THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

European Cup-Winners Cup, quarter-final second leg

WrexhamvAnderlecht40017 March ~ Back when clubs from Wales playing in the English league could qualify for Europe by winning the Welsh Cup, lower division teams such as Wrexham, Cardiff, Swansea and Newport County regularly entertained some of the biggest names on the continent, and occasionally pulled off a shock. When UEFA put a stop to this in the mid-1990s on the entirely reasonable grounds that it was unfair, they snuffed out yet another spark of magic from midweek European competition.

And so we no longer have nights like these, when Division Three Wrexham (in seventh place) put the frighteners up a team featuring the Dutch trio of Arie Haan, Rob Rensenbrink and Peter Ressel, and the sleek Belgian winger Francois Van der Elst. Trailing 1-0 from the first leg, Wrexham went ahead through a goal from Stuart Lee on the hour of this furious game at a churning Racecourse Ground, but Rensenbrink equalised with a quarter of an hour to go. Anderlecht went on to win the now defunct competition, eliminating East German side Sachsenring Zwickau (who had done for Celtic in the previous round), before beating West Ham 4-2 in the final in Brussels.

"Today we take on the cream of European football at Wrexham," writes chairman FJ Tomlinson in his programme notes in an age when his words were no mere hype - all the Anderlecht players barring full-back Michel Lomme played at full international level. Their coach Hans Croon was taking the game seriously too as his side had not yet scored away in the competition, despite knocking out Rapid Bucharest and Borac Banja Luka. Croon had come over specially to watch Wrexham's away game at Peterborough and determined that Arfon Griffiths was "their most elegant player".

Anderlecht's colours are listed as "mallow and white", though any finery represented by such noble hues soon became obscured by the Welsh mud. The ref was the impressively named German, Mr Ferdinand Biwersi. And readers were informed that shirt numbers were "not representative of playing positions" – a small-print warning of changes to come.

Targeting the fan demographic "Always A Winner" – Wrexham Exhibition Ale. Presumably the speech marks were not intended to denote sarcasm.

Result Wrexham 1 (Lee) Anderlecht 1 (Rensenbrink)
Crowd 19,688.
Wrexham Lloyd, Sutton, Fogg, May, Davis, Whittle, Griffiths, Thomas, Lee, Tinnion, Ashcroft.  
Anderlecht Ruiter, Lomme, Van Binst, Broos, Coeck, Van den Daele, Dockx, Ressel, Rensenbrink, Haan, Van der Elst.

Ian Plenderleith

You can save £2 on Ian Plenderleith's "Rock n Roll Soccer: The Short Life and Fast Times of the North American Soccer League", published by Icon Books

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