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.
The theme of last Tuesday’s opening home game of the season was “Build The Bond”. It was a powerful message which, on the night, was delivered in more ways than was probably intended. It was difficult not to leave The Racecourse with a little bit of a thrill coursing through your veins.
The main intention, of course, was to create a great welcome for a new manager with a new squad. That objective was certainly achieved, as the attendance was highly impressive, the atmosphere was brilliant and the support sensibly patient as the quality of our football on the opening stages was weighed up against the frustration of going behind
But as I said, the evening delivered so much more than just that. It reminded us of why Wrexham Football Club is a cause worth getting passionate about.
I had an interesting conversation with a work colleague a couple of weeks ago. She has no interest in football, so my constant waffling on about Wrexham naturally falls on stony ground. Bearing that in mind, you’ll understand why what she said moved me.
I’d shared a post by the Disabled Supporters Association on Facebook: it was an articulate exposition of their campaign to raise money for viewing platforms for supporters who use wheelchairs in the Mold Road Stand.
My colleague explained that after reading it she fully understood why I am so proud of my club that I can’t stop banging on about it. The community spirit which ought to mark a fan-owned football club was manifest in what the Disabled Supporters Association had outlined. Some of our number were getting a raw deal, so we were all going to do something about it, in whatever way we could.
I felt that sense of pride, that tangible feeling of community, before the game even began on Tuesday. It might not look like it, but a minute’s applause on the scale of the one which took place that evening is quite an organisational feat. I was privileged enough to see the professionalism with which it was all pulled together. Hours were spent getting the scoreboard right, and the PA announcement was carefully honed for maximum effect.
The result was a real connection between fans, players, officials and club. A synergy which many try to manufacture, but in doing so they miss the whole point. You can’t just invent that sort of bond, no matter how many corporate bodies try to.
The image of the night – indeed, I suspect I’ll see it as the image of the whole season if you ask me in May – was the sight of the stewards spelling “LD” on the pitch in tribute to one of their own: Lisa Davies, who sadly passed away at the age of just 33 this Summer. They honoured her name with that simple, beautiful gesture, and reminded us all that we are all part of the same endeavour.
It is an endeavour which washes over the trifling concerns of the weekly grind of fixtures and taps into something much deeper. The team is temporary; the bond is permanent.