Match Of The Week – Wrexham vs Stevenage Borough

It is, perhaps, no great surprise that the two most funereal evictions from the Football League since the introduction of automatic promotion and relegation between Division Four and the Conference in 1987 both involved Welsh clubs. In the case of Newport County in 1988, it was like witnessing the last day at work of a terminally ill employee. They were the most impoverished club in the Football League at a time of widespread financial crisis, and were wound up in February 1989, without even completing their first season in non-league football. The new club were founded that summer and, some nineteen years later, still find themselves two division below the trapdoor that they fell through two decades ago. The same fate befell Wrexham this summer, meaning that the number of Welsh teams in the Football League is now half what is was prior to Newport’s demotion. It is one of the ironies of Welsh football that the senior Welsh clubs, that for all their rebranding themselves in something approaching Welsh nationalist colours – Sam Hammam tried to market Cardiff City as “the club for all Wales” and Wrexham changed their nickname from “The Robins” to “The Red Dragons” – they are utterly dependent on the English league system. Ask an average Cardiff City supporter what their biggest fear for the future is, and they would be likely to say...

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