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.
Look on the bright side. It’ll all be over tomorrow and we can pretend it never happened.
This season has been a huge disappointment from start to finish, and remarkably we’re ending it in worse shape than at any point in the preceding nine months. I can’t really think of a worse performance I’ve ever seen from a Wrexham side than our grim effort against Lincoln last Monday.
This season has punished us in so many ways. It’s hit us with a swift decline in expectation, from a record-breaking amount of points two seasons ago we went to failing to sustain a challenge for the title but still having the consolation of a play-off final and the FA Trophy last year. This year, there’s been no consolation.
Then there was the agonising closeness of the play-offs for so much of the campaign. We never looked remotely like a side which could challenge for a top five place, yet that prospect kept dangling in front of us. Until quite recently the play-off zone remained tantalisingly within our grasp, attainable should we suddenly hit a little run of form.
I don’t like to stop and think about this too much, as it brings home the most bitter fact of all. The reason we remained close to the play-offs for so long was because the Skrill Premier has been rubbish this year.
Luton have run away with it and nobody else came anywhere near them once Cambridge United lost Chris Maxwell and with him their early season momentum. If we’d been anywhere near the standards we’d set in the last two seasons we’d have been right up there. After all, Luton’s current points tally is the same as we managed two years ago. If only we’d been half decent this year.
It’s also been tough to take because we lost some great servants. Watching Mark Creighton suffer as he tried to get back to full fitness was agonising. It became obvious quite quickly that he was going to have to admit defeat, but nobody wanted to face up to that fact, not least the big man himself, whose bravery is what makes him stand out.
It was also painful to see the treatment meted out to Andy Morrell. When we look back on our 150th anniversary next season I hope Morrell will be placed into the correct context: he isn’t just one of the club’s greats, he’s in a small handful of genuine legends. A prolific scorer in a promotion season, the manager who took us to those afore-mentioned heights and an intelligent friend to the WST as the tortuous takeover wore on. He didn’t deserve the aggressive, idiotic criticism he received from some quarters and I hope his absence will enable some hearts to grow fonder.
It’s going to be a big year off the pitch next season, so here’s the plan. Let’s get tomorrow out of the way and look forward to Kevin Wilkin making it memorable on the pitch too. And let’s all agree this season never happened, okay?