MIKE LAKE fondly remembers being part of Wrexham's 1992-93 promotion winning side - but the midfielder almost wasn't at The Racecourse for the crucial run-in.

Lake, brought in on loan from Sheffield United, helped the Reds climb into contention for a top-three finish in Division Three.

Due to return to Bramall Lane following Wrexham's clash at Bury in February 1993, Lake was hoping to strike a deal with manager Brian Flynn to keep him at the club.

However, the duo couldn't agree terms and although Lake had been an influential figure in Wrexham's promotion challenge, Flynn had no qualms about leaving the midfielder out of the squad for the Bury showdown.

"I came for three months and it went well," said Lake. "My last game was going to be Bury away

"I really enjoyed it and wanted to stay.

"Brian wanted me to stay but we could not agree terms.

"I was looking forward to the last game at Bury but Brian said 'I would rather you don't play and go now'. Jimmy Case, who had come to the club, did a lot in the game and was a lovely man, played instead.

"I was a bit disappointed in Brian's attitude, I thought there was no need for that, so I went back."

Lake found himself back in favour upon his return to Sheffield United - and immediately out of Dave Bassett's plans - and this time Flynn got his man.

"I went straight back into the United first team for a game at Southampton and had a good game," said Lake.

"But the following week I was in the reserves and it did not go too well.

"Brian phoned up and asked if I was interested in coming back to Wrexham. I wanted to come back again and we managed to agree terms."

Fans' favourite Lake and his Wrexham team-mates enjoyed a fantastic run-in which culminated in clinching automatic promotion on a Tuesday night at Northampton.

"We had a great run-in," said Lake. "It was my most exciting time in football, getting promoted with Wrexham.

"We had a good side, good players, and getting promoted was fantastic for everyone at the club.

"It's a different club when you are getting success, the atmosphere is much better."

Prolific strike duo Gary Bennett, who bagged a brace in the 2-0 win on a never to be forgotten night at Northampton, and Steve Watkin scored the goals that fired Wrexham into the second division.

"It can make a great difference," said Lake.

"A striker getting 20 goals can be the bit of extra you need to get over the line.

"Benno was on fire for us and you had Steve Watkin as well."

Lake admits he had ups and downs with Flynn - now assistant to Wrexham boss Bryan Hughes - but he never doubted his manager's footballing ability.

"I had a few disagreements with Brian but one thing I will say is we trained every day and Brian was the best player in training," said Lake.

"You could not get near him."

Injuries began to take its toll and Lake was released by Wrexham at the end of the 1994-95 season, and he soon retired.

Nearly 25 years on and Lake was back at The Racecourse last November to see Sam Ricketts' Wrexham lose 2-0 against Leyton Orient in a top of the table National League game.

Two changes in manager later and Wrexham - under Bryan Hughes - booked a play-off spot but lost 1-0 in the eliminator against Eastleigh and Lake was gutted his former club never ended their Football League exile.

"It was the first time I've been back since I left," revealed Lake.

"Even though they lost to two late goals they still looked a strong side.

"I was watching keenly when Bryan took over and it was heartbreaking. I really thought they would do it."

Lake, who has been a BT site rep since hanging up his boots, remembers when Hughes was a trainee at The Racecourse.

Hughes went on to play for Birmingham, Charlton and Hull in the Premier League and Lake always felt he was a special talent.

"Bryan was at Wrexham when I was there and he was a good player, head and shoulders above all the other youngsters," added Lake. "Him and Dave Brammer were the two.

"Joey Jones thought highly of Bryan. I remember Bryan wasn't loud like Dave, he was quieter, but he was a confident lad and he went on to have a great career.

"Bryan always seemed confident in his own ability."