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Wrexham Fans Scene

How can Racecourse gates be improved? It's an age-old question, but in the third division, it is still as topical as ever.

How can Racecourse gates be improved? It's an age-old question, but in the third division, it is still as topical as ever. The Reds have now played 10 home games in the league in 2002-3, and Saturday's match against Hull City was watched by a crowd of 4,412 - the highest of the season.

Before that, Racecourse gates had been particularly average: in ascending order - 2,968 (Exeter), 3,105 (Bournemouth), 3,293 (Boston), 3,312 (Lincoln), 3,495 (Leyton Orient), 3,555 (Swansea), 3,591 (Oxford), 3,941 (Bury) and 4,340 (Rochdale).

So far, the average home gate is 3,601, which leaves Wrexham hovering in 13th place in the third division 'attendance league table' - a rather undistinguished position, it has got to be said.

The rest of the table makes interesting reading. As one would expect, big-city clubs Hull and Bristol Rovers are out in front (with average home gates of 9,323 and 6,684 respectively). The Pirates are currently 22nd in the 'real' table - so respect to their marketing men!

Three teams regularly play in front of 5,000+ gates - Bournemouth (average 5,361), Oxford (5,207) and Carlisle (5,024) - and three in front of 4,000+ crowds - Hartlepool (4,835), Cambridge (4,374) and Leyton Orient (4,358).

With Wrexham in the middling 3,000+ category are Swansea (3,992), Rushden and Diamonds (3,930), Southend (3,859), York (3,732), Exeter (3,562), Lincoln (3,428), Darlington (3,318), Shrewsbury (3,218), Scunthorpe (3,127), Torquay (3,067) and Boston (3,037).

The clubs with the biggest attendance-related problems are Bury (2,970), Rochdale (2,840), Kidderminster (2,708) and Macclesfield (2,068).

It is interesting that three out of the four worst supported clubs are ex-Conference outfits (league football is clearly not that much of an added attraction) and that Carlisle, 21st in the table, can still pull in over 5,000 per game (particularly impressive given that, for geographical reasons, Brunton Park is never going to attract that many away fans).

Wrexham is a small town, with lots of big clubs within easy reach on a Saturday afternoon, so in a way, an average gate of 3,601 is nothing to be ashamed of, especially when the team hasn't yet hit top form at home this year.

Nonetheless, I am constantly underwhelmed by the marketing efforts of the WFC commercial department.

Messrs Guterman, Wingrove and Sadler are excellent individuals to have at the helm of a football club, but unless I have missed something, there seems to be little of a concerted, pro-active nature going on in terms of attendance-raising initiatives.

In a recent interview, commercial manager Bill Wingrove said: "We want to attract more people to games, but we don't want to make false promises. I have heard that the "kid for a quid" scheme has been tried, tested and has been successful in the past, and I have seen other clubs doing it regularly. You can be certain that we will again be trying this before Christmas."

This is all fair enough, and the 'kid-a-quid' scheme will be tried again at the Kidderminster fixture on 21 December. But Wrexham's average home gate last year was 3,794, and this year it's 3,601. Granted, the figure hasn't nose-dived after relegation, but neither has it improved, as one might expect in a promotion-chasing year.

The message to the marketing people at WFC is simple: keep at it!


David Holmes
Chief News Reporter
David Norbury
Mike Fuller
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