Swansea 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 – 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.

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 – 22-12-56

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.

22-12-56

Wrexham v Gateshead

League Division Three (Northern Section)

Racecourse Ground

Result: 4-1

Wrexham: Waters, McGowan, Parker, Green, Fox, Davis, Gren Jones, Thompson, Evans, Anderson, David Jones

Goalscorers: Davis, Evans (2), Thompson

Gateshead: Gray, Dawson, Oldham, Callender, Davis, Moran, Slater, Smith, Brown, Oliver, Lydon

Goalscorer: Brown

Attendance: 7,326

The 1956/57 season got off to a slow start with two 2-2 home draws against Chester and Hartlepools United, followed by a 4-2 defeat at Gateshead. Our chance for revenge against the Redheugh Park club came just before Christmas in the middle of 17 games without defeat.

The biggest flashpoint of the afternoon came with just four minutes left on the clock. Gateshead centre forward Bill Brown found himself in hot water when he was involved in an altercation with Wrexham wing half Billy Green. There was only one winner in this colourful tussle as Green was punched unconscious by Brown who was booed off the field after referee Mr A Jobling showed him a red card. What most spectators did not realise was that Green also received his marching orders. Apparently, Green was seen striking the Gateshead man in the chest before Brown delivered the killer blow. Speaking in the dressing room after the game, Green said “I don’t remember anything about what happened”.

Peter Thompson, who was moved to inside right in place of the injured Ron Hewitt, scored with a sensational strike to make it four and complete a resounding victory. Thompson ran half the length of the pitch, beat three men and left Bobby Gray in the Gateshead goal with no chance of picking out the ball in the thick grey fog. This was a shame for Gray who had been in remarkable from that afternoon.

Ron Chaloner of the Leader also gives a special word of praise to left half Fred Davis whose display throughout was described as an object lesson to budding wing halves. It was Davis who opened the scoring in the 36th minute with his first goal of the season. He wormed his way past two men before smashing the ball into the corner of the net.

Three minutes later, Bernard Evans rose high to head home a Grenville Jones corner and double our advantage. By the break, Wrexham could have scored double figures if it wasn’t for the heroics of Gray who even saved a penalty kick from John Anderson with a brilliant flying dive after Gordon Davis had handled.

Wrexham went further ahead in the 75th minute when Evans headed home a centre by Thompson before Brown notched a consolation effort for the away side. Unfortunately, as Green was about to find out, this did not brighten up his mood and calm his aggression…

The Robins climbed to 6th in the table after this victory, with Bob Keen and his Gateshead team looking nervously over their shoulder in 16th position.

***

Cliff Lloyd’s Wrexham finished the season in a comfortable mid–table position of 12th, but the real highlight of the season came in the cup competitions.

In the FA Cup, Wrexham beat Crewe Alexandra, Scunthorpe & Lindsey United and Reading to set up a dream fourth round home tie against Manchester United. When the “Busby Babes” ran out at the Racecourse they were faced with a record attendance of 34,445 – a record that stands to this day. United put on a spectacular show to run out 5-0 winners. Only a year later, the Munich air disaster robbed football of some exceptional talents, some of whom had played on the Racecourse that day.

The Reds also brought the Welsh Cup back to the Racecourse for the first time since 1931. After knocking out Bangor, Caernarfon and Chester, they met Swansea Town in the Final at Ninian Park. The Swans played in the Second Division and were firm favourites to lift the trophy, but Wrexham surprised everyone by winning 2-1 with goals from Tom McNab and Peter Thompson.

Memory match – 22-08-64

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.

22-08-64

Wrexham v Notts County

League Division Four

Racecourse Ground

Result: 4-0

WREXHAM: Dunlop, Jones, McClelland, Barnes, Morrall, Johnson, Colbridge, Griffiths, Phythian, McMillan, Williams

Goalscorers: Barnes (2 pens), McMillan, Griffiths

NOTTS COUNTY: Smith, Edwards, Agnew, Sheridan, Gibson, Carver, Kavanagh, Astle, Bly, Hannah, Barber

Attendance: 7,911

 

Both clubs were at a low-ebb as they began season 1964/65.

Wrexham found themselves back in the Fourth Division under player-manager Ken Barnes following a disastrous 1963/64 campaign, which included a record 9-0 defeat at Brentford. Our form at the Racecourse was not much better, gate receipts plummeted by more than £11,000 on the previous term and no one was surprised that the season culminated in relegation to the basement. Furthermore, according to local journalists, the club were £24,000 in the red and dependant on handouts from a well-organised Supporters’ Association.

As a result, there had been little transfer activity during the summer with the exceptions of former Welsh international Graham Williams (Swansea Town), Joe McClelland (Hibernian) and Dennis Lambourne (Llanelly). Williams and McClelland both cost nothing while 18-year-old Lambourne was signed for a “nominal” fee after impressing in a Welsh Cup tie the previous season.

“I hope this season will bring better things and, with the normal breaks, I feel that we can be back in the Third Division at the end of it,” said Barnes at his annual meeting with shareholders.

“I certainly didn’t envisage what would happen last season, but that’s football.”

Notts County were the only club to finish below Wrexham in the third tier during the disastrous 1963/64 season and were in something of a tailspin. Crowds at Meadow Lane had dwindled to around the 3,000 mark, Forest had established themselves as the dominant team in Nottingham and the County chairman had been voted off the board. It seemed as if things couldn’t get much worse for the Magpies, but as the new season dawned, any attempt to restore pride were hindered by an injury list that included no fewer than seven players.

Arthur Dunlop was selected ahead of Steve Fleet in the Wrexham goal with the opening exchanges suggesting that he would be in for a much busier afternoon than his County counterpart, George Smith.

The visitors had every reason to be hopeful after a controlled opening period saw their right-winger Eddie Kavanagh beat Joe McClelland to set-up a glorious opportunity for Mick Barber. However, the attacker then contrived to hit his shot from 10 yards against the post when it looked easier to score. This was a lucky escape that shook the Robins from their slumber.

Suddenly, after 20 minutes, Wrexham turned the tables and began to dominate proceedings. Clive Colbridge shaved a post, Graham Williams mis-hit an effort with the goal at his mercy and Sammy McMillan went close after some effective interplay between Arfon Griffiths and Ernie Phythian.

County had lost their early composure and were hanging on for dear life as they struggled to cope with wave after wave of attack. Overworked defender Dave Agnew headed a McMillan lob off the goal line and Phythian smashed a 25 yard drive against the bar before Wrexham eventually took the lead through a scrappy effort from Arfon Griffiths.

If Wrexham were good in the first half then they were simply irresistible in the second. The County defence just could not cope. The forlorn figure of Smith made excellent saves from Eric Johnson, McMillan, McClelland (twice) and Barnes, but three times he was lucky when a header by McMillan and shots by Griffiths and Johnson struck the bar.

The panic stricken away side were under so much pressure that they ended up conceding two penalties on 59 and 72 minutes. The first followed a trip by Agnew on Colbridge while the second was awarded when Dick Edwards saved Peter Jones cross-shot with both hands. Ken Barnes converted both penalties in opposite corners of the net.

Two minutes from the end, Phythian’s fine pass sent McMillan racing away to score a brilliantly taken goal.

“I am quite pleased about our display. I’m not going to go in to ecstasies, but with a little luck we could’ve scored ten,” said Barnes.