Here’s my column from last week’s Leader. It forms part of the paper’s comprehensive pre-match coverage every Friday, featuring interviews, an in-depth look at the opposition and lots of statistical analysis. All content in the column (c) www.leaderlive.co.uk.
Woking’s Kingfield Stadium, while homely, is hardly a venue you’d associate with major football landmarks, but tomorrow’s match will see it play host to a significant event in the career of a fine servant of Wrexham Football Club.
Dean Keates will make the 650th appearance of an admirable career which has spanned three decades since his debut in the 1996-7 season. It’s been a week of significant milestones for Keates, who also made his one hundred and fiftieth appearance for Wrexham last Saturday against Salisbury.
There are other landmarks to record tomorrow as Stephen Wright makes his two hundred and seventy fifth career league appearance and Rob Ogleby plays his seventy fifth senior game.
Frustration and false dawns are what we’ve experienced on our previous two games away to Woking, so a change in fortunes would be more than welcome.
We went down to a rather tame 2-0 defeat last season which pretty much extinguished any lingering hopes of a tilt at the title, conceding both goals around the hour mark.
Our previous away game against Woking saw Matt Jansen make his debut for us and although he was clearly lacking in match fitness, he looked canny enough to appear to be a real transfer market coup for Dean Saunders. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to last as his Wrexham career would span just three games, with one goal thrown in at Northwich Victoria.
The game itself ended in a 1-1 draw. A deflected Wes Baynes free kick gave us an eleventh minute free kick but we were unable to press on and ended up sharing the points.
This match is played on the anniversary of a couple of significant games in Wrexham’s history, but don’t hope for positive portents, because both of them ended badly for us!
Back in 1879 we faced White Stars, a now defunct side from Whitchurch in the Welsh Cup Final in Oswestry. Having won the competition at our first attempt the previous season, we were looking to retain a trophy we’d go on to win many times. However, this match would end with us empty handed as we lost 1-0, and in the process suffered our first ever competitive defeat in our ninth serious match as we didn’t enter league football until 1890 or the FA Cup until 1883.
Rather more recently, and despite the end of the season still being some way off, we also played a cup final on March 29th 2006. This was the last Welsh Premier Cup tie which would ever be staged at The Racecourse, the short lived tournament being abandoned a couple of seasons later, and saw us welcome Swansea City to decide the destiny of the trophy.
The game got away from us early on as Danny Williams put through his own net to give The Swans a lead which Rory Fallon doubled before the break. Simon Spender pulled one back with nineteen minutes left to give us some hope, but we ended up losing and we haven’t seen Swansea since!