STEVE STACEY fondly remembers his spell playing in Division Four with Wrexham - and he often wished he hadn't swapped The Racecourse for top-flight football.

The first black African-American to play professional football in the UK when he turned out for Bristol City, Stacey joined the Reds in 1966.

Full-back Stacey went onto make more than 100 league appearances for Wrexham before signing for Division One outfit Ipswich Town, who paid £25,000 for his services at the start of the 1968-9 season.

But such was the camaraderie and togetherness in the Wrexham ranks, coupled with reaching the 1967 Welsh Cup final and coming close to promotion, it wasn't an easy decision for Stacey to make.

"It was great playing for Wrexham," said Stacey, who also played for Exeter and Bath City before emigrating to Perth, Australia, in 1974 with his wife and their two daughters.

"Jack Rowley was the manager when I came here and then Alvan Williams.

"My only regret is that I didn't get to play under John Neal. I thought he was a pretty knowledgeable coach and he took Wrexham up to the second division.

"I signed for Ipswich so to make that jump from the fourth division to the first was a big step and there were times when I actually regretted leaving Wrexham.

"But Ipswich were in the top division and I had to go.

"You don't get somewhere by yourself, you have to take into account your team-mates and the manager you have played for but I was sad to leave because we had a very good team and the social life was great, we had a wonderful time."

Stacey enjoyed life off the football pitch whilst living in Wrexham, a place his family loved to call home.

"We had lots of friends up here when I was playing for Wrexham

"The players used to go out together and there was a bit of click. We were a band of brothers together, people like Sammy McMillan and Stuart Mason, who has sadly passed away. A lot different to today, maybe because they paid you peanuts in those days.

"I really do miss Wrexham. It was a wonderful time to be here and play for Wrexham."

Stacey was a regular in the Reds side and he played in numerous positions.

"Jack bought me as a defender," said Stacey.

"It was anywhere in the back four but I ended up playing in every position on the field. I even went in goal at York one day.

"I played something like 110 games. There were about six players at that time, like Arfon Griffiths and Albert Kinsey, who were automatic picks and were the core of the team."

Stacey continued to play and coach football in Australia before working for local government but he has since retired.

Although he has regularly travelled back to the UK since emigrating, Stacey made his first visit back to The Racecourse for Saturday's 1-1 draw against Sutton United, and it was a trip he couldn't wait to make.

"It is the first time we have been back to Wrexham since we left for Australia in the 1970s and it has changed a bit!" said Stacey.

"Certainly the old Kop end and the new stand which wasn't there.

"We have come back for five weeks this time and I was determined to watch Wrexham, it was one of the things I wanted to do when I came home.

"It has always felt a little bit lonely coming back to the UK and not coming to The Racecourse.

"Wrexham was my favourite club."

Wrexham are spending a 12th season in non-league and Stacey still follows his former club for afar.

"When I look at the results, I don't go to Bristol City or Ipswich, I go to Wrexham," said Stacey.

"I am so disappointed Wrexham are still in the Conference."