If you’re a Wrexham fan you’ll have been brought up to believe a lot of “truths” about the club: we always lose on TV, and on artificial pitches; in the Good Old Days we always got five-figure crowds for home games; we don’t really want to go up (that’s a bizarrely persistent one!); and we always do badly against sides at the bottom of the table.
I suspect we’re not unusual in having these stereotypical views of our club – surely all fans have assumptions about their team. I also strongly suspect they’re not true: I can certainly debunk the “five-figure crowd” myth as we did attract those sorts of crowds, but not on a consistent basis.
Last weekend saw another of these clichés rear its head: ex-Wrexham players always score against us.
The recent Stockport match was certainly upsetting, and for all three goals to be scored by former Dragons was remarkable, although it should be pointed out that the odds are stacked considerably in favour of Stockport being the side to achieve that feat, as they have four of them in their squad!
So do we concede more goals from ex-players than we ought to? The statistics suggest not.
Ex-Wrexham players have lined up against us fourteen times this season (and none of them were goalkeepers), and Saturday is the only occasion they’ve scored. Last season the figures are more extreme as out of 36 appearances, only two ex-Wrexham players scored past us: Ntumba Massanka got a late consolation goal for Chorley, and Mike Fondop scored in an FA Cup tie.
Since we dropped into the National League, we’ve faced old players 217 times, and it’s happened 16 times, and 3 of those were penalties, so essentially an ex-player will score past us once every 14 games.
To look at it another way, over the last 13 seasons it’s happened 16 times, so on average it happens about once a season! Indeed, in 4 of those seasons we didn’t concede to our old players at all!
It’s also striking how many of these goals were fairly meaningless. Mark Beck is the player who has scored most against us since departing, and alongside Alex Reid is the only one to score more than one in a game, but he scored all 3 of his games in matches where we deliberately played under-strength teams.
Likewise, apart from Massanka’s goal, Darran Kempson, Jake Speight and Dan Holman all scored in games we ended up winning pretty comfortably.
Apart from Beck, only one other ex-Red has scored in two games against us. You won’t be surprised to hear it was a Quigley, but you’ll no doubt be shocked to find it wasn’t Scott!
Scott Quigley has scored past us, the opening goal in a defeat at Halifax in April 2019. However, it’s the frankly forgettable Joe Quigley who has struck twice: he got goals for Woking and Havant and Waterloovile.
Perhaps the sense that ex-players thrive against us is fuelled by the fact that they seem to relish making their point at The Racecourse. Of the 18 goals they’ve managed, surprisingly only 5 came in away games.
Some notable ex-players haven’t managed to beat our keeper. That sinking feeling you get when we play Danny Wright is formed by respect for his potential rather than his record of punishing us: he’s faced us 10 times since leaving, and hasn’t scored.
John Rooney’s penalty last Saturday was his fifth attempt to score past us, and Alex Reid had to have 5 goes before his match-winning performance last Saturday.
We tend to look at how Scott Boden has scored consistently since leaving us and wonder if he could have succeeded here, but 6 games against us have drawn a blank.
Every one of our top league scorers in the National League who didn’t retire or is still with us has faced us since leaving except Louis Moult, but only Andy Mangan, Speight and Rooney have scored. That’s a total of 3 goals in 33 appearances, two of which were penalties. Hardly the form of a top scorer! Chris Holroyd even missed a penalty against us!
Overall, 4 penalties against us have been taken by ex-players and 3 went in, although, I should mention that Sam Russell saved a late Dean Keates penalty to earn Forest Green a 1-0 win nine years ago.
So do ex-Wrexham players come back to haunt us regularly? That doesn’t appear to be the case. Are they more likely to make their point when they return to The Racecourse than in their new environment? Yes. Perhaps that’s where the myth comes from, but essentially our defenders need to keep in mind that it’s better the devil you know!