During Wrexham's existence they have been known as a team that have been capable of going on cup runs that belie their traditionally lowly league position. They are 23-time winners and 22-time runners up of the Welsh Cup and are also 5 time winners of the FAW Premier Cup, which allowed them regular entries into European football competitions, where they carried out many famous giant killings. They also won the LDV Vans Trophy during the 2004/05 season. They have also reached the quarter finals of the FA Cup three times and the League Cup quarter finals twice. During the 1991/92 season, they also reached the quarter finals of the European Cup Winners Cup, before being knocked out by the eventual winners Manchester United.
Following their relegation, they will join fellow Welsh sides Newport County, Merthyr Tydfil and Colwyn Bay playing in the English non–league system for the 2008-09 season after 87 consecutive years of Football League membership.
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 having just 11 players on the pitch at any one time. 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 at The Racecourse, featuring Edwin Cross and Alfred Davis as the first of many Wrexham A.F.C. 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, Wrexham 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 the club have paid their home games ever since.
In 1890 Wrexham joined the Football Combination league. 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 in the first season.
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.
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 week after this defeat Wrexham travelled up north to play Hartlepool and managed to get their revenge by beating them 1-0 in a hard-earned victory.
It was during this particular season that Wrexham achieved many "firsts" in the club's history, such as when Ted Regan scored the club's first ever hat-trick, and also 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 club's first ever manager during this period.
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 get to third position in the division in the 1928-29 season. And later in that season Tommy Bamford made his first appearance for the club. He went on to score 201 League and Cup goals for the club during his time here. 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 during the course of the season. This was the first season that the club appeared in their now-familiar red and white strip for the first time for the short-lived 1939-40 season.
During the Second World War years, when long cross-county trips were impossible due to the war, Wrexham played in the Regional League West against local teams from Merseyside and Manchester, amongst others in the north west region. 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 34,445 people at the Racecourse, which is still the record now. The 5-0 defeat did not spoil the occasion for the large home crowd, and later that season Wrexham managed to win the Welsh Cup for the first time in 26 years.
The 1972/73 season saw the completion of the new Yale stand, with the ability to hold a capacity of up to 5,500, including the terrace helped to comprise the bottom tier of the stand.
The 1973/1974 season saw Wrexham change their badge from the Maelor crest to a brand new badge that had a lot more resemblance to the Welsh roots of the club, with three feathers on the top of the badge and two dragons, one on either side of the badge and facing inwards. This is still the present badge for today's team. This season also saw Wrexham reach the Quarter-finals of the FA Cup in another great cup run, After victories against Shrewsbury Town, Rotherham United, Middlesbrough, Crystal Palace and Southampton, but their cup run finally came to end against first division Burnley FC at Turf Moor, with just over 20,000 Wrexham fans present to watch the match. Also that season Wrexham just missed out on the promotion spots, finishing in 4th place at the end of the season.
1975/76 saw John Neal's starlets again shock the football world by reaching the quarter finals of the European cup-winners cup after another sparkling cup run and multiple defeats of higher quality opponents. In the first round Wrexham beat the Swedish team Djurgardens IF 3-2 on aggregate. They then managed to knock out Polish side Stal Rzeszow 3-1 on aggregate. Wrexham played Belgian giants and champions Anderlecht in the quarter finals and narrowly lost 2-1 to the eventual winners of the competition.
The 1976/77 season saw Wrexham again beat First division opposition in both Cup competitions as they went on another cup run, they defeated Tottenham Hotspur in the League Cup and Sunderland in the FA Cup, however the league season was a traumatic one as the club, on the verge of promotion to the second division with only four matches left to play, required just three points to reach their goal, and unbelievably they missed out after a poor run of form.
Arfon Griffiths took over as player-manager for the 1977/78 season. They reached both the League and FA Cup Quarter-finals that season, and Wrexham finally clinched promotion promotion to the second division when they beat Rotherham United 7-1 at a packed Racecourse, and Wrexham went on to win the Third Division Championship that year.
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 stars amongst their ranks such as Ossie Ardiles, Ricky Villa and Glen Hoddle in their team, and Wrexham were unfortunate to get knocked out.
Following Arfon Griffiths resignation from the manager's position in 1981, his assistant Mel Sutton was put in charge, with the memorable Third round FA Cup win over Brian Clough's Nottingham Forest in yet another stunning cup run was the highlight of the season.
The 1984/85 season saw Wrexham take on Portuguese giants FC Porto in European competition. Wrexham won the home leg with a remarkable 1-0 victory, but in the second leg Porto showed their class and were 3-0 up after 38 minutes, however Wrexham pulled goals back, the game finished 4-3 and Wrexham went through on away goals. The second round draw was to pair Wrexham with Italian giants AS Roma, managed by Sven Goran Eriksson. Wrexham lost 3-0 on aggregate over the two legs.
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 in an average season, he led the team to a Welsh cup final win over Kidderminster Harriers. 1986 saw Wrexham make a 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 they 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 because it did not reach the necessary safety standards. 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, but narrowly lost to Leyton Orient 2-1 in the final. After just 3 wins from 13 league games, Dixie McNeil resigned before his inevitable sacking.
He was replaced, initially on a temporary basis, by Brian Flynn, but that move was made permanent a month later. However the club continued to struggle domestically, and Flynn was forced to make three important signings in Mark Setori, Eddie Youds and Alan Kennedy which saw the team finish in twenty-first place, therefore avoiding relegation.
The 1990/91 season it was announced there would be no relegation to the conference as a team had already voluntarily left the league. That season Wrexham were to finish in ninety-second place. Wrexham were knocked-out of the European cup winners cup in the quarter-finals by Manchester United 5-0 on aggregate, who eventually went on to win the trophy.
The 1991-92 season saw Wrexham still in a poor financial state, as they continued to struggle on the field. With the club knocked out of the League Cup and struggling in the league, it was left to the FA Cup to keep the season alive. Having beaten Telford United and Winsford United they were drawn to play the previous season's First Division champions and giants Arsenal. Wrexham produced one of their most memorable nights to beat the Gunners 2-1 after being behind, with a thunderous Mickey Thomas free kick and a Steve Watkin (Footballer) goal. They lost in the next round to West Ham United 1-0 in the replay after the first game had finished 2-2.
The 1994/95 season would see Wrexham achieve more success in cup competitions, this time going on a run through the FA Cup. Having beaten Stockport County and Rotherham United, they faced Premier League side Ipswich Town at the Racecourse, with Wrexham running out 2-1 winners thanks to goals from Gary Bennett and Kieron Durkan. In the next round, Wrexham were drawn away to Manchester United and despite taking the lead at Old Trafford, United went on to win 5-2, despite the best efforts of a team whose performance had belied their lowly league position.
The 1995/96 season once again saw Wrexham in European action, with their opposition this time coming in the form of Romanian team Petrolul Ploiesti; the home leg ended in a 0-0 draw but Wrexham lost 1-0 in the away leg, with the Romanians scoring the only goal of the match, and Wrexham were subsequently knocked out of the tournament.
The 1996/97 season saw Wrexham set off on another amazing run in the FA Cup and beating more top flight opposition. Following wins at Colwyn Bay and Scunthorpe United, they were drawn to play West Ham United at home, the game ending in a 1-1 draw on a snow-covered pitch after a well earned draw. The replay at Upton Park ended in a shock 1-0 win to Wrexham as Kevin Russell scored in the dying minutes to send Wrexham in to round 4. After also beating Peterborough United and Birmingham City in the following rounds, they played Chesterfield in an all-Division-2 FA Cup Quarter final, Wrexham narrowly losing to the Spireites 1-0.
June 1997 was the date for the official opening of Colliers Park, which was Wrexham's new training ground and was situated just outside of Gresford on Chester Road. It was built at a cost of £750,000 and is widely regarded to be one of the best training grounds outside of the top flight. It has been used for training by many visiting teams that play at a higher standard over the years.
The 1999/2000 season saw Wrexham again beat a top flight team in the FA Cup, this time in the shape of Middlesbrough. The final score of the match was 2-1, with the second half goals coming from Robin Gibson and Darren Ferguson after being behind to the Premiership outfit. Wrexham went on to win the FAW Premier Cup in May 2001.
The club's fans developed an affinity with the fans of fellow football league club Brighton & Hove Albion, who themselves had managed to successfully depose their chairman and keep control of their stadium after he had sold the ground for development purposes in almost 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 which was owed 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 after the point deduction, and subsequently condemned Wrexham to relegation.
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. The winning goals were scored by Juan Ugarte and Darren Ferguson as Wrexham ran out winners in front of over 20,000 Wrexham fans.
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 were 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 had condemned them to relegation.
In October 2005, Birmingham High Court decided that Mr Hamilton's company CrucialMove had improperly acquired the freehold of the ground and the decision went against him. 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 control of the club and all its assets. Had the club still been in Administration by the 3 June then Wrexham would have automatically been expelled from the League because of their financial situation.
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 - technically, the club is no longer known as Wrexham Association Football Club due to the takeover of the club by Neville Dickens and Geoff Moss and their associates; this is reflected on new merchandise, although most fans will still refer to it as "Wrexham AFC".
The 2006/07 season started well for Wrexham, as they went 8 games unbeaten, with included a 4-1 away win against Championship side Sheffield Wednesday and were in the play-off places after the addition of numerous new faces. Unfortunately they were beaten in a shock 5-0 defeat at Accrington Stanley on 13th September 2006, then followed by a 5-2 defeat at Stockport County. Both of these teams were struggling at the foot of the table when these defeats happened, and Wrexham never fully recovered from them. This would begin the start of a long relegation battle for Wrexham. Denis Smith was sacked along with his assistant Kevin Russell on 11 January 2007 with Wrexham in the bottom half of the division and after a poor run of results 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, which included defeating local rivals Shrewsbury in the last ever derby match at Gay Meadow. Wrexham's league status was saved on the last day of the season with 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.
Expectations were high for the 2007/08 season, as there had been the signings of players such as Anthony Williams, Richard Hope, Michael Proctor, Silvio Spann and Eifion Williams and a push for promotion was expected by the fans after the disappointment of last season. But the season started badly, with only three wins and 10 points by the middle of November and Wrexham rooted to the bottom of the table.
Brian Carey was finally sacked after Wrexham crashed out of the FA Cup in the First Round following a 4-1 defeat against Peterborough United. On 6 November 2007 Wrexham Football Club released a statement saying that the club were looking for an "experienced senior manager" to work alongside the current Racecourse staff. On 15 November 2007, Brian Little was named as Wrexham's new manager and the replacement to Brian Carey, who took the role of assistant manager.
After a promising start to his reign, a run of 7 straight league defeats and a humiliating 4-2 defeat in the Welsh Cup at the hands of Llanelli FC, forced Little to ring the changes and brought in 11 players in the January transfer window to attempt to change Wrexham's fortunes. In terms of the backstage staff, he brought in former Port Vale boss Martin Foyle as first-team coach and several members of staff were told that they had no future at The Racecourse. With the new players introduced Wrexham went a run of six matches unbeaten, which included victories against promotion candidates Darlington FC and the MK Dons and a 0-0 draw against Peterborough United. However, in the final months of the season many of Little's new players had become injured and Wrexham suffered several defeats against fellow strugglers in the league and were also defeated 3-0 in a derby match against Shrewsbury Town. Wrexham were finally relegated following a 2-0 defeat away at Hereford United, losing the club its 87 year stay in the Football League.
Brian Little immediately began his rebuilding programme as he told 22 players that they no longer had a future at the Racecourse, which included 5 players that had been put on the transfer list and the remaining players were released by the club and left to be snapped up on free transfers, and only 11 players remained untouched, with Steve Evans and Matt Done being the only out-of-contract players that were offered new deals. Steve Evans signed a new two-year deal and Matt Done opted to move to Hereford United
He has ripped up last year's relegation squad with 16 players either released or not having their loan spells renewed. The include ex-Wales strikers Neil Roberts and Chris Llewellyn. In their place, Little has assembled a squad with a vast amount of non-league experience to try and boost the club's chances. New midfielder Tom Kearney (Halifax Town, free) is one of the names being tipped for the Wrexham captaincy and joining him coming in are: Up Front; Jefferson Louis (Mansfield Town, free) and Simon Brown (Mansfield Town, free), Midfield Shaun Whalley (Accrington Stanley, free), Defence: Kyle Critchell (Weymouth, free), Nat Brown (Lincoln City, free) and Darran Kempson (Shrewsbury, free).
The 2007/2008 season started well, with a 5-0 home victory against Stevenage Borough, the title favourites in the eyes of the bookies. however, a run of poor results followed, with Wrexham being left in the mid-table battle, only four points above the relegation zone and only keeping two clean sheets all season. Following a 3-0 home defeat against Rushden and Diamonds, and fans calling for his dismissal, Little left Wrexham by mutual consent. Since then, Dean Saunders has taken over the management of Wrexham, with his first game against Forest Green Rovers ending in a victory.
Wrexham has got an international reputation as being one of the biggest giant-killers in professional British football. The Racecourse has been the venue for some of the biggest giant-killings in all cup competitions. The majority of them have occurred in cup tournaments. The most notable of these victories was a 1-0 victory against Portuguese giants FC Porto at The Racecourse, with the goal coming from Jim Steel, other victories have happened against many top flight teams, such as:
The Raceourse Ground (Welsh: Y Cae Râs) is where Wrexham play all of their home games in league, cup and friendly games. It has a present capacity of 15,500, making it the largest stadium in the Conference National, but due to the re-development of the Kop terraced stand into an all-seater stand, the capacity will therefore be reduced to around 15,000, although it will still easily be the largest stadium in the league. The Kop is being developed so that The Racecourse can be used as a regular international venue for both Wales Under-21 and full Wales international matches. It is the oldest international football stadium in the world and was the venue when Wales famously beat England 4-1 in a friendly.
With the completion of the Kop, the capacity of the Racecourse will be reduced to around 15,000 and will be an all-seater stadium. The Racecourse also has the dubious distinction of being the World's oldest international stadium that is still in use and will be entered into the Guinness world record book because of this. The Racecourse is used by Welsh teams such as Bangor City FC for their qualifying matches in the UEFA Cup and UEFA Champions League, which they qualify for through the League of Wales and the Welsh Cup. It was the recent venue for Bangor City vs FC Mityjalland, which resulted in a resounding 6-1 victory for the Nordic team.
The Racecourse is situated on the Mold Road, which is the main road heading into Wrexham, and is opposite the residential area of Maesgwyn, it is next to the North East Wales Institute of Higher Education (NEWI), which is soon to become the Owain Glyndor University, and both organizations share a very good relationship.
The Racecourse is made up of four stands. The Eric Robers stand, which is usually allocated to the away fans and is said by many visiting fans to have one of the best views of action in all of the lower leagues; The Yale Stand, which is seen by many as the family stand; the Terraced Kop stand, which is being developed; and the Mold Road (formerly Pryce Griffiths) stand, which is the most notable stand to most away fans, because of the unusual shape of the roof. Almost all of the seats in the stadium are red, the exception being a few columns in the Yale Stand which are a green colour to keep a Welsh element with the stadium. All the stands are all-seater with the exception being the Kop, although this is expected to change with the next few months.
Wrexham's current training ground is called Colliers Park, which is situated on Chester Road, at the section in between Gresford and the Gresford Heath Housing Estate. When the construction had been completed it was officially opened in June 1997, at a building cost of £750,000. It is widely regarded in British football to be one of the best training grounds outside of the top flight and one of the best never to have been used by a top flight team. The England national team, Barcelona, Rangers and the Wales national team, have all used it for training purposes.
Arguably Wrexham's next main rivals after Chester City are Shrewsbury Town FC, who are 30 miles down the road. This rivalry is also based upon the English-Welsh divide as well as geographical proximity, as both towns are situated near the England-Wales border. The rivalry intensified when Wrexham were responsible for condemning Shrewsbury to relegation to the Conference National in the 2002/03 season, when Wrexham won 2-1 at Gay Meadow, with goals from Andy Morrell and a 90th minute winner from Lee Jones (footballer). Fixtures between these two teams have also been moved to a 12:00 kick-off on a Sunday to avoid confrontation between the two sets of supporters. In recent seasons, Shrewsbury have had the better results, although Wrexham did win 1-0 in the 2006/07 season, and therefore became the last ever team to win at Gay Meadow, including Shrewsbury, with the goal scored by Michael Proctor. In the most recent meeting between the two teams in Wrexham's first visit to the New Meadow, Shrewsbury won 3-0 against an injury-ravaged Wrexham team, with the goals coming from Kevin McIntyre, Darren Moss and James Constable this more or less confirmed Wrexham's fate of relegation to the Conference National, which was finally confirmed after lossing 2-0 at Hereford United.
It is widely regarded that Wrexham is one of the most disliked teams in the North West region, most notably because of the club being Welsh and playing in the English Football League system. Some less significant local derbies that Wrexham share are with Tranmere Rovers FC, Crewe Alexandra FC, Walsall FC and more recently Port Vale FC, following hooligan activity during Wrexham's Carling Cup victory over them in September 2007. Wrexham very rarely meet with these teams in the league as traditionally they have been in higher leagues. Large away followings can also be expected to and from Rochdale FC, Stockport County FC and Hereford United FC because of the geographical proximity between the clubs. Derbies with fellow Welsh teams (not through proximity) Cardiff City FC and Swansea City FC are very rare these days as they are 3 leagues above, but used to be fierce affairs due the North/South Wales divide.
Wrexham related books
The Wrexham football team plays a significant role in the 1994 Peter Davies book Twenty Two Foreigners in Funny Shorts which was written for the World Cup in the U.S. It also profiles the Robins' ongoing and ultimately successful promotion effort.
Wrexham FC are neighbours of the North East Wales Institute of Higher Education and share a good relationship.
Wrex the dragon is the official team mascot of Wrexham. He was first introduced at the start of the 2001-2002 season when the Welsh club changed their nickname from the Robins to the Red Dragons after a dispute over the nickname, which was also shared by Bristol City. Due to the changing of the nickname the old mascot, Rockin' Robin, was subsequently replaced by Wrex the Dragon. He wears a red dragon suit and Wrexham F.C. kit over his dragon costume, wearing the numbers "1873" on his back, as this is the year the Wrexham FC was officially founded, although originally founded in 1972. He was also sent off by the referee in the Wrexham vs. Wycombe Wanderers game after attempting to distract the Wycombe Wanderers' players.
Previous mascot Rockin' Robin was also famous for having a wife called Tina Turfit (plus a son, Robinson) and for being able to ride a bike around the ground and pitch which he did regularlt. The mascot Rockin' Robin (along with the team nickname "The Robins"), has to be abandoned followng a dispute over the nickname with fellow football league club Bristol City, who were also nicknamed "The Robins". Cheltenham Town also share the nickname as well.
The new mascot was introduce in 2001.
Originally formed in 2006, they travel the country facing other supporters of clubs in the North West. For more information see http://www.clubwebsite.co.uk/wrexhamfans/ Which is the official website for the team.