CHIEF Sports Writer Mark Currie, who has been watching Wrexham since the 1970s, asks who were the best players to pull on the red jersey?

POSE the question "who is the best Wrexham player ever to have played for the club?" and the answer will undoubtedly depend to a large extent on the age of the fan.

It's a topic of conversation which usually descends into the realm of what some would say is a pointless argument whenever a group of supporters are gathered together.

But that doesn't make it any less fun. Any Racecourse regular who had received a pound every time he heard comparisons being made between players past and present would be, at the very least, comfortably off.

The difficulty is, of course, that the way the game is played has changed out of all recognition. But how hard can it be to agree on a dream-team line-up featuring Wrexham's best players since, say, 1970?

THERE can only be three contenders for the goalkeeper's shirt - Dave Gaskell, Dai Davies or Brian Lloyd.

Gaskell, an FA Cup winner with Manchester United in 1963, was nearing the end of his career seven years later when he was at Wrexham. He learned his trade in an era when physical contact with opposition forwards was mandatory and he was no shrinking violet in that department. He also commanded the penalty area and kept his defenders on their toes.

His successor Lloyd was a model of consistency, establishing a club and then Football League record of 248 consecutive appearances between 1972 and 1977. An excellent shot-stopper, he was a key member of a team which reached the quarter-finals of both FA Cup and European Cup Winners Cup.

Davies was signed from Everton in 1977 in the same week as striker Dixie McNeil with player-manager Arfon Griffiths beefing up John Neal's nearly-men, who had failed to win promotion the previous season.

The Wales international's experience and influence was crucial as Wrexham achieved their goal.

VERDICT : Davies.

AT right-back the choice is between Steve Ingle, Mickey Evans and Mark McGregor.

Ingle, surprisingly quick for such a solidly-built man, was as hard as they came in an age when full-backs rarely ventured beyond the half-way line. A no-nonsense, fierce-tackling "old school" defender.

As versatile and adaptable as they come, Evans read the game superbly and was a credit to his club. His undemonstrative approach too often meant his contribution was overlooked.

McGregor's ability was such that he made his debut at the age of 18, playing at centre-half. Stylish, comfortable on the ball and seemingly always in the right place, he nailed down a first-team spot on the right side of defence.


ON the opposite flank it's hard to look beyond Joey Jones, David Fogg and Alan Dwyer. Jones, a crowd favourite at every club he played for, was quite simply a winner. Played at the highest level for Liverpool and Wales and never gave anything less than 100%.

His name is simply synonymous with Wrexham.

Fogg, among the first of a long list of players to come through the Race-course youth development programme, was another unsung hero of Neal's cup giant-killers. Rarely spectacular he was nevertheless reliable and unflappable.

Dwyer, who replaced Fogg, was an equally good defender but displayed a more adventurous streak at a time when the term wing-back was in its infancy. An intelligent footballer and a fine passer of the ball, injuries were his biggest drawback.


PERMING two central defenders from the likes of Eddie May, Gareth Davies, John Roberts, Tony Humes and Brian Carey would be any manager's dream dilemma.

The inspirational May was an excellent product of his generation, strong in the air, powerful in the tackle and a great captain.

The same could be said too of Carey, who in recent seasons has used his brain more than his legs to remain an indispensable component of the current team.

The canny Roberts played a major role in the promotion-winning side of 1978, often alongside the elegant Davies, and both possessed the steel, determination and character which epitomised Humes' attitude to the game.

VERDICT: Carey and Davies.

OVER the period in question Wrexham have been blessed with a healthy crop of creative and stylish midfield players.

Arfon Griffiths (above), Graham Whittle, Mel Sutton, Peter Ward, Mickey Thomas, Darren Ferguson, Les Cartwright, Bryan Hughes and Carlos Edwards spring immediately to mind, and all must surely be players any opposition would rather have with them than against them.

Each in their prime evokes stirring memories, but in a team game it's the blend of their various different characters and attributes that scores more highly than individual flair.

A three-man midfield demands all of the above, combined with work-rate, tactical awareness, ball-winning ability and an eye for a goal or two, hence the overwhelming case for a trio that was at the heart of what the record books prove was the most successful team in Wrexham's history.

VERDICT: Griffiths, Sutton and Thomas.

WHAT some might regard as an indulgence of opting for a 4-3-3 formation certainly makes it easier to identify the three strikers, although again there are a number of strong contenders.

In recent times Gary Bennett (below), who established records galore in a career-defining three-year spell at the Racecourse, and Karl Connolly shone through in what was a period of major transition for the club.

Their exploits revived memories of Wrexham's golden years when Billy Ashcroft and David Smallman blazed the trail for their successors, Dixie McNeil and Bobby Shinton, who averaged nearly one goal every three games during his three seasons at the Racecourse.

VERDICT: McNeil, Shinton, Bennett.


THE final line-up is: Dai Davies; Mickey Evans, Gareth Davies, Brian Carey, Joey Jones, Mel Sutton, Arfon Griffiths, Mickey Thomas; Bobby Shinton, Gary Bennett, Dixie McNeil.

Unless, of course, anyone knows better.

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