It was only yesterday that it occurred to me to check out just how difficult we found it to score goals last season. The answer, you might not be surprised to discover, is historically bad!
Our top scorer in the league overall was Shaun Pearson, with 6 goals. Obviously that’s a remarkably low total, but it turns out that’s just half the story. 6 is the lowest total a Wrexham top league scorer has every managed: the previous lowest mark was 8. Furthermore, this was only the 16th time in 119 seasons that our top league scorer failed to get into double figures, and even that statistic is worse than it sounds. Six of those seasons were in the Nineteenth Century, when league seasons were considerably shorter: the most we played in a season during that period was 28 games, and the least was just 12! It’s rather more forgivable to fail to hit double figures in those conditions!
In all competitions, last season looks even worse. Four players were equal top scorers on six goals: Pearson, Stuart Beavon, Mike Fondop and Akil Wright. That’s the lowest total for a top scorer in our history, and makes 2018-9 only the second campaign in our history where no player reached double figures! The previous time was 1892-3, when Trevor Owen scored nine goals in the Combination League. That was a 22 game season, though, and Owen actually only played in 19 games.
The previous lowest figure since the watershed season when we joined the Football League in 1921-2 is the 10 scored by Gareth Taylor in 2009-10.
There are, I suppose, extenuating circumstances. Rekeil Pyke got 5 goals and managed just 15 starts, so there’s a good chance he’d have reached double figures if he hadn’t been recalled, while Ben Tollitt only started 8 games and managed 4 goals, so if Graham Barrow had picked him for the first two months of his loan, he could have got there too.
Still, these statistics make it clear that it’s imperative Bryan Hughes gets things right as he searches for a reliable goal scorer. In doing so, hopefully he’ll also solve the problem of finding a reliable penalty box operator who can offer something over a number of years. Maybe it’s a reflection of our slide down football’s good chain that we haven’t managed to find a player who has put together a succession of prolific seasons in some time: the last player to be Wrexham’s top scorer for more than one season is Craig Faulconbridge, who topped the list three times in succession between 1999 and 2002.
Still, it should be remembered that, despite our problems scoring goals, we still finished fourth. While the hunt for an effective striker is crucial, we’re not too far off being a side that can get out of this league.