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.
Crewe Alexandra v Wrexham
FA Cup first round
Crewe Alexandra: Mawson, Bainbridge, Still, Heyward, Cope, Hill, Kelly, Shaw, Boothway, Chandler, Roberts
Goalscorers: Heyward, Boothway (2), Shaw
Wrexham: Whitelaw, Cook, Tunney, Jones, Jackson, Bellis, Collins, Heyward, Isherwood, Lloyd, Wainwright
Goalscorers: Lloyd (2)
Season 1945/46 was the first peacetime football campaign since 1939/40, which was cut short due to the outbreak of World War Two. On 7 May 1945 it was announced that the FA Cup would be resumed.
All rounds from round one, up to and including the quarter-finals, were made two-legged affairs with the aggregate score determining who went through to the next round.
Wrexham were drawn against Crewe Alexandra for their first competitive post-war fixture, with Gresty Road being the venue for the first leg. Pessimists were predicting a heavy defeat for Wrexham due to a weak frontline packed full of untried reserves, while the formerly powerful defence was something of an unknown quantity.
However, as so often happens with Wrexham, this pessimism was turned on its head with an excellent display that almost compounded the critics. Indeed, Crewe could consider themselves extremely fortunate to win by 2 clear goals.
The Railwaymen opened the scoring through Eric Heywood when he connected with a partially cleared corner to thrash home a drive from 35 yards. Worse was to follow. After only 20 minutes Crewe doubled their lead through a dubious goal from striker Jack Boothway who appeared to be miles offside. To rub salt into the wounds, it was clear to everyone bar the referee that the ball had been handled by a Crewe player in the build-up. The Wrexham defence remained static as Boothway bounded forward to shoot past David Whitelaw. Protests fell on deaf ears.
With little to lose, Wrexham simply knuckled down. We had several chances to get back into the game and the breakthrough came on the stroke of half-time thanks to a dazzling move between Dennis Isherwood, Anthony Collins and Cliff Lloyd. Isherwood launched a sweeping pass to the right wing for Collins to swing the ball towards goal with a first-time cross that was finished sweetly by Lloyd.
Dominant Wrexham were by far the more aggressive team for the first 20 minutes of the second half and equalised on 50 minutes after Lloyd was again in the right place to finish a marauding run forward from Cyril Jones.
Unfortunately, after expending all their efforts in getting back into the game, the tank of resurgence was now empty. Alex Shaw and Boothway made the game safe for the home side late on, but there was enough evidence to silence the cynics and suggest that Alexandra would have a stern test in the second leg at the Racecourse.
The attendance for this match was helped by a large travelling support which brought in gate receipts of £647.
Before the second leg our old friend, H Wilbraham of Maesgwyn Road, contributed another poem to the Leader, entitled Watch Your Step, Wrexham.
There’s trouble brewing, Wrexham,
So don’t play fast and loose,
For you must score three goals to none,
To cook the Crewe boys goose.
We have a new old player,
I think his name is Tunney,
If he can hold the Crewe lads back,
This really would be funny.
Now a word to you three half-backs,
Don’t fail to clear your deck,
And I put my faith in Jackson,
To hold Boothway in check.
And what about you forwards,
-You must slap the goals in, or
If you don’t get enough to win,
You’ll have something to answer for.
If you fail to get in the hat next week,
The directors will lose a lot,
The manager will tear his hair
And the chairman go off his dot!
You scored two goals last week, I see,
That’s good, I have no doubt,
So just score three on Saturday,
But keep the Crewe lads out.
At the end of this epic poem, Wilbraham adds a postscript:
PS – The final scores of the two matches should be: Wrexham 5, Crewe 4.
Wrexham did indeed win the return tie 3-0 to progress to the second round where they faced Shrewsbury Town. The Robins marched on after a 2-1 aggregate win, but our progress was then halted at the third round stage by First Division Blackpool who won both legs 4-1.
Derby County eventually won the Cup by beating Charlton Athletic 4-1 after extra-time at Wembley.
Lest we forget, the tournament witnessed a disaster in the sixth round when, during the second leg of the Bolton Wanderers v Stoke City tie, 33 people were crushed to death in the Burnden Park disaster.