ARFON GRIFFITHS - arguably Wrexham’s greatest ever player - says the club needs to develop and blood more home-grown youngsters in the side.

Griffiths, the blond-haired midfielder from Hightown in Wrexham, came through The Racecourse ranks, signing on amateur forms in 1957, making more than 720 league and cup appearances before managing the best ever Reds team to promotion in 1978.

Now 78 and putting his feet up after a winter golf break in Turkey, Griffiths talked passionately and frustratingly about the club he loves and gave nearly 25 years of his life to.

“I can’t believe why they’re not bringing youngsters through,” said Griffiths. “You’ve got to have the nucleus of experienced players in your side but you need the youngsters in there. That’s the only way they are going to learn their trade, learn the way to play the game from the older pros. They’re is no better way to start your footballing life than that.

“The board at Wrexham haven’t gone that way. Colliers Park has gone and so has the flow of young local lads coming through the ranks.

“It’s something Wrexham have always done. Look at me, I went to Arsenal for £15,000 and that was back in 1961.

“The club’s always brought youngsters through into the first team. John Neal did it with the likes of Billy Ashcroft, Graham Whittle, David Smallman, Joey Jones and Michael Thomas. The list is endless.

“They were youngsters who came in and played alongside the older pros and became wonderful players for Wrexham.

“Some make it and some don’t and I know the club will say they’ve made money from players transfers in the last few years but you can’t see a Danny Ward windfall happening again soon.

“I’d like to see these youngsters having a couple of seasons in the first team, improving their game and then sell them if the offers come in.

“Fans - and the Wrexham supporters are better than they’ve been by supporting their club in the 12 seasons in non-league football - love seeing local lads in the team.

“I just hope the club realise that the current way obviously isn’t working.”

The great Reds teams of the past have been based around giving youngsters a go - and, boy, they were good!

Think about all those players John Neal, Dixie McNeil and Brian Flynn gave a chance in the Seventies, Eighties and Nineties - and what a team you’d have. In fact you’d have enough to make up a reserve team that would give the starting XI a real run for their money.

Wrexham, a club that prides itself on the past, have probably taken their eye off the ball in giving the area’s most talented teenagers the best pathway possible to first team football.

The club and their supporters are obsessed with getting out of non-league football. But after 11 unsuccessful years of trying to reclaim their place back in the Football League, Wrexham Football Club could do with adopting a new philosophy and their 2020 vision has to be to discover the next Joey Jones or Mickey Thomas.

With so many scouts sniffing around from bigger clubs these days, it’s difficult to see all those ‘he’s got something’ hopefuls kicking around the Wrexham and Flintshire Junior Leagues making it into the ranks of The Racecourse academy.

Wrexham can be thankful, Swansea and Liverpool snapped up Neil Taylor and Danny Ward. The transfer money from those two deals alone has provided a massive financial boost since the fans trust took over the running of the club.

But the club’s future rests with the loyalty of their amazing fanbase. They are one of the best supported clubs in the National League and will support their beloved Reds through thick and thin.

And they would love to see Wrexham-born rookies, Flintshire’s finest and some likely lads from Liverpool pulling on that famous red shirt that means as much to them as it does the supporters cheering them on.

Reds’ and Wales legends Jones and Thomas are advocates of youth development, having risen from cleaning the boots and sweeping the terraces to European and top flight glory with Liverpool and Manchester United.

And they would both be in the greatest Reds team of players, who have made the progression from trainee to running out at The Racecourse to the ‘Here they come the mighty champions’ anthem.


DANNY WARD: Despite not playing a first team game fir the Reds, the money Welsh international keeper Ward has made the club gets him in the side ahead of Eddie Niedzwiecki.

ALAN DWYER (1974-81): Classy attacking full-back in the famous 1978 Championship-winning side. Played more than 200 games.

PHIL HARDY (1990-2001): One of many youngsters given a run by Brian Flynn. He helped reach the FA Cup quarter-finals in 1997 and won promotion in 1993.

GARETH DAVIES (1967-83): Came through the ranks to make more than 500 appearances, captaining the Reds at home and abroad.

JOEY JONES (1973-75, 78-82, 87-92): What a player. A leader, a legend and a player who every fan loved whether he was at Wrexham, Liverpool, Chelsea or Huddersfield.

GRAHAM WHITTLE (1970-81): One of the many scousers brought in by John Neal. Whittle would shoot from anywhere and scored more than 100 times for The Reds.

ARFON GRIFFITHS (1959-61, 62-79): Wrexham’s best ever player of all time. He knew what playing for his home-town club really meant.

GARETH OWEN (1989-2001): Brilliant box-to-box midfielder who played 300 games for the Reds.

MICKEY THOMAS (1972-78, 91-93): Loved playing for Wrexham probably more than he did for United. Another Wrexham great and who can forget that goal against Arsenal?

CHRIS ARMSTRONG (1989-91, 2003-05): Went on to play in the top flight for Tottenham, Armstrong scored 26 goals in 120 appearance for the Reds.

DAVE SMALLMAN (1972-75): Superb goalscorer whose career was cut short by injury after Everton had forked out £70,000 for him.

RESERVES TEAM: Chris Maxwell, Mark McGregor, Neil Taylor, Shaun Cunnington, Bryan Hughes, Mark Jones, Waynne Phillips, Jon Cross, Steve Watkin, Billy Ashcroft, Lee Jones, Wes Baynes.