On the way back from a holiday in North Wales I managed to get a ticket for the Wrexham v Southend National League game. I tried to get a ticket from Wrexham a while ago but was told that I would be better approaching Southend
The brush off by Wrexham was the contrast with the ticket staff on the East coast who helpfully obliged. Being dropped off at the railway station which is very close to the ground I walked with the happy crowd to the ground and the away area dedicated to the Southend Ultras. The temperature was 15 degrees and in the sky was grey but it was warm enough to leave the jacket in the car.
Wrexham have seen poor times but are now bouncing back after being bought out by Hollywood stars Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney and have climbed up the league to second place after some costly signings for this level of football. Momentum has a great deal of influence in football and it shows here.
The ground is regarded as the oldest international stadium in the world and still hosts them. The Racecourse ground though needs some money spent on it with only three sides in use, one closed off due to ill repair. The away section like many at football grounds was dull/dire with dirty seats and one tiny food and drink kiosk for all. Why should away fans be treated as second class citizens when they are so integral to our football experience. The Southend band kept beating all game and the travelling fans out sung the home crowd for most of the game. I hope that the success on the pitch will work its way through to success in the redevelopment of the stadium. My view was also restricted by a post, what is it about Welsh grounds and me, back in the seventies I sat behind a post at the old Cardiff City ground.
The playing surface looked beautiful and green and was being heavily watered after a dry week. The heavy watering meant that towels were provided for players taking throw ins so that they could get some purchase on the ball.
Wrexham and Southend are like most teams now in the National league ex football league teams in fact many have better stadiums and support than teams playing at a much higher level and it is definitely the fifth division of English football.
Wrexham are one of five Welsh teams now playing in senior English football with the Welsh league now attracting its own base with entry into European competitions now available. Wrexham are said to be the second oldest professional football club in in the world being formed in 1864. They have won many Welsh Cups and won promotions within the English League system. An administration of the club in 2008 set them back and relegation out of the English Football League system followed in 2012 and have been unable to regain that position since. They have however won the F, A. trophy in 2013 and are finalists again this year.
Southend were started in 1906 in the blue Boar pub and are known as the shrimpers due to their coastal location and local fishing. They joined the Inaugural English Third Division in 1920 but 101 years later they found themselves relegated to the National League. Financial problems caused a near closure in 2010 but after a few years times improved and they won promotion to the Division 1 in 2015 but successive relegations and off field problems saw them starting life in the National League this season.
Wrexham F.C. 1 Southend United F.C. 0
National League, Saturday 30th April 2022 Kick off 15.00 pm
Southend weathered the initial Wrexham pressure but it was Southend who looked secure for most of the first half as they pressed down the wings. They lacked a convincing strike partnership and possession did not lead to attempts on goal. it was Southend’s keeper whose reflex save on 44 minutes that kept them in the game scooping out what appeared a certain goal.
So at all square at half time Southend must have been pleased with their efforts. All the hard work was forgotten in the first minute of the second half when Jordan Davies’ of Wrexham went beyond the Southend defence to knock the ball along the goal line where there were any of three attackers to knock it in. It was Ollie Palmer who tapped it in for his 14th goal of the season.
The same pattern of the first half continued with Southend having more possession but no cutting edge although it did take a good save from Wrexham’s Christian Dibble to keep them ahead.
The Wrexham crowd came alive at the final whistle especially when they heard the news that Stockport had lost at home and were now only one point ahead of them in the automatic promotion spot. There is a lot more excitement to come in Wrexham’s last five games of the season with a home game to Stockport two games away. The 9269 fans went home happy including the 505 from Southend.
My player of the match was Shaun Hobson who looked assured throughout.
No Chips here although if there had been I wouldn’t have joined the very long queue.