Ten games in……………..

Brian Flynn always looked at the season in ten game periods and with Wrexham having played their tenth league game of the season at Haig Avenue on Tuesday I thought a first review of the season so far was called for.

So where are we? Second in the table only trailing pre season favourites Luton Town by goal difference indicates a good start to the campaign for the men in red but being greedy could it have been so much better?  An average of two points per game is on target for in excess of 90 points which, as Dean Saunders commented in the dark at Southport, would see us safely into the play offs. But a late deflected goal at home to Cambridge cost us two more points and the defensive changes against Barrow and York may well have cost us more. Overall though after the doubt that we would even start the season one has to say that Saunders and his men have worked a minor miracle to be where they are in the standings as September draws to a close.

Player wise Chris Maxwell has looked one of the best keepers at this level, Mark Creighton and Nat Knight – Percival have formed a good centre back partnership whilst Lee Fowler would undoubtedly be playing at a higher level without the demons that have followed him through his career. With Danny Wright and Jake Speight developing a good understanding up front we have a strong spine to the side and when they have all played Wrexham have looked a very good side. Good contributions from Tolley with his goals and Obeng with his assists are worthy of a mention in this early season review.

Looking good then? Without a doubt my only concern is how strong is the squad? As we start to incur injuries and suspensions as we inevitably will as the season progresses are the squad players good enough to come in for a couple of games here and there and keep the level of performance up? Early indicators are possibly not as with Danny Wright missing for the last two matches we have not scored, when Maxwell and Creighton were not on the field we conceded six goals so this must be a worry for Saunders and one he has already started to highlight in his press interview on Tuesday evening. With Blackburn and Gaz Taylor leaving the club, two experienced pros, and not yet being replaced it has left an already small squad looking even more light in certain key areas. Whether or not the WST take over goes ahead or not this is an area of concern after 10 games as whilst a settled side is good for game plans and team work we do need players of similar quality to come into the side in the event of injury, suspension or loss of form.

Glen Little, who must have put himself in the frame for interview of the season so far on Tuesday, is not fit enough yet to play more than a cameo role from the bench, Chris Westwood is still looking very rusty after missing most of pre season and whilst it was good to see Dean Keates get 90 minutes under his belt at Southport the rest of the squad that are not at present playing are in the main young pros who have yet to prove themselves in the professional game.

We have made a great start to the campaign but as Saunders calls for some investment in his squad and we all wonder whether that will prove possible it could well be the deciding factor in how the season progresses. Let’s hope that we can perform as well in the next 10 games as we have in the first 10.



Time to stand up and be counted

After suffering their first defeat of the fledgling conference season last Saturday at Barrow Dean Saunders men need to get back on track as they welcome York City to The Racecourse tomorrow (Saturday). The best start to a season for over a century will have been wasted if the Reds do not build on it and push on. With no game in midweek to get a bad day at the office in Cumbria out of their system Dean and his squad will have spent the week on the training ground reflecting on what went wrong but hopefully focussing on making sure it doesn’t happen again on Saturday. It was inevitable the great run would end at some stage but the key now is “bouncebackability” and to ensure that one defeat in isolation does not become a bad run as losing can become a habit far more easily than winning.

The first questions on many peoples lips will be “Who is starting in goal?” and “Is the beast back?”. I do not propose to dwell on this as it has been discussed elsewhere in detail but my previous blog talked about the benefits of a settled team and with Maxwell and Creighton missing at Barrow for different reasons Wrexham looked nowhere near as solid at the back. Saunders has got far more decisions right than wrong and I’m sure the players, whoever plays, will be ready for the challenge that hotly tipped York City will bring.

With the WST takeover looking positive and Wrexham sitting proudly on top of the league after 8 games what better way to stand up and be counted than in excess of 4,000 Wrexham fans turning up and seeing the team start another run of unbeaten games and continue the march towards the holy grail of league football.



The Benefits of a Settled Side

Two games I have seen this week have once again brought home the number of players that have passed through the revolving door at The Racecourse over the last few years. Firstly although unable to travel to Wembley on Tuesday the appearances of Andrew Crofts, Neil Taylor and Joe Allon confirmed that players can go on to bigger and better things after leaving North Wales. When added to the growing number of ex Reds plying their trade in the Premier League, all who have featured in the last few years that North Wales premier club has been in a decline, it confirms that we have had some good and promising players at the club. On Wednesday I witnessed The New Saints comprehensively beating Neath in a game which featured several ex Wrexham players on each side. Simon Spender, Steve Evans and Alex Darlington lined up for the home side whilst Kai Edwards, Kristian O’Leary and Lee Trundle were in the Gnoll outfits starting eleven.

There are an increasing number of ex Wrexham players now wherever you look at many levels of the game and yet by naming the same 10 outfield players and only one enforced change in goal last weekend Dean Saunders men have made the best start to a season since the early days of the last century. There are anecdotal stories from history where Aston Villa won the league using only 14 players and many more examples confirming a settled side reaps rewards. I remarked to Mark in commentary last week that each of the players now knows their job and the team is starting to purr like a well oiled machine, this can only come from training and playing together on a regular basis. In truth, with only a small squad to choose from and the disappointing result in the week from a strong looking reserve side, we need all the players to stay fit and free from suspension but who is to say that the start they have made cannot continue as we head up the M6 to Barrow tomorrow. Will it be the same again from Dean or will he be tempted to tinker now that Keates, Little and Westwood are heading back to fitness? The number of ex players around at the moment indicates to me that chopping and changing the squad hasn’t brought success but fortunately I do not have to make that decison, that responsibility falls to the Blue Square Manager of the Month. So far this season he has got it right and long may that continue.



Is today the biggest test of the season so far?

I am not particularly superstitious but as Mike and Marc Williams roll into town today with their Kidderminster Harriers colleagues are the gods stacking up against Dean’s red and white army?

Having overcome the challenge of ,what I thought was an average, Fleetwood Town side on Bank Holiday Monday the Reds boss has been awarded the BSB Premier Manager of the Month for August. Historically this has been an award that usually coincides with a dramatic drop in form for the recipients team, carrying a “curse” tag with it. Added to the return of not one but two ex players who will have one or two points to prove to Saunders and the loss of Welsh U21 keeper Chris Maxwell to international duty will it all be to much for Wrexham?

As I said I am not superstitious but having just eaten my customary match day breakfast of muesli (always have it on a match day as it brings us luck) and walked the dogs on the same route we have walked on every game so far this season. I will be putting on my lucky shirt and setting off at exactly the same time and travelling to The Racecourse by the same route. As usual I will pop into the office and have a chat with Geraint and sign in with Nige in reception before meeting Joe Jakub for a pre match brew and chat. I’m glad I’m not superstitious because I’d hate to be worried that if I miss one of my little routines (not superstitions as I have said) it could have a negative impact on the lads promotion push. After all there is enough stacking up against us already – the manager of the month curse, the old players returning with a point to prove and the first change to a winning side of this campaign, not to mention that Steve Burr’s Aggborough outfit are one of our bogey sides, especially at home.

I’ll be doing my bit and completing my pre match build up as usual, let us hope that lady luck, fate, the gods or whatever are still on our side and we can beat Kidderminster for the first time in the league at The Racecourse. Fingers crossed!!



Another day another dollar

Wouldn’t it be nice if that was the case at Wrexham FC where one day runs into another, the club operates smoothly and doesn’t attract asset stripping vultures, the team is playing well and the fans are all happy and concentrating on the next match, forums debating football related issues and not the alleged past criminal activities of x,y and z.

But wait – after so many years of torment for the long suffering fans of our great and beloved Wrexham surely Tuesday nights momentous decision has laid the foundations for all of the above to happen. It is going to take an awful lot of hard work and dare I say it compromise and an ability to deal with some big egos but with goodwill on all sides surely we have the basis for a settled period in the history of the football club.

Glyndwr now own the ground and are making the sort of noises you would want to hear from a landlord, Richard Green appears to have the right credentials to manage the business side of the club and on the pitch Dean Saunders and his men have certainly made a good start to the season. Coupled with the loyalty shown by the fans and an ability to raise funds (which is critical going forward looking at the cash flow forecasts) am I being naiive in hoping and wishing for just a settled and ordinary period of time where I can just focus on football ?

I went to Villa Park last Saturday and Goodison Park on Wednesday night and on both occasions listened to fans of the respective home sides complaining about lack of investment and a lack of new signings in Everton’s case. Two thoughts crossed my mind – firstly you don’t know how lucky you are and secondly how nice just to have to worry about football issues.

Still after Tuesday evening perhaps soon when I take up my position in the commentary box that is all I have to think about – football.



Football at last!!

It was such a relief to be sitting at The Racecourse last Saturday watching a game and providing the commentary for hospital radio and Wrexham player alongside the legend that is Mark Griffiths or Griff 92 as he is more commonly known!!

With the off field drama put to one side for a couple of hours we could focus on the action and to be honest it was a nervous and stuttering start from Saunders men. They played well in parts but on occasions looked disjointed and out of sorts against a lively looking Cambridge United outfit. Andy Morrell took his goal well whilst our man of the match Nat Knight- Percival was so unlucky deep in to injury time to deflect a weak shot past Maxi to give the visitors a point which in all fairness they deserved.

On to Bath City and despite being delayed on the M5 and getting to the ground just over an hour before kick off it was a professional performance from the Reds with two goal Andy Morrell (or Christina Aquilera as Deano now calls him!) in a rich vein of goalscoring form clinching the first away win of the term. So despite the pre season upheaval Wrexham have made their best ever start to a Conference season with 4 points from their first two games and there are promising signs for the long season ahead.

The spine of the team looked strong on Tuesday, starting with a confident Chris Maxwell in goal, through Mark Creighton and NKP in central defence, Lee Fowler in midfield and Danny Wright and Jake Speight up front the lads looked to be forming good partnerships. Bearing in mind skipper Dean Keates and experienced centre back Chris Westwood have yet to appear in the squad, even though Keates shirt has, perhaps the Reds have more depth in the squad than I first thought. Certainly in midfield and up front where the impact substitutes Cieslewicz and Pogba changed the game on Tuesday Dean has plenty of options, the goalkeeping position does concern me however as I am not convinced Mayebi will be consistent enough if Maxi was injured or leaves the club. With NKP performing so well at centre back and Chris Blackburn also able to cover there if necessary Dean does have defensive options but perhaps he would like another experienced centre back rather than rely on the promising but still young Johnny Hunt, Declan Walker and Steve Tomassen.

All in all I’m happy with the start we have made and judging from the ebullient manager in the post match press conference on Tuesday night so is Dean Saunders. It’s on to Lincoln tomorrow night (Friday) and here’s hoping the lads can extend their unbeaten start to the season.



Where did that week go?

Well they say seven days is a long time in football but this week just seems to have flown by. We have gone from the high of Glyndwr buying The Racecourse to the low of the conference statement and then back up in the clouds again as we fans showed what the club means to us, and surely sent a statement of intent to the rest of the football fraternity, with an unbelievable day on Monday when well in excess of £100,000 was loaned to the club in order that we could comply with the conference’s requirments.

I ventured on Red Passion that this story would make a great book and Hollywood blockbuster to which another poster retorted that noone would believe it and as I sit here reflecting on an incredible week in the life of the club I am inclined to agree with him!! Yet it has happened and my hope is that we have reached rock bottom now and with the trust within touching distance of taking control surely the only way is up.

On Saturday we start our fourth season in the Conference with a home game against Cambridge United and ex U’s player Danny Wright has already been quoted in the local press stating that the players owe the fans the three points. All we ask for Danny is that we have a club to support on a Saturday, because I for one hate shopping with a passion, and that any player who pulls on a Wrexham shirt shows the same passion and commitment the fans have showed in this hellish pre season. If we see that in every match we can accept we won’t win every game and there will be poor performances but the one thing the average football fan cannot stomach is players who don’t give 100%. Looking though the squad Dean has built I for one do not think there any players who can have this accusation levelled at them.

It will not be easy, this league is a tough one to crack but I truly believe that with teamwork on and off the pitch will see Wrexham FC returning to where they truly belong – the holy grail that is the Football League.

Yma o Hyd

Yma o hyd as another week has flown past in the roller coaster ride that is Wrexham Football Club. If someone had told me 35 odd years ago the highs and lows, the ups and downs that would be involved in following Wrexham would I have gone to that first match at the old Gay Meadow ? Too bloody right I would have done!! It’s in my blood and even if I wanted to I can’t stop now. To me it’s like having a child – even when you can see them making mistakes, even when you just know that there are going to be tears at the end of the day, you just know that the good times will come and you will get great pleasure once again from their actions. When the bad times are happening you are there for them, to support them and let them know they will never walk alone.

Well here we now are with the ground owned by the university. Is it the right move for the club? Well only time will tell but one thing is for sure something had to give, something had to change and for my simplistic way of looking at things when the brewery owned the ground we did not have to put up with almost annual attacks on the clubs assets. Now we don’t own our ground anymore we can focus on, hopefully, a fan backed club run by the fans for the fans.

Last Saturday with no action from the boys in Red on the pitch and purely in the cause of researching opponents for next season I ventured to another fan owned club in AFC Telford United, back in the top tier of non league after a terrible period in their history. Looking around their neat little ground I felt quite envious as they are now back on an even keel and when the announcement for volunteers to sweep the terraces and stands for 15 minutes after the game went out I must admit to wearing a wry smile and imagining a similar appeal at The Racecourse. With the tremendous ground swell of support for the players that our own fans have shown this past couple of weeks I don’t for one minute think there will be a shortage of volunteers but if and when we are bought by the WST for the fans then the likes of unsung heroes such as Geraint, Kim and Wyn at the club are going to need our help on an ongoing basis. Can Wrexham fans rise to this challenge? Of course we can.

Next weekend, Saturday 13th August 2011 the new season starts and I for one cannot wait. Come on You Reds!!

Please Give Generously!

Well as I sit writing this weekly view from the commentary box Wrexham fans are doing everything they can to raise sufficient funds to pay the players, who perhaps understandably, are reluctant to play pre season friendlies in case they get injured and are unable to find a new club should the worst happen. What a shame that a promising pre season has been interrupted by a situation which has been building up for some time now. Who can blame Dean and the players for thinking about themselves at this time as it would appear that their employers are certainly not taking that course of action.

The problem is from my perspective that all the public posturing by the owners is alienating them from the fan base more and more each day yet as employers they have a duty to ensure the people they employ are paid for their efforts. The players, and indeed staff, have turned up for work each day and have been unbeaten in the last 4 pre season games, they therefore deserved to be paid. Yet the owners are saying the pot is empty.

I, like many other fans, do not know the true facts and circumstances around the takeover bid by the WST, but I do feel that they have so far acted more professionally and with more dignity than anyone else in this god forsaken mess that surrounds the football club I love and have supported for over 30 years. The trust are surely almost there and for the sake of a few more days or weeks then I feel that I must continue support them in their actions. We have elected the board to represent us as members and we have to rely on them to do their best for the membership and the club. They are true supporters and not money mad property tycoons with an eye for a quick buck.

Who knows if there is a benefactor out there who can help us through the next period in the clubs history, if not then we will not die for the want of trying. Robbie Savage has already pledged his support and fans can donate to the WSF initiative to raise money for the wages by donating cash or cheques at the club or by paypal to brian.davies1@googlemail.com Wrexham fans may be small in number but they are huge in heart and will do everything they possibly can to ensure that come 13th August The Racecourse is packed to the rafters to cheer on Dean and the lads. Come on you Reds.

A View From The Commentary Box

Well this is the first of a weekly blog I intend doing this season which could once again be one of the most momentous in the clubs history for a variety of reasons – both on and off field. It would be nice to be sitting here at the end of May next year with the club safe in terms of its very existence and having just been promoted back to the Football League in fans ownership. As I write this though both seem a very long way off as the Trust board are in depth negotiations with the owners and Dean and the players are busy with their pre season preparations. With the former so uncertain I intend to focus on the latter for this blog and give my early thoughts on the the two away pre season games at Aberystwyth and Eastwood.

The Aber game saw the Reds netting six times, all different scorers and it was good to see a good standard to the finishing. We will certainly face far tougher opponents than the side from Mid Wales in the coming months but you can only beat the opposition in front of you and Saunders men did that comprehensively. Eastwood were a better standard and passed the ball very well, especially in a competitive and entertaining first half at Coronation Park. The Badgers had a starting eleven with plenty of experience at a higher level and certainly made The Reds work hard for their victory. Wrexhma continue their pre season with home games this weekend against Rochdale and Wolves and we will be providing full match commentary on both via Wrexham Player.

The highlight of the pre season build up so far for me has been the superb form of Lee Fowler who looks as if he has lost some weight and is showing an inclination to be able to run games for Wrexham. He has a good eye for a pass and likes to pick up the ball from deep. With Keates, Harris, Blackburn and also possibly Glenn Little competing for places in the midfield area this looks like one part of the team Saunders has sorted. The strike options are there as well but both Danny Wright and Jake Speight will take time to settle. My main concern at present is the goalkeeping spot where Maxi’s future at the club is uncertain. I am not convinced that Mayebi is the guy to keep goal for 46 tough BSP league games and is still very unproven, whilst Danny Ward is undoubtedly talented but again unproven and very inexperienced. If Maxi does leave then will Deano be able to bring in an experienced replacement? Only time will tell. Time to sign off now see you all next week.

>Three games in to the new season……..

and the roller coaster has started. A good three points without playing that well against Eastbourne, the now inevitable loss to Creepy Crawley and a hard earned win against York on Tuesday night. What have we learned from this early sample of BSP football:
Firstly the positives-
Sam Russell has got better and is looking to be a good signing. Going into the season with two young keepers however highly rated Bouzanis was did concern me. Russell has experience and I though looked very good on Tuesday and as Mark said in commentary on Tuesday his distribution was once compared to Matt Le Tissier!
Silvio is at last showing what he is capable of and I gave him the MOM award on Tuesday. He is really making the right back position his own.
Jonah is showing signs of returning to his old form especially when in a more central position and finally Gareth Taylor has done well in leading the line and scoring three goals in his first three games.
Now the not so sures-
I like Taboubi but he is going to take a while to settle in to a higher standard of football. He appears to be trying not to dive in as he did in the opening game which has taken some of the aggression out of his game and he also wants to play the killer ball each time. He will learn and get better I am sure.
Matty Wolfenden is working so hard up front but in my eyes is too far away from Taylor to benefit from the big man’s flicks. They are both working independently but once either he or Marc Williams builds a good understanding with Gareth then we will see far more.
The centre backs are still prone to lapses like allowing Gash in on goal on Tuesday night. Again it is a partnership in its infancy and Saunders has Westwood to come back but we cannot afford to concede as many daft goals as we did last year if we are going to challenge for promotion.
Adrian Cieslewicz – what pace he has but all too often the delivery is not there. Again a young man learning the game and he will I am sure benefit from Saunders coaching as even Jeff Louis admitted Deano was the best he had worked with and he has been at 17 different clubs!!

So a reasonable return so far but with two winnable away games over the next week or so the Dragons have to push on and at least break this appalling run of 0~1 defeats away from The Racecourse.

>Six Weeks to go and counting

Another week closer to the big kick off on August 8th and this time next week we will know the fixtures for the BSP in 2009/10 and the real countdown can begin.

It looks likely that the BSP will not get the same level of TV exposure it received in 2008/09 with the sad collapse of Setanta.

Whatever your thoughts on Thursday night fixtures away at the furthest geographical point possible and the meaningless Shield competetition I can honestly say I enjoyed the fly on the wall coverage. We had Deano’s team talk with all the “great” players, Rebecca’s interview technique of shoving a mike in front of a stressed manager and that never to be forgotten quote from the big man Jefferson Louis on coming off against Oxford! Not to mention the opportunity for Mark to complete a full commentary on a wet and windy night in Devon from the comfort of his own armchair!!

Talking of commentary thanks to Deano for signing Adrian Cieslewicz from Manchester City. I am sure the Dragon’s supremo was more concerned with his footballing skills than how to pronounce his surname but it will also give us the opportunity for some full and frank discussions in the press box as to just how it is said.

Another interesting piece of news was the possibility of signing Andy Mangan who has a tremendous knack of finding the back of his opponents net but I quess we will have to wait and see what develops on that one.


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