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Wrexham AFC: A Managerial Lesson for All Clubs

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Wrexham AFC: A Managerial Lesson for All Clubs

On Saturday, 22nd April, Wrexham AFC was promoted back to the Football League. 15 years of exile from the big time.

Euphoria!

The euphoria experienced by supporters from Wrexham and surrounding areas of Wales and England was testimony to the efforts of the players and management team throughout the season.

Undoubtedly the key factor in their thrust for promotion has been the progressive thinking and enlightened leadership of Ryan Reynolds and Rod McElhenny. The two Hollywood stars purchased the club in February 2021. They have reawakened the club’s aspirations. Energising, involving and encouraging supporters to buy into their dream of regaining former glories.

Wrexham AFC 1864-2022

In the compelling and excellently researched book Wrexham AFC 1864-2022. Peter Jones guides the reader on a memory provoking journey through a range of highs interwoven with unimaginable lows. The author writes as a passionate and active supporter in a style that engages readers of all ages. However, the author’s statement “history only tells the story” might be misleading and detract the value of his extensive research. The text is more than a mere narrative. It accurately depicts incidents and events, all substantiated by pictorial and written evidence and artefacts. The actions of Guterman, Hamilton, Moss, Roberts and others were not fiction!

This refreshing and relatively unique format for ownership linked to management is in direct contrast with the dictatorial role taken by a number of owners of other clubs within the Football League. Readers will be intrigued by the facilities and players linked to the early history of the club and the formation of local leagues. Clubs included Chirk, Druids, Rhostyllen, Bangor, Newtown, Chester, Bury and Macclesfield.

Outstanding Players

Even in the 1890s, when working-class lads had to toil for long hours, the Wrexham area produced outstanding players, notably Billy Meredith from Chirk. The author notes that for the 1921-22 season, Wrexham were elected to membership of the Third Division (Northern Section) of the English League. Other teams included Rochdale, Tranmere Rovers, Chesterfield and Accrington Stanley. Interestingly, the impact of this new status for Wrexham necessitated ground improvements and players to carry Wrexham to the top of the third division.

The ground improvements included a new stand and enclosure to transform The Racecourse. The club issued 8,000 x 10 shilling shares to cover the financial costs. Here, the author could have linked the historical events of 1920 and the 2023 Racecourse area development plans. It will be interesting to note if any readers’ ancestors bought the 10 shilling shares!

Unfortunately, the author misses an opportunity to mention the club’s role, particularly by Joey Jones. A nurturing ground for young coaches, including Steve Weaver, Stuart Webber and Steve Cooper whose skills have blossomed at other clubs.

Peter Jones

In a similar format, Peter Jones recognises the contribution of his personal choice of “Star Players” in alphabetical order from Chris Armstrong (Llay) to Luke Young. I am certain that memories will be rekindled for many readers as they read the detailed stories of players who have graced the Racecourse (Cae Ras) and performed for the Reds (Cochion). Success has never been far from Wrexham’s grasp, as the excellent “Memory Matches” section illustrates.

Readers can relive memories of some outstanding performances selected by the author. For example, were you there on 22nd April 1978 when they beat Rotherham 7-1 to achieve the “dream” of playing in Division Two? Can the vibrant squad led by Phil Parkinson and the insightful management team push on and emulate what Arfon Griffith’s team achieved?

Welcome To Wrexham

The owners have generated huge enthusiasm and interest by injecting a hands-on approach. Combined with an awareness of key social aspects of local history, culture, and also the Welsh language. They have maximised media exposure with the Welcome To Wrexham documentary and put the City of Wrexham on the map. The guys are honouring their initial promises and Wrexham AFC are in safe hands. Their honest and open efforts are an example of great leadership.

Diolch yn fawr Rob a Ryan. Croeso i Wrecsam! (Thanks, Rob and Ryan. Welcome to Wrexham!). Peter Jones has produced a book with many outstanding features. He highlights many issues relevant to supporters of professional football clubs and sporting clubs of all levels.

The book is an in-depth and well-researched historical insight into the topsy-turvy world of football supporters. The text highlights the dangers for clubs. Particularly those suffering financial problems, who can fall victim to bogus investors, asset strippers and builders looking to make a quick buck.

Finally, for more book reviews, click here.

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