Fans United Will Never Be Defeated

AA Wrexham 3

Ken Richardson’s fire

Stoked the Doncaster ire

It only took a spark

To ignite his moment in the dark

 

They can’t understand

In their money-grabbing hands

When they try to steal our game

They are all the fuckin same

We will not be tamed and seated

Fans united together

Will never be defeated

 

Bill Archer made a killing

From his crooked Goldstone shilling

But the battling Seagulls now fly

Under a blue and white sky

 

They can’t understand

In their money-grabbing hands

When they try to steal our game

They are all the fuckin same

We will not be tamed and seated

Fans united together

Will never be defeated

 

Alex Hamilton’s wrecking ball

Swung the Racecourse call

As the evil ball came down

Wrexham’s fans saved their ground

 

They can’t understand

In their money-grabbing hands

When they try to steal our game

They are all the fuckin same

We will not be tamed and seated

Fans united together

Will never be defeated

 

Roland Duchatelet’s sleight of hand

Unites the Valley stand

The fans now deal their own CARD

As they clear him from their yard

 

They can’t understand

In their money-grabbing hands

When they try to steal our game

They are all the fuckin same

We will not be tamed and seated

Fans united together

Will never be defeated

 

Karl Oyston sues football fans for fun

But his regime is now undone

Under the famous Blackpool lights

Here come the Tangerine Knights

 

They can’t understand

In their money-grabbing hands

When they try to steal our game

They are all the fuckin same

We will not be tamed and seated

Fans united together

Will never be defeated

 

Fans United will never be defeated

AA Wrexham 3

ON 8 February, 1997, fans of Arsenal, Liverpool, Spurs, Chelsea, Charlton Athletic, Preston North End, Crystal Palace, and countless other English football clubs, mingled with Real Madrid, Eintracht Frankfurt and Red Star Belgrade supporters – all in their team colours – on the crumbling terraces of the Goldstone Ground.

They had travelled from across the UK, and beyond, to watch visitors Hartlepool United take on Brighton and Hove Albion, then rooted firmly at the very bottom of the Football League.

But, more importantly, they were there to stand side-by-side with beleaguered Albion fans, as our club teetered on the very edge of extinction.

With supporters fighting a bitter war against the club’s despised owners, home games in the 1996/97 season had been played in front of ever-dwindling crowds, and in an increasingly desperate and hostile atmosphere.

But this was different.

Despite the cold and damp of a foggy afternoon, this felt like a carnival.

The Albion players rose to the occasion, thrashing Hartlepool 5–0.

“We’d like to thank you for coming,” sang the Albion faithful to the many guests.

The story of the Brighton and Hove Albion’s fight against their rogue owners has been well documented previously, both by myself and others.

But the Fan’s United Day, was the sole inspiration of one person, a 15 year-old Plymouth Argyle fan, Richard Vaughan.

His simple message on a fledgling Albion message board, was the trigger:

“It makes me sick what is happening to your club, and it’s an insult to your fans. I’m a Plymouth fan and I think that one week when we’re away, I’m going to come up and support your protest. I think it would be a good idea if loads of fans from different clubs turned up at Brighton (with their shirts on) and joined in. It would show that we’re all behind you 100%”

Anyway, that was then, and this is now… well not quite!

This is a transcript of an interview I did with Richard Vaughan for BBC Radio Five Live’s Victoria Derbyshire Show, back in April 2005.

The transcript has remained buried on an old external hard drive, and the 20th anniversary of that Fans United Day, reminded me where I had left it.

This is the first time it has ever been published.

Apologies to Richard – who is now a married father of three – for the 12 year delay!

What are your memories of watching your first ever football match?

Compared to most other people I was quite a late starter getting into the beautiful game. It was Christmas time 1993, I was 12 years-old and the match was Argyle v Fulham at Home Park.

My dad took me, and my cousin came along who was down visiting from north Wales. Walking into the stadium for the first time I was really taken in by the whole occasion and was completely hooked.

What have been the highs and lows of following Plymouth Argyle?

There’s been a lot of highs and lows following Argyle over the last eleven and a half years, but never a dull moment. The first season in 93/94 we played some excellent football and really should have been promoted. It all came down to the last day of the season but unfortunately results didn’t go our way and we missed out on automatic promotion by just three points.

We then suffered the fate of so many other teams that have finished third, losing in the play-offs to a Burnley side who were a staggering 12 points behind us! I remember feeling completely cheated and thinking this complete miscarriage of justice shouldn’t be allowed to happen, it was the first time I cried at football!

The biggest highs of following Argyle would obviously have to be the three promotion seasons.

The first in 95/96 we were promoted via the Third Division Play-Offs. The semi-final second leg against Colchester at Home Park is still the best game I’ve ever been to. We were trailing one nil from the first leg so the pressure was really on. We scored the decisive goal with just five minutes to go which prevented the game from going into extra time and for the first time in their history sent Argyle to Wembley.

The whole place erupted at the end with everyone running on the pitch to celebrate with the players, I’ve still never seen a better atmosphere at Home Park. We took around 36,000 fans to the final at Wembley to see the Greens beat Darlington one nil, a very proud day.

The Paul Sturrock era at Home Park has to be the biggest high the club was ever been through. When he took over in 2000 we had fallen to our lowest league position in the clubs history. The crowds were at an all time low and were heading for the Conference.

Paul worked miracles without spending hardly any money at all he created two championship winning squads over just three and a half years! The first Third Division winning season would have to be my favourite out of the two as it was so unexpected, we actually won something!

At 15 years-old, how did you become aware of the situation at Brighton and Hove Albion?

I remember listening to Radio Five Live one afternoon back in 1996 and hearing about the York game when people ran on the pitch and broke the goal posts. I then started following the club’s fortunes every week and started reading the fans views on the internet.

Where did the idea for Fans United come from?

One evening I was browsing through the Brighton fans’ website which I had been keeping up to date with on a regular basis since the York match.

The whole Archer situation had really come to a head and things really did seem bleak for the club.

There seemed no way out and I just couldn’t quite believe that a club like Albion with so much history and fantastic support could cease to exist. Browsing through the web site there was an overwhelming amount of anger, sadness and support expressed from supporters of clubs all over the world.

It seemed to have touched every real fan in some way and something big really had to be done to make people stand up and notice how money a greed were killing this great club.

What sparked you to write the message?

I was so wound-up with everything that was going on that I stated on the message board that I was going to come along to an Albion match wearing my own colours to show my support for the cause and that others should join in too. As there was so many messages of support from other clubs it seemed the best way we could all show the football world that fans were united in their support for the Albion.    

What are your memories of the Fans United Day?

I was really overwhelmed with the immense support of unity shown on the original day, it was action packed from start to finish. We met up mid-morning with a few of the main organisers on the green opposite the Goldstone Ground.

Crowds were already starting to form everywhere, including people from all walks of the media. AFC Bournemouth were themselves in financial trouble at the time and there was also a group of fans from the club doing a collection of their own.

I thought this was really good as it showed what Fans United was all about, truly a day for all fans of football. It was amazing seeing so many teams colours, I think all of the 92 league clubs were easily represented, quite a few from Europe and a fair few from non-league as well.

The turnstile queues around the ground were huge, it was quite a wait to get into the ground. One of the funniest moments I remember was an Albion fan opening one of the emergency gates in the ground and shouting to people in the queue “Quick come in this way, Archer won’t get any more money of us then!”

A good few hundred fans managed to get in for free, nobody cared as this was all part of what the day stood for. The atmosphere behind the goal was immense before kick-off and didn’t let up at all throughout the game. It was really heart-warming to see so many groups of fans all mixing together and all in good nature, I think I even had a chat with an Exeter fan!

Did you follow Brighton and Hove Albion’s fortunes closely in the immediate months and years following February 1997?

Since Fans United I have always made a point of checking the results to see how Albion are getting on every week. I was really nervous listening to the Brighton v Hereford game on the final day of the Fans United season, I was going through the motions as if it was my own team playing!

The worst Albion moment was seeing you guys get promoted at Home Park it was horrible! Although we made up for it by winning the league the following season so I’ll let you have that one. I’ve also been keeping up to date with the ground situation at Albion. It’s an utter disgrace they still haven’t been given the go head to build a new stadium. The Withdean is no way near good enough for a club like Brighton. They could easily be attracting crowds in the region of 15 to 20 thousand and the current capacity is tiny.

I was annoyed with one of the Talk Sport presenters the other morning as he was trying to put Albion down for getting such low home gates, typical I suppose of the ignorant Premiership worshipers!

Have you followed/been aware of the financial crises facing many other football clubs during the past few years? For example: Bradford City, Notts County, Exeter City, Wrexham and Cambridge United.

It’s really sad there seems to always be a club in the news these days that’s in financial trouble. Something drastic really needs to be done soon or we’ll be facing a situation where the country only has two or three professional leagues.

There’s so much money being thrown around by the bigger clubs it seems crazy, Wayne Rooney’s wages over two weeks would probably be enough money to save one of the struggling clubs. One the best ideas I heard once would be to bring in a transfer tax in the Premiership whereby one or two percent of every transfer fee is kept by the FA and put into a kitty. This money could then be distributed around the lower leagues to keep the smaller clubs going.

What are your views on the financial structuring of professional football in this country?

The television money from Sky was improved recently but I still don’t think we all get a fair share of it. If Sky chose to show so many games in one league per season then I think each club should get their fair share of appearances.

It’s also quite worrying how expensive it is to get into a grounds these days. If prices continue to spiral our of control the way they are now the normal man on the street won’t be able to afford to go anymore which is a tragedy. This is one of the reasons the atmospheres in Premiership grounds with the exception of the newly promoted clubs seem to be non-existent as the real fans just can’t afford to go.

What are your views on the whole Fans United movement and how it has developed?

I have mixed feelings that Fans United is still going strong today. One side of me is very proud that fans are still coming together to try and fix the wrongs of the beautiful game, which is great to see. I still have to pinch myself sometimes that all this came about from one of my teenage rants one night over the internet!

The other side of me is quite sad that we still have to go to these lengths to save the clubs that generations have supported all their lives. It’s now a regular thing in the news to read about a club going into financial crisis. It’s now just a case of which one next. In an ideal world there would be no more need for Fans United but unfortunately with the way things are going this isn’t the case.

Do fans have the power to make real changes in the game?

Yes definitely, without the fans football is nothing. We’re the reason football is here today and the people making money out of it should try and remember that sometimes.

How does it feel eight years later?

It still feels very surreal that all of this came about from one night’s ranting over the internet. As I said before I have mixed feeling that it’s still going but it makes me very proud that fan power is alive and well.

  • Thank you, Richard. Thanks too, to Warren Christmas for the introductory few paragraphs, taken from his wonderful blog: The inside story of Fans United – How Danny Baker helped to save Brighton & Hove Albion FC

 

Fans United Will Never Be Defeated

Ken Richardson’s fire

Stoked the Doncaster ire

It only took a spark

To ignite his moment in the dark

 

They can’t understand

In their money-grabbing hands

When they try to steal our game

They are all the bloody same

We will not be tamed and seated

Fans united together

Will never be defeated

 

Bill Archer made a killing

From his crooked Goldstone shilling

But the soaring Seagulls now fly

Under a blue and white sky

 

They can’t understand

In their money-grabbing hands

When they try to steal our game

They are all the bloody same

We will not be tamed and seated

Fans united together

Will never be defeated

 

Alex Hamilton’s wrecking ball

Swung the Racecourse call

As the evil ball came down

Wrexham’s fans saved their ground

 

They can’t understand

In their money-grabbing hands

When they try to steal our game

They are all the bloody same

We will not be tamed and seated

Fans united together

Will never be defeated

 

Roland Duchatelet’s sleight of hand

Unites the Valley stand

The fans now deal their own CARD

As they clear him from their yard

 

They can’t understand

In their money-grabbing hands

When they try to steal our game

They are all the bloody same

We will not be tamed and seated

Fans united together

Will never be defeated

 

Karl Oyston sues football fans for fun

But his regime is now undone

Under the famous Blackpool lights

Here come the Tangerine Knights

 

They can’t understand

In their money-grabbing hands

When they try to steal our game

They are all the bloody same

We will not be tamed and seated

Fans united together

Will never be defeated

 

Stopping the Wrecking Ball at Wrexham

AA Wrexham 3

Since my first game in 1967, I have witnessed many highs and lows following my beloved Brighton and Hove Albion.

And, like most clubs we have had our share of heroes and villains.

Kit Napier was the first of many heroes – far too many to name.

But the true villains in our club number just three: former club owners Bill Archer and Greg Stanley along with chief executive David Bellotti.

And as most readers will know, the 1996/97 season became one of football’s great displays of non-violent direct action, as we staged a desperate fight against these three men, who were stealing our club from under our noses.

That season included the first Fans United Day, when on 8 February 1997, supporters of clubs across the UK and Europe shared the Goldstone terraces in solidarity with the Albion fans.

We eventually succeeded in our battle to save our club. But the victory came too late to save the Goldstone Ground.

Over the ensuing years the story of asset stripping football club owners was replicated far too many times for comfort.

By the time I became involved in a similar battle, seven years had passed.

I was living 300 miles away on Tyneside and by a quirk of fate was unexpectedly thrust the mantle of Fans United organiser for Wrexham FC.

The supporters were battling their club owner Alex Hamilton, who had threatened to bulldoze their ground for a housing development. But they were facing an uphill battle for anyone outside North Wales to recognize their plight.

I guess with 20 years of PR and newspaper experience and family connections to North Wales, I had found a strange niche.

Weeks of phone calls, radio and TV interviews and bombarding other football clubs’ message boards (this was before the days of Facebook and Twitter), and another Fans United Day arrived.

Saturday 20 November 2004, was a football day I will never forget.

More than 1,000 supporters of other clubs descended on Wrexham’s Racecourse Ground that afternoon for a routine third tier match against Bristol City.

The weather was wintry and cold, but that did not dampen the shared spirit.

As part of a small group of Brighton fans I entered the famous old ground and made my way to seats on the left side of the home stand.

Wrexham’s average home gate had been 4,500 and even at 2.50pm it was clear that there were many more than the average.

Everywhere we looked fans were filling the seats – even the terraces at Wrexham’s Kop seemed full.

Our small group was soon augmented by more friends. We stood 16 strong and knew other Brighton supporters were elsewhere in the ground. Around us we met fans from Sunderland, Cardiff City and Swansea, Stoke City, Stockport County, Northampton, Everton, Wolves, Telford, Bury, Donny Rovers and even Chester City (Wrexham’s bitter rivals from 10 miles up the road)

Suddenly a chorus of “We love you Brighton” echoed from our left. A group of Wrexham fans were looking in our direction, singing and smiling broadly.

A chill ran down my spine, I looked around as thousands of people rose to their feet and applauded. More choruses of “We love you Brighton” rang from all sides of the ground.

I glanced at my good friend Ian. “Glad you’re here?” I asked.

“Too right, I wouldn’t have missed this for anything” he replied.

The ground was full as the first half passed in repeated choruses of singing and chanting.

Then a few minutes before half-time a senior steward told us: “You can carry your banner around the pitch at half-time.”

Dazed by the offer, a handful of us followed the steward down the steps as people stood and began applauding. This was unreal.

Around the pitch side we continued. The game was still in progress, but as we walked, each section of the ground rose to their feet and cheered and clapped – it was as if what was happening on the pitch was inconsequential.

Our collective hands were freezing but the adrenalin was rushing as we began a procession along the touchline – our Save the Racecourse banner held aloft to the crowd. Spontaneous “We love you Brighton” echoed again in our ears. Fans leant over the hoardings to shake our hands.

As we reached the Kop there was gathered on the pitch about 200 Wrexham fans holding their own Save the Racecourse banner. We walked past, spontaneously shook hands, embraced and shared smiles that will last many lifetimes.

I moved across to Ian and said: “This surpasses anything I have ever been to in football… only the last game at the Goldstone comes close”.

Ian smiled broadly. “It is simply amazing” he replied.

We made our way back to our seats, shaking more hands along the way. But as we approached the entrance at the end of the main stand a hefty and serious looking man in a red Wales shirt stood in our way. He looked menacing. I looked at him closely and there were tears in his eyes.

“I just want to say thank you,” he said.

He thrust his giant hand into mine and shook firmly, and proceeded to ensure he shook all our hands.

On the way back to the seats we stopped to ask a steward about the attendance. She replied: “At least 10,000!”

Wrexham lost the game 3-1, but that did not seem to matter to anyone.

Sometimes the bigger picture is more important.

Wrexham eventually won their battle, but not before the club was placed into administration and eventually relegated from the football league.

Twelve years later Wrexham FC are still languishing in non-league football, but the club is now owned by the fans as a community venture and never again will they be victim to a rogue or greedy asset stripper.

 

Words for Friends #10

This is part of a new series of blogs entitled Words for Friends, in which I will try to acknowledge some people in my life for whom words of thanks are not nearly enough.

These living epitaphs to my true and lovely friends are published in a random order as fancy takes me.

#10 Ian

My friendship with Ian comes home on so many levels.

We were both brought up in the same part of Sussex – albeit three years apart in age – and the same pubs, gigs, record stores and venues were our playground as older teenagers. We are also both lifelong obsessive fans of Brighton and Hove Albion. Our first Albion games were exactly one year apart!

Yet our shared passion did not bring us together until an Albion away game with Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough, in March 2004! Then through football, Fans United for Wrexham, music and conversation our friendship grew.

But, it was not until I suffered my breakdown in 2013, that I discovered the true measure of Ian’s friendship and concern. As two family men, who both love our children dearly, we have shared many heart wrenching moments and confessions – the sort that blokes don’t normally chat about in a pub!

And those confessions and conversations continue now.

As the last full measure, I know Ian is always there as a true friend, an open ear, a confidante and a great mate… thank you. UTA!

 

Another town, another club, another battle

TOMORROW my wife Gill and I will rise at the crack of dawn to undertake a 110 mile drive up the M6 to the northern seaside resort of Blackpool.

We are hoping the weather will be fine.

But we are not going to take in the sea air, marvel at Blackpool’s fine tower, gorge ourselves on candy floss and fish and chips, or even take a donkey ride on the sands… we are going to take part in a protest.

The protest is not anything which might stir the national conscience. It is not about the atrocities in Gaza, it is not about a campaign to end Trident nuclear missiles, it is not even about fox hunting – all issues dear to my heart – it is about helping to save a football club.

And it is not even a club I support.

But it is a campaign which should concern anyone concerned about communities, justice and individual greed.

It’s a funny old game football, I still can’t work out what it is about 22 men chasing a ball around a patch of grass which digs so deep at our inner psyche.

At its worst football is responsible for mob violence, inane racist monkey chants and even senseless murder.

At its best it creates days of joy for millions and a bond which lasts a lifetime.

For me it is a never-ending passion.

I was raised on the south coast of England and from an early age began supporting my home town football club, Brighton and Hove Albion.

The first game I attended at the club’s Goldstone Ground was in 1967. I was just 11 years-old and left awestruck as I watched these men in blue and white shirts beat Bury 1-0.

I was hooked and remained a Brighton fan for life.

I still revere my hero of those days, a forward named Kit Napier (now aged 71) who showed more skill with a football than I have ever achieved with a pen or typewriter.

And over the ensuing years I have witnessed many highs and lows of following my beloved football club.

And, like most football clubs Brighton and Hove Albion has had its share of heroes and villains.

Kit Napier was the first of many heroes – too many to name. But the true villains in our club number just three: former club owners Bill Archer and Greg Stanley along with chief executive David Bellotti.

In the mid 1990s it became slowly clear to us fans that this trio planned to sell off our beloved Goldstone Ground to property developers – who wanted to place a retail park on the site – and move the club to a shiny new stadium.

We initially welcomed the idea as we were assured nothing would be done until a suitable new home was found.

But in 1995, The Argus (the local daily newspaper) revealed that Bellotti, Archer and Stanley had agreed a deal with developers Chartwell Land, without any provisions for the future.

The true motives behind the deal became evident when it was then revealed that Archer had altered the club’s constitution to allow directors to profit from the sale of the ground.

Fans were now faced with the harsh reality that trio’s interest in the Albion’s future went little further than topping up their own bank balances, and that they had washed their hands with the club’s future.

The 1996/97 season became one of football’s great displays of non-violent direct action, as we staged a desperate rebellion against the club’s management.

Fans organised protests in the town centre, pitch invasions and walk-outs at the Goldstone Ground and even lobbied outside Archer’s business headquarters in Crewe – some 230 miles away.

Bellotti – who still attended matches – was overwhelmed with abuse and forced to flee the stadium on several occasions.

That season also included the first Fans United Day, when on 8th February 1997, supporters of clubs across the UK and Europe – many wearing their own club colours – shared the Goldstone terraces in solidarity with the Albion fans.

Throughout the season visiting fans had often shown support of the Albion’s plight with banners and placards, but not to this extent. There are few things in football more beautiful than fans putting aside rivalries and uniting for the good of the sport.

And it was the kick-start us Brighton fans needed, for from that day onwards we all knew we were not alone.

The Albion fans fought hard and eventually succeeded in wrestling the club away from Archer, Stanley and Bellotti. Sadly the victory had all come too late to save the Goldstone Ground and a new battle commenced to find a new home.

But that is another tale for another day.

Over the ensuing years the story of asset stripping football club owners was replicated far too many times for comfort.

By the time I again became involved in a similar battle, seven years had passed.

I was living on Tyneside in North East England and by a quirk of fate was thrust the mantle of Fans United organiser for Wrexham FC. “We can use your experience,” appealed one Wrexham friend.

The supporters were battling their club owner Alex Hamilton, who had threatened to bulldoze their ground for a housing development. But they were facing an uphill battle for anyone outside North Wales to recognize their plight.

I guess with 20 years of PR and newspaper experience I had found my niche.

So after weeks of phone calls, radio and TV interviews and bombarding other football clubs’ message boards (this was before the days of Facebook and Twitter), another Fans United Day arrived.

Saturday 20th November 2004, was a football day I will never forget.

More than 1,000 supporters of other football clubs descended on Wrexham’s Racecourse Ground that afternoon for a routine third tier match against Bristol City.

The weather was wintry and cold, but that did not dampen the spirit of those who witnessed that day.

As part of a small group of Brighton fans I entered the ground and made my way to some seats half way up the left side of the main home stand and discussed how we could best display our own Fans United banner.

Wrexham’s average home gate had been 4,500 and even at 2.50pm it was clear that there were many more than the average.

Everywhere we looked fans were filling the seats – even the famed terraces at Wrexham’s Kop seemed full. And colours abounded.

Our small group was now augmented by more friends – we stood 16 strong, and knew other Brighton supporters were elsewhere in the ground. But that was unimportant because we met fans from Sunderland, Cardiff City and Swansea, Stoke City, Stockport County, Everton, Wolves, Telford, Bury, Donny Rovers and even Chester City (Wrexham’s bitter rivals from 10 miles up the road)

Back in our seats we began to blow up our blue balloons when a chorus of “We love you Brighton” echoed from our left. A group of a couple of hundred Wrexham fans were looking in our direction, singing and smiling broadly.

A chill ran down my spine, I looked around as thousands of people rose to their feet and applauded. More choruses of “We love you Brighton” echoed from all sides of the ground.

This really was Fans United.

More razzmatazz followed and we all breathed a sigh of relief when the game eventually began.

I glanced at my good friend Ian. “Glad you’re here?” I asked. “Too right, I wouldn’t have missed this for anything” he replied.

All around us the ground was full.

The half passed in a dash of singing and back-slapping. And a few minutes before half-time a senior steward told us: “You can carry your banner around the pitch at half-time.”

Dazed by the offer, a handful of us began to follow the steward down the steps, and as we followed people stood and began applauding. The hairs on our necks stood on end … this was truly unreal.

Around the pitch side we continued. The game was still in progress, but as we walked, each section of the ground rose and cheered and clapped – it was as if what was happening on the pitch was inconsequential.

Our collective hands were freezing but the adrenalin was rushing as we began a procession along the touchline – banner held aloft to the crowd. As we walked thousands cheered and applauded. Spontaneous “We love you Brighton” echoed in our ears. Fans leant over the hoardings to shake our hands.

As we reached the Kop end, there was gathered on the pitch about 100 Wrexham fans holding their own vast Save the Racecourse banner. As we walked past them we spontaneously shook hands, adults embraced and we shared smiles that will last many lifetimes.

I walked over to Ian and said: “For fans this surpasses anything I have ever been to in football… only the last game at the Goldstone comes close”.

Ian smiled broadly and agreed. “It is simply amazing” he replied.

We made our way back to our seats, shaking hands along the way. But as we approached the entrance at the end of the main stand a hefty “bovver boy” looking man in Wrexham red stood in our way. He looked menacing. But as I looked at him there were tears in his eyes.

“I just want to say thank you,” he said.

He thrust his giant hand into mine and shook firmly … and proceeded to ensure he shook all our hands.

On the way back to the seats we stopped to ask stewards at the crowd numbers. They all said “at least 10,000”. It was amazing!

Wrexham had lost the game 3-1, but that did not seem to matter to anyone. Sometimes the bigger picture is more important.

The day was awesome and I just wish the tens of thousands who pay their £1,500 plus a year for their comfy seats at Man United, Chelsea or Arsenal could all have been at the Racecourse that day and feel for themselves the real heart of football.

Like us, Wrexham eventually won their battle against their asset striping owner, but not before the club was placed into administration and eventually relegated from the football league.

Ten years later Wrexham FC are still languishing in non-league football, but the club is now officially owned by the fans as a community venture – the fans are the shareholders and never again will they be victim to a rogue or greedy asset stripping owner.

And so at last we come to the importance of our journey to Blackpool, for yet another Fans United Day.

Blackpool, a football club that has boasted healthy annual profits since its relegation from the Premier League in 2011, is now being relegated again to the third tier of English football after escalating battles on and off the pitch.

Lee Clark’s side still need another point from their last game tomorrow against Huddersfield Town to reach 26, the lowest tally in second-tier history when there have been 24 teams competing. Given they have not won since January, it is not out of the question they will set a record.

Supporters’ anger, however, is not directed at Clark. Protests instead have been targeted at Karl Oyston, the Blackpool chairman, and his father Owen, the club’s majority owner. It is they who have presided over a remarkable decline, one with no end in sight.

For the time being, there is little to console Blackpool fans who have this season seen more than 50 players wear the tangerine shirt. They started the season with only eight contracted players and no goalkeepers.

But Blackpool’s most recent accounts show the club made an operating profit of £9.4million for the year 2013-14, up from £5.9million the previous financial year. The total loans to the club’s parent company, Segesta Limited, of which both Oystons are directors, increased from £23.7 million to £27.7 million.

Yet, Blackpool’s healthy financial position is at odds with their performance on the pitch – a pitch that has not been relaid since the summer of 2013 and would shame even the poorest of non-league grounds.

But nothing has caused a stir quite like the revelation three years ago that Blackpool paid a salary of £11 million to a company owned by Owen Oyston.

In an interview in 2012, Karl Oyston insisted his father would not use the money for personal use, saying: “The money has been paid to my father’s company, and if the club needs it for the next stage of development, which is to build a new training ground, I am sure my father will lend it to the club interest-free, as he always has over 25 years of ownership.”

Blackpool have needed a new training ground for some time but are still based at Squires Gate, a location once described as a “hell-hole” by former manager Ian Holloway and one that remains in a poor state.

There have been other off-field incidents that have marred this season and things must be bad when the payday lender Wonga decides not to renew a sponsorship deal.

Karl Oyston was charged by the Football Association with misconduct in March following a text message exchange with a supporter during which he called the fan a “massive retard”. Among the colourful correspondence – in which Oyston also received abuse – was a message to Stephen Smith that read: “enjoy the rest of your special needs day out”.

The Oystons are also in the process of suing the Blackpool web forum Back Henry Street for libel, seeking £150,000-worth of damages for six allegedly defamatory comments made on the site in 2014.

Now two groups of Blackpool fans have come together to stage their own Fans United protest against the Oystons and the club’s impending relegation.

Tomorrow Blackpool Supporters Trust and Tangerine Knights are hoping that fans from clubs all around the country will show support and solidarity.

“This is an opportunity not just for all Blackpool fans but football fans from all over the UK to come together and deliver our collective verdict on the Oystons’ custodianship of our football club,” they say in a joint statement.

“When fans expressed concern at the beginning of the season, Karl Oyston famously said, “Judge me at the end of the season.”

“Now it is Judgement Day and it is time to let the Oystons and the nation know that we have reached a unanimous verdict. We invite you to join us as Fans United.”

And join them we will… another town, another battle, but Fans United will never be defeated.