Monday evening saw the latest WST members meeting take place at the Centenary Club with special guests Akil Wright and Jordan Maguire – Drew.
Akil and Jordan
Jordan described his career to date and that he has been associated with Brighton and Hove Albion since he was eight years old. His loan spells began at Worthing aged 17 where he scored 8 goals in 6 games and played in the play off final. He had a very productive season with Dagenham and Redbridge (under John Still) and recalled playing in a victory over Wrexham on TV. Jordan described further loan spells at Lincoln (playing very wide to feed crosses for Green and Rhead) and then to Coventry making his debut v Stoke City and being a substitute in their successful play off final.
Akil started out with Ilkeston aged 15 (after a spell at Sheffield Utd) a club which produced several players who have gone onto the Football League. He recalled being signed by Graham Alexander for Fleetwood in League 1 and although he learned a lot, he “regretted rushing into it”. Having scored 3 goals in four games on loan at Fylde he was then loaned to Barrow who finished 7th that season by “playing to their strengths and bullying teams”. Back at Fleetwood he played in a pre-season game against Liverpool (facing Sadio Mané – “a class act”) before joining Wrexham on loan. Having played 30 games, he was injured before Christmas and struggled to get back into the side. He was quick to accept the offer of a permanent deal though and Dean Keates’ departure was a “big surprise” but the disappointing finish to the season was “down to the players not performing”. Akil said that the strength of the current squad was “very good” illustrated by the fact that having been named National League player of the month he found himself on the bench for the next game! Akil said that “all that matters is winning” and that this squad “has goals all over the place”…we don’t fear anyone we think we are the best”.
Jordan said he just wanted to play “every minute of every game” and agreed “straightaway” to join Wrexham actually appearing in the team photo before signing on, He “trained on the Friday and played at Dover the next day”. He said that Wrexham was “a minimum League 1 club”. He was “gutted” not to start against Ebbsfleet but was told he’d be brought on for the last 20 minutes “to win us the game!”. He said that there was great competition for places and “everyone was pushing each other on”.
The meeting thanked both players for giving their time to speak to Trust members.
Questions of the Board
The second half of the meeting consisted of questions and answers with members of the Trust Board. Present were Peter Jones, John Mills, Brian Phillips, Spencer Harris, Gavin Jones, Mark Williams, Mark Jones, Stephen Lloyd, newly co-opted board member Rob Stock and independent secretary Alan Fox. Apologies were received from Mike Lewis, Simon Rhodes, Bryan Still, Richard Ulrich and Sarah Smith-Howard.
Dave Palmer asked about concerts for next year. Board member Gavin Jones said that their contact who assists with this (a Wrexham fan himself) is currently speaking with three promotors. There was nothing concrete to report yet but the challenge for us was finding the right acts available within the “four-week window” at the end of the season.
Robert Crumb asked about the monies due following the transfer of Danny Ward from Liverpool to Leicester. Board member Mark Williams said the monies would be paid in instalments although the total would have to be recorded in the accounts for the first year. The board were considering various options including how best to off set corporation tax by investing throughout the club.
Aled Hughes asked about turnstiles and problems in the University End. Mark said there were 6 open in the MRS, 6 in the Yale for home fans and 4 in the University end. There had been some bottle necks there recently and the club were planning to address these at the Havant and Waterlooville match. He said it would help, especially at mid-week games, if supporters entered the ground earlier, he was noticing a last-minute rush to enter the ground.
Don Pearce asked about the lower tier of the University Stand. Mark said that having improved the food kiosk, the club can open the lower tier – it would need an extra six stewards- if needs be. Its ready when we need it. Gavin Jones said that investment was needed on the stadium including for example replacing panels. The lease was a fully repairing lease.
Board member Spencer Harris reminded members of the Strategy 2021 mentioned at the AGM. The club will be considering various green projects e.g. water harvesting, solar energy and, once costed, will decide which to proceed with. The board commented that the purchase of the land behind the Kop by the University was “generally a good thing” and the Club continued to have a good relationship with them.
John Edwards asked about any help from the Welsh Government or FAW. Spencer said he was “hopeful” that we can get assistance to redevelop the stadium and that being owned by a community benefit society was helpful. There was nothing definite to report. Stephen Parrott asked about the National League board. Spencer said that clubs voted representatives onto the board with each board member representing a cluster of clubs. We were not represented on that board.
Stephen also asked about the AGM of Supporters Direct. Independent Secretary Alan Fox said he had attended the AGM in London at which member Trusts voted narrowly to merge Supporters Direct with the Football Supporters Federation. In his opinion the Trusts at Premier League clubs and others higher up the pyramid were the drivers of the merger. “Their concerns and issues were different from ours”. We had voted against the proposal (as recommended by the Supporters Direct board who were against the idea). It remained to be seen how the new organisation would develop and how the interests of community owned clubs would be reflected.
Management and backroom team
Asked about the performance of the manager and backroom team, Spencer said they “had a first-rate way of working” and that the manager was “very respectful of the football club and the ownership model”. The level of professionalism “had gone up a notch”. We are “delighted” with our start to the season given we have “a new backroom staff, new midfield and new strike force”.
Asked about the number of loan players, Spencer said they had the maximum number of long-term loan players (Burgess is not a long term loanee).
John Edwards asked about the Chief Scout. Spencer said that Luke Fogerty now led a network of scouts across the country so that we would have each opponent watched at least twice using a recently developed report format. As well as watching opponents, their job was to help compile a “position chart” so we had targets in each position matching our KPIs. It would help “narrow down” the search for new players. There was a cost but “not a king’s ransom”. Luke had helped us in the summer. An illustration was the Lainton penalty save at Dover based on information received. All National League games are recorded and loaded onto the Scout 7 system.
WST Chair Peter Jones informed members about an invitation to the board to speak to the Hartlepool Trust.
Peter gave an update about the club’s position concerning the second platform for wheelchair users as set out in the recent members email. The club’s plan is to create a new covered raised platform viewing area platform viewing area linking the University End and the BKoncepts Stand. They saw this as the best option in the next phase of our development of disabled facilities. This had been explained at the trust board meeting of 25 July when officials of the disabled supporter’s association and Kerry Evans, the disabled liaison officer, met with the WST board and football club board member Phil Salmon who is leading on this. Although the club recognised that this was not a “perfect” solution it was, in their eyes, the quickest and best way of improving facilities. The perceived benefits of this scheme were set out in the members e mail and on the trust website http://wst.org.uk/www3/index.php/component/k2/item/5348-membership-update-disabled-platform
DSA co chairman Andy Pierce and some others present expressed disappointment at the members e mail as DSA members were not supportive of the plans and wanted the club to explore other options. They advocated placing the platform in the lower tier of the University stand and criticised the clubs plan as not being inclusive as it placed disabled fans away from their fellow supporters.
After a lengthy discussion it was agreed that the sub group involving Phil Salmon, board member Mike Lewis and DSA representatives and the DLO needed to meet soon to examine the detail and to work together to achieve the best outcome as soon as possible.
Board member Mark Jones reminded members of the forthcoming Celebrity Chase with Shaun Wallace. Shaun (ITV's The Chase's Dark Destroyer) will be hosting the evening and acting as the quiz master. Teams, with a maximum number of 5 team members, will compete against each other to win a cup, a cash prize and other great prizes. The winning team will then compete against Shaun to increase their prize fund. The event will take place on Friday 28 September at The Railway Club, Brewery Place, Wrexham LL13 7LU and quizzing will begin at 7:30pm.
The meeting ended at 21:40