WHEREVER Wrexham end up this season the priority for next year and years to come is simple - invest in youth development.

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.

Doug Tharme is the only youth product to feature in the first team in the National League side while Leo Smith’s development as a Wrexham player has somewhat stalled - probably not helped by being sent out on loan to Llandudno, who are rock bottom of the Welsh Premier League.

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 on Solway Banks or Gladstone Park 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 the best supported club in the National League this season 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.


EDDIE NIEDZWIECKI (1977-83): Made 111 appearances after eventually taking the number one jersey from Dai Davies. A more successful career followed under John Neal at Chelsea.

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.

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?

BILLY ASHCROFT (1970-77): Classic old-fashioned centre forward who had a great spell with Wrexham before following John Neal to Middlesbrough.

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, Wayne Phillips, Jon Cross, Steve Watkin, Chris Armstrong, Lee Jones.