Next stop Wembley for Wrexham FC


Garth ApThomas

A RED and white army made up of thousands of passionate Wrexham fans will travel to Wembley for the first time next month.

The club, which has never played at the hallowed ground before, made their dreams come true on Saturday by beating Gainsborough Trinity over two legs to reach the FA Trophy final.

This historic achievement is the latest great news for a proud club which is enjoying a sustained comeback to success.

Now the club could potentially win £200,000 – a welcome gift after years of turmoil which saw a severe decline that many fans feared would lead to Wrexham FC going out of business altogether – just by making it to the final at the world famous stadium on Sunday, March 24.

Peter Jones, Wrexham Supporters Trust chairman, called the win “fantastic” but admitted the match was “nail-biting” at times.

“Playing at Wembley is, as a lifetime fan, something I’ve always dreamed about and the fans really deserve it,” he said.

“There’ll be no problem getting tickets so hopefully everyone who wants to go will be able to. The more the merrier.”

And Don Bircham, the club’s chief executive, said he was ‘absolutely delighted’ by the win.

“I thoroughly enjoyed the game although it was nerve-wracking too,” he said. “It’s the first time in history the club has played at Wembley and it’s sure to be a great occasion.

“We’re hoping prize money will be in the region of £200,000 whether we win or lose which will be extremely welcome.

“Estimates are about 20,000 fans will be heading to London which will be a huge boost and I hope the whole town will get behind us.”

That sentiment is shared by many supporters who hope success on the pitch will spread to the town as a whole, helping to generate a feelgood factor that can grow throughout the community.

Cllr Phil Wynn, 48, who represents Brynyfynnon ward on Wrexham Council, has been an ardent follower of Wrexham for about 40 years.

He said: “There are estimates that about 15,000 people from North Wales will be going down to London for the final. It will be an opportunity not to be missed.

“This will give the town such a buzz. I hope we can win the final and also go on to gain automatic promotion back to the Football League.”

Tom Hughes, 96, is thought to be Wrexham’s oldest living fan. He has been supporting Wrexham for 91 years.

Talking about reaching the final, he said: “I would love to go as long as I am in good health and can make the arrangements with my family.

“I am so pleased with how well Wrexham are doing. Reaching a Wembley final is a very big event.”

Wrexham supporter Jamie Davies, 29, from Marchwiel, has a pair of lucky socks he wears to games - because they bring about a Wrexham victory.

“This has been going on for about a year now although I must stress I do wash the socks on a regular basis,” Jamie said.

“When I wear them to games, Wrexham win and when I don’t Wrexham will either draw or lose. It is really strange.”

The superstitious socks are about four years old and from the Wrexham kit of that era.

Although he has not gone as far as booking accommodation in London ready for Wrexham’s trip to Wembley Jamie is determined he will be at the final.

“I am definitely going to be there and cheering on Wrexham. I have been supporting the club for about 16 years.”

Wrexham FC secretary Geraint Parry said even before the Reds made it through to Wembley, plenty of people had been getting in contact asking about tickets.

“The thing is the FA don’t announce details until the two teams taking part in the final have been decided,” said Mr Parry.

“This is going to be an absolutely marvellous occasion for everyone involved with the club, and something our wonderful fans really deserve.

“We take this competition very seriously. We have been putting out strong teams and really want to win.”

Mr Parry does not have any superstitions himself but revealed one little pre-match ritual among the players can be the source of great amusement.

“Neil Ashton always wants to be the last player out of the dressing room to get to the pitch. But Jay Harris likes to wind him up and sometimes goes back, so there is a bit of a fun competition between the two over who is going to be the last,” Mr Parry said.

Carroll Clark, 72, from Garden Village, chairman of Wrexham Supporters Association, said he has been keeping March 24 clear in his diary.

“It is the dream of every fan and player to go to Wembley. It will be a fantastic occasion for the club,” said Mr Clark.

See full story in the Leader

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