>Truly Badly Crawley

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I’ve enjoyed the non league experience this season, which is a good thing as it looks like I’ll be getting a second dose next season. Opposing clubs have been an absolute delight, their demeanour on and off the pitch regularly being a pleasant change from what one finds at a lot of our usual Football League opponents.

Until Crawley.

I can honestly say, in thirty-one years of watching Wrexham home and away, from Championship to Conference, with Europe thrown in, that I’ve never seen a more unpleasant team. It wasn’t necessarily their on-pitch demeanour, although wasting time after fifteen minutes and incurring three clear red cards was hardly angelic, but the fact that they were clearly following the example and instructions of their management team.

The Non League Paper constantly carries frustrated complaints on their letters page about the behaviour of Steve Evans and Paul Raynor, and they showed us just why they’re held in such low regard by everyone who cares for football. Constant abusive dissent, even when decisions went their way. Kicking the ball away when Wrexham players went to fetch it. Trying to get opponents booked. Very very ugly. I’m just glad my little lad, who has a season ticket but wasn’t able to attend the game, didn’t see it.

The other grim thing about the game was the officiating. The standard of refereeing, sadly, is the one thing that I wouldn’t miss about the non league game, and when a weak official is bullied like this the consequences are inevitable. Apart from the red cards, one of which was a disgraceful studs-in-the-ribs assault on Ryan Flynn, what a concidence that the victim was our best player!) he failed to give two clear penalties, probably because he was petrified of what abuse he’d receive if he did. A strong referee would have decimated Crawley.

Of course, the opposition’s antics and the referee’s ineptitude partially obscured the fact that it was a woeful performance by Wrexham. Crawley came to do a number on Wrexham and the officials, succeeded. Perhaps the fact that neither were good enough to stop them was the real problem.

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