I Still Look out for Wrexham results

Steve Stacey

Steve Stacey

Gareth Collins continues his chit-chat with 1960s Reds' stalwart Steve Stacey (click here for part one)

In the whole of your playing career, who was the best player that you played with, and who was the best player that you played against?
The best player I played with is difficult. John Atyeo at Bristol City was quite a bloke. I think he got five England caps from the Second Division. He was also a part-timer - what could he have done in a full-time capacity? Of my own contemporaries I would have to say I respected Arfon Griffiths as a gritty dedicated pro and Danny Hegan or Colin Viljoen at Ipswich. I toured France with John Charles who had given up playing then but what a touch he had in training! A giant of a man who would have been more that a handful in his heyday. The best players…the Liverpool team of 1967-8, what more is there to say!'

How would you describe yourself as a player?
'Limited but with a burning desire to play professional football. I actually played in every position on the field in my career from goalkeeper to outside left. It's been interesting.'

You joined Ipswich for £25,000 in the autumn of 1968. How did you feel about your departure from Wrexham?
'I felt torn between two desires when I left Wrexham. Everybody wants to play First Division football. But here I was leaving the place I had enjoyed most in my life. Wasn't easy but when you gotta go, you gotta go. The team had started to break up then too. But many, many regrets to be leaving after two and a half years, it was a wrench.'

You once played for Chester. How did Chester compare to Wrexham is the 1960s? And also, was there much rivalry between the clubs back then?
'I went to Chester on loan for a month from Ipswich while recovering from an injury. Only played one game but the facilities were a little sparse and when I got there the place was snowed in with nowhere to train. Personally I was glad to get back to Ipswich and my on-loan period was not very memorable. There was rivalry between the two clubs. I think in my second game the crowd was almost 17,000 and we beat them 2-1.'

What have you done since you left the club?
'After leaving Wrexham I went on to play for Ipswich, Bristol City and Exeter City before going to Australia.'

Why did you emigrate to Australia?
'I had two overseas offers - to go to Dallas or Seattle in the States, but they were only six or 12 months at a time. I got a message that a guy was looking for players in Australia. It was a two- year deal and they paid all the expenses for myself and the family, so we went. We looked at it as a two year holiday and had a real ball. The football wasn't all that crash hot, but what a country! We came back to England thinking we would not go back but I'd applied to go to university. While we were in England, I got this message saying that my application had been accepted as a mature-age student. In those days under the Labour government you got paid to go to Uni. I couldn't believe it. So off we went, sold our house, and I have been here ever since. I started doing Physical Education but changed to Recreation Management. I managed the Leisure function at three local authorities for 17 years and had four years as Deputy Manager at a Residential College for the Department of Education. Right now I am the Executive Officer of the CPSU/CSA, which is the Public Service Union that caters for Public Servants in Western Australia.'

You once captained Western Australia against Manchester United and Glasgow Rangers. What was that like?
'I captained Western Australia 16 or 17 times. We won an overseas tournament, The Mara Halim Cup, in Indonesia for six weeks, beating South Korea 2-0 in the final. We drew with Middlesbrough, lost narrowly to Man United and beat Glasgow Rangers and the North American Champions, Toronto Croatia Metro. Playing against United and Rangers was a buzz considering we had a lot of kids in the team and basically I was the only one who had any experience at the highest level except for Ernie Hannigan, ex-Coventry City. The Man U squad was: Stepney, Forsyth, Houston, Buchan, Holton, James, Young, Macari, McIlroy, Daly, Pearson, Roche, Nicholl, Greenhoff, Coppell, Albiston, McCreery, Grimshaw and Loughnan. The Rangers squad was: Kennedy. McCloy, Greig, Stein, Jackson, Forsyth, Mclean, Parlane, McDonald, Johnstone, Young, Miller, Fyfe, Dawson and Henderson. At the Man U game I naturally had to introduce the players to the guest of honour, in this case the Premier of Western Australia, Sir Charles Court. What's everybody's nightmare? A mental blackout and forgetting the names. So I go all along the line shaking hands and get to the last person, the trainer, Vern Andrews "and this is Vern...ah Vern...", "helloo Vern" said the Premier...It took Vern about six months to buy me a beer.'

You were born in Bristol and had two spells with Bristol City. Do you still follow their fortunes?
'I check out all the scores but who do I love most? Let me tell you a story. When my grandson was growing up and started to play football he wanted an old shirt that his pop had played in. I wrote to Wrexham, Bristol City and Ipswich. All I wanted was an old hand-me-down straight from the dressing room that the club was about to toss. Bristol City and Ipswich sent me a catalogue. Peter Jones responded to me from Wrexham and talked to the club and Joey Jones sent me via Peter a training top. I think it goes a long way to saying something about what clubs - in this case my favourite club - think about their ex-players. My little grandson is ecstatic with his "real" football gear. The only one in Australia...'

How do you follow Wrexham's fortunes from Australia?
'Following anybody from Oz is difficult but now I am on the Net. Basically we get your Saturday games on the following Monday as well as those games played on Sunday. Foxtel is live but at 2am in the morning...I will tune into Red Passion every week to keep in touch. I am not in a good position to comment on form or whatever, but my mission when next I return to the UK is to wander up to the Racecourse... Stand by!'

Thanks a lot Steve!