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THERE are many symptoms of malaise at Wrexham FC and the latest would seem to be the away travel situation.

THERE are many symptoms of malaise at Wrexham FC and the latest would seem to be the away travel situation.

Several friends of mine now employ the word shambles to describe the club's efforts to operate an efficient and effective matchday transport service for fans.

I have investigated the subject and at present there seems to be a range of ongoing problems:

Broken promises: Friend A told me that users of the supporters' buses were promised a new, cheap and reliable service to all away games in 2001-02. There seems to be no problem about cost, but many people (including Friends B and C) seem to be unhappy that no coaches went to Swindon or Cambridge this season, or to Bristol City and Bournemouth last year.

Fans being fobbed off : Friend C is particularly annoyed that staff in the club shop have a standard line they trot out when a coach is about to be, or has already been, cancelled. He says: "They always tell us that only three tickets have been sold for a trip without realising that every time they say this, they could have sold one more." On one occasion, Friend C relates that: "Fifteen fans had travelled down to the Racecourse and were told there was not enough interest for a specific trip. There were 15 of them!"

Lateness : Horror stories abound. Friend B told me that the coaches are often late and do not leave enough time before kick-off. He cites Mansfield last season (the bus left Wrexham 30 minutes late), Millwall last year (the coach arrived at the Den at 3pm!) and Wigan this season (a late start and a terrible, terrible motorway journey by all accounts). Friend A referred me to the Huddersfield game in October. Two coaches were booked to leave at noon but one didn't arrive until 1.10pm!

The free trip scheme: This was Cindy Toth's brainchild. In simple terms, go on several away day trips and get one extra free as an incentive to remain loyal to the club and the team. Friend C tells me that this system did not work effectively and on some occasions, too many fans cashing in on their free trip together made coach trips uneconomical for the club.

Booked tickets being re-sold: Friend A tells me that on several occasions (Port Vale, W igan and Oldham last season), he and his mate reserved coach tickets in advance, only to be told on the day of the match that there was, in fact, no place for them on the bus. On one occasion, this meant WFC giving petrol money to a car-load of fans denied their coach place; on another, a supporter only got his reserved place back because another did not turn up.

The upshot of all of this is that supporters are voting with their feet. New independent travel services have evolved in Wrexham and Mold - to add to the awayday schemes run by Reds supporters groups up and down the country.

It goes without saying that a football club looking down at relegation to Division Three, and thousands of pounds in debt, needs every single fan it can muster.

If WFC cannot organise such a basic thing as a decent travel service for fans, what hope is there on other, bigger matters?

Pete Davies is editor of Red Passion, the Wrexham fanzine.


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