Accidental date night
It was Tuesday evening and I was watching Wrexham AFC play Barnet at Wrexham’s Racecourse ground. My husband bought tickets for the game by mistake – don’t ask – and we were bundled up in our coats and hats with steaming cups of tea in our hands, sitting on the very front row by the pitch, close enough to hear the players shouting to each other – and right in the firing line for balls that came out of play!
My husband loves football; our lives have revolved around the football season for as long as I have known him and as he’s been doing some work in Wrexham recently, he mentioned that he quite fancied going to watch the local team. I wouldn’t call myself a fanatical football supporter but I know one end of the pitch from the other, I generally know who a lot of the players are and I even know the offside rule so the idea of going to watch a match wasn’t something that filled me with dread, although we hadn’t planned to go last night! We were glad we did, though, as it was a great game and Wrexham won 6-0.
If you think you might have heard of Wrexham football club before, it may well be because quite recently the club was bought by Hollywood actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney and there has been a lot of press coverage about it. They’ve been able to bring a lot of investment to the club which has to be good news for both the club and the area – the match had a great community feel about it; there were lots of children there, fans of all ages and there was even a welcome cheer for the 38 fans who had travelled up from Barnet.
What I really liked was how inclusive the club is and welcoming to supporters of all abilities. There are baskets of sanitary items thoughtfully placed in the female toilets (I bet we’ve all been caught out at least once in our lives so I thought this was such a kind thing to do, especially as a football ground is one of the last places you’d want to be caught out!), there are audio loops and audio programmes, accessible toilets and disabled toilets, all of which you would expect, but they also offer blankets and rain ponchos for free to both home and away supporters during bad weather, they are dementia and Alzheimer-friendly, they offer autism-friendly sessions for children in school holidays, quiet walkabout sessions for those who might otherwise find the ground too overwhelming so that they can see it before they come to a match, an autism quiet-zone in the stadium, ear defenders and a quiet sensory hub in case it all gets too much during a match. All of this comes at a cost to the club, of course, but in terms of how it makes everyone feel welcome, the value is far more.
We were glad that the rain held off and I was even more glad that I had taken my hat. It may be April, but a football ground at 9pm at night is a cold place to be! I’m glad the team won as it was the first outing for my Variance Hat (no, I will not be attending every game from now on with my hat on just in case it was the hat that swung the win – if you’ve a football fan in your family, you will know all about lucky shirts, socks and maybe even underpants (thankfully we don’t go that far!) 🙂 ) and I managed to snap a quick selfie in the stand to prove it. It’s not the best photo because trying to photograph yourself in a hat in a football ground whilst everyone is trying to leave after the game is not ideal, but I was there and so was my hat!
I could have found umpteen things to do with my time last night instead of going to a football match, but I had the best time and I’m quite sure it won’t be the last time I’m cheering Wrexham on this season either.
Here’s to more accidental date nights – football or not!