Wrexham Football Club (Welsh: Clwb Pêl-droed Wrecsam, nicknamed The Red Dragons, or more traditionally, The Robins) are a football team based in Wrexham, north-east Wales. They compete as part of the English football league system, in Football League Two in the 2006/2007 season, after being relegated from Football League One in 2004-05. Founded in 1872 they are one of the oldest surviving football clubs in the UK, and the oldest professional club in Wales.
The club plays at the Racecourse Ground in Wrexham. The manager is Brian Carey.
They have been regular winners of the Welsh Cup and FAW Premier Cup and in the 1990-91 European Cup Winners Cup campaign were knocked out by Manchester United who went on to win the trophy.
1872 - 1905
The club was formed by members of the Wrexham Cricket Club, who wanted a sporting activity for the winter months, on 28 September 1872 during a meeting held at the Turf Hotel in Wrexham (this is despite the club's modern badge stating they were formed in 1873).
As the rules of football were still somewhat fluid at the time, early matches featured teams with up to 17 players on each side (16 players when playing the Provincial Insurance Office and Chester College, 15 players against the Volunteer Fire Brigade). In these early years Wrexham were leaders of the campaign to restrict teams to 11 players. The club's first match against an outside team was a 12-a-side game against past and present members of Grove Park School played at Wrexham Cricket Ground, which Wrexham won 2-0 on 19 October 1872.
In 1876 the newly formed Football Association of Wales saw Wales play their first International match, against Scotland, featuring Edwin Cross and Alfred Davis as the first of many Wrexham AFC players to play for Wales.
In the 1877-78 season the FAW inaugurated the Welsh Cup competition, to run on similar lines to the English FA Cup. The first Welsh Cup Final was played at Acton Park. Wrexham got to the final of the inaugural competition, where they defeated Druids F.C. 1-0, but thanks to lack of money at the fledgling FAW they did not receive their trophy until the next year. For their first decade, Wrexham mostly played friendly matches against both Welsh and English opposition, with the Welsh Cup providing most of their competitive football, Wrexham winning it again in 1883.
1883 also saw Wrexham's first appearance in the FA Cup, when after receiving a bye to the second round of the competition they were defeated 3-4 at home by Oswestry. Crowd trouble at the game led to the club being disbanded, although a new club, Wrexham Olympic, was formed a month later and which reverted to the original name after three years.
Thanks to a dispute with their landlords, who had raised the rent of the Racecourse Ground to £10 a year, Wrexham played their home games in the 1881-82 and 1882-83 seasons at Rhosddu Recreation Ground (changing the club's name to Wrexham Athletic for one season), before moving back to the Racecourse Ground for the 1883-84 season, where they have remained ever since.
In 1890 Wrexham joined the Football Combination. Their first game was played against Gorton Villa on 6 September 1890, with Arthur Lea scoring Wrexham's only goal in a 5-1 defeat. Lea played for the club despite only having one arm as did playing colleague James Roberts. Wrexham finished the season second from bottom in eighth place.
Wrexham played in the Combination for four years before a rapid increase in costs resulted in the club joining the Welsh League in the 1894-95 season. Wrexham won the Welsh League both years that they were in it, but they then decided to return to the Combination, as the reduced support they received meant that the savings they made on their travelling expenses were outweighed by the reduction in gate revenue.
1905 - 1960
The club then remained in the Combination until 1905, winning the title four times. After several unsuccessful attempts Wrexham were elected to the Birmingham and District League in time for the 1905-06 season. Wrexham's first ever match in this league was against Kidderminster Harriers at the Racecourse. Two thousand spectators saw Wrexham win 2-1. Wrexham finished sixth in their first season.
During their time in the Birmingham and District League, Wrexham won the Welsh Cup six times, in 1908-09, 1909-10, 1910-11, 1913-14, 1914-15, and 1920-21. They also reached the First Round proper of the FA Cup for a second time in the 1908-09 season before losing a replay 1-2 to Exeter City after extra time.
In 1921 Wrexham were elected to the newly formed Third Division North of the Football League. Their first League game was against Hartlepool United at the Racecourse in front of 8,000 spectators. Playing in blue shirts Wrexham were defeated 0-2. The following week Wrexham gained revenge when they travelled to Hartlepool and earned a 1-0 victory.
During that season Ted Regan scored the club's first ever hat-trick, while Brian Simpson became the first Wrexham player to be sent off in a League game when he was ordered from the field of play against Southport in January 1922. Charlie Hewitt was the clubs' first ever manager.
In the 1926-27 season the club got past the first round of the FA Cup only to be knocked out by Rhyl. The following season Wrexham fought their way to the Fourth Round before they lost 0-1 to Birmingham City. A record 32 League goals from Albert Mays helped Wrexham to third position in the division in the 1928-29 season. Later in that season Tommy Bamford made his debut for the club. He went on to score 201 League and Cup goals for the club. During the 1929-30 season the club recorded their best ever League win when they defeated Rochdale 8-0.
Wrexham enjoyed their best ever Third Division North season in 1932-33, when they finished runners-up to Hull City and won 18 of their 21 home games. The club first appeared in their now-familiar red and white strip for the short-lived 1939-40 season.
During the Second World War years, Wrexham played in the Regional League West against teams from Merseyside and Manchester, among others. Wrexham's position as a barracks town meant that the team could secure the services of many famous guest players such as Stanley Matthews and Stan Cullis.
In the first post war season Wrexham equalled their best ever position when they again finished third in the Third Division North. In the summer of 1949 the club made its first ever tour abroad when it played three games against the British army in Germany.
The club reached the Fourth Round of the FA Cup in 1956-57 where they played Manchester United's Busby Babes in front of a crowd of a record attendance of 34,445 people. The 5-0 defeat did not spoil the occasion. Later that season Wrexham won the Welsh Cup for the first time in 26 years.
1960 - 1970
In 1960 the club were relegated for the first time, to the newly created Fourth Division but performances improved following the appointment of Ken Barnes as player-manager. He led Wrexham to promotion in his first season and oversaw a 10-1 trouncing of Hartlepool United, the club's record League victory. Unfortunately Wrexham were relegated to the Fourth Division again two years later and in 1966 they finished rock-bottom at 92nd in the Football League.
Wrexham's inaugural match in Europe was against Swiss side FC Zurich in Switzerland on 13 September 1972, the game finished 1-1, in the return leg Wrexham won 2-1 (3-2 on aggregate) the second round drew saw Wrexham face the ex-Yugoslav, now Croatian side Hajduk Split, the game finished 3-3 but Wrexham went out on away goals. The 1972 season saw the completion of the new Yale stand, with a capacity of 5,500. The 1973 saw Wrexham change their badge from the Maelor crest to a brand new one that incorporated the 3 feathers at the top and two dragons holding a ball at the bottom. The 1973/74 season saw Wrexham reach the Quarter-finals of the FA Cup, After wins at Shrewsbury, Rotherham, Middlesbrough, Crystal Palace and Southampton finally came to and end at first division Burnley with 20,000 Wrexham fans at Turf moor, the score finished 1-0, Wrexham came 4th in the league just missing out on promotion. 1975/76 saw John Neal's starlets again shock the football world by reaching the quarter finals of the European cup-winners cup. in the first round Wrexham beat the Swedish team IF Djurgardens 3-2 on aggregate, They next knocked-out Polish side Stal Rzeszow 3-1 on aggregate, Wrexham played Anderlecht in the quarter finals and lost 2-1 to the eventual winners. The 1976/77 season saw Wrexham again beat First division opposition in both Cup competitions, Tottenham Hotspur in the league cup and Sunderland in the FA Cup, the season was a traumatic one as the club, on the verge of promotion to the second division with only four matches left, required just three points to reach there goal, unbelievably they missed out. Arfon Griffiths took over as player-manager for the 1977/78 season. They reached both the League and FA Cup Quarter-finals, Wrexham clinched promotion when they beat Rotherham united 7-1 at a packed Racecourse. Wrexham went on to win the Third Division Championship. In the 1978/79 season Wrexham made it to the fourth round of the FA Cup where they narrowly lost to Tottenham Hotspur 3-2 in the replay after the first game finished 3-3, the Spurs team had the likes of Ossie Ardiles, Ricky Villa and Glen Hoddle in their team. Following Arfon Griffiths' departure in 1981, his assistant Mel Sutton was put in charge, the memorable Third round FA Cup win over Brian Clough's Nottingham Forest was the highlight of the season.
The summer of 1982 saw Bobby Roberts appointed the club's new manager, relegation meant the club had dire financial problems, This meant the sale of many of the club's experienced and talented players. Frank Carrdus, Ian Edwards, Mick Vinter and Wayne Cegieski had already left during the summer, Steve Fox, Joey Jones, Dixie McNeil and Billy Ronson soon followed. Wrexham were again relegated again to the Fourth Division. The 1984/85 season saw Wrexham take on Portuguese giants FC Porto, Wrexham won the home leg with a remarkable 1-0 victory, the second leg and Porto showed their class and were 3-0 up after 38 minutes, however Wrexham pulled goals back, the game finished 4-4 and Wrexham went through on away goals. The second round draw was to pair Wrexham with Italian giants AS Roma manged by Sven Goran Eriksson. Wrexham lost 3-0 on aggregate. Former Racecourse favourite Dixie McNeil was appointed the clubs new manager in May 1985, his first season in charge saw the team finish mid-table position, he led the team to a Welsh cup final win over Kidderminster Harriers. 1986 saw Wrexham return to European football with a first round draw against Maltese side, FC Zurrieq, whom they beat 7-0 on aggregate to earn a second round tie against Real Zaragoza which they drew 2-2 with on aggregate but went out on away-goals. Following the Bradford fire in May 1985, legislation on ground safety at all football grounds was brought in effect, this eventually led to the closure of the Mold road stand. Led by Dixie McNeil Wrexham reached the Fourth Division play-offs in 1989, having finished seventh in the league, Wrexham beat Scunthorpe United in the semi-final 5-1 on aggregate, however Wrexham narrowly lost to Leyton Orient 2-1 in the final. After just 3 wins from 13 league games, Dixie McNeil resigned. He was replaces, initially on a temporary basis, by Brian Flynn, but that was made permanent a month later, The club continued to struggle, Flynn made three important signings in Mark Setori, Eddie Youds and Alan Kennedy which saw the team finish in twenty-first place and avoiding relegation. The 1990/91 season it was announced there would be no relegation to the conference, Wrexham were to finish in ninety-second place, Wrexham were knocked-out of the European cup winners cup by Manchester United 5-0 on aggregate. The 1991-92 season saw Wrexham still in a poor financial state,. With the club knocked out of the League Cup and struggling in the league, it was left to to the FA Cup to keep the season alive, having beaten Telford United and Winsford United they were drawn to play previous seasons First Divisions champions Arsenal, Wrexham produced one of the most memorable nights to beat the gunners 2-1. They lost in the next round to West Ham United 1-0 in the replay after the first game finished 2-2.
1993 - 2001
The 1992/93 season saw Wrexham manager Brian Flynn Make a shrewd signing when he enlisted the services of Gary Bennett, he soon settled and helped Wrexham into the promotion race. Wrexham's season came to a head on 27 April 1993 when with two games left they travelled to Northampton requiring a win to gain promotion, the game ended 2-0 to Wrexham and the 4,500 reds there were jubilent. The 1994/95 season would see Wrexham achieve success in the FA Cup, Having beaten Stockport and Rotherham they faced Premier league Ipswich Town at the racecourse, Wrexham running out 2-1 winners thanks to Gary Bennett and Kieron Durkan. In the next round Wrexham were drawn away to Manchester United and despite taking the lead, United went on to win 5-2. The 1995/96 season saw Wrexham in European action again, this time in Romania against Petrolul Ploiesti, the home leg ended in a 0-0 draw and in the return leg the Romanians scored the only goal of the match. The 1996/97 season saw Wrexham set off on another amazing cup run, following wins at Colwyn Bay and Scunthorpe United, they were drawn to play West Ham United at home, the result ended in a 1-1 draw on a snow-covered pitch, the replay at upton park ended in a shock Wrexham win as Kevin Russell scored in the dying minutes to send Wrexham in to round 4. After they beat Peterborough united and Birmingham City, they played Chesterfield in a Division 2 FA Cup Quarter final, Wrexham lost narrowly 1-0. Wrexham's new training ground was officially opened in June 1997 at a cost of £700,000. The1999/2000 season saw Wrexham again beat top flight team in the FA Cup, this time it was Middlesbrough who with the likes of Paul Gascoigne, Gary Pallistar and Juninho were the clear favourites, 1-0 down at half-time, Wrexham ran out 2-1 winners. Wrexham went on to win the FAW premier cup in May 2001.
At the start of the 21st century the club was dogged with problems, including the chairman, Alex Hamilton, attempting to get them evicted from their stadium so that he could sell it for development purposes – the saga involved the sale of the Racecourse Ground to a separate company owned by Hamilton immediately after he became the club's chairman. In the summer of 2004 Hamilton gave the club a years' notice to quit the ground.
The club's fans developed an affinity with those of Brighton & Hove Albion, who themselves had successfully deposed a chairman who sold their ground in almost exactly the same circumstances.
On 3 December 2004 the club was placed in financial administration by the High Court in Manchester as the club owed £2,600,000, including £800,000 to the Inland Revenue in unpaid taxes. Wrexham became the first League club to suffer a ten-point deduction under the new rule for being placed in Administration, dropping them from the middle of the League One table to the relegation zone.
Despite their financial troubles, Wrexham went on to win the 2004-05 LDV Vans Trophy by defeating Southend United 2-0 after extra time, in Wrexham's first appearance in Cardiff's Millennium Stadium. It was Southend's second consecutive defeat in the LDV Vans Trophy final.
Wrexham still retained an outside chance of escaping the drop in the 2004-05 season following an end-of-season winning streak; however, their faint hopes of staying up ended with a 2-1 home loss to Brentford on 3 May 2005. The 10-point deduction proved decisive in determining Wrexham's fate, as the club finished with 43 points compared to 20th-placed Milton Keynes Dons' 51 - a net points tally of 53 after deduction, which caused the relegation.
In October 2005, Birmingham High Court decided that Mr Hamilton's company CrucialMove had improperly acquired the freehold of the ground. Mr Hamilton then took this to the Appeal Court in London and it ruled on 14 March 2006 that the stadium must remain in the hands of the club's administrators. On 30 April 2006 the Administrators reached an agreement with local car dealer Neville Dickens, subject to agreement by the shareholders and creditors (which was achieved on 30 May), for Mr Dickens to take over the club. Had the club still been in Administration on 3 June then it would have automatically been expelled from the League.
Wrexham Football Club (2006) Ltd is the name of the 'phoenix' company that took over the assets of the old Wrexham Association Football Club Limited so technically the club is no longer known as Wrexham Association Football Club, this is reflected on new merchandise.
Denis Smith was sacked on 11 January 2007 with Wrexham in the bottom half of the division and was replaced by coach Brian Carey. Wrexham finished 19th in League Two and on 51 points after an impressive late run of form which saw them win 4 out of their last 5 games, the last of which was a vital 3-1 victory on 5 May 2007 over Boston United at home which sent their opponents down to the Conference and ensured that Wrexham would stay in the Football League. Sources within Wrexham say a protest has been planned for 20th October 2007, before Wrexham's home match with Barnet, with hundreds of fans demanding that Carey be removed from his post. A defeat against Barnet would surely ensure this. However many fans plan to boycot Wrexham's games completely is Carey's contract is not terminated.
On Tuesday 30th October Wrexham Football Club announced the signings of Darren Harrison and Jack Barnes. The 16 year old boys will sign officaly on July 1st 2008. Director of the academy Neville Dickens was delighted to capture the signings of the two youngsters he stated" I am delighted to have these two at my disposal for next season, Darren is a tenacious tackler who players in center midfielder while jack is a natural center back who is very quick and also good in the air and on the deck"
The Racecourse Ground (Y Cae Ras in Welsh) has been the home of Wrexham FC since 1872. The capacity is 15,500, with the Kop end to be redeveloped within the next 5 months. The ground Is located on mold road close to the A483 dual carriageway. The ground has four sides, of which three are seated, these being the Mold Road stand, Yale stand and the Eric Roberts stand (away). The home Terrace behind the goal is called The Kop or Town End. The Racecourse is the largest stadium in north Wales, and consequently is sometimes used by the FAW for Wales' home international games. The ground is also used by Llanelli Scarlets rugby team, and formerly Liverpool FC Reserves.
Wrexham currently train at the purpose built Colliers park training ground in Gresford, it cost £750,000 to build initially but has further been developed and now boasts an artificial pitch. Colliers park is regarded as one of the best training grounds in the U.K outside the topflight. Glasgow Rangers, Barcelona and both the Welsh and English national sides have trained there.
- 1977/78 - Third Division (replaced by League One) Champions
- 1992/93 - Division Three (replaced by League Two) Runners/Up
- 1969/70 - Third Division (replaced by League Two) 3rd place promoted
- 2002/2003 - Division Three (replaced by League Two) 3rd place promoted
- LDV Trophy (Football League Trophy) - Winners: 2004/2005
- Welsh Cup - Winners: 23 times, runner-up 22 times
- FAW Premier Cup - Winners: 1997/98, 1998/99, 1999/2000, 2001/02, 2003/04
- FA Cup - QF: 1973/74, 1977/78, 1996/97
- League Cup - QF: 1960/61, 1977/78
- European Cup Winners Cup - QF: 1975/76
- Most league goals in a season - 44 Tommy Bamford (1933-34)
- Most league goals in total - 175 Tommy Bamford (1928-34)
- Most league appearances - 592 Arfon Griffiths (1959-61, 1962-79)
- Most capped player - Dai Davies, 28 for Wales
- Oldest player - W. Lot Jones - aged 46 Vrs Tranmere Rovers
- Youngest player - Ken Roberts - aged 15years and158 days Vrs Bradford P.A.
- Attendance - 34,445 Vs Manchester United, FA cup R4, 26/01/1957
- Highest league win - 10-1 Vs Hartlepools U, 03/03/1962
- Worst league defeat - 0-9 Vs Brentford
- Highest transfer received - £800,000 for Bryan Hughes, Birmingham City 1997
- Highest trasfer fee paid - £212,000 for Joey Jones, Liverpool 1978
Wrexham's main rival are Chester City, The clubs are just 12 miles apart but are Welsh and English respectively, making it one of the very few international derbies in the world. They clubs have met on 72 occasions in the league, Wrexham edging the head-to head with 29 victories against Chester's 26. Games between the two are usually moved to Sunday 12.00 kick offs to minimise the risk of the two sets of supporters clashing.
Other rivals include Crewe, Tranmere and Shrewsbury. Rivalries with both Cardiff City and Swansea City are seen as a friendly rivalry these days.