The Wrexham Leader this week had an article on our next Chester game being a ‘bubble’ match. The issue is simple; the police believe that the fans of the two sides cannot be trusted to behave lawfully. I have thought long and hard about how to escape from the bubble. My conclusion is that the escape route is a long, hard road.
Two seasons ago there was an incident of disorder outside the Racecourse at a Chester game. Individuals were prosecuted, and to my amazement someone claiming to be one of these individuals took to social media. He responded articulately to questions, and I asked him about being labelled as a ‘risk element’ by the Police. He was unhappy at being labelled and suggested he had been unfairly treated.
About a week later someone was arrested for daubing graffiti on Shrewsbury Town’s ground. The person using the same username as before returned to posting, this time sounding more contrite, and explaining he had personal problems that he would try to resolve.
At our Wembley Play-off final I stood and watched a man light a flare he held concealed by his side. Once it was lit, he dropped it and kicked it to one side in order to disguise where it had come from. He was mature and smartly dressed. The incident was discussed on social media like the ones I described above, and also the incident where a banner was held up at the Racecourse referring to Chester supporters who had died. I have learnt a lot about the various views held on these incidents by Wrexham fans. I strongly disagree with a lot of the views and I believe the key to solving the bubble issue lies in straight, honest talking.
When I support Wrexham I swear out loud (words beginning with F,W and T), I verbally abuse the players and referee, and I jeer at the inferior opposition supporters. In other parts of my life I resist doing any of these things. I have made up my own mind what I think is appropriate as a Wrexham fan. Some people reading this will think me offensive for doing these things and others will think I should carry a knife to games. I get away with the way I behave at games, I have never been thrown out. There seems to be a common acceptance of my behaviour.
We don’t agree on what is acceptable. As a Trust owned Club we need to make it clear what we will accept, and what we won’t. We’ve done it before. I remember standing in the Kop when a girl from one of the kiosks used to walk across the goalmouth to a chorus of ‘get your tits out for the lads’. I think most people wouldn’t find that acceptable any more. There wasn’t a decree calling for it to be stopped, it was just a consensual change in behaviour.
The hardest part of this for me is that I’ve decided I can’t call on the club to punish offenders (with bans etc) because it may alienate fans, and I can’t rely on the police due to their lack of resources and their lack of credibility in some quarters. It’s down to me, and it’s down to you, to make it clear what we will accept and what we won’t. I can only hope that through communication and understanding our conduct and reputation improves. Here’s my view for starters:
I do not want you to be part of Wrexham FC if you :
- Physically abuse anyone or their property.
- Abuse minority groups in any way. (This is a difficult area, and one I can be challenged on)
- Abuse women in any way.
If you do any of these things I want you to stop, or go away.