Each manager needs his defining moment. On the anniversary of Wrexham’s victory over Arsenal, could Kevin Wilkin be on the verge of his?
Wrexham Football Club has, over its one hundred and fifty years of existence, earned a terrific reputation as a giant-killing club. If a manager wants to be commemorated in the clubs proud hall of fame, some exploits in a cup would go down rather well.
Going back through the club’s history is rather revealing, and makes you feel rather spoilt, as you realise there haven’t been many managers in the modern era who haven’t served up a cup upset.
John Neal, Arfon Griffiths and Brian Flynn all enjoyed strings of upsets, of course, while Andy Morrell had that fine 1-0 win at Brentford, subsequently overshadowed by the near miss against Brighton, and Scunthorpe and Sheffield Wednesday were both beaten on their own patches by Denis Smith’s side, as well as Bradford City at The Racecourse.
In the dark days of the 1980s there were still sparkling bright spots. Despite presiding over relegation to Division Four, Bobby Roberts will always have Porto, Mel Sutton had that fine win at Nottingham Forest in his sole season and Dixie McNeil led us to a 3-1 defeat of Bolton in 1985.
Even Brian Carey managed a win on penalties at Port Vale in the League Cup, even though three months later he’d been dismissed.
Of the eleven men who preceded Wilkin, only two haven’t beaten a team from a higher division. In fact, Dean Saunders actually managed the opposite: he lost only 3 of his first 23 games as Wrexham manager, but two of them were to lower division opposition, Eastwood Town and Southport, in the FA Cup and the Setanta Shield.
Brian Little didn’t manage to pull off a shock: one might try to argue in his favour that he was only in charge for one cup tie, but as that was a 4-2 defeat by Llanelli in the Welsh Premier Cup in which we threw away a 2-0 lead, I think it’s fair to say his pedigree wasn’t shaping up promisingly. He does have one promising link to today’s match though: he was manager of Stoke when we enjoyed our sole victory over them in sixteen attempts.
So Wilkin has an illustrious precedent to try to follow. If he can achieve the feat at his first attempt today, he would certainly write his name firmly at the top of this admirable list.