BARRY HORNE today lifted the lid on why he quit the board at Wrexham Football Club.

It’s been four years since ex-Wrexham player and Wales captain Horne left his position along with co-director Don Bircham and until now he’s not revealed why he made that decision.

“No-one’s ever asked me why I left,” said Horne, who came on board as part of the Wrexham Supporters Trust’s top team in 2011. “There were too many differences, it was becoming too fractious and I wasn’t enjoying it.

“It was becoming too difficult and it was the right time for me to leave.”

Horne made 184 appearances in a three-season stay at The Racecourse in the mid-Eighties where his Reds’ claim to fame was scoring the away goals-rule winner in Wrexham’s shock European Cup Winners’ Cup victory at FC Porto.

His career then took off on the south coast at Portsmouth and Southampton, in the old first division, before a dream move to his number one club Everton while on the international front, he was handed the ultimate honour of captaining Wales.

Add a five-year stint as chairman of the Professional Footballers’ Association to the list and no wonder WST chairman Pete Jones wanted Horne on board as the club’s football expert almost 10 years ago.

“I got a call and was asked to join the club’s board,” added Horne. “I was honoured and there was no hesitation to say yes.

“Don Bircham joined at the same time and the aim was to use all our skills, knowledge and expertise - and mine was on the football side.

“There was some confusion over the title but it was very simple. We had a Commercial Director, a director with commercial knowledge and experience, a Financial Director, the director in charge of the finances etc. I was the director who knew a bit about football as opposed to a ‘Director of Football’.

“Things went well and we had success on the pitch under Andy Morrell. We missed out on the play-offs, won the FA Trophy at Wembley and then missed out on promotion to Newport.”

It was that play-off defeat to Welsh rivals Newport that hurt Horne most as he looks back on the day with regret.

“Christian Jolley made the difference that day,” added Horne. “He didn’t have the best of games but he scored taking advantage of our tiring defence in the final minutes.

“Newport splashed the cash to bring him in and looking back I sometimes think ‘what if?’ Jolley was way out of our reach but what if we had taken a massive gamble on borrowing money to do something similar?

“But then I recollect that we believed we had a good enough squad to beat anyone in the division, and there is no way anyone on the board would have supported such a risky venture. And don’t forget moments before the killer goal we had a gilt-edged chance to win the game ourselves.

“So if I was asked did I have any regrets during my time at Wrexham, it would be that day and the thought of what if we had brought in a goalscorer to see the season out then that would be it.

“I have to say that Andy Morrell was very understanding about the club and the limitations we had budget wise.

“He’d been at the club as a player. He knew the club really well and he also knew all about the fans’ expectations of getting promotion back to the Football League.”

The pressure of expectation is something that 10 managers have all felt - and been under - during Wrexham’s 12-year non-league nightmare.

“Kevin Wilkin was incredibly aware of the pressure and the expectation,” added Horne. “And so was Gary Mills.

“Kevin had come from Nuneaton and Wrexham was obviously a much bigger club. There was an increase in the expectation, in the amount of press coverage and I’m sure it weighed heavy on his shoulders.

“But his knowledge of the lower leagues was extensive and he had good contacts and, to his credit, he brought in some good players to the club. Louis Moult was the obvious one. Kevin knew him because he’d had him at Nuneaton and Louis has gone on to have a decent career since.

“We pushed Motherwell for the best deal they could manage but the best part of the deal was the sell-on clause which meant that when he moved to Preston we got a slice of the money to help balance the books again.

“And in no way did I dictate to Kevin, or anyone, for that matter, on players in and out.”

It was the same scenario for the next man in charge not that Horne wanted ex-Gateshead boss Gary Mills to land the job.

“I strongly disagreed with the appointment of Gary Mills as manager. Not because of Gary Mills – I had never met him before - but because we had discussed for many months the idea of going down a very different, a different model.

“However I must stress that once the board voted to bring him in, that was it. He had my full backing and, I must admit, we got on very well.

“Gary came in because of his track record. It is easy to see why my colleagues would be interested when he suddenly became available but I believed we should look for a younger, fresher management team, who were well qualified, forward-thinking and had connections to the club and area.

“Gary Mills was, by his own admission, an old school manager. He didn’t care too much for the stats or the computer analysis. He had a typical ‘old school’ attitude towards the playing budget too.

“He’d ask how much he had to spend and went out and spent it. And then asked for more!”

Horne was still on the board and actually sat down and told Mills the news that he was being dismissed in October 2016 before his final act as a Reds director was to recommend Dean Keates as the next manager.

“Dean turned out to be a very good appointment and you can’t blame him for leaving to manage his home-town club,” added Horne. The lure of going back to his home tow team where he used to be captain and where he was idolised by the fans, and were going to pay him more money was too good to turn down.

“I’ve always said that the sign of a club doing well is when other clubs come in for your players or managers - and that was the case and it was always understood that we would not stand in anyone’s way.

“Over the years Wrexham has not only provided a start for many players but there are many people working in the game as, coaches, physiotherapists, scouts, administrators that have started their careers at Wrexham football club.

“It’s a great shame that Dean could not have taken up the Walsall post at the end of the season but I understood. They were in relegation trouble and wanted to make their change as soon as possible.

“When he left, we were in the play-offs but sadly the season tailed away.”

And that sorry tale has continued ever since with the club’s board then going in the direction Horne suggested prior to Mills’ arrival by appointing young, hungry managers like Sam Ricketts and Bryan Hughes.

They came and went just like Wrexham’s play-off dreams, leaving Keates the only candidate to return to the role left behind.

But will it be second time lucky for him and all those fans praying for promotion and a change if fortunes.

“You’ve got to believe you can go up and first time around, Dean Keates did a very good job,” added Horne. “So you’d hope that he can do it again.”