ROBBIE SAVAGE - and not the blond-haired boy from Bradley - has to go down as Wrexham’s best loan signing ever.

Wrexham were on the crest of a slump, tumbling down the leagues at the start of the 1980s.

Money was tight, and the five figure-crowds that had flocked to The Racecourse in the famous 1977/78 season had long since disappeared together with manager Arfon Griffiths and star players Mickey Thomas and Bobby Shinton.

Bobby Roberts was the manager now in charge and although his Racecourse track record wasn’t good - he suffered back-to-back relegations in his three years at the helm - his loan signings were pretty good.

He plucked Savage out of Liverpool Reserves’ Central League side with the attacking midfielder moving to The Racecourse in October 1982.

Savage was a great, all-action player. A Liverpool lad, who couldn’t break through into a first team that were dominating football at home and abroad.

He scored 10 goals in 27 league games that season before moving on to better things with Stoke City and under Harry Redknapp at Bournemouth where he was part of The Cherries side who beat Manchester United 2–0 in the FA Cup.

Savage netted on his debut and was named player of the season, despite missing the team bus for the final game of the campaign at Reading.

Roberts also brought in centre forward Jim Steel from Oldham that season.

The big Scot couldn’t hit a barn door with a banjo the first time he pulled on a red shirt but suddenly he exploded into life with six goals in nine games.

Steel eventually returned on a permanent deal but it wasn’t the same with creative midfielder Jim Harvey.

Dixie McNeil was now boss and Harvey, on-loan from Hereford, looked a class act in his six games with Wrexham.

McNeil tried to convince the penny-pinching board members that building a team around Harvey would provide a promotion platform. The board said no, Harvey went to Tranmere and Rovers gained promotion.

Brian Flynn used the loan market well in Wrexham’s 1992/93 season, bringing in Sheffield United midfielder Mike Lake on loan before eventually signing him for £60,000 a couple of months later.

Flynn, Kevin Reeves and Joey Jones also had an eye for a decent centre half.

Eddie Youds came in from Everton and Brian Carey from Manchester United.

Carey would later return as a full-time fixture for The Reds as well as becoming their manager in the season before they were relegated from the Football League.

Another ex-United defender, Lee Roche, also made an impression in his season-long loan 2000/01.

Denis Smith - the man Carey replaced - brought in a keeper who went on to become the England number one.

Ben Foster was brilliant in his Reds’ loan spell and played in the 2-0 Football League Trophy win over Southend in 2005.

Smith’s ace in the pack at the other end of the pitch was Blackburn Rovers rookie, Matt Derbyshire.

He joined Wrexham for the final three months of the 2005/06 season where he made a name for himself with 10 goals in 16 appearances.

Of the non-league era, the best loan arrangements have been Mark Creighton and James Jennings, both of who ended up moving to North Wales on a permanent basis.

The obvious top trio from last season were clean sheet-king Rob Lainton, along with midfielder Brad Walker and pacy winger Ben Tollitt.

REDS BEST LOAN LINE-UP (5-3-2): Ben Foster, Lee Roche, Brian Carey, Mark Creighton, Eddie Youds, James Jennings; Jim Harvey, Mike Lake, Robbie Savage; Matt Derbyshire, Jim Steel. Substitutes: Rob Lainton, Brad Walker, Jeff Whitley, Ben Tollitt, Ashley Ward.