Arsenal on 4 January 1992: History don’t mean nothing

By Tony Attwood

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The defeat of Arsenal by Wrexham of the fourth division on 4 January 1992 was not just portrayed as a big piece of giant-killing, it was the giant-killing of the league champions and was a defeat of Arsenal, and so pumped up by the media to stand alongside the defeat of Herbert Chapman’s Arsenal by Walsall of the third division north.

Certainly, the Wrexham game was a real top v bottom affair since not only had Arsenal won the league the previous season, Wrexham had finished bottom of the Fourth Division, and had been saved removal from the League by the “re-election” process.   This involved the bottom four clubs having to apply for re-election while various non-league clubs applied for election.  The third and fourth division clubs then voted, and most of the time the bottom four got re-elected.  After all, fourth division chairmen always recognised they were all just one bad season away from applying for re-election themselves and so favours were done and later called in.

Wrexham survived and in 1991/2, rallied and finished 14th in Division 4 (a league that at that time also included Burnley) while Arsenal slipped back under George Graham and finished fourth, ten points behind Leeds United, who won the title.

If I mention that Arsenal scored the opener with Paul Merson cutting back to Alan Smith, you’ll appreciate that this was not a second XI team of the type that Mr Wenger sometimes deployed.  The famous back four also were all on display.

Not only was it a wonder moment for Wrexham, but also for Mickey Thomas (although not, of course, the Thomas who beat Liverpool to win the league in 1989).  Thomas was a local lad of whom, before the game, the Wrexham manager said of him, “He trains when he wants to train.  I don’t see him too often.”  We later found out why.

It was he who placed a disputed 25 yard free kick past David Seaman on 82 minutes.  On 84 minutes  Steve Watkin’s scored the winner and Arsenal were out.

In the next round Wrexham were defeated by West Ham after drawing 2-2 away.  Arsenal recovered under Graham to win both the FA Cup and the League Cup the following season.

As for Thomas, the old chap who rarely trained, he was soon after jailed for 18 months for his part in a money counterfeiting business.  He also had an extramarital affair which resulted in him being knifed.  The football media would probably call him “a bit of a lad”.

But for Wrexham, that was the highlight.  By the 21st century the club was involved in attempts by their own chairman to have them evicted from their ground so his property company could use the land for house building.

On 3 December 2004 the club was placed in administration owing over £2.5m and became the first League club to suffer a ten-point deduction which proved decisive in determining Wrexham’s relegation.

The club’s future remained in doubt until 2006 when a new limited company took over the club, thus allowing the club to avoid debts built up by the old company.

The ups and downs of the club continue and most recently on 16 November 2020 the club was once again taken over by a new set of owners, one of whom proclaimed that “We want Wrexham to be a global force”.  At the time of writing they are 3rd in the National League. Arsenal meanwhile have set the record for the longest run of consecutive years in the Champions League of any English club ever, had an unbeaten season, and won the FA Cup a record number of times.



For details of the videos sorted by club, and videos in the order we published them, plus our 21 golden great videos please see here.


Just as the videos have been put in date order so we are now doing a day-by-day series of Arsenal events, looking to find one good story a day throughout the year.   This project started on 1 December, and we are adding to it each day.   The index is here.

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