DIXIE MCNEIL wouldn’t miss Wrexham’s Wembley trip for the world although he does have one big regret.

“I just wish it was me playing out there,” said the club’s proud president, who has made Wrexham his home since signing for £60,000 from Hereford United in the famous 1977/78 Championship-winning season.

In that momentous first season, Wrexham not only lifted the Division Three crown but they reached the quarter-finals of both the League Cup and FA Cup.

McNeil wasn’t eligible for the League Cup run but he more than made up for it in the FA Cup - and genuinely thought he would end up in the FA Cup final that season.

“As a footballer, you go out onto the pitch thinking you’re going to win every game,” said McNeil. “With that Wrexham team, it was no different. We knew we were going to win every game.

“That year certainly everyone at the club thought we would get to Wembley. We honestly thought we’d be the first Third Division side to do it but we were robbed against Arsenal!”

That remarkable run to the quarter-finals was dominated by replays and McNeil’s goals.

He scored an amazing 11 goals in nine FA Cup ties before the Reds were controversially knocked out by Arsenal in a last eight tie at The Racecourse on March 11.

“I loved that FA Cup run,” said McNeil, who scored in every round that season – in 2-0 wins at home to Burton Albion, and away at Preston and another against Bristol City in a 3-0 replay win after the first leg at Ashton Gate ended in a thrilling 4-4 draw.

Then it was Newcastle United at St James’ Park where his two goals – including a last minute half volley to secure a 2-2 draw – earned Wrexham another replay.

“I remember that equaliser,” recalled McNeil. “I hit it so hard that the policeman behind the net ducked and I think his helmet fell off!

“It was so noisy. They were winning 2-1 but then the crowd went totally silent when I thumped in that equaliser.”

After his last minute leveller, McNeil couldn’t wait to make it two for joy against The Magpies.

And 10 days later, he scored with a superb volley in the first minute of a wonderful Wrexham team display that saw McNeil add another one in a 4-1 win.

A controversial last-minute leveller from McNeil against minnows Blyth Spartans meant another trip up north.

“A lot of the lads played in trainers it was that bad,” said McNeil, whose stoppage-time leveller was all down to the frozen Racecourse ground.

The referee ordered Les Cartwight to retake a corner kick because the corner flag had toppled over.

He took it again and McNeil bundled the ball over the line to keep his remarkable run going and upset the non league club’s travelling army of fans behind the goal at the Tech End.

“There was a lot of controversy,”added McNeil. “It shouldn’t have been a corner to us because it came off one of our players and then we had to take the kick three times because the corner flag would not stay in the frozen ground.”

But the plucky part-timers had stirred the interest in Geordie-Land, so much so that they switched the replay to St James’ Park. Cue McNeil.

“It was my best goal ever for Wrexham. We were up against it. 28,000 had watched the Newcastle tie but there were more than 40,000 there for the Blyth game and thousands locked out,” added McNeil. “I remember Shinner picking up the ball, breaking out on the wing like only Shinner could do and he sent in a brilliant cross.

“I just hit in on the half volley from 25 yards and it flew in the top corner.”

McNeil, who has also managed Wrexham during his 44-year association with the club, says it’s great to recall past stories of Reds’ glory but admits that this season has been all about the Wrexham supporters.

“I mean this in the nicest way possible but they’re a crazy crowd,” added McNeil. “I remember when I first came here, the fans were fantastic.

“That’s never changed. They’ve now got a club doing well, spending money on big transfers and there’s real hope we can all go up and get back into the Football League.

“If we do that, then even more fans will come back.

“To get 9,000, 10,000 crowds in non-league football is tremendous. And we could have 20,000-30,000 at Wembley.

“We’ve been there before I know - remember the snow the first time - and I’ve been to them all.

“This one will be good because my wife Dana’s going, my two boys Richard and Jamie and my grandchildren too. It will be a big family day out.”