It seems appropriate that the return of the Chester derby occurs this weekend, as Sunday is the anniversary of an historic event which revolved around a man who played a significant role in both clubs’ stories.
Ken Roberts’ entryas a player in Wrexham’s history is fleeting but notable: sixty two years ago on Sunday he became the youngest player to appear in the Football League when he played for us at Bradford Park Avenue. The circumstances were rather peculiar: the fifteen-year-old Roberts was merely there as an apprentice, but when a player missed his train to the match, Roberts was unexpectedly thrown into the fray! It would prove to be a chastening experience as Wrexham lost 5-0!
On taking the pitch at Bradford, Roberts matched the record set by Albert Geldard in 1929, ironically for Bradford Park Avenue. Unsurprisingly considering the circumstances of his debut, Roberts immediately retreated from the first team set-up, and he never made another appearance for Wrexham.
However, he did go on to coach at the club and managed Chester for eight years too, guiding them to their first ever promotion in 1975 (they were the last side amongst the Football League sides to enjoy a promotion) and taking them to the semi-finals of the League Cup as well. His record stood for fifty-seven years, before it was finally broken by Barnsley’s Reuben Noble-Lazarus when he came on as a substitute for four minutes against Ipswich.
Roberts remains emphatically Wrexham’s youngest player though, over a year younger than the second player on the list: a certain Robbie Evans!