The Maesgwyn was the venue for a well-attended WST Members meeting on Monday night. Team manager Kevin Wilkin and assistant Gary Mills were the guests. As usual the first half consisted of a question and answer session with the guests whilst after the break the Trust Board fielded questions from the floor. A photographer was present to take photos for the Mosaic and tickets were on sale for the Porto Reunion on Friday 20th March.
The meeting kicked off with Kevin being pleased to announce that leading scorer Louis Moult had signed on for another year –which was warmly welcomed by the members present.
Questions for the Management
Chairman Peter Jones began by reading out some questions sent by e mail including a question about how we had beaten Barnet twice but had lost to some of the “lesser lights” particularly at home.
Kevin replied that there was no single answer; that no side can be taken for granted in the Conference. He had assembled a much younger squad than previously which probably “needed more leaders”. They came at a price as did goal scorers. Injuries and suspensions hadn’t helped but the league position “was definitely not where any of us wanted to be”. We’d had a good start, a poor middle but our league form was now picking up again. There was no given right to beat part time teams some of those players earned more than ours. Teams like to play at the Racecourse and raise their game. Some did “park the bus”. Kevin quoted John Still the Luton manager who he spoke to regularly and who had had a £5m turnover and made a £2m loss. His said his biggest challenge was “managing expectations” when he first took over at Luton. The team had been naïve at times, it needed to learn, fitness was not an issue (Kevin invited people to observe training sessions). Kevin was confident that he could motivate players and that tactics were not an excuse- “good players made tactics work”. He was looking at reasons not excuses.
Peter asked about the signings made last summer. Kevin mentioned the age of the squad and the average age of our goal scorers at Altrincham on Saturday. He “probably needs to add more leadership around them”. Moult was a goal scorer but he needed a team to create the chances for him. Connor Jennings preferred to play in a front two but was flexible, got on with the job and “we are trying to play with a front three”.
Peter asked about the goalkeeping position. Kevin said that Bachmann had been “slightly ahead” of Coughlin but since Dan’s injury Andy had “been playing well despite some doubters”. He had definitely “kicked on” recently.
As far as the defence was concerned, Kevin said that we had a “number of exciting young players”. Steve Tomassen had had to be patient and probably should have been played earlier- he had worked hard after “a face to face” with him. Ross White needed experience and Kevin would “love one of them to make the right back berth their own”. Manny Smith is “turning heads”- we would like to keep him and he likes it at Wrexham. We need competition and “we didn’t want to be scratching around for players in the summer” -which is why we brought Luke Waterfall in now.
Kevin now had a choice in midfield. It was no coincidence that results had improved with Kyle Storer and Sam Finlay providing competition. We want to see where “Finlay is at” as he was “by far” the best Welsh Premier League player.
Upfront, Kevin said that Andy Bishop had “worked harder” this year. Kieron Morris had done well. He had played at Leamington but was “in and around the Walsall” squad without playing much and provided the balance we had been missing since Hunt departed”. The goals scored by the strikers compared well to last season but we overall we had not scored enough goals. Midfield had not provided enough goals. The size of the Racecourse pitch may have contributed to that.
Kevin said that the management team (Mills, Oakes, Darlington and Spendiff) “worked well together each providing something different and that the approach to workloads/ diet analysis/ etc. had improved”. Kevin had first met Carl Darlington on a coach’s course. Carl sent his apologies- he was away with the Welsh FA.
Gary Mills said he had “jumped at the chance” to join Wrexham which was a “huge club with a huge fan base”. He had learnt a lot. He was always “talking and thinking football constantly analysing and trying to improve”. He wasn’t happy “because he weren’t at the top of the league”. He’d gained promotions and won the FAT as a player which he had reminded Kevin of- once or twice.
As far as the Glyndwr academy was concerned. It was in its first year. They joined in most sessions. Joe Whittington had made the bench and Corey Roper was close to doing so. Kevin and Gary will be attending the open trials at the end of the season to select the best intake we can for next season. This was the first year. It’s now established and it could be great for the club in the future.
Kevin also mentioned players he had worked with in the past from the British Universities set up who had gone on to have careers in professional football- he kept an eye on that group as they sometimes unearthed “a gem”.
When asked whether the FAT run had taken its toll, Kevin said that as “a group” they “never looked for excuses only reasons”. “Our bread and butter is the league but the cups were important”. They were “a carrot to ensure people were on form” and “everyone was fit for Stoke!” The final will be a tough game. “North Ferriby was not a village side”. They have been watched. They have received a lot of financial backing. ” “It would be great to win something in our 150th year but we haven’t done well enough in the league”. Gary reminded everyone that he had “played for Stevenage when they beat York in the Final”.
Questions were then asked by members in the audience.
A member asked about the pros and cons of fans ownership. Gary said that he was at Rushton when fans took over the club. It brought togetherness, the fans had a say in what went on. Kevin said that there were still different viewpoints even with fans ownership and as a manager it might be easier to go to a “sugar daddy” and just ask and get what he needs but there were “loads of positives”. The fans here were “fantastic” and had real feeling for the club which was “in safe hands”. He had “total admiration” for people working for the club for no reward. “We all needed to stick together, stay in the black and be here for another 150 years”. Kevin mentioned recent events at Kidderminster who had to off load players. It was right that member could question him and those who ran the club and expect honest and open answers.
A member asked about some loan signings namely Scott Tancock and James Pearson. Kevin said there was an issue at right back. Hindsight was a wonderful thing. Both were young players and Tancock was recommended, was affordable and had played at a higher level but struggled to settle with us. Tomassen had since proved his ability at right back.
A member asked about the decisions to send players out on loan. Kevin said that Nick Rushton had proved he can score at Conference North level. He has “potential but needed to play” and there was “no guarantee he would start here”. He had high hopes for Jonathan Royle who also needed to play. Kevin mentioned that Joe Williams, Iwan Cartwright and Danny Reynolds had trained with the first team squad and showed potential.
A member asked about the lack of goals at home. Kevin agreed that we hadn’t scored enough but “we didn’t set up to be defensive”. The Southport performance was poor and the players did not reach the required technical level. It was not tactics it was an inability to” trap and pass the ball on the night” by those he had selected. Goal scorers cost a lot of money. Kevin knew how much Akinde for example was on but “potentially we had unearthed one of our own.”
A member asked how he would rectify the goal scoring issue. Kevin said options included changing personnel and line ups. Jennings could move inside. Strikers cost the most cash. At Nuneaton Moult had scored only once in his first 17 games but he improved the team and developed.
A member asked about our disciplinary record taking into account the “poor” standard of referring). Kevin said our record for dissent had improved. The red cards “were about tackling”. Some were poor refereeing decisions some were poor challenges but Kevin said we needed to improve it.
A member asked whether we were naive not to offer Smith and Moult longer deals last summer. Kevin said a long term deal needed to be “the right business deal for the club”. He liked to “keep players hungry and not too comfortable”. Kevin had “monitored Smith for years” and “if we can come up with the right deal Manny would like to stay”.
A member asked about Anthony Stephens’ “u turn” when he almost went to Chester. Kevin said he had not seen enough of him last season to give him the deal he wanted. He was glad he had stayed.
A member asked whether he was looking for another goal keeper. Kevin said he hoped Andy Coughlin would “keep to his work” and continue to improve. There were usually keepers available on loan from bigger clubs although their clubs often expected them to be picked.
A member asked about Neil Ashton taking corners and free kicks. Kevin said Neil had” a good left foot” but had probably had a “stop start” season but had done better lately. Kevin mentioned Elliot Durrell who had an outstanding record in the Conference North but this was the highest level he had played at and was a “big jump”. He was a “capable lad” who had been “thwarted a bit” by injuries which had “prevented him getting any momentum going”.
Peter thanked Kevin and Gary for attending the meeting and being so open and straightforward in answering the questions. The meeting showed their appreciation.
The second half of the meeting consisted of the Trust Board (Peter Jones, Mark Williams, Spencer Harris, Tom Stanford, Geoff Scott, Stuart Roberts, Alan Fox and Richard Ulrich were present with apologies received from other board members) giving updates and taking questions.
Geoff Scott mentioned forthcoming fundraising events including the Porto Reunion event in Bamfords on Friday 20th. Many former players were attending with former manager Bobby Roberts. Tickets were still available. There will be a quiz at the Saith Seren on 10th April with proceeds going to the DSA who were close to raising sufficient funds to start work on one of the platforms for disabled fans. The mosaic would be unveiled at the Braintree game. There was still time to submit photographs. Steve Gilbert thanked everyone who had contributed to the £11000 which had so far been raised.
Richard Ulrich informed members that membership had risen to just short of 4000 and there would be a push to increase membership pre Wembley. 1200 new membership cards had recently been sent out. Members were asked to encourage people going to Wembley who were not members to join up.
The winners of the Directors for the Day for Wembley were Trust members Rebecca Ankers of Wrexham and Jack Jones who would be guests in the Royal Box; Andrew Griffiths and Jon Jones of Mold and Matthew Jones and Jordon Wynn of Wrexham would be enjoying the game from the Bobby Moore suite.
Richard said that those who joined or renewed their membership before the end of the season would go into the hat for a draw with the prize of a season ticket. Details to follow.
Tom Stanford updated members about the Trusts community work including the aim for the club to be “dementia friendly”, the work between the Senior Reds and Vintage Blues (at the club down the road) and the aim to increase benefits and the involvement of the Junior Dragons.
Spencer Harris said that the issue with the pitch was connected with the sand used and would be remedied in the summer. The work would take a few days but the pitch would be off limits for about 6 weeks. Spencer mentioned our aim to be a fully bilingual club and had established a translation group to assist. Plans were ongoing to make Wembley our 150th birthday party, there were lots of ideas and more news would follow. As of last week about 12,500 tickets had been sold in total.
Alan Fox announced that the Trust Annual General meeting would be held on Thursday 25th June. According to the Rules there would be four vacancies on the Trust board. Having served three years, Dave Jones, Jenny Cantwell and Geoff Scott would stand down but were at liberty to stand again.
The meeting closed at 2150.