Saturday 24th February 2018 ko 11.00
EFL Youth Alliance North-Western Division
WREXHAM AFC 4 (Freeman 45 Bulkeley 65 75 82p)
ACCRINGTON STANLEY 0
Entry & Teamsheet FREE
We’d have liked a 3rd Welsh Premier League game on the Saturday’s itinerary. You could see why that wasn’t made available to us, it would have been virtually impossible to have got a visiting team to travel (potentially) the length of Wales for an 11am kick-off. We tried to get the second tier Cymru Alliance involved but as in the past were rebuffed, so it was time to get creative.
Our hotel was only a mile or two from Gresford, and with Wrexham’s training ground being there it was an obvious choice to take in a game there given the circumstances. With the weather teetering around freezing it was good to see the nearby 3G pitch acting as insurance, complete with “Arena” stand artfully hidden from the authorities by a conveniently placed hedge.
You are just a couple of hundred yards from Gresford Athletic’s Clappers Lane home here. One or two walked over to check on the building work going on there to bring the ground up to Cymru Alliance regulations. I allowed myself a rueful smile that if circumstances had been different we could easily have been been there, and not down the road. Sadly the league’s view that “We don’t want to be involved with groundhoppers” seems rather entrenched.
The facility has been a symbol of Wrexham’s struggles over the last few years. Wrexham moved here in 1997 following a £750,000 development, but finding the running costs prohibitive to the now non-league club moved out in 2016. The facility was taken on by Wrexham Glyndwr University, and after using their former base at Lex Glyndwr FC’s Stansty Park returned in January 2017, but only as tenants of the university. Long term, there are plans to turn the facility into a National Centre for Sport of Wales, so how Wrexham fit into those plans is anyone’s guess.
In the here and now there’s just a lobby area at reception with a coin-in-the-slot coffee machine that acts as a place to wait (and keep warm!) while you wait for the game to start. But as spartan as the facilities were the game kept everyone entertained. You’ll look at the score and assume this was a drubbing, but the reality was that every time that Stanley made a defensive error Wrexham profited.
But this was also a time to catch up with everyone, a time when many of the attendance knew each other, and the surprise of Trev, our barman at the hotel popping over to watch the game with us. You see that’s what GroundhopUk does, we can bring out the inner hopper out of just about anyone!