With the weather still being warm, I found myself looking for something to do on a balmy September evening in 2010. With not much going on in Liverpool, I decided to cast my net a little wider to see what I could turn up and sure enough, there was indeed a football match on, just over the border in Wales. Wrexham were hosting Southport and a return train ticket was going to cost my just under 8 quid. Bargain!
The train ride down was around an hour and a bit from memory with the ground being a few minutes walk from station. This gave me time to take a stroll through the town center before kick off. To be honest, there isn’t much to do in Wrexham. Once you see the main high street and a couple of pretty churches and the like you are done. Definitely a city that has seen far better days. Like the time when Wrexham knocked Arsenal out of the FA Cup in 1992 or their third division title from the 1977/78 season. Ahh, the glory days!
There are just over 60,000 residents living in Wrexham. They have cheap beer and they have applied for city status no less than three times, being knocked back on each occasion. There are also a number of bio-pharmaceutical companies who call Wrexham home. Surprisingly, you can also find one of the largest Portuguese populations in Wales with over 2,000 migrants calling Wrexham home. Fascinating hey? The most recent being 2012. Still, I was only there for the football so off the Racecourse Ground I went.
The ground holds around 10,000 hardy souls when full however, tonight, there were just over 2,000 in the ground plus the Dragon mascot who i befriended at half time. He was a lovely Dragon and even offered me his number and the offer of free accommodation should I feel the need to visit Wrexham for a match again. To this point, I have not been back and besides, his number got lost on the train ride home after the game. Lovely fella though.
As you walk around you the ground, you soon begin to think of days and eras gone by when match day would have seen full houses and half decent players. Racecourse Ground is your typical traditional football ground with terraces at each end supplemented by two grandstands either side. As is the case with most of these older grounds, you are right on top of the pitch so you can feel the crunching tackles and smatterings of bodies as players rise for headers. It’s how football should be watched.
The home side had the run of play and were up in the 27th minute thanks to a tasty finish by Gareth Taylor. The hardy souls who turned up enjoyed the euphoria of their team taking the lead. Meanwhile, the few dozen away supporters were less than impressed by their sides lapse in defensive concentration. Jay Harris put Wrexham up 2-0 in the 41st minute and that’s how it stayed as the teams headed for half time oranges.
The second half took a while to get moving. Eventually, a header from Steve Daley in the 63rd minute gave Southport a way back into the game and Wrexham sat back for the final half hour or so and somehow held on for the win despite the constant pressure on their goal mouth. The locals were heading home happy and luckily for Southport, the journey back home wasn’t too daunting for their supporters either.
My train home was on time and I found myself tucked up in bed before midnight which is always a nice feeling when you take on a midweek match away from home. For a club formed in 1864, Wrexham have stood their ground well and I hope they enjoy another 154 years of life in the football leagues. They currently sit 4th in the National League and may be a chance of returning to the football league in the not too distant future.