Monday, 6 October 2008

Saunders Finds His Man

Terry Darracott! Now there's a name to conjure with! As a child watching football for the first time, Darracott's arrival at The Racecourse was quite something to me. It was the second season that I'd been watching Wrexham, and he was the first player I'd actually heard to sign for us. My horizons were pretty limited so to see a player from the First Division, a player whose Panini sticker I'd collected the season before, was quite something!

My first sight of him didn't let me down either. This was one brawny guy! He was built like The Thing from the Fantastic Four (scouring Marvel Comics being another of my childhood pastimes) and tackled accordingly! I was immediately in awe of this guy, and his forthright style meant he made a much greater impression on me than someone who made just ??? appearances for the club ought to have done.

He was also an interesting indicator of the different technical requirements of the modern game. Quite apart from his robust tackling, the thing I remember about him is that he would pick the ball up in his own half and switch play by effortlessly pinging it across to the left back. These days it would seem a pretty routine manoeuvre; most defenders at Conference these days are capable of doing that. However, back in the crash, bang wallop seventies it was sophisticated enough to impress this Second Division fan enough to still be stuck in my head thirty years later!
The mythology of Darracott was not compromised by the manner of his retirement. A serious injury brought a premature end to his Racecourse career, indeed his entire career. And yet what stands out to me about that was a quote from a specialist, saying that most people would be banging their head against the wall in pain with such an injury, but Darracott calmly sat in the waiting room, unflappable.

As you might have gathered by now, I'm pleased with Darracott's arrival. He has been coaching at the top level since his playing days ended-for years he was a noticeable figure in the backroom staff at Everton, and an experienced, firm, fresh presence in the changing room will certainly offer valuable support to Dean Saunders. Indeed, he'll be in charge on his own a few times this season; this was an appointment we had to get right, and on paper we might well have done.

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