It’s traditional, when playing Dartford, to begin by praising their state-of-the-art, environmentally-friendly stadium.
Well, fuck that shit.
Propaganda boards next to the pitch insist that the ground was “built by a Conservative council” and sigh “if only all councils were like Dartford”.
It was on this same Conservative council’s watch that Dartford lost their Watling Street home in 1992 after being bankrupted by ground improvements, precipitating a fourteen-year exile. Margaret Thatcher, who was given her first political gig by Dartford Tories, famously said that there were too many football clubs and “in any other industry the inefficient would have gone to the wall years ago”. Hoping non-league clubs go bust is of course, low down on Thatcher’s crimes against football fans; conspiring to smear them after nearly a hundred people died due to the criminal negligence of police was of course much worse as was attempting to force them to carry ID cards.
If only all councils were like Dartford, eh? If only all councils were run by the sorts of people who instinctively view football fans as violently criminal. If only all councils were run by the sort of people who view the death of a football club as another glorious victory for the free market. If only all councils were run by a party whose policies are actively engaged in making football – and society as a whole – less safe and affordable for anyone who isn’t white, middle-class and able-bodied. If only.
Anyway, it was against this backdrop of unnecessary politicising of football that Wrexham kicked off. In a different colour (do we sing “red and black army” now then), with a new badge, and pretty much an entirely new team. Even stalwarts like Neil Ashton were adding to the confusion by sporting much less hair than usual. I hardly recognised anyone.
Given much of last season, that’s probably not a bad thing at all.
Anyway, the match itself was fun if not wildly impressive from a Wrexham perspective. The game had a fairly even feel to it with neither side creating a huge amount. Dartford may have had the better of parts of the game but really struggled to convert their pressure into meaningful chances and their meaningful chances into goals. Even their goal was a header wide that was deflected goalwards by Hudson and then scooped out from either on or just behind the line by Bachmann.
But the two goals were nice combination play from the new players – Jennings, Moult and York. The second, in particular, was a great bit of improvisation from Louis Moult to play in Wes York.
There was energy and endeavour from the team and optimism and positivity from the fans. For the first time in a while, watching Wrexham was actually fun.
The Man of the Match was of course the man of every match – Joe Clarke.