#9 v2 - Page 25

WREXHAM AWAY - FA CUP REPLAY. 1978 By Brian Hall Aye. That night definitely fitted the old football phrase – but how will he look on a cold, dark, rainy night in February? Except this did not involve some continental, overpaid superstar, who had looked canny in August. Unfortunately, it involved me! We had held the mighty Wrexham at home to a 2-2 draw in the FA Cup, and thus, we had to go down there to finish the job off, come away with the win, and play Blyth Spartan in the 5th round of the cup at SJP. Well, that was the script, like. But often, our NUFC scripts do not exactly go according to plan. It all started quite well for me. Having gone back to Liverpool - I was based there at the time, studying, allegedly, and after being up hyem for the home tie, my own mission was obvious, to get from Merseyside and over into North Wales for the replay when it came around. This cost me, as alongside beer and entry into their ground, I had to find a mate at University with a car who was willing to drive me there and back. He was not a Mag, so I made him an offer that I would cover his petrol, his pies, and give him some beer money. The journey was shite, although not as shite as the longer one made by most of the rest of the 5,000 NUFC army. The road system was crap, and it took a good three hours to get there. Things picked up, though, quickly, as I met up with some of our lot who had already reached the Welsh town. The usual happened – wild, chaotic pub scenes, familiar faces catching up with each other, some pathetic little attempt by 2 locals and a dog to try and have a go at the Geordie Army, and then it was off to pile into the ground. But then things started to gan very badly wrong. Naturally, it was pissing down, so we were soaked. We often sang Singing in the Rain, so we were not too bothered about that. What we were alarmed about was the utter crap we were watching on the pitch itself. Our manager, at that time, was Bill McGarry, a blundering buffoon who thought he was a RSM in the Army. As the mighty Wrexham hoyed in their third goal, to which later they would add a fourth, we all booed our players. The game was up, you see, in more ways than one. Not one of that team gave a shite about the match. And not a jot about so many Mags who had travelled to support the NUFC from all kinds of directions. After the match, we all trooped out. Naturally, met briefly – and I stress, briefly – by a few locals trying to have a go at us. I don’t wish to go into details on that angle, really. But I can detail the journey back to Liverpool for me. The lad driving was shocked by the early support of the thousands of Mags down there. He had never seen anything like it. And he was even more astonished at just why we all travelled around to watch such stuff. The explanation was simple and direct to him. Cos that it what we do, Barney, I think I said during that generally quiet and miserable car journey back to my flat in the Anfield area of the Scouse City. 25 One consolation would have been if Blyth Spartans had beaten Wrexham in that 5th Round tie, held to a packed house at SJP. They had a good bash, earned a replay even, and a couple of my mates went down there to it. Not quite to be, though. And the other consolation? That would have been if Bill McGarry and the board had recompensed most loyal and passionate fans that the world has ever seen. Including the petrol money that I had forked out, that never happened, like. Did it all put me off being a Mag, and an away Mag at that?? Think you know the answer!!! PS That away match only competes with Wigan away in 2005, in relation to most gut-wrenching games in such situations. That one saw 6,000 of us down that Lancashire town on a night in the League Cup. We had our first team out; they had 1 first teamer playing. Mmm, but as they say, that is quite another story. Keep th