So there I was, probably like countless footballers across the land, with the clock ticking at the end of the transfer window, minding my own business when the boss asked for quiet words.
“We’ll send you to Wrexham this month,” he said. “It’s a big opportunity. As you saw first hand on Sunday, they’re the place to be for the club. Loan some games and who knows where it will lead.”
Ok, I made one last point. My football days ended a few years ago with a ruptured Achilles tendon. Also, I’ve known Wrexham manager Phil Parkinson for so long that he took great pleasure in telling me and a colleague from another newspaper, ahead of his weekly press conference at Bradford City Say hello and call him a “terrible duo.” So he can rest assured that the boots will not follow me to North Wales.
But my laptop will certainly be traveling as I tackle a hectic month of tasks, and it could go a long way in deciding whether Wrexham will soon make the long-awaited return of the EFL and its newfound status as a city .
Starting with Saturday’s Nations League trip to Altrincham, Athletic Will join Parkinson’s side as they negotiated eight fine games in February, including an FA Cup fourth-round replay at Sheffield United, now with Tottenham Hotspur as the prize.
I’ll also be keeping an eye on goal machine Paul Mullin as he goes head-to-head with Erling Haaland for the country’s top scorer.
Since February 2021, when Hollywood duo Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney took over, it’s been an exciting time to be reborn at the club, as I found out for myself last weekend. The atmosphere for the home team went from one goal behind to a 3-2 lead until the final seconds against champions Manchester United charged up, probably the best I’ve experienced all season.
It wasn’t just the noise, it was the enthusiasm of both sets of supporters who never strayed from the confrontation that often mars these important occasions, especially when kick-off is late enough to offer the chance of hours at the bar beforehand.
The only regret is that the new Kop has not yet been built. Imagine how loud it would be on the ground in a quad?
With five home games in February – including big games against Woking and Chesterfield, with both clubs hoping to capitalize on a Parkinson’s side and Notts County blunders – the West Yorkshire interloper Hopefully there will be more of the same, including more airings of “Forever” with local band Declan Swans paying tribute to Deadpool star Reynolds and Philly co-creator McElhenney for A Sunny Day in Wrexham.
Two members of the Sheffield United press corps were still singing “Bring Deadpool…and Rob McElhenney” as they got into the car at 8.30pm on Sunday night, which was too catchy up.
As you’ve probably guessed, I can’t claim to be a lifelong Wrexham fan. The last time I visited a racecourse before Sunday was on Boxing Day 1986, when I drew 2-2 with Burnley.
But the place is really impressive, especially from my vantage point in the back of what is now known as University’s End, there appears to be a pub to our right which is actually part of the grounds with balconies Overlooks the asphalt.
This fascinates me. Why can it see the pitch uninterrupted? Is Drinkers free to watch? Could this Burnley team, the worst in the club’s history that season, look better through the bottom of a glass of dandelions and burdocks? (I was 13 at the time!)
Just checked out football pitches in England and Wales – a truly groundbreaking book by Simon Inglis that fully inspired young Sutcliffe to love football pitches last October, I’ve finally achieved my lifelong ambition of joining the Ninety Two – it’s Welcome to Wrexham documentary viewers now see the Turf Hotel as a hub of football support in the region.
The Turf will be my first stop for a pint. Then you can start working. Wrexham supporters, this is where I want your help.
What would you like to read about your club? Whose story should we be telling – the lifelong fans who live in Mold Road, or the new overseas converts who have fallen in love with the club through a documentary? Is there a player you really want to hear about?
We spoke to Phil Parkinson at length ahead of the Sheffield United Cup game, but is there anyone else in the coaching staff who has a story you want to tell? All suggestions are welcome in the comments below.
For now, though, I’m doing what all loaners sent on deadline must do — I’m getting to know my new surroundings. It’s bound to be fun.
big body yma,
Don’t worry Blades fans, I don’t neglect “day-to-day” tasks.I’ll still keep an eye on all things Sheffield United, especially my manager’s insistence that any loan deal doesn’t include a clause preventing me from facing the clubs I’ve covered since then Athletic Started living in the UK as early as August 2019. So, see you next Tuesday at Lane.
You can follow Richard on Twitter here.
(Above: OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)