World War Two

Memory Match – 09-11-46

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.

09-11-46

Wrexham v Darlington

League Division Three (Northern Section)

Racecourse Ground

Result: 7-1

Wrexham: McNee, Jones, Jackson, Lloyd, Roberts, Tudor, Gardner, McLarty, Boothway, Sharp, Brown

Goalscorers: Boothway (3, 1 pen), McLarty (2), Sharp, Brown

Darlington: Barron, Kelly, Hutchinson, Parsley, Saunder, Towers, Simpson, Allison, Harrison, Varty, Sinclair

Goalscorer: Varty

Attendance: 9,033

Jack Boothway had his football career severally disrupted by World War Two. The Manchester–born centre forward made his first team debut for Manchester City in April 1941 and played for the Maine Road club up until 1944. During this period Boothway netted 57 goals in only 76 games.

Jack – he was actually named John on his birth certificate – made a guest appearance for Crewe Alexandra in 1944 and stayed at Gresty Road until the Football League resumed in 1946. His war-time career with the Cheshire club saw him net 67 goals in just 68 matches.

In October 1946, Boothway joined Wrexham for a record fee and part-exchange deal with Peter Baines moving in the opposite direction. The 6ft 2in striker played part-time for the Reds while continuing to work as a Draughtsman for a Manchester firm. Although he failed to find the net on his debut at Tranmere – a goalless draw – he certainly made up for it on his home debut against Darlington.

The score line suggests a one-sided contest, but this was far from the case as the home defence found themselves under pressure at times. Nevertheless, Wrexham took the lead in the first few minutes when Boothway headed a cross from Tommy Gardner, only for a Darlington defender to prevent a goal using his hand. The new signing converted the resulting penalty. Within a couple of minutes, Jesse McLarty snapped up a pass from Boothway to make it 2-0.

It was at this point that Darlington goalkeeper Jim Barron raced out to stem a run by Boothway and picked up an injury. Norman Parsley took his place in goal for a short while and when Barron was fit enough to return, the score remained unchanged. The shot stopper’s reappearance boosted the confidence of his team mates and the lively Tommy Varty pulled a goal back for the visitors.

Wrexham struck back before the break when Boothway scored a third goal with a shot on the run after more combination play with Gardner. Both these players were also involved in the fourth goal, which came when Barron fisted out a Gardner cross only to see Boothway return the ball into the net for his hat-trick.

Darlington began the second half strongly, but it was Wrexham who got on the scoresheet when Roy Brown provided McLarty with a cross which he promptly converted.

Wrexham were then reduced to ten men through injury as outside right Cyril Jones had to hobble off. Darlington continued to try to make a game of it, but despite their best efforts they failed to score. Terry McNee saved cleverly from Varty and before the end Wrexham scored through Norman Sharp and Brown to make the final score 7-1.

Writing in the Leader, X.Y.Z said: “On this form the Wrexham men should score much more freely than has been the case, in the first two months of the season. Boothway added so much strength to the attack that all the other members of the line – Gardner, McLarty, Sharp and Brown gave improved displays with Sharp catching the eye with his scintillating runs, and Gardner getting nearer to the ball he revealed at the opening of the season.”

***

Tom Williams was the man in charge as Wrexham resumed league football in 1946/47. The club finished in a respectable seventh place. This was quite an achievement when you consider that there were only four players left in the squad from 1979 – Albert Brown, Eddie Tunney, Gib Bellis and Walter Roberts.

***

Jack Boothway finished the season with 17 goals in 22 league appearances. The big striker also achieved a four-goal haul against Marine in the first round of the FA Cup. Wrexham won the match 5-0.

Memory Match – 17-11-45

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.

17-11-45

Crewe Alexandra v Wrexham

FA Cup first round

Gresty Road

Result: 4-2

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)

Attendance: 7,916

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.