Crazy Joe Clarke
A well-attended members meeting at the Centenary Club on Monday last welcomed midfielder Joe Clarke (the only player to have a Project named after him) as the guest speaker for the first half of the proceedings. Quizzed by Chairman Pete Jones, “Crazy Joe” as he is known by his teammates (a nickname bestowed on him by film buff Glen Little) described his journey to professional football beginning as a youngster playing for various teams in his native Birmingham.
Having left school, Joe completed a carpentry apprenticeship although he admitted the best thing he made was the tea! Having played in various positions, it was whilst playing part time with Redditch that he was converted to the midfielder we know today. The turning point in his career was being spotted by Mark Cooper manager of then FA Cup opponents Kettering. Having taken over the reins at Darlington, Cooper offered Joe terms as a full time pro and he made a scoring debut against Gateshead. Opportunities for regular starts were limited though and Joe decided to return to Solihull Moors where he was spotted by Dean Saunders. Despite the uncertainty surrounding the club at that time, Joe had no hesitation in joining us although it was Andy Morrell who gave him his debut again against Gateshead! He described joining a strong squad with several good players in each position and the shock of training every day. Joe made it clear what a great team spirit exists at the club with everyone helping each other despite the occasionally ruthless banter!
Despite his disappointment at not starting, Joe described the thrill of playing and winning at Wembley and his starring role in the now infamous “Harlem Shake” video. After seeing off Kidderminster, Joe and the team were confident going into the play off final and during the game Newport seemed more intent on stopping us playing but, in the end, it was his most disappointing day in football.
Joe was sure that we would be challenging again this season, some players had left but quality players had replaced them and he predicted another “mad” league with everyone capable of beating everyone else on the day especially as the part time teams always raised their game against clubs like Wrexham.
Joe described his friendship with England international Gareth Barry who he played golf with.
When asked what the “Joe Clarke Project” was all about, Joe diplomatically replied that he was happy to lend his name to it as it was raising funds for a good cause. He was “slightly embarrassed” when they named him their sponsors’ man of the match despite Jay Harris scoring a screamer that day. It must have been his “7 yard assist” which clinched it said Joe!
In answers to questions from the floor, Joe replied that the best managers he had played for were his manager at Redditch who converted him to a midfielder and, of course, Andy Morrell! The best players he had played with were “Keith Gillespie at Darlington and Keatsy and Jay”.
Joe described the “best talker” as the one and only Glen Little whose room he had inherited in the house. He was somewhat alarmed though to find Mr Little climbing in through a window at 1am on a recent visit to the area!
Joe confirmed that his favourite team were Birmingham City who he supported as a boy. He again confirmed what a great togetherness existed in the squad and described the end of season trip to Magaluff but spared most of the gory details!
When asked about the standard of refereeing, Joe chose his words carefully but said that the game was played at a very fast pace (something Junior N’Tame had commented on) and refs needed to remember that. They wanted to climb the ladder to but had to remember they were not officiating in the Premier League but he acknowledged that “we can’t play without them” and he was keen not to be fined by the club for picking up a yellow card for dissent!
Joe received a warm round of applause for an entertaining and articulate insight into the life of a professional footballer.
The second half of the meeting was taken up by Trust business with Trust board members being present and answering questions from the floor. Peter Jones, John Mills, Mark Williams, Spencer Harris, Alan Fox, Jenny Cantwell, Anita Robinson, Tom Stanford, Terry Stott and Peter Howell were present from the Trust Board.
Independent secretary Alan Fox introduced the resolution regarding the appointment of a new Club President. Following the resignation of Arfon Griffiths, the Trust Board had put forward a policy which had been accepted by members at the AGM. In accordance with that policy, the Trust Board had nominated former player and manager Dixie McNeil for the position for the next three years. There was an overwhelming vote in favour of the proposal (including proxy votes) and accordingly we are pleased to confirm that Dixie is now Club President. The post is without powers but is one which involves an important ambassadorial role for the Club. Dixie will be invited to speak at the next members meeting.
Keith Jones asked what the Board were doing to attract new members. Chairman Pete Jones replied that we now very close to reaching our 3000th member and the membership had increased rapidly from the 500/600 mark prior to buying the club. That had placed a strain on how we process membership and handle queries and the Board were sorry for any problems that had caused despite the huge amount of work put in by volunteers. We had pushed the “Wrexham is for life not just Wembley” theme and emphasised that each one of us is an owner of our club which was something to be proud of. Trust and Club Board member Spencer Harris confirmed that the branding work started by Andy Slinger was on-going and the feedback showed that we needed to think of new ways of making people feel part of WFC.
John Edwards asked (on behalf of an “absent friend”) where the money had gone from the FA Trophy run. Trust Board member and Club Finance Director Mark Williams replied that very detailed transparent financial reports had been presented to the AGM and distributed to members. He wasn’t going to go through those again tonight but they were available. Suffice to say that paying customers were down last season, there had been a period when there was limited commercial activity (until Steve Cook was appointed) and we had paid players over the summer having signed up a dozen or so in June.
In response to a question about potential sponsors not being contacted, Pete asked for details. Spencer observed that we needed to look at what had been achieved since February when Steve Cook was appointed as commercial manager. For example, most pitch side boards had been sold, the Coop have sponsored the back of the shirt, the Leader had sponsored the Family section, and Eagles Meadow was a big success. Steve was doing an excellent job.
Details of the Gold Bond receipts were provided in the financial reports for the AGM.
A member asked about the delayed kick off against Welling. Mark replied that there were a number of issues including the illness of a turnstile operator at the MRS, fewer Welling fans attending than had been advised (meaning we didn’t need the two turnstiles open for them) and some battery issues with the new scanners. Kick off was delayed by 7 minutes.
The PA system
Brian Cameron asked about the sufficiency of the PA system especially when the announcer spoke. Mark said he would take it up with Glyndwr as it is a health and safety requirement.
Mark gave a detailed description of the arrangements for the Chester home match.
It was clearly a long (and, for the club, a time consuming) story but, in brief, the 31st August was the original date provided by the Conference. BT Sport had asked us to swap to the Monday night. The police agreed but the Club were concerned about losing Jos Mayebi as there was an international that week and Cameroon could insist on a 5 day call up. Attempts were made to get some dispensation for him to arrive late if selected. Nothing was forthcoming from the Cameroon FA so the Club were not minded to risk losing their first choice keeper and we refused to move it and we had never announced any other date. It was suggested we play on the Sunday but Crusaders are playing at home that day and it wasn’t feasible to play on the Sunday evening.
A meeting of the two clubs, with North Wales and Cheshire police, agreed a 1pm kick off- originally with Chester housed in a section of the Yale stand. We printed 1200 tickets for Chester. The match commander was not present at that meeting. We don’t usually have a match commander for our games even when there is a police presence.
The Cheshire Police liaison officer requested that we take copies of identification when selling tickets. This was more work for us. Prior to handing it over we asked for a section 29 Data Protection Act request form from the police to justify their request. None was provided as they later said they did not have the resources to check the details which, consequently, have not been handed over and will be destroyed securely.
The Clubs did agree to a request that both matches be subject to a Safe Transport Measure i.e. tickets for away fans booked in advance only to be collected upon arrival at the ground on an authorised coach. That was the plan as agreed. In the interest of fairness it was agreed that the arrangements should be the same for both sets of fans.
The Glyndwr car park will be closed.
For the away match we will have to book coaches well in advance given its Easter weekend so will be loath to agree any change of date etc. We will aim to provide pick up points as we did for the Wembley trips.
Since then the Safety Advisory Group met including the local authority. After the Tranmere incidents it was requested by NWP that Chester be housed in the GUS (paying Yale prices) not the Yale. GUS season ticket holders can move into the Mold End of the Yale Stand, using Turnstiles 1-4. This means that they just take their swipe cards as normal on the day of the game and use them through the Yale Stand turnstiles 1-4, no further action is required. Should any GUS season ticket holder prefer to sit in another part of the ground, then they can call at the Racecourse and we will do an exchange for the Chester game.
Mold Road will be closed before the game & afterwards until all their coaches have left. If they'd been allowed in the Yale only ST holders would have been allowed into the section nearest the away fans to stop a repeat of the Tranmere match scenes.
This is an all ticket not a ticket only game which means there will be no sales on the day. Up to Friday tickets will be sold through the Eagles Meadow shop. After that they will be sold at the Club when the new club shop should be open but keep an eye out for details.
Most of our games are steward only. The PLO may be present but not paid for. Matches are categorised A B C and C plus. This has been categorised as a C plus match which means there is a match commander at Chief Inspector rank. Final police costs are not yet in.
The arrangements allow the police to remove any Chester fans from town, the station, Mold road etc. and shops and pubs can open as usual.
Steven Gilbert suggested that the club should explain to fans that they needed to act responsibly to help avoid similar arrangements in the future.
Barriers and the Mold Road
Huw Griffith asked about the pedestrian barriers outside the GUS. These had been placed there in mid-week to prevent motorists using it as a rat run. They should not be there for match days. Mention was made of closing Mold Road briefly after matches to allow fans to leave safely on foot. Closing the road costs at least £600 paid to the Council. We could see what the police might be prepared to help with.
Facilities for the Disabled
Brain Cameron asked about providing cover for disabled fans. Glyndwr’s plan to build a shelter in the corner of the GUS didn’t happen. We were not sure why they intended to do next. Board member Tom Stanford had spent a match in a wheelchair last season to experience things from a disabled fans viewpoint.
Friendlies in the Yale
Ian Fidler mentioned the problems in the Yale at one of the friendlies when people were queuing in stairways trying to get seats and asked why they couldn’t use the executive area in the circumstances. This was due to a miscommunication with Glyndwr. The club expected the Yale paddock to be open which it wasn’t.
Paul Lindsey asked about TV money. The home club received £8000 for each game (£5000 last season) with the away team receiving £1000. So far, our home match with Luton and the away match at Barnet were to be televised.
There being no further business the meeting ended at 2135.