 yards. The rampant Reds were in awesome form and Smallman almost notched another soon after, but he headed a Tinnion cross onto the bar. Not to be denied, Smallman nodded home the fourth after a Griffiths header from a Tinnion corner had bounced off the bar.

On the stroke of half-time, Wrexham completed their five-star show when Smallman ran free of the beleaguered Watford defence and crossed for Davies to slot home.

The Robins eased up in the second half and allowed the Hornets to score a consolation goal after 55 minutes when Roger Joslyn followed up after a shot by Bobby Downes had been blocked.

A jubilant John Neal said: “We hadn’t been putting away a big enough percentage of our chances in previous matches, but on Saturday we really tucked them in.”

***

After such a resounding victory our topsy-turvy season took a turn for the worse as we lost five and drew one of the next six games. In March, we beat Aldershot 4-0 thanks to a Dave Smallman hat-trick, but shortly after this treble the club – £50,000 in the red – accepted a club record fee of £75,000 from Everton manager Billy Bingham for the young marksman.

A distraught Neal said: “Wrexham have won, Everton have won, and the boy was won. I’m the loser because I hated to see him go.”

The campaign concluded with a 0-0 draw at Ewood Park against champions Blackburn Rovers that left us floating in 13th position.

Still, we managed to finish a largely forgettable season on a high after beating Cardiff City 5-2 over two legs to lift the Welsh Cup and earn another crack at European opposition.