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!

A football match is taking place in the floodlight stadium at Wrexham AFC.

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!

Christine is wearing a woolly hat in shades of green, blue and pink. She is sitting on an orange plastic chair in a football ground. There are other seats folded up behind her as their occupants have left.

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!

 

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9 Responses

  1. Liz says:

    What a lovely spontaneous thing to do! And I’m incredibly impressed by the things Wrexham have introduced to be more inclusive. They may all be small gestures but put together, wow, what a difference!
    Love the hat as well 🥰

  2. Geeha says:

    In 50 years my husband has never managed to get me to a football match, though I volunteered to wash the kit in his playing days. Before and after small children it was a time for peaceful knitting. Great to read how Wrexham is so inclusive.

  3. Jayne Jarrett says:

    Thank you for this. I love all the things they are doing for inclusivity. The bigger clubs should take note. My dad started taking me to football at age 10 and then you were lucky to get a ladies loo. Now a pensioner I tried to get my club to get involved with the Alzheimer awareness as dad was a sufferer before he died. He loved to go until it was too much for him.

    • winwickmum says:

      Ah, I’m sorry your Dad had to stop going to the matches, but it sounds like it was a great thing for the two of you to do when he could! I think that some of the things that are done at Wrexham would be hard to replicate in the huge stadiums – it would be really difficult for someone with noise issues to go to a 70,000 seater match, for example – but I really like that they are making it easier for people who are more comfortable in smaller crowds to be there xx

  4. Lindsay says:

    😄 Well done Wrexham! How lovely to hear that they’re so inclusive!
    I absolutely love your hat Christine, my solitary attempt at knitting with three colours is a untidy disaster and stuffed in the back of the wardrobe until I can face frogging it and knitting something else!
    Thankfully for me this house is a football-free zone, my son was more interested in cricket, cycling and swimming though he , his sister and my husband would watch rugby finals. I much preferred equestrian events, especially dressage.
    I do love reading your blogs, I just wish I was a tiny bit as focussed on finishing WIPs!

  5. Though I’m not a lover of football, I admire you for getting involved in his world too. I’ve done my share many years ago, in Marshalling for my husband’s hobby of rally driving. Planning road treasure hunts as part of the rally club. It’s fun if you put your mind to it. I guess we drag them into yarn shops etc, it’s only fair 😉

  6. Denise says:

    What a fabulous example this club has set: I might have to recommend a few people I know who are involved in clubs (Aussie Rules, not “football”) read this post!
    As a Special Ed teacher since the early 1990s, it really makes my heart sing to read of such a supportive organisation.

    • winwickmum says:

      It’s brilliant, isn’t it? My eldest daughter worked for a mental health charity in Wrexham for a while and it was she who told me about it, so I checked the website and was amazed to see how much they do. It felt like something to be shouted about because if more clubs of any kind were able to do this, it would mean that people could either start to be or stay involved for much longer 🙂 xx

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