Hats Off To Harris

I’m sure you might just have noticed that things are changing a bit at The Racecourse! It certainly felt like a major moment of transition when Spencer Harris announced that he would be stepping down from his responsibilities at the club and the trust.

I chose the word “responsibilities” carefully, because it’s the appropriate way to describe how a key person at a football club should view their post, and also the best word to describe how Harris executed his role.

He was clearly aware that he was responsible for the well-being of the club, had to protect it on behalf of the fans, and ensure that, after years of chaos, he could play his part in bringing order and stability to a precious institution we have nearly lost twice this century already.

That the good husbandry of the WST attracted such a remarkable take-over offer is the greatest possible testimony to their commitment to do things the right way.

It hasn’t all been Harris’ work, of course, and he would be the first to point that out. However, he has been the public face of fan-ownership, and that’s an important context to establish before going any further.

There are both benefits and drawbacks to being in that position. The admirable achievements of a community-minded club naturally reflect well upon you, but by the same token, criticism will be aimed your way too. Harris has shown particularly broad shoulders in deflecting the ire of fans away from others.

It’s remarkable that it should come to that, of course. There’s no doubt Harris is a dyed in the wool Wrexham fan: I remember him as an enthusiastic young supporter when he was first breaking into the political side of the game at Supporters Association meetings. Back then, as now, he was bursting with ideas and ingenuity.

Criticism of the board, and therefore Harris, has tended to divide sharply into two broad categories: the usual and the unacceptable. The former is the inevitable consequence of raising your head above the parapet at a football club; the latter is something very different, and very worrying.

Any fan is desperate for their club to do as well as possible, and has an absolute right to show their feelings when they are frustrated. It would be an odd sort of supporter who is happy after their team has lost.

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So all figures at the sharp end of a football club will get grief when results don’t go their way. We’re at the lowest point in our history in terms of the league we’re playing in, and any fan ought to be frustrated by that. Most appreciate, though, that this is a position the WST inherited and, with just one automatic promotion spot, this is a tough division to get out of.

There has been criticism of the managerial instability of the last couple of years too, but it seems obvious to me that the critics are tilting at the wrong target. It was Sam Ricketts who left the club in the lurch, walking out after four months and forcing the board into emergency mode. The situation sparked anger, but it’s worth remembering that it was caused by making a shrewd managerial appointment in the first place

That sort of frustration is normal, if a little hot-headed occasionally. However, there has been a pocket of supporters whose aggressive attitude towards Harris has absolutely crossed the line. He has borne it with a remarkable amount of good grace.

And now he is able to step down, handing the club over safely to owners who appear to be committed to continuing the good work the WST has done. There can be no better tribute to his tireless work on our behalf.

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