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.
So, the big day’s nearly here. An occasion to relish. A chance to honour one hundred and fifty years of a passion which perhaps defines our town.
All football fans think their club is special, and latch onto the little things which make them unique. Sometimes those things are very little indeed! But Wrexham can genuinely claim to have an individuality that makes us stand out, makes us proud.
The fact that we are a fan owned club is an obvious starting point. Indeed, not just fan-owned: we have guardianship of something special. Our status was earned the hard way, through a taxing battle for the club’s life which could easily have meant that we’d have spent tomorrow pottering around a supermarket on the Mold Road, remembering that once there was a football club there. We’ve earned this day: we ensured that it actually happened.
Our nationality is also crucial. There’s only a tiny handful of clubs around the world who can say that they play virtually every league game against opposition from another country, whose away matches all involve a journey over the border. There’s something powerful about being able to wave not only your club’s colours but also your national flag when you support Wrexham.
Then there’s what we celebrate tomorrow: our longevity. The third oldest professional club in the world is not a status to take lightly. Go ahead, make a list of the best clubs in the world. We predate them all. Real Madrid? Manchester United? Bayern Munich? They must concede our seniority.
And then there are the little things. The personal and the shared. The little moments, the bonding with friends and family, the act of kindness from someone you hardly know, but who recognises a kindred spirit.
And the shared moments. Perhaps the most attractive thing about supporting a team is that you never actually do walk alone. When Eddie May was chaired off the pitch after elevation to the Third Division, when Gary Bennett stuck his face through the net to celebrate promotion in 1992, those seven minutes when Kieran Durkan’s goal meant we led at Old Trafford: we shared them, which made them all the more memorable.
And there are idiosyncratic moments. The lad in the wheelchair, ploughing across the pitch to be near his heroes, our heroes, after we knocked Premier League Ipswich out of the cup; Rockin’ Robin riding his bike down the side of the pitch; being in the smallest crowd to watch Wrexham play a league game at Gray’s Athletic and experiencing the comical hush which descended on the ground at kick-off once the remarkably inappropriately loud fanfare cut off.
The echoes of those moments are still present at The Racecourse. A common thread runs through our lives, a complex line linking us to almost innumerable people and memories, players and fans, glories and failures.
Tomorrow we pay tribute to those moments. We acknowledge the common bond forged by our history, and look forward to the excitement of the future.