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.
In the three “bubble” matches so far we’ve seen appalling abuse emanating from both sides. The atmosphere has felt poisonous, and it simply doesn’t have to be that way. Passion is brilliant, but what has happened over the last couple of seasons merely hurts two fan-owned clubs who ought to be seen as an example to other supporters. What makes it all the more galling is that the trouble-makers simply do not represent either body of fans.
What I’m about to say will be from my personal perspective as a Wrexham supporter. Yet you could write exactly the same thing, swap “Wrexham” for “Chester” and still be completely accurate.
It seems to me that for too long a vocal minority have been able to grab hold of the good name of Wrexham Football Club and do it genuine damage. We’re a fan-owned club for Heaven’s sake, showing how supporters can make themselves more than just the fabric of the club: they can actually become the club. Yet we find headlines being generated for the wrong reasons by a tiny minority.
That makes me angry enough, but the sheer injustice of it all just makes it worse. Do these people represent my club?
Do they represent a sizeable proportion of the support we get week-in, week-out?
Are they even fans of the club?
No fan of anything would derive pleasure from harming it.
Hooligans are parasites who take advantage of a football club to give themselves a stage upon which they can indulge their self-gratifying fantasies. They hide in a crowd, their scarves pulled over their faces to emphasise their cowardice, and act like animals. They are not welcome at our clubs. They do not represent us: they hurt us.
So what do the fans of Wrexham and Chester do? We shouldn’t surrender the passion of our rivalry. After all, it’s unique in football. Is there another fan-owned derby? Is there another cross-border derby?
It’s brilliant to beat Chester, and I enjoy having a laugh at my Chester-supporting friends’ expense when given the chance. The result of a football match has never inspired me to scream abuse at someone or smash them in the face though. And I know that if you genuinely support Wrexham or Chester you feel the same way.
So what do we do? Quite simple: we reclaim the game. We show that the vast majority of fans love the banter, show their devotion, and condemn the idiots. We can sign the pledge, we can support our team with pride, not hatred, and we can express our displeasure at misbehaviour.
Let’s send a clear message that we support a great club.
Let’s show the idiots that they are not a part of us and not welcome.
Let’s reclaim the best game of the year for the true fans of Wrexham and Chester.
True fans of Wrexham and Chester unite: you have nothing to lose but your bubble