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.
Well here it is, the 150th year in Wrexham’s history. It’s the moment we’ve been looking forward to for…well, for 150 years! Or more honestly for the two years since the notion that we were founded in 1864 was developed!
No matter, the fact is that there’s a buzz about the place which transcends the usual pre-season excitement. If you want proof of that, you should have been in Eagles Meadow last week to see the queues for the new shirt.
As the doors opened the line snaked across the widest concourse in the shopping complex, and impressively it was still nearly as long when I walked past it again over two hours later!
The mood seems to be positive when Kevin Wilkin’s reshuffling of the squad is discussed too. Key signings have shown promise in pre-season, and certain others look to have responded to the new faces. I’m particularly pleased to see Andy Bishop look refreshed alongside both Louis Moult and Connor Jennings. I wasn’t convinced when people said he’d be more suited to playing alongside a second striker, but it turned out that they may well have been right!
A newish manager, a stripy shirt and two new strikers who each scored seventeen goals last season appear to be the necessary ingredients to stoke up a bit of extra excitement around the place!
You might argue that it’s the height of optimism to look forwards to the season with optimism when we’re coming off the back of the lowest league position the club has ever achieved. Maybe so, but there’s logic underpinning the positive air about the place. We now have something other clubs hanker after: stability.
The WST have had time to settle into the role of club owners and bring order to a club which for so many years suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous ownership. This feels like the point at which we can look to start capitalising on the fact that we are indubitably one of the biggest clubs in the Conference.
That’s not idle braggadocio. I base my confidence on hard facts. Our average attendances, stadium capacity and commercial potential are as great as any other club in our division now Luton have gone. Only the artificially pumped-up clubs, shooting stars who soar into the Football League and then burn out when fiscal reality hits home, should be able to out-trump us.
So I’m optimistic right now too, but my positive outlook isn’t kindled by excitement at the opening of this season. It’s not buoyed by a confidence that this is our year. It’s not motivated by some mystical notion that, in our anniversary year, our success is written in the stars. It’s a medium-term view based on something much less romantic and much more hard-nosed. We are a big club, finally run in a way which maximises our potential. That’s why I’m optimistic that we won’t be spending too much more of the second century of our existence in the Conference.