Memory Match – 18-08-71

Memory Match – 18-08-71

This is the last-but-one Memory Match that I will be writing before having written a match report for every season that Wrexham AFC enjoyed in the Football League, between 1921 and 2008. I will then be in a position to publish the book that I have been working on since 2015. Wouldn’t it be great, if I could launch this new title in the months before the club returned to the Football League.

I already have a title in mind for this book, for which 100% of the profit will be donated to the Wrexham AFC Disabled Supporters Association (DSA). As a former committee member, I have seen the wonderful contribution that this group have made towards ensuring that every fan can enjoy the match-day experience. It is nothing short of a disgrace, that the DSA is not fully recognised by the football club.

As the club chase promotion from the National League, I am feeling increasingly annoyed and frustrated at the way the club is currently being run. The Hollywood takeover just leaves me cold, as  a once proud community club is being heartlessly raped by capitalist cretins without an understanding, or appreciation of the club’s rich history.

Hopefully, this book will help educate people and increase their enjoyment of the football that they are paying through the nose, to watch. I won’t hold my breath though…



Aston Villa v Wrexham

Football League Cup Round 1

Villa Park

Result: 2-2

 Aston Villa: Hughes, Bradley, Aitken, Gregory, Turnbull, Tiler, Graydon, Vowden, Lochhead, Hamilton (Martin), Anderson

Goalscorer: Lochhead, Anderson (pen)

 Wrexham: Gaskell, Ingle, Vansittart, Davis, May, Park, Moir, Provan, Kinsey, Tinnion, Griffiths

Goalscorer: Griffiths, May

Attendance: 24,552

 On July 31st 1971, we made our debut in the Watney Cup. This was a competition held before the start of the season, and was contested by the teams that had scored the most goals in each of the four divisions of the Football League the previous season who had not been promoted or admitted to one of the European competitions. Two teams from each division took part, making eight participants in total.

The short-lived competition began in 1970, and only ran until 1973 when it was discontinued. The competition was so named thanks to a sponsorship deal with the Watney Mann brewery; the first tournament for English Football League clubs to sell its naming rights.

Our only appearance in this tournament saw us take on West Bromwich Albion of the First Division at the Racecourse. We did not succeed in springing a surprise and lost the match 1-2, with Tony Brown scoring a brace for the Baggies. Albert Kinsey notched the only goal we ever registered in this competition.

Cup competitions seemed to be playing a bigger role in the fortunes of our historic club. This continued throughout the 1971/72 season, as we were drawn against another Midlands giant in the first round of the League Cup – Aston Villa, at Villa Park.

The Villains were experiencing life in Division Three between 1970 and 1972, and would certainly provide a tough test if we were to progress to the second-round stage. Indeed, only a few months previously, Villa were beaten finalists in this very competition – losing 0-2 to Tottenham Hotspur.

24,552 supporters were at Villa Park to watch Wrexham give their opponents the run-around with some sparkling football in the opening period.

Willie Anderson sparked off the Birmingham club’s second-half revival, when he fired in a cross from the left. For the first and only time in the match, Andy Lochhead beat Eddie May in the air to head home past Dave Gaskell in the 62nd minute. This goal was extremely fortunate due to a deflection off May and the fact that Ray Graydon appeared to be standing in an offside position. The linesman waved his flag, but after the referee had consulted with him, he decided to award a controversial goal.

Only six minutes later, Arfon Griffiths drew the game level after an excellent ball from the back by Gareth Davies sent Albert Kinsey free down the right wing. He managed to get out of a tight corner and centred for Griffiths to plant a header past the helpless Tommy Hughes.

With the contest finely balanced, Andy Provan had the ball in the net on a couple of occasions, but each effort was disallowed. In his match report for the Leader, Ron Chaloner argues that he couldn’t see anything wrong with either strike. The first was deemed offside, and on the second occasion, the referee ruled that Brian Tinnion had fouled goalkeeper Hughes.

There were only eleven minutes remaining, when Villa were awarded a controversial penalty for Tommy Vansittart’s seemingly innocuous tackle on Lionel Martin. After the Wrexham protest died down, Anderson rammed home what looked likely to be the winning goal, but John Neal’s men were made of strong stuff and were fostering a ‘never say die’ attitude.

With less than a minute left, Vansittart was brought down by Villa captain Harry Gregory thirty yards from goal. Griffiths floated in the resulting free-kick and Eddie May thumped home the dramatic equaliser…

The replay at the Racecourse was attended by 12,113 spectators who did not see a goal for ninety minutes. There was plenty of incident, such as Gaskell parrying an effort by Lochhead and Hughes was just as busy at the other end – tipping Provan’s centre over the bar and diving to make a great save from a 20-yard drive by Kinsey. Thirteen minutes before the end, Tinnion was desperately unlucky not to put Wrexham in the driving seat with a 20-yard shot that agonisingly hit the angle of the woodwork.

Two minutes from the end, Lochhead netted for the visitors, but the goal was disallowed for a foul on May. Extra-time was on the cards, and it didn’t look good when Anderson netted after just two minutes of the additional thirty. The importance of our blend of youth and experience was proven again when Kinsey’s shot hit a post and Davies was on-hand to force the ball home in the resulting melee with only four minutes left.

The third match of this epic contest, took place at West Bromwich Albion’s home of the Hawthorns. After another cracking match, Ron Chaloner told of how he over-heard one Albion supporter talking to another:

“I’m glad our lot weren’t playing either of these teams tonight. They’d have got thrashed.”

The game had started in electrifying fashion, as it took only three minutes for Villa’s Lochhead to dash to the near-post and register the opening goal with a glancing header from Anderson’s in-swinging corner-kick. Within a minute, Wrexham were level, with May powering a header that bounced back off the underside of the bar. Thankfully for the Town, Moir was on hand to crack the ball home.

This really was a pulsating game and a fitting end to over 300 minutes of football. Brian Lloyd deputised for the injured Dave Gaskell, and made two wonder-saves in the opening period to keep us in the game. His opposite-number Geoff Crudgington, also dived full-length to foil Ray Smith. The Villa defence would have been sick of the sight of May, who was a constant thorn in their side. He had another fantastic header cleared of the goal-line by Charlie Aitken.

It was in the 65th minute that Wrexham took the lead, through yet another May header from Bobby Park’s in-direct free-kick from inside the penalty area. We only had this advantage for five minutes, when Villa levelled through a dubious-looking penalty decision that mirrored the penalty given against the Reds in the opening game. Vansittart again claimed that Anderson ran into him and simply fell over.

With just ten minutes left, Bobby Park delivers a throw-in to Albert Kinsey on the right, who switched the ball to Brian Tinnion. The Workington-born forward centred a delightful ball that Gareth Davies connected with to give the Red Men the lead.

With just six minutes remaining, Wrexham fans are in full voice as they look certain to make it to the second-round of the League Cup. Villa were all over the place and their defender Fred Turnbull was caught in a moment of indecision by Ian Moir, who raced past him and stabbed at the ball which agonisingly hit the inside of the post before being scrambled clear. Had Moir scored, we would have been home and dry with a 4-2 lead, but seconds later, the home-side reminded the visitors that they were not a beaten side yet.

Bruce Rioch produced another wonderful save from Lloyd, but as the game entered the last five minutes, Wrexham right-back Steve Ingle turned a cross from Anderson, into his own net. The atmosphere was electric, as the game balanced on a knife-edge, but it was Villa who now had the momentum. Just a minute after the equaliser, Ray Graydon took a right-wing corner and all hell was let loose as Andy Lochhead leapt highest to head home the winning goal.

It had been a magnificent contest between the two clubs. It was just a shame that someone had to lose and on this occasion we just did not have enough in the tank to dispose of the so-called ‘bigger team’. Our days as cup giant-killers were just around the corner though…

The men in Claret and Blue actually made it to the fourth round of the League Cup that season. Their prize for beating us was a trip to Saltergate to face fellow Division Three side Chesterfield. They won this encounter 2-3 to set up a third round tie against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. They did not feel their top tier opponents and secured a replay with a 2-2 draw. The replay at Villa Park saw them reach the fourth round with a 2-0 victory.

Vic Crowe’s men were finally dumped of the League Cup by Blackpool of Division Two at Bloomfield Road. They were cast aside  4-1 by the Seasiders.


Our form in the bread and butter of the league, was somewhat disappointing as we only managed a 16th-place finish in the old Third Division. John Neal was busy blending his exciting young players, with more experienced professionals, and it was clear to all that Neal was building something exciting for the future.


After starting the decade with a first-round FA Cup defeat at Mansfield, we progressed further along the road to Wembley during 1971/72. Bradford City were dispatched 5-1 in the first round at the Racecourse. We were actually trailing after 49 minutes of this contest, but turned on the style to ensure our place in the second-round, where Non-League Wigan Athletic visited the Cae Ras.

The plucky part-timers kept us at bay until the 77th minute, when we took the lead through Ian Moir. We added another three goals before the 90 minutes was up, to eventually win 4-0. Our reward was third-round trip to Brisbane Road, to take on Leyton Orient of the Second Division. The East-London side were favourites, and although we held out until the 73rd minute, George Petchey’s men sealed a 3-0 win to end our interest in the competition.


Our cup credentials were further strengthened by the season’s Welsh Cup run. After entering the competition at the fifth-round stage, Oswestry Town were dispatched 2-0 at the Racecourse. Another home tie saw us ease past Aberystwyth Town 6-2, to set up a semi-final encounter with Newport County, again at our famous old ground. A 2-0 victory meant that we would be in the two-legged final against Second Division Cardiff City.

Obviously the underdogs, Wrexham triumphed 2-1 at the Cae Ras, before finally playing an away game in the competition at Ninian Park. The fact that the Bluebirds had grabbed a vital goal -through Bobby Woodruff – made them clear favourites, but Wrexham had other ideas as they aimed to win the Welsh Cup for the first time since 1960.

We had to play the game without the injured Mickey Thomas and John Neal gambled on the fitness of Arfon Griffiths as a replacement, even though he hadn’t played for two months. The Robins started brightly and had several chances to increase their aggregate lead against a jittery Cardiff side, who had only just escaped relegation from the second tier. Mickey Evans had an early effort from 25 yards, that Billy Irwin in the Cardiff goal palmed over. Billy Ashcroft also went close before the side from the capital sorted themselves out. Just one goal was needed to give Cardiff the honours on the away-goals rule, and when Brian Clark netted with a header it was only the referee who stopped this from being a disaster. He ruled this effort out, due to the fact that Clark was clambering all over Dave Fogg. Relief for the Town.

The home side finally got the goal that they had been threatening, after 52 minutes – through Alan Foggon. Jubilation washed around Ninian Park, but only 90 seconds later, Wrexham equalised. Mickey Evans found Brian Tinnion on the right wing, and he pushed the ball forward for Griffiths, who flicked on for Albert Kinsey to smash home with his right foot.

The remainder of the game belonged to City, but John Neal’s men hung on to record their nineteenth Welsh Cup success and qualify for their first shot at European competition.

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