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.
Southampton v Wrexham
League Division Three
Southampton: Christie, Page, Traynor, Davies, Parker, Stevens, Paine, Mulgrew, Reeves, Hoskins, Sydenham
Wrexham: Ugolini, McGowan, Jones (Ken), Davis, Fox, Evans, Jones (Gren), Murray, Bannan, Crispey, Anderson
Goalscorers: Jones (Gren), Murray
“I like Wrexham. It’s a nice town and I am sure we will be happy here.”
So said Mrs Brian Cripsey after being given a car tour of the town and giving her husband the go-ahead to leave Hull City and sign for the Robins. Manager John Love signed the 26-year-old left-winger for the princely sum of £4,000 – probably the highest fee the club had ever paid for a player at that time – just hours before his first-team debut at Mansfield Town.gue
While the formalities were being completed, the team coach left for Field Mill leaving a mad dash for Love and Cripsey to catch up with the team coach at Macclesfield – where Cripsey met his new team mates for the first time.
The last-minute escapade did not stop Cripsey from proving his worth when he accepted a slick pass from Don Weston and smashed home from 18 yards. Unfortunately this was nothing more than a consolation as Wrexham slumped to a 3-1 defeat.
Our away record for the start of the 1958/59 season did not bare much scrutiny. We had lost all five games on our travels; conceding nine goals and scoring just two. To increase anxiety our next match was a first-ever trip to Southampton who were undefeated in their last nine home games.
However this match turned out to be a real coupon buster. It was such an impressive display that Leader reporter Ron Chaloner remarked that it was one of the finest away performances he had ever seen by Wrexham – claiming 1-5 would have been more accurate reflection of the game.
Wrexham had two goals disallowed, should’ve been awarded a penalty and Ken Murray was unlucky with a shot that hit a post. Southampton fans showered Wrexham with warm applause for their glorious football. Unfortunately, they were not so kind to their own team who were given a slow-hand clap in the second half. Serious stuff!!
Eight minutes before the interval Wrexham scored the long overdue opener that their flowing football always threatened when Gren Jones burst down the middle, beat three men in a dazzling dribble and slipped the ball to Murray. The inside-forward returned it smartly and Jones, still racing on, smashed it in.
Murray notched the second after the break when Cripsey – who levelled up a lopsided Wrexham attack that had been crying out for a left sided outlet for years – crossed a fine centre that the Geordie met to direct a powerful header into the bottom corner.
Derek Reeves scored Southampton’s consolation five minutes from the end, but Wrexham didn’t panic. They stuck to their fine football and ran out deserving winners.
According to Chalanor, if all Wrexham fans had seen this performance then they would’ve been “as happy as a dog with ten tails”.
I wish I could say that this victory was the dawn of an exciting period of stylish football and not a freak flash in the pan, but sadly this level of performance wasn’t repeated all season and the club finished an unforgettable season – the first in the newly reorganised national Third Division – in 18th position.