The Racecourse Ground

Ground No. 47
Visited - Saturday 16th October 2004
Result - Wrexham 1-1 Walsall
Competition - Coca Cola League 1
Attendance - 3803

Just about every week Wolves aren’t playing I always look down the fixture list to see what games are going on, and consider going to one, and this weekend was no different. Usually through a lack of will on the day, or just finances I never end up going to neutral games, but today was different.

I'd been planning this trip for a few weeks, and was in a good mood after getting on the train towards Shrewsbury where I was due to change for a train onwards to Wrexham. I was expecting it to be a nice quite trip with little incident, but that was soon changed when there was a group of about 50 Wolves hooligans on the train making their way to Wrexham, it seems like they had plans for the day off as well! As quite often they got off at the stop before the town, presumably to avoid the police, this time at a place called Ruabon. That was the last sign of the Wolves contingent, although unfortunately not the last hooligan element that I'd get caught up in on the day.

I arrived into Wrexham at about 12:30 and walked straight to the ground to take pictures of the outside. After getting these I went to the ticket office to see if I could get a ticket stub, but they didn’t want to know, so walked round to the club shop to buy a programme and have a look round. Whilst in there I decided to ask the people there if there was a chance I could go into the ground whilst it was empty to take a few pictures. To my surprise they actually said yes! So I went with one of them through the tunnel area and out into the ground itself. I spent about 20 minutes getting pictures of all of the stands, and was generally quite impressed by the place. The Pryce Griffiths Stand, despite being no bigger than the other stands dominates the ground, and draws your attention over to it, and its probably one of the most interesting stands in the country, not having just one ‘banana’ shaped roof, but 3 banana shapes with the middle one being higher than the other two. It’s the newest stand at the ground, and its design would grace any stadium in the country, certainly if it was a bit bigger. On the opposite side of the pitch is the Sainsburys Stand which is two tiered and looks a little dated, but is of a good size. The away end is similar, two tiers and past its best. At the other end is the impressive looking Kop End, which is a large terrace, although even that looks a bit dated, but overall the grounds a good size, and seems a pleasant place to watch football, despite the age of 3 of the stands, the facilities are still good and it certainly will be a shame if Alex Hamilton does end up getting his way and lets it be developed.  

After getting the pics I walked back into town and spent an hour or so walking around, it seemed a nice enough place, and the people were friendly. After time was getting on I walked back to the ground and decided to go in the away end with the Walsall fans. Before the game got started, I got some more pictures of the ground from the upper tier, and then after a while, some pictures of the ground whilst full, or well, that would be pushing it as there was a very disappointing attendance of 3803, the second lowest of the season. Included in that total were 678 Walsall fans, which wasn’t too bad, about what I expected, but what I didn’t expect was the amount of noise they made, which was constant and loud throughout the game. The Wrexham fans reciprocated, but were drowned out by the visitors.

The game got started and the first half was quite entertaining, although neither side showed much skill, they were both attacking and putting the effort in, which was a nice change from watching Wolves! After having to make two substitutions within the first quarter of an hour through injuries, Wrexham took the lead on 18 minutes when a Darren Ferguson free kick was swung in from the wing for Dennis Lawrence to rise above everyone and nod the ball home. The rest of the first half was end-to-end action with both teams having chances to increase the score, but at the interval it was 1-0 to the home side. The second half was the same attacking football, but with Walsall looking the better team. Their pressure paid when Julian Bennett headed home at the far post after a cross from Mark Wright. They should have won it when a Simon Osbourne shot hit the underside of the crossbar, but in the scramble afterwards no one could get a shot in on goal, so it ended up finishing 1-1.

I left the ground and went back into town to try and find a pub before getting on the train, so after a swift drink and arriving back to the station I was waiting on the platform with a handful of other Walsall fans, when about 5 minutes before the train was due the police marched a large group of Walsall hooligans into the station. They were intent on causing trouble, and a scuffle developed on the platform, before the train finally came and left after the police had packed them all on. Unfortunately it only had two carriages and was packed already, so we all had to cram on, but I did find a seat. The train eventually left, and there was more trouble when they decided to start smashing it up, and sprayed a couple of fire extinguishers in the cabin, soaking everyone! They were also hassling a group of pro-fox hunters, not that that seemed to bother any of the other passengers. When we pulled into the next station the police were waiting and boarded the train to sort out the trouble, and after one man had made a complaint about getting wet from the extinguisher (no more so than anyone else) they stopped us for about half an hour whilst they sorted that incident out. A group of the police stayed onboard for the rest of the journey, which seemed to calm things down. After a quite ride we came into Shrewsbury where half of them decided to get off to wait for the Shrewsbury firm, but there was a handful of police who tried to stop them, so they ended up fighting with them on the platforms. That meant they kept the train there for 20 minutes whilst they sorted out the trouble. We went onwards again though through Shropshire and into the West Midlands where they were all due to get off and change at Wolverhampton. Unfortunately the police there were ready, and pulling in the platform was full of fluorescent yellow, with riot police lining the station ready for them, they also had the dogs out, which to me always seems fairly pointless. Anyway, we sat in Wolverhampton for 30 minutes with no explanation of what was going on, other than the Welsh police still on the train saying that the West Midlands police were deciding how to handle the situation. Everyone was getting quite annoyed by now, but there was an announcement saying everyone for Walsall to stay on until Birmingham, but people getting off here go to the front of the train, so up I got, and with a few others made my way through a packed carriage, only to get to the middle of the train (the back doors had been locked) to find a group of riot police were standing there and not letting anyone off, despite telling them that we needed to get off there. That made things worse, and when 5 minutes later the doors shut and the driver said we were going on to Birmingham the mood considerably worsened and the hooligans started to seriously smash up the train and charge at the riot police, fighting with them in the aisles. They ended up trying to smash a couple of windows, and generally just wrecked the train. We finally got to Birmingham though where we stood still for 10 minutes whilst yet more riot police positioned themselves ready on the platform. There was another announcement for people going to Wolverhampton to go to the front of the train, which this time they let us, only to be told to stay on board, as this train was going back there. So we then had to sit around whilst they got everyone off the train, one by one taking pictures, as well as names and addresses. That took ages, with the police not letting the train go until the platform was cleared, and it was another long wait whilst they marched them off to a Walsall bound train, before we finally went back towards Wolverhampton where the service finally terminated. In all it was a nightmare journey, one that should have taken about an hour and a half ended up taking 4 hours, it would have been quicker waiting for the next one at Wrexham which was scheduled for over an hour later.

Overall it had been a good day though, all but the journey back anyway. It had been an entertaining game, and a nice ground as well. It would be a great shame if football were to lose it, and hopefully one day I’ll get the chance to go back.

Welcome to Wrexham!

Rear of the Sainsbury's Stand

The Club Shop

Rear of the Robert Builders Stand

Rear of the Pryce Griffiths Stand

The Robert Builders Stand

The Pryce Griffiths Stand

The Sainsbury's Stand

The Kop

The Kop

The Pryce Griffiths Stand

The Kop

The Sainsbury's Stand



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