JOEY JONES has broken his silence on the crisis engulfing Wrexham and spelt out why the club must be saved from extinction.
With the spectre of Wednesday's winding-up order at the High Court hovering over the Racecourse, Wrexham's football co-ordinator admitted the implications of losing North Wales' only professional football club were almost too enormous to comprehend.
And as the Dragons prepared for Saturday's FA Cup first-round tie at Hayes knowing it could be the last game in their history, former Wales international Jones explained how the club has left an indelible mark on thousands of people across the region.
Addressing Wrexham's current plight, the 49-year-old Racecourse legend said: "I don't know what's going to happen here.
"I'm just keeping my fingers crossed, everything crossed, hoping things will turn out all right. But we won't know until next week."
He added: "Wrexham is my spiritual home. From the very first time I came here, I got on with the people of Wrexham. I didn't like it at first because I was away from my home in Llandudno.
"But I can't imagine myself living anywhere else now."
Jones is fiercely proud of Wrexham's achievements and struggles to take in how a club with so much tradition can be in danger of liquidation.
The Dragons are believed to be more than £2.5m in debt and they owe the Inland Revenue around £900,000.
Former managing director John Reames claimed to have agreed a repayment schedule with the Inland Revenue, but controversial owner Alex Hamilton's failure to make the first payment led to a winding-up order being issued against the club.
He believes the authorities must now pull out the stops to save the club. "Just got to look at the European games we've had down the years and the FA Cup runs. For a club this size, it's amazing. How many other clubs in this league have played in Europe?
"We've been to the quarter-finals of the European Cup Winners' Cup, knocked out good teams, and played against Porto, Roma, Zaragoza. It's a hell of an achievement for a small club. Some people forget that, and whoever's in charge of the club doesn't realise the history that we've got."
Jones' association with Wrexham began in 1970 when, after two trials, the hard-tackling left-back was signed along with another man who would go on to write his name into Welsh football folklore.
"I was 15 years old," recalls Jones. "Me and Mickey Thomas signed on the same day, trained on the same day and went into digs on the same day in Borras.
"I didn't have any qualifications. I'd left school with nothing - no A-Levels, no O-Levels. The only level I had was a spirit level!
"If Wrexham hadn't given my a chance, I don't know what I'd have done. My dad worked in a factory and I'd probably have followed him there."
Jones, who played 463 games for the Dragons, is proud of the reputation Wrexham have established for unearthing talented young players - and, as the club's football co-ordinator, he now plays a key role in grooming the first-team stars of tomorrow.
And he feels the consequences for the region's top youngsters could be dire if the club goes out of business, robbing North Wales of its only professional club.
"Finding good, young players is part of the club and the history behind the club," he said..
"Over the years Wrexham has been as good as any other lower division club at producing players who go on to play a higher level.
"A lot of players have passed through this club. Wrexham's youth policy was going a lot longer than Crewe's, for example.
"But where would young players go if we weren't here?"
Jones has seen plenty of highs and lows at the Racecourse.
Having moved Liverpool in 1975, where he won the league championship and European Cup, he returned to North Wales in 1978 for £210,000 - still the Dragons' record transfer fee.
Wrexham had just won promotion to the old Division Two, and, for a while at least, times were good.
Jones stayed for four years but relegation back to Division Three in 1982 meant he had to pack his bags again.
"Being relegated was the biggest disappointment of my career.
"I was sold to Chelsea because the club was in a predicament then. Very similar to what they are in now, but obviously not as bad.
"Three of us had to go in a matter of days - Steve Fox, Dixie McNeil and myself. We had to go because they said the club wouldn't have survived otherwise."
After spells with Chelsea and Huddersfield, Jones re-signed for Wrexham in 1987 for then-manager McNeil.
When he was replaced by Brian Flynn, Jones, who won 71 Wales caps, hung up his boots and joined Wrexham's coaching team.
And he witnessed one of the Dragons' finest hours from the dug-out - namely the incredible 2-1 FA Cup victory over Arsenal on January 4, 1992.
"The Arsenal game was the highlight of that era," said Jones. "As everybody knows, we'd finished the season before 92nd in the Football League. Really, Steve Watkin and Mickey Thomas' goals that day turned the club around for the better. We got promotion a few years later and stayed up for a few seasons before being relegated.
"But we bounced straight back three years ago and this is where we are now."
Jones has immense respect for the job current Dragons manager Denis Smith has done in such testing circumstances.
"It's a shame really because Kevin Russell and Denis Smith are doing a hell of a job and the pros have been very professional about the job they've done," he admitted..
"Nobody walks around the place with their chin on the floor because you've got to realise that there's people who are a lot worse off.
"Having said that, I think there are A lot of people who live in North Wales who won't realise what they've got here until the club is gone."
6 GREAT GAMES
August 27, 1921 WREXHAM 0 HARTLEPOOLS UNITED 2
Wrexham's first ever match in the Football League. 8,000 fans watched the Third Division North club lose to Hartlepools United 2-0. They beat them 1-0 the following Saturday.
January 26, 1957 WREXHAM 0 MANCHESTER UNITED 5
The club's all-time record attendance of 34, 445 came from all over North Wales to watch Wrexham entertain the Busby Babes in the FA Cup fourth round.
March 3, 1962 WREXHAM 10 HARTLEPOOLS UNITED 1
Wrexham's record league win of 10-1 saw a Football League record of three hat-tricks in one game from Wyn Davies, Roy Ambler and Ron Barnes. Wrexham won promotion that season.
April 22, 1978 WREXHAM 7 ROTHERHAM UNITED 1
The greatest day in Wrexham's football league history as the club were promoted to the Second Division. Graham Whittle scored a hat-trick.
October 3, 1984 PORTO 4 WREXHAM 3
Wrexham won on away goals as the tie was drawn 4-4 on aggregate. Wrexham were 3-0 down after 38 minutes but hit back through two Jake King goals and one from Barry Horne.
January 4, 1992 WREXHAM 2 ARSENAL 1
An 83rd-minute Mickey Thomas free-kick and a late winner from Steve Watkin produced one of the biggest FA Cup shocks of all time after the Football League champions had gone ahead against the league's bottom club.
GARETH M DAVIES