Up next ‘On The Road’ for County is a trip to Gresty Road to face The Railwaymen, Crewe Alexandra. Currently managed by David Artell, they will be surprised to find themselves having to keep such a wary eye on the bottom-of-the-league battle, following relegation from League 1 last season! With County needing to make a statement and Crewe coming off the back of an impressive 1-0 away victory over Portsmouth last weekend, this game promises to be a cracker!
Founded 140 years ago, Crewe were formed in 1877 and named after Princess Alexandra. Crewe were a founding member of the Football League Second Division in 1892, but only lasted four years in the League. Since re-entering the competition in 1921, The Alex have mostly remained in the lower divisions. Crewe's only major honour is the Football League Trophy which they won in 2013. They have also won several minor trophies, including the Cheshire Premier Cup and the Cheshire Senior Cup. In 1888, the club reached the FA Cup semi-finals, defeating Derby County and Middlesbrough en route, before going out to Preston North End. The club left the Alexandra Recreation Ground shortly before the end of the 1895–96 season and, after playing at a number of different venues including in nearby Sandbach, they moved to the first Gresty Road ground in 1897. A few years later in 1906 the current Gresty Road ground was rebuilt, west of the original site and this is where County will travel to on Saturday!
The Ground – Gresty Road
Built in 1906, Gresty Road has a capacity of 10,153 though the record attendance was for the FA Cup match against Tottenham Hotspur where 20,000 people crammed into the stadium. (These were the times before football had seats and health and safety restrictions).
In the 1990’s Gresty Road was rebuilt, with all seater stands constructed on all sides of the ground. The travelling Exiles will be housed in The Whitby Morrison Ice Cream Vans stand which can hold up to 1,680 away supporters. The other stands at Gresty Road are the Railway End (Wulvern Housing Stand), Gresty Road End (Mark Price Stand) and the Railtrack Stand (Air Products Stand.) On 31 May 2015, the ground held an international friendly match between Northern Ireland and 2022 World Cup hosts, Qatar. Gresty Road is an old fashioned stadium and the atmosphere will be brilliant for when the ‘Port come knocking this weekend!
The 'Magic' of the Cup
Crewe have famously had mixed fortunes in the FA Cup, none much more so than when they faced Spurs in the FA Cup in 1960. A game which saw lowly Crewe hold Spurs to a 2–2 draw on 30 January, with Bert Llewellyn and Merfyn Jones scoring for the Railwaymen. What a game! Unfortunately, Crewe were unable to muster the same performance at the replay on the 3rd of February and fell to what remains the club’s record defeat - 13-2.
A year later, in the same competition, Crewe won what most would call the most notable win in their history, defeating a Chelsea side that included former Alex player Frank Blunstone as well as Jimmy Greaves, Terry Venables and Peter Bonetti. The game ended 2-1 at Gresty Road. Now that truly is the magic of the cup!
What a Run!
The year of 1955 saw Crewe embark on an incredible losing run where they did not win away from home for 56 matches. (Do not clean your spectacles, that does say fifty-six matches!) The dismal run ended with a 1–0 win at Southport.
Welsh Cup Winners?
In 1936 Crewe won the Welsh Cup (County lost in the Semi-Finals to Rhyl) eventually beating Barry in the final 3-1 after a reply, with first leg finishing 1-1. They were banned from the competition in the 1936-37 campaign, the same season which saw Bert Swindells score his 100th League goal for Crewe Alexandra.He went on to score 126 goals for the club, a record that still stands today.
The Gaffer – David Artell
A Gibraltar international, Artell played for 14 teams in his playing days including spells at Wrexham where the defender scored three goals. A centre back by trade, 36-year-old Artell also played for Port Talbot Town, Bala Town and Morecambe where he made most of his appearances (110). Crewe is Artell’s first managerial role, taking charge of another team he used to play for scoring six times in his time with The Railwaymen and captaining them to a famous victory in the League 2 Play-Off final at Wembley in 2013. In the summer of 2010 Artell graduated the University of Chester with a degree in forensic biology. On 8 January 2017, Artell was named first team manager at Crewe following the dismissal of Steve Davis. Artell has only been in charge of Crewe for nine matches.
Star Man – Chris Dagnall
Born in Liverpool, 30-year-old striker Dagnall has played for many clubs in an illustrious career ranging from Hibernian FC in Scotland to Kerala Blasters FC in India. Coming up through the ranks at Tranmere, Dagnall still has the pace to beat a man but also the flair and creative nous of an attacking midfield player. Dagnall is an experienced forward and therefore an asset to any team. Dagnall’s most prolific time as a forward was when he played for Rochdale, scoring 60 goals in 140 appearances. Although he has only converted six times this season, Dagnall can be a danger at any time on the pitch due to his experience and natural ability for finding the net. The County defenders will definitely have to be on their toes if they want to keep Dagnall quiet onmatch day!
Directions – By Car
Leave the M6 at Junction 16 and take the A5020 towards Crewe. Follow this road right into Crewe. At the roundabout junction with the A534, Nantwich Road, turn left. Gresty Road is down past the Railway Station on the left. Just before you reach this island on Weston Road, you will see a sign pointing to the right, which displays; 'Away Supporters On Street Parking'. This directs you to an industrial estate on the right of the road (you will also see the Volkswagen dealership, L C Charles on the front of it). It takes about 15 minutes to walk to the ground from here. Otherwise at the ground behind the Main Stand is a pay and display car park which holds 560 cars and costs £3.50 for the day. Obviously this fills up quite quickly on matchdays.
Post Code for SAT NAV:CW2 6EB
Directions - By Train
Gresty Road is only a few minutes walk from Crewe Railway Station. As you come out of the Railway Station turn left and Gresty Road is down the road on your left.