Here’s my column from last week’s Leader. It forms part of the paper’s comprehensive pre-match coverage every Friday, featuring interviews, an in-depth look at the opposition and lots of statistical analysis. All content in the column (c) www.leaderlive.co.uk.
It has been a difficult week for me, and a difficult year for so many people closely attached to the club.
I wrote last season about my admiration for one of my co-commentators, Steve Edwards, who had been battling a lengthy, serious illness. Sadly, he passed away recently, having struggled in to as many Wrexham games as he could, determined to see his beloved team as often as possible.
The pre-match round of applause for Steve against Southport, a tribute he richly deserved, illustrated a concept I feel very strongly about: that a football club recognises that it is only the sum of its parts. It should draw its strength from the community around it, and ignores it to its massive detriment.
It’s not as if he’s the only good person Wrexham FC has lost this year. When you consider the calibre of the supporters we have lost this year, you realise that have lost a number of good friends.
We’ve lost Kenny Pemberton, whose sacrifices in the name of the club as it struggled for its very existence were nothing short of heroic and whose name ought always to be recalled when the history of Wrexham FC is told.
Shirley Vickers, was a devoted steward who brought good grace and enthusiasm to her job for many years, and also helped the foster a genuinely warm atmosphere as she carried out her duties alongside her relatives.
Ron Owen was a generous financial supporter of the club both directly and indirectly. I know that from experience as he was the first person I got to sponsor the hospital broadcast!
There will have been others, of course, who I did not know. It really has been a terrible couple of months for the club and its friends.
Losing them made me reflect on what it means to be a fan-owned club, and how massively important it is that we make the most of the talents and enthusiasm of those who wish to work for the club’s benefit.
In the series of public meetings held by the Trust during the takeover process the Wisdom of Crowds was often mentioned. This was a reference to the notion that a group of people will tend to arrive at a sound conclusion in most circumstances. It’s an idea which is not easily transferred to the running of an institution but the principle that a community-run club ought to tap into the supporters who bought the club is a very sound one.
There was also regular reference to the club being embedded in the heart of the community, something which must climb the agenda as the post-takeover phase beds in. Not only is this sound financial sense, because the local community is a small club’s only audience, but it also means we tap into the talents that are all around us rather than being a closed shop.
Any institution is only as good as those who contribute to it. When people of the calibre of Steve and the others we have lost this season are gone, holes appear in the very fabric of the club.