TRIBUTES have been paid to one of Wrexham FC’s former players, who has died aged 88.

Les Speed made nearly 250 league appearances for the Reds in almost every position from 1946 to 1955.

He died on Tuesday after suffering from Alzheimer’s in the final years of his life.
Tributes have been paid by family members and Wrexham FC.

His daughter Karen Messham yesterday spoke movingly about her father and his affections for the club.

She said: “My father was a very proud man and very proud to have played for Wrexham

“He was extremely dedicated to the cause and proved himself as a utility player for Wrexham.

“He absolutely loved football, although he didn’t like the way football was going.

“He did not believe it was as passionate as it used to be and felt there was too much money in it.

“He remained very fond of Wrexham and always looked out for their results.”

Mr Speed, who guested for clubs including Chelsea and Portsmouth during the Second World War, made 241 first team appearances for Wrexham, scoring one goal and playing predominantly in defence.

After leaving the Reds he had spells as player-manager of Stafford Rangers and Holywell Town and later returned to The Racecourse as part of the club’s backroom staff.

In the early 2000s Mr Speed joined a Leader campaign to help save The Racecourse.

Speaking at the time, he said: “Tom Williams was manager when I started and I even remember the singing on fee – £7. They were fantastic days and I just loved playing football for a living.”

As well as football, Mr Speed’s other great passion in life was his family.

He was married to Evelyn for more than 60 years until her death two years ago.

His son Paul was killed in a road accident but Mr Speed leaves daughter Karen and son-in-law Peter.

He also leaves five grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren, as well as brothers John and Bob and sister Beverley.

Away from football, Mr Speed held jobs including working as a blacksmith at Llay Main Colliery and Abenbury Brickworks.

During the war he served with the Royal Air Force and spent time overseas.

Mr Speed enjoyed golf, pool and bowls and continued to jog and cycle until he was in his early 80s.

Originally from Caergwrle, Mr Speed later lived in Borras Park before spending the closing stages of his life in Hafod House, Ruabon.

Reds chief executive David Roberts said: “Everybody connected with Wrexham Football Club is deeply saddened to hear the news of his death and our condolences go out to his family.”

Club secretary Geraint Parry added: “I am not old enough to remember seeing him play but he is one of those players whose name is always fondly recalled.”
No funeral details have so far been announced.