Hall of Shame 1- Could it be anyone else?

June 22, 2011 by  

The face is forever etched in the memory of Wrexham FC fans everywhere. He was known by many names by fans; amongst those which are printable are Herman, for his uncanny likeness to the star of The Munsters, and Hammy. He is without doubt the biggest villain encountered in Wrexham FC’s history and his actions, which nearly lead to the demise of our beloved club, will never be forgotten.

The Hamilton saga began back in 2002 when our former owner Pryce Griffiths, a man once known as Mr. Wrexham, sold the club to Mark Guterman. Guterman, apparently acting on his own, took over the club and bought the leasehold of the Racecourse ground for £300,000 before transferring ownership to one of Alex Hamilton’s companies. Despite his appeals for fans to judge him on the signings he funded there was rightly suspicion of Guterman, especially given his previous shady dealings at our neighbour’s Chester City.

The game plan soon became clear as the stooge stepped back from his position as chairman and Alex Hamilton claimed his seat at the helm in 2004 along with a 78% stake in the club. Reds fans quickly rallied round, filling a meeting in May to demand answers as to what was happening, Wrexham FC directors confirmed their worst fears as they shared the news that Hamilton was a property developer out to make money from the club.

In September 2004, Hamilton gave Wrexham FC notice to quit the stadium they had occupied since 1872. Hamilton said he wanted "a big cheque" for the club and ground or he would proceed to kick the club out. With plans to build a B&Q store at the site of the Wrexham ground things were beginning to look precarious, although Wrexham Council had stated their objection to the plans. The eviction notice was quickly followed in October by a winding up order issued by the Inland Revenue.

This is perhaps where the battle started to change in our favour; the club were taken into administration in December by club directors David Bennett and David Griffiths, known fondly to fans as “the two Daves” who received a hero’s welcome at the next home game for their actions.

At this point administrators, David Acland and Steve Williams of Begbies Traynor, investigated the ground deals carried out by Hamilton and Guterman and decided to take action against both men, along with Hamilton’s company Crucial Move which held ownership of the Racecourse. In October 2005, on what was a historic day for Wrexham FC the High Court at Birmingham concluded that Crucial Move had improperly acquired the freehold of the ground, and handed it back to the administrators. Upon appeal, this decision was upheld with Judge Alistair Norris concluding that the “fiduciary position in the club has been misused for the benefit of those interested in the exploitation of its property assets”.

The main evidence of their wrongdoing was a document signed by both men themselves which stated: "The management and control of the football club is to be on an equal control basis, with the main or sole objective to realise the maximum potential gain from the property assets of the football club for the benefit of [Mr Hamilton] and [Mr Guterman]." 

The actions of both men will never be forgotten, but whilst we experienced some of the darkest days ever seen by the club under the stewardship of Mr. Guterman and Hamilton I will never forget some of the great memories it brought about too. Under their ownership the fans pulled together on countless occasions with marches on Hamilton’s home of Halesbarn and the funeral march in Hayes, lead by a pink taxi. We made sure that the man who called the destruction of Wrexham FC “the most fun I’ve had with my trousers up” know that he wouldn’t defeat us. Our thanks must go to the Dismal Jimmies and in particular Kenny Pemberton who started the protests against Alex Hamilton and never relented.

The efforts of our friends at Brighton will never be forgotten either, during a game against them in 2004 their fans joined in a red card protest arranged by Wrexham fans. I’ll never forget the warm feeling I got as hundreds of Wrexham fans walked on the pitch, not to fight, but to go over and applaud the Brighton fans.

Perhaps the most memorable day during the Hamilton era was the Fans United day in November 2004 when 8,000 football fans descended on the Racecourse for our game against Bristol City. On the pitch we lost 3-1 but off it football as a whole won the day with fans of Wrexham, Chester, Brighton, Milllwall, Sunderland and teams across the country stood shoulder to shoulder to unite against those who asset strip football clubs for their own gain.

Alex Hamilton will always remain in Wrexham FC’s Hall of Shame, but we should never forget the fan’s spirit which it brought about, ready to rally should we ever need to fight for our club again…