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.
Any game between Wrexham and Chester is a big occasion, but tomorrow is a particularly notable match.
In our one hundred and fiftieth year, we face Chester for the hundred and fiftieth time! Not many other derbies can claim that sort of longevity! Few rivalries go back as far as ours does, to an FA Cup fourth round qualifying round match at Chester in 1888. We won 3-2, of course!
We’ve a healthy advantage over the century and a half of our rivalry, having won sixty five to their fifty four. At The Racecourse we’re even further ahead, with thirty eight wins set against sixteen defeats and eighteen draws.
Of course, recently things haven’t been going our way. We’ve won just one of our last six cross-border derbies, and since our last victory we’ve lost two out of three. We need to address this before we start threatening to match our longest run of games without a victory of six matches in the mid-1930s.
The names of the Wrexham scorers the last time we beat Chester tell you a lot: Andy Holt and Michael Proctor got the goals at The Deva back in March 2008, and even that victory owed a lot to the goalkeeping heroics of Gavin Ward.
Incredibly, five of our last six victories over Chester have all come on their turf. For our last home derby win you have to go back to March 2006, when Danny Williams and Mark Jones scored before the interval to apparently put us in the comfort zone. However, ex-Wrexham striker Jake Edwards scored with a minute left and we had to survive a nervous period of injury time before claiming the three points.
We haven’t won any of our last three home derbies either. Last season, of course, we played them into form after their dreadful start to the season when a catastrophic afternoon culminated in their first win of the campaign. The two previous clashes were a 2-2 draw in November 2007 in Brian Little’s first match as Wrexham boss, which saw Proctor score twice, and a goalless draw the previous season.
We could do with a hero to step up to the plate tomorrow. Someone like Billy Tunnicliffe, who is the top scorer in the derby with ten goals. Three goals behind him are Tommy Bamford and Mickey Metcalf, but although Metcalf scored seventy three goals for us, those seven all went into our net during his prolific spell at Chester!
The milestones are arriving thick and fast for two of our senior players. Neil Ashton plays in both his four hundred and twenty fifth career game and his two hundredth Wrexham league match against his old club, having made his three hundred and seventy fifth career league appearance on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Dean Keates plays his hundred and fiftieth league game for Wrexham having made his one hundred and seventy fifth Wrexham appearance in all competitions against Gateshead.
Also, Andy Coughlin will mark his first derby by making his fiftieth league appearance for Wrexham tomorrow.