SUPPORTERS of relegation-haunted Wrexham put their current season's woes on the back burner yesterday as they re-lived one of greatest days in the club's history, which was also one of the biggest FA Cup upsets in history.
Almost 10 years to the day that Wrexham dumped reigning league champions Arsenal out of the third round of the competition, the players involved in the famous 2-1 victory were re-united at the Racecourse for an anniversary lunch hosted by the Shropshire Reds supporters group.
Former assistant manager Kevin Reeves and coach Joey Jones were joined by Vince O'Keefe, Andy Thackeray, Brian Carey, Wayne Phillips, Gareth Owen, Gordon Davies and Karl Connolly at the Centenary Club for a nostalgic afternoon, which included the first showing of a recentlyproduced video commemorating the FA Cup run, which helped to transform Wrexham's fortunes.
Then struggling in the lower reaches of the third division and more than £600,000 in debt, Wrexham earned their tilt at the Gunners with a 1-0 second round win against Telford United.
It was, as Reeves recalled, a game Wrexham could not afford to lose.
He said: "They had beaten Stoke 3-0 in a replay, so were favourites on the day and we felt our time would be up if we lost.
"But we got through to draw Arsenal and that game got the whole town going.
"And when we beat them, things just took off for us. It was an incredible result and one that will never be forgotten."
Then Wrexham manager Brian Flynn and remaining team members, Mickey Thomas, Steve Watkin, Phil Hardy and Mark Sertori, were unable to attend the lunch due to work commitments, but their colleagues all had their own special memories.
Goalkeeper O'Keefe said the club went from strength to strength on the back of the Cup run, which saw them earn a 2-2 draw at West Ham United in the fourth round before going down 1-0 in the Racecourse replay.
And he praised club chairman Pryce Griffiths for appointing Flynn as manager, promoting him from the dressing room. "It was a brave decision by the chairman to bring him in, but it paid off handsomely," he added.
Jones, who alone with Carey and Phillips, is still on the Racecourse staff, said: "There are many bigger clubs in this country which would love to have enjoyed the same sort of success as Wrexham have had in cup competitions over the years."
Carey, who was on loan from Manchester United when the game was played and did not join Wrexham on a permanent basis until 1996, said: "It was one of the greatest occasions of my career.
"It was a very special time but when I look at the video now, it makes me feel old. I thought afterwards that Wrexham might sign me full-time but I waited by the telephone for 18 months and nothing happened."
Former Welsh international Davies, who travelled from Oxfordshire for the reunion, said: "We could have been three or four goals down at half-time if Arsenal had taken their chances but during the game their players were shouting at each other a lot."
And it was Davies who won the free-kick that brought Wrexham's late equaliser, two minutes before Watkin popped up with the winner. "It was the free-kick of a lifetime by Mickey Thomas," he said.
"He had a similar chance against Telford but hit it straight into their defensive wall."