Thu, May


DENNIS LAWRENCE played on the biggest stage of all but winning the LDV Vans Trophy with Wrexham still ranks among his best achievements in football.

The former centre-back became a big fans' favourite during his five years at The Racecourse and it was a spell that was not without success.

Lawrence helped Wrexham win promotion to League One in 2002-3 and two seasons later he was in the Reds' side that beat Southend United 2-0 in the LDV Vans Trophy final at The Millennium Stadium.

During his time in north Wales, Lawrence became the first Wrexham player to play at a World Cup finals, starting all three of Trinidad and Tobago's games during the 2006 tournament in Germany.

Lawrence won 89 caps and is currently head coach of the national side but winning that cup competition with Wrexham, where he still has a house in the town, means a lot to the 45-year-old.

"The LDV Vans Trophy success will always be up there and rank amongst my best achievements in my football career," said Lawrence.

"Wrexham was the first football club I came to play for in the UK so it is a club that is very close to my heart, and it was a club I was desperate to see become a successful football club.

"The World Cup is the elite and will always remain the elite because you are amongst the world's best but what you achieve for your football club, you can't deny that was a very special occasion.

"It is one that will be memorable for me for the rest of my lifetime, and for Wrexham Football Club."

Wrexham's run to the final came amidst a turbulent League One campaign.

Off the field problems meant the club entered administration and the subsequent 10-point deduction was something that the Reds never recovered from on the pitch.

Relegation was confirmed soon after that memorable day in the capital and Lawrence admits the cup win was bittersweet.

"It was one of the most memorable days in my Wrexham career and one that Wrexham as a football club will never forget," said Lawrence.

"But at the end of it all, it was bitter-sweet because we all remember well that we won the LDV Vans Trophy but we were relegated the same season.

"People just look at it and see that you have been relegated and as a player, you have to accept the burden.

"But you can't take away from the fact that we won the cup.

"What happened with the LDV Vans Trophy was fantastic and something we will remember for the rest of our lives."

Nothing could separate Wrexham and Southend in 90 minutes so the final went to extra-time where Wrexham prevailed thanks to a goal in each half from prolific striker Juan Ugarte and captain Darren Ferguson.

"We went down two days before the game to prepare," said Lawrence. "It was a fantastic game against a good opponent because they won it the season before and we managed to get a victory.

"We had a group of players that always had belief in what we were doing.

"We had a good leader in Darren and Juan couldn't stop scoring goals.

"If you have got somebody that is putting the ball in the back of the net, normally it leads to successful things and Juan was doing that."

Although Ugarte and Ferguson got the plaudits for scoring the goals, Ben Foster produced a man-of-the-match performance which did not go un-noticed.

Sir Alex Ferguson - son of the Reds' captain - was at the stadium to see Foster, on loan from Stoke, produce a string of fine saves and he signed for Manchester United at the end of the season.

"Ben was absolutely magnificent on the day and kept us in the game on many occasions," added Lawrence.

"You need people to perform in big occasions and we managed to have the players who performed on the day.

"You talk about quality players and Ben has had a good career playing in the Premier League.

"We had players that had the quality to do magical things on the said day."