‘Old Boy’ Pleased With Thrilling Rise

Zero tolerance message to Wrexham football fans ahead of first game of new season | Shropshire Star


Michael Oakes could be forgiven for not recognising the present-day Wrexham as the club for whom he worked for the best part of a decade.

As at Wolves, he lived through one or two promotion heartbreaks and near misses at The Racecourse  Ground but here they now are in the aftermath of his departure – back in the Football League and making a quite astonishing impact.

For those who haven’t caught up on the story, The Robins have this summer ended their 15-year exile in non-League and returned to the big league in spectacular fashion.

They lost 5-3 at home to MK Dons on the opening day, came back with two stoppage-time goals to draw 5-5 with Swindon last weekend and, in between, beat Walsall 4-2.

They have scored nine more goals than leaders Gillingham and conceded six more than bottom club Colchester. Life hasn’t been dull for them!

“I left not long before the current owners arrived when it was clear they wanted to bring in their own people,” Oakes said this week. “That was nothing I didn’t expect and I am glad I departed on good terms.

“I have never met the owners and I’m not into all the hype anyway to be honest but I’ve no doubt they and Wrexham will do well.


Wrexham FC coach Michael Oakes hoping for a reaction for visit of Braintree - North Wales Live


“They are a good club with a great tradition and fan-base and have gone a step further than we managed to do in the long time I had there, on and off, under a number of managers including Dean Saunders, Andy Morrell, Dean Keates and Bryan Hughes.

“In one season, we totalled 98 points and were beaten to the title by Fleetwood. They had Jamie Vardy playing for them and while they were celebrating, we lost in the play-offs to Luton, as we had a couple of years earlier.

“We also lost a play-off final to Newport but had the consolation of having a second trip to Wembley that season and beating Grimsby to win the FA Trophy.

“I suspect they are a different club now. I was part-time, although the hours were usually longer than part-time, and my pay reflected where they were then.

“Good luck to them. They were absolutely fine with me, I finished with no issues, and the ‘Hollywood owners’ have already done so much for the area, boosted local businesses and created tremendous interest among the fans.”

Family duties have contributed to Oakes not returning to the club since leaving but he is watching their early-season progress with interest.

“I still follow football keenly, especially the results of my former clubs,” added the keeper who turns 50 this autumn. “I am always well treated when I go back to Wolves and obviously Villa mean a lot as that’s where I spent almost all of the 1990s.

“I think Villa were the only club I played for at the Racecourse before I went to work there. I knew Dean Saunders at Villa and he asked me along to work with the Wrexham goalkeepers after I retired as a player not long after being an unused substitute for Cardiff at the 2008 FA Cup final against Portsmouth.

“I was 34 when I finished playing and couldn’t have entertained going on as long as Ben Foster did before telling Wrexham a few days ago that he was retiring at the age of 40.

“I know it’s an unusual time of year to quit and people expect you to find it easier as you drop down the divisions. But he obviously knows his body better than anyone and has set some very high standards in the past.

“He also made a huge mark there by helping Wrexham to the title and promotion – including a crucial penalty save in a win over their arch rivals Notts County towards the end of the season. I’m glad County went up as well because those two sides finished so far ahead of the rest.”

It has been well documented fact that Oakes is the son of record-breaking former Manchester City veteran Alan Oakes, who is now 80. Less well known is the fact that his cousin is the retired Andy Oakes, whose 120 or so games as a League goalkeeper included service with Hull, Derby, Walsall and Swansea.


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