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WHY WELSH FOOTBALL IS STILL FLYING EVEN WITHOUT THE WORLD CUP

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During the many lean years following Wales I would console myself in the warm embrace of club football, Wrexham AFC to be precise. 

The frequency of games would of course provide regular and fruitful entertainment and often fulfil your every sordid football whim.

However, everything comes full circle. 

After featuring in the playoffs for three seasons on the bounce Wrexham went backwards and drifted aimlessly.

We never recovered from the season we accumulated 98 points, only to be pipped to the title by a Jamie Vardy-inspired Fleetwood Town.

We never recovered from the crushing devastation of defeat to Newport County in the play-off final. More about the Amber Army shortly.

Whilst my beloved club treaded water in the non-league abyss my country made those aforementioned lean years all worth it by finally producing a golden generation which delivered.

Gareth Bale, Aaron Ramsey, Joe Allen, Ashley Williams et al. France. Euro 2016. The stories are endless and enduring.

Super Hal sending Fellaini and his pals for Belgian waffles certainly helped me forget the fact Wrexham were set for an eighth season out of the Football League when the France adventure was over.

Now it is Wales back in transition whilst my club provides me with unbridled sporting joy. Well, most of the time anyway.

A disappointing World Cup qualification campaign was compounded by Chris Coleman walking. Next season he could be delivering his team talk in Doncaster instead of Denmark.

Mr Marmite has replaced him at the helm and there are already some ripples of discontent amongst fans.

No place for Osian Roberts? A mooted return to the Principality Stadium? Dyna ddigon Ryan. Next you will be banning player’s WAGS from attending games. But then again…maybe not…

Ah Wales. You’ve wounded me.

But alas, it’s not all doom and gloom — if you can stretch to calling it that — for Welsh football right now.

Those feeling a bit disenchanted by what has been going on in the Vanguard Way corridors of power of late can again seek solace and satisfaction at club level.

Over the past weekend Welsh Football has been thrust into the spotlight thanks to titanic tussles with Cockneys, Scousers and Mancs.

Newport County recorded its largest home crowd for 35 years — 9,836 — at the bearpit that is Rodney Parade on Saturday when Spurs turned up for what should have been a routine FA Cup win.

Mike Flynn’s men had other ideas, however, taking a shock lead before they were pegged back by England’s only bona fide world-class star. A lucrative return to Wembley awaits. Newport are also chasing promotion from League Two after their perilous dalliance with relegation last season.

The second Welsh sell-out was at the Racecourse Ground where 8,471 punters crammed into the three stands as Wrexham made it 15 home games unbeaten in a pulsating 2-2 derby encounter with Tranmere Rovers.

It was the biggest National League gate of the season so far as the Reds offered a tantalising glimpse of the club’s potential when matters start to go well both on and off the pitch. We are firmly in the title race, so watch this space.

At the CCS on Sunday 32,339 supporters were treated to two peachy Manchester City goals as Pep Guardiola’s almost flawless ensemble of absolute ballers made Cardiff City look like they were being managed by Russell Slade again.

It was the Bluebird’s biggest home crowd for 41 years. They could be witnessing Premier League football again next season if Agent Warnock completes his mission successfully.

In the FAW Cup a none-too-shabby gate of 1,489 watched TNS triumph 3-1 at Caernarfon Town. It was bigger than two National League attendances and just 21 people shy of the number who turned up to watch the division’s leaders Macclesfield Town stumble to a 1-1 with doomed Torquay United.

Elsewhere, 1,573 Swans fans contributed to the almost 10,000 capacity crowd packed into the County Ground as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Notts County.

The Magpies star man was none other than Swansea-born defender and former Wales international Rob Duffy.

While many are already planning trips to Denmark and Ireland in the Nations League (we’re still trying to work out how it works), while others counting down the days to the draw for the 2020 European Championships, Welsh club football is flying right now.

Tim Edwards is a passionate Wales fan, hopeless Wrexham fan and editor of the Wrexham fanzine Fearless in Devotion. You can find him on Twitter here.

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