From killing Goliath, partnering the greats and stepping out of the spotlight, Steve Watkin made sure to pack a lot into his Wrexham career.
The former Dragons forward recently returned to the Raececourse and caught up with the media team after chatting in the 1864 suite.
“I come here quite a bit now, my son likes coming to the games” said a relaxed Watkin.
“It’s nice to see them doing well, some of the football hasn’t been great but it’s good to see them getting results and now it’s a case of turning draws into wins and then we can really push on”.
A Wrexham resident and now still working in the town, the 46-year old is as humble a figure as you’ll ever meet. Speaking to Watkin, he has no hint of arrogance or exaggerated self-worth, which many who’ve achieved great things in the game can often suffer from. Rather, he’s the complete opposite.
He made 204 league appearances for the Dragons, scoring 57 over eight years with the club, including playing a part in some of Wrexham’s greatest ever moments.
“I work in Wrexham down at the industrial estate and live in Wrexham so the club has always been my local team.
“I’m working in recruitment at the moment for the finance department and I’ve been there about seven years now and it pays the bills!
“I signed when I was 16 signing schoolboy forms, Dixie McNeil signed me and then managed to sign professional forms when I was 18 and stayed here for about eight years altogether.
“I had a great time and a great period of my life where I had some real highs where the memories stay with you forever, I can’t complain about anything!”
Of course he’s most known for scoring the winning goal in perhaps the clubs greatest ever game. ‘That game’ is always referred to back in January 1992 when the Division One Champions Arsenal rolled into town, but were sent packing when Watkin got the winner.
“There were some highs and there were some lows, the obvious high was the Arsenal game but it wasn’t just that, there were other cup runs as well where we got to the Quarter-Final where it was a great period not only for me but the rest of the lads have great memories about it.
“It was 26 years ago recently I think but it doesn’t seem that long! It was special and one of those days that you remember for the rest of your life.
“I was fortunate to get the winning goal but it could have been somebody else, we had a good side at the time with a mixture of young players and senior players as well and it was just one of those days where the god’s were smiling on us and we had a bit of luck it’s one of the biggest upsets of all time”.
Watkin’s winner is often overlooked of course, Mickey Thomas grabbed the equaliser moments before when he smashed his free-kick past David Seaman to stun the likes of Tony Adams, Paul Merson and Alan Smith. However, Watkin doesn’t mind that it’s Thomas who the spotlight falls on.
“It doesn’t bother me at all really, I said to Mickey last year that even I start thinking that he’d got the winner!
“People see his goal and think that it was such a fantastic goal and they remember that one and not mine! But I’m happy with that”
Of course one match doesn’t define a career, and Watkin played with some of Wrexham’s best ever modern day players, something that he acknowledges to this day.
“I was lucky that I got to play with the likes of Gary Bennett for a long time and he was one of the best finishers I’ve ever played with, I was lucky as well to play with Karl Connolly who again is a fantastic player and a great footballer, it’s not just them two but there were other players as well like Gareth Owen, Peter Ward, Kevin Russell who were all really good footballers so I’ve been really fortunate.
“There were some good personalities and that’s what you need, if you want to be successful you’ve got to have big players and big personalities, Joey (Jones) was another one who’s a massive character and from players to managers we had great people involved with the club.”
Watkin’s debut came in 1989 under a then new manager named Brian Flynn, who recently returned to the Racecourse to chat in the 1864 suite and talk about his new biography. Flynn gave Watkin his debut and he played his entire Wrexham career under him, as well as a year under him with Swansea City.
“Brian was really good at bringing young players through and was always willing to give young players a chance, it was a great time for me and some of the other young lads to be part of Wrexham because other managers might not have given us that opportunity but to be fair to Brian he did and that paid dividends in the end”.
The Racecourse regular will return for matches this season and is hoping although he’s no longer with the club, he wants to back the success as a fan with his son and see Wrexham promoted back to the Football League.
“I don’t want to temp fate, I think they will certainly get in to the play-offs, it’s a bit of a lottery to be fair, we’ve been unlucky in recent years but I just hope we get a bit of luck and that it’s our year”.