Wrexham AFC stars of today have been picking up tips from a club legend ahead of a crunch FA Cup match.
Reds’ goalkeepers Luke McNicholas and Liam Hall paid a visit to see former club captain Gareth Davies at Pendine Park’s Hillbury care home in Wrexham where he now lives.
Wrexham will be taking on League One outfit Shrewbury Town away at Croud Meadow in the Emirates FA Cup Third Round on Sunday, January 7, with the local derby being shown live on S4C.
It will be the first competitive meeting between the two sides in more than 15 years.
Gareth, now 74, was the defensive linchpin of the third division Wrexham side that enjoyed the club’s first great Cup run in the 1973-74 season when they reached the sixth round before cruelly losing 1-0 to a deflected goal at Division One Burnley.
The three-times capped Bangor-born Davies was a cultured central defender who played 490 games for Wrexham as well as being capped three times by Wales.
The Shrews were among the Red Dragons’ victims that season too along with Jack Charlton’s Middlesbrough, Malcolm Allison’s Crystal Palace and Lawrie McMenemy’s Southampton.
Such was Gareth’s standing in the game that football genius George Best played in his testimonial match in 1979.
Gareth, who has dementia, said: “We had some good players, the likes of Arfon Griffiths, Eddie May and David Smallman. They were good days and it was great to play with them.”
Luke said: “It’s an absolute honour to meet Gareth and to pay our respects to him and hopefully we can have the same sort of career that this man had.
“You see the support the community gives to the club and it means so much to the supporters and we see visits like this as a chance to give something back to them.
“It’s great to meet someone like Gareth who had such a fantastic career with Wrexham and he is an inspiration to all of us for the great times the club had in his time which is something we are all striving to emulate.”
Hillbury unit manager Patsy Swift said: “Gareth is a great laugh. He has a smile with us and is so lovely and he’s a legend in Wrexham.
“Most of the staff when they walk past him will call him ‘Captain’.”
That’s a tribute to the polished defender who led Wrexham to the Division Three title and into what is now the Championship in 1978 when he was Player of the Season in a side that also reached the quarter finals of the FA and League Cups.
Gareth is a firm favourite with the staff at Pendine Park and Cindy Clutton, Manager of the Hillbury and Gwern Alyn Care Homes, said: “We often put films on of the old Wrexham games and Gareth loves watching them.
“We also support the Wrexham FC Charity North Wales Superkids Christmas Toybox Appeal and collected toys and gifts as presents for children who otherwise wouldn’t have received anything on Christmas morning.
“It’s the first year we have supported the appeal and we have close links with the football club. It’s wonderful to see how well they’re doing because the club is so important to the town.”