Thursday, 8 December 2011

Wrexham - The Racecourse Ground




Wrexham FC
The Racecourse Ground
Mold Road
Wrexham
LL11 2AH

01978 262129
Official Website
Twitter







Ground Number: 37
Saturday 10th April 1999
Wrexham 0-2 Wycombe Wanderers
Nationwide League Division 2






TEN FACTS ABOUT WREXHAM FC

1:  Wrexham FC was established back in 1864, making them the oldest club in Wales, the third oldest professional club in the world and the sixth oldest football club in the world. Like many teams from around the time they were formed by members of the Wrexham cricket club who wanted some sport to play during the winter months. The game was fledgeling at that point and the club was also known as Wrexham Town and Wrexham Athletic for small parts of their early history.

2:  With few opponents, the club started out playing friendlies and cup matches. From 1890, Wrexham played in the Football Combination, winning it five times. That was aside from 1894-96 when rising costs saw the club switch to the Welsh Senior League for a couple of seasons, winning it on both occasions. In 1905 they moved to the Birmingham League, staying there until 1921 with two third-place finishes in their final two seasons being their best finishes here. They'd return to non-league football in 2008 and are currently the Vanarama National's longest-serving members. They had three strong finishes between 2011 & 2013 but failed in the playoffs on all three occasions. Last season they finished 4th but lost out to Eastleigh in the playoff quarter-finals. This season has seen a steep decline and the club currently sit just above the relegation zone, having been rock-bottom at one point.

3:  In 1921, Wrexham joined the Football League and aside from a break for World War 2, remained there until 2008. Their most successful period was the late 70's when they won the Division 3 title in 1978 and then finished 15th in Division 2 (second tier) in 1979. The early 80's saw them suffer a double relegation to end up in Division 4. Despite a couple of seasons where they improved later on in the decade, the club would finish bottom of the entire Football League in 1991 and Wrexham were only saved from relegation to the Conference by Maidstone Unitedgoing bust. Financial problems of their own eased and they won promotion to the third tier, staying there until 2005. Three years later they went out of the Football League altogether, finishing in last place.

4:  Wrexham have had several notable runs in the FA Cup. Their most game famous came in 1991 when they met Arsenal in the FA Cup 3rd Round. The Gunners had been League Champions the previous season, whilst Wrexham had finished bottom of the pile. That didn't stop a spectacular goal from veteran Mickey Thomas and a late winner from Steve Watkin turning the tables on their illustrious opponents with a 2-1 win. The Quarter Finals have been reached three times - in 1974 (losing 1-0 at Burnley) again in 1978 (losing 3-2 to Arsenal) and finally in 1997 (when they bowed out 1-0 at fellow giant-killers Chesterfield). The boot has been on the other foot on a fair few occasions in recent years with Eastwood Town, Stamford and Gainsborough Trinity getting the better of the Red Dragons in recent history.



5:  The club has twice reached the League Cup Quarter Final twice - in 1961 losing 3-0 at Aston Villa and in 1978 when Liverpool beat them 3-1.

6:  The Welsh Cup has been won a record 23 times, however, they have not played in the competition since in 1995, owing to UEFA threatening to take away European places if teams from outside the Welsh League continued to enter. Wrexham won the last of those finals as they beat 22 times winners Cardiff City at the National Stadium, Cardiff Arms Park. Other cup wins include the Football League Trophy in 2005, the FA Trophy in 2013 and the FAW Premier Cup on five occasions.

7:  Wrexham have spent a number of seasons in European competition. Their most notable run came in the 1975-76 Cup Winners Cup when they narrowly lost 2-1 on aggregate to Belgian giants Anderlecht.

8:  Aside from a couple of seasons in the late 1800s when they played at Rhossdu Recreation Ground, owing to a rent dispute with Wrexham Cricket Club, Wrexham have played at The Racecourse Ground for the entirety of their history. The record attendance for the ground was 34,445 for a 1957 FA Cup game against Manchester United. The capacity nowadays is around 10,700 owing to the closure of the Kop terrace. The club came close to being homeless in 2004 thanks to rogue chairman Alex Hamilton but the transfer to his company was declared as improper in a court hearing two years later. The ground is now owned by the local university and the football club have a 99-year lease.

9:  Connections with Wycombe are few and far between and anyone who has played for Wrexham - Craig Faulconbridge, Dean Keates and Jason Soloman have all disappointed in a Wycombe shirt. In the 24 games between the two sides, 8 have been won by Wycombe, 6 by Wrexham with 10 draws.



10: Wrexham's most famous fan is the internet sensation ' Bootlegger'. Famous for his love of Pilsner and catchphrases such as 'I've had an absolute grueller' and 'The Working Man's Kettle' (used to describe a metal beer barrel), he has built up a following and admiration from fans all over the country. Other famous fans include royal clinger on and sycophant Paul Burrell, actor Ted Robbins and footballer Robbie Savage. There was also a famous fictional Wrexham fan in TV soap Brookside. Fellow residents expected him to be a serial killer or other such crime but his reluctance to let people in his room was because it was a shrine to his favourite team! 


MY VISITS

Originally, I was intending to revisit the Racecourse Ground, having not been there for 13 years at the time of writing my blog. I had very few memories of visiting there and hadn't really got any decent pictures. However, the Coronavirus crisis of Spring 2020 left me with a lot of time on my hands, especially as I was off from work due to being in the at-risk categories. I'd updated some other blogs in the weeks before, but with six visits, it would soon be covered in some form. Of course, if Wycombe ever meet the Red Dragons, I'll be sure to go, but that seems very unlikely with Wycombe going well in League 1 and Wrexham in the lower reaches of the Conference. A flying visit on the way to another ground is a possibility, as I have no pictures of the outside of the ground.



Wycombe were in the midst of a relegation battle on my first visit to the Racecourse Ground. The omens were not good going on our previous record up there - we had lost on every one of our previous four visits. Our recent form had been a lot better though, we'd been reinvigorated by new boss Lawrie Sanchez and this was to be our third consecutive away win. Goals from Jermaine McSporran and Dave Carroll were enough to lift Wycombe out of the relegation zone for the first time since the early weeks of the season. It was a good showing by Wycombe and we deserved the win. It was also the only game where the lower tier of the former away stand was a terrace. However, my main memory was getting an upset stomach from a dodgy burger served by the less than stellar catering at the ground!



My next couple of games would be uneventful 0-0 draws there in 2002 and 2003, including Tony Adams' first away game typically. This was during my seven-year run of not missing a game home or away. We were relegated at the end of the 2003/04 season and it would take a couple years for Wrexham to come down to League 2. The clash at the end of the 2005/06 season saw us on a terrible run of form, thanks to player Mark Phlo and manager John Gorman's wife dying and we put in a meek performance. Goals in the first fifteen minutes from Dennis Lawrence and Sam Williams saw Wrexham get a deserved 2-0 win. My fifth visit in February 2007 would be a lot happier. I'd got a bit more adventurous by now and so walked into town for a look around. I got an excellent curry sauce and chips from a local chippy for my lunch but I wasn't so much into drinking then, so visited no pubs. I walked back to the ground for the game with us now managed by Paul Lambert. Wrexham weren't in the best of form and had not won since Christmas. The game went according to the form book and Wycombe took the lead on 23 minutes when Mike Williamson headed in Stefan Oakes' free-kick. Wycombe got a second on 52 minutes when Tommy Mooney flicked on an Anthony Grant cross for Jermaine Easter to finish at the back post. Easter would go on to join the Wales squad later that evening but he had to come off on 64 minutes, Chris Llewellyn's bad tackle on Stefan Oakes provoked a furious reaction from the Wycombe players leaving the referee to sort things out. Whilst he was doing so, our keeper on loan from Fulham booted the ball into the crowd following some comments he took exception to from some of the home fans. Easter was sacrificed so we ould being on reserve keeper Jamie Young and Wycombe held on without too much danger to maintain their 2-0 win.



My last visit was a Wednesday night trip to Wrexham for the hardy Wycombe followers, of which 102 made the long journey to North Wales for a disappointing 0-0 draw with the Red Dragons. There was precious little to talk about in the game. A poor performance by Wycombe, with Frank Fielding saving Wycombefurther embarrassment with a penalty save in the first half. Apart from that, there were very few chances, most of Wycombe's attacks came near the end, all too late to make an impact. A few of the older supporters were even chanting "Lambert Out!!" after he failed to make any substitutions until very late on. And to cap it all, when we got back to Adams Park, a coachload of supporters found themselves locked out of the ground as some clever clogs had locked up and gone home with the keys, despite the obvious visual clues of several cars being in the car park. It was all sorted out after a 20-minute wait, but with some having to be up for work early the next morning it was pretty frustrating.



THE GROUND

THE RACECOURSE GROUND is now a non-league stadium, thanks to the Red Dragons relegation to the Conference a few years back. With a capacity of 15,500, it was one of the better lower league grounds. On my visits, away fans have always been given the Eric Roberts Stand. This is a two-tiered seated stand, and away fans are always restricted to the top tier in my experience. Though I did go in the bottom when it was a terrace, that was on my first visit. The view is pretty good from here. To the left is the Sainsbury's Stand, another two-tiered stand. At the other end is the Kop, the only remaining terrace in the ground, though I believe it is no longer used. This is a sad state of affairs as it is a large terrace and is where most of the vocal support for the team came from. Lastly, to the right, is the Pryce Griffiths Stand. This is the most modern stand and is pretty pleasing on the eye, with an interesting shaped roof.

The ground is not far from the town, so you won't go hungry or thirsty, and on the times I have been, the Wrexham fans have been friendly and not as nationalistic as some Cardiff and Swansea fans can be. Back at the ground, the catering is amongst the worst I've had and the only one that gave me a dicky tummy (on my first visit)

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