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.
At last the momentous day is on the horizon, and you really couldn’t ask for more appropriate opponents to mark our 150th anniversary than Grimsby out of our current crop of league rivals.
Any game with The Mariners will now resonate with memories of one of the club’s finest hours: the FA Trophy victory we enjoyed the season before last. Our first trip to Wembley and only our second cup win in a competition open to opponents from both side of the border make it an occasion which will always be prominent in Wrexham FC’s history.
Those happy memories are the exception rather than the norm when we look back at our recent history against Grimsby though. They’ve kept clean sheets in five of our last eleven clashes, and are unbeaten in their last three visits to The Racecourse.
Last season they triumphed 1-0, while their previous two games at The Racecourse ended in draws. Town also beat us 3-1 at Blundell Park to claim their sixth league double over us. We’ve managed that feat just three times in this fixture.
Our inability to beat Grimsby at home isn’t a recent development either. We’ve won just four of our last thirteen games against them in North Wales. Town’s biggest winning margin at The Racecourse is 2-0, but while they might not have hammered us on our territory, the fact that they’ve enjoyed that result here seven times in twenty nine matches tells you that they’ve consistently triumphed.
We’ve beaten them fifteen times at The Racecourse, but ten of those wins came in a fantastic run of ten consecutive triumphs between 1925 and 1972.
Grimsby started as they meant to go on in this fixture, as Wrexham had to wait for their seventh game them to enjoy their first win.
Our last home win over The Mariners came in January 2011, when late goals from Jay Harris and Andy Morrell clinched our first home victory over them in five years.
Our biggest home win over Grimsby came in May 1955 when we won 5-0 on the last day of the season. Eric Betts got two with Arthur Gwatkin, Ron Hewitt and Billy Green getting the others.
Tommy Tilston and Dave Smallman are our equal top scorers in this fixture, each having struck five times against The Mariners. Hewitt, Arfon Griffiths, Graham Whittle and Chris Armstrong are next in line, each having scored three.
Tilston’s tally was accumulated in two consecutive matches against Town at The Racecourse. He grabbed two in a 3-1 win in December 1952, and then improved on that feat nine months later when he became the only Wrexham player to date to score a hat trick past Grimsby. He scored three in a 4-0 win which was witnessed by the biggest crowd to watch this game at The Racecourse, 13,748. Perhaps one of our current forwards might seize the opportunity to mark the special occasion by joining him on the list of players who’ve taken the match ball home with them after a clash with The Mariners!