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.
It’s time to stand up and be counted, and I don’t mean the team: it’s our turn to step up and make a difference again, beginning on Boxing Day. We’re heading into a run of three home games which are as massive as any we’ve played for years.
The importance of what Wrexham’s fans do next hasn’t been so important since we faced the last of our ownership crises, and decided to meet the possibility of disaster by taking control ourselves. Now the crisis doesn’t threaten the actual existence of the club, but it does threaten the form it is likely to take over the coming years. When we were first relegated from the Football League, I wrote a column expressing my fear that if we stayed at this level for a while, we could shrink into being a non-league club. This is the point where we’ve got to step up to ensure that doesn’t happen.
All fans think that they are the club; that while disloyal players come and go, the fans remain as the one constant. No fans can make that claim with more authenticity than us, as we are also the owners of the club, and that means we can genuinely make a difference. We won’t do that by being silent partners though. Passive ownership is all very well when times are good; now times are bad, and we need to rally around the team, with all its imperfections, rather than gripe about it.
Plenty of fans are convinced the season is heading for disaster, but that’s not a good enough reason to turn on the club or the team; instead, it’s cause to step up and do something about it. If you’re concerned about the situation, act to solve it.
The need for action is obvious. We’re in trouble. I wouldn’t say we’re in a relegation scrap yet, but when you get into a losing tailspin like we’re in, there’s a clear danger that we will be fighting for our lives in a couple of weeks. This is a poor squad, no matter which way you cut it, and while it responded to a new manager who is a massive upgrade from his predecessor, recent results have shown there’s only so much can be done with better preparation and organisation.
I’m not criticising the critics, the people who went into melt-down across social media after the Sutton defeat. Their comments come from a deep love for the club; if they didn’t care, they’d just shrug their shoulders and see what’s on TV.
However, the time has come to rally behind the team and Dean Keates, rather than vent at a keyboard.
The problem is that complaining about us being sucked into a relegation battle turns into a self-fulfilling prophesy. It diminishes the encouragement from the stands, eating away at the attendances, and consequentially the playing budget for next season, merely sustaining the cycle of decline.
Six of the nine teams below us have yet to come to The Racecourse and we need to make those matches count. If we can rack up some wins against the sides who are already in the relegation scrap, then we’ll avoid getting dragged into it ourselves.
Southport, North Ferriby and Guiseley are our next three opponents at The Racecourse, and they make up three of the bottom five. It’s crunch time already. It’s time to ditch squabbles about what’s gone wrong and how it could be put right, and show whole-hearted support for a team which desperately needs to dig in and arrest this worrying slump. They aren’t going to do it without our backing.
I know it’s always pleasing to have the last word, to be proven right, but surely it would be better to be proven wrong and see us stay up than watch us slide into unimaginably deep waters.
The usual pattern when Racecourse crowds diminish is that the support from the terraces becomes more unconditional. When the numbers are whittled away it’s the hard core who remain, and they’re more inclined to roar their support than attack the players.
However, we need to have the best of both worlds: a big Boxing Day crowd which is committed to ninety minutes of noisy, wide-eyed red passion. So come on, get to The Racecourse on Boxing Day – there’s only Tom Hanks films on TV anyway, honest – and jump into the satisfying experience of sheer bloody-minded blind support of a team which, given encouragement, is surely more likely to raise its game.
It’s time for us, the supporters, to do what we do best. Support.