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Crewe: opposition opinion
by Paul Wilkinson, formerly of the much-missed Alexandra Extravaganza

How will Crewe do next season?
Last season, one of my fellow Alex Exiles predicted that we'd be relegated. He was wrong, but I suspect he will probably forecast the same again this term (arguably with more conviction). He could be right, but we have the makings of a decent side if we can just find a bit more of a cutting edge in attack to ally with the undoubted talent we have in other departments. A few less injury worries during the season would also help us, and we could see Dario try out some of last season's hugely talented under-17s side.

With no money to buy in and then pay expensive players from outside, Crewe must rely on its own resources, plus a few judicious buys from the non-league scene. David Wright in defence will continue to attract scouts, Kenny Lunt in midfield will probably grow in stature (another Danny Murphy?), and surely this must be the season that forward Mark Rivers finally rewards Dario's faith in him. If not, then fellow Crewe boy Rob Hulse could be the young striker we need to team up with the zippy Rodney Jack (jury still out in him, after a somewhat lack-lustre season last time).

Let's be optimistic, mid-table obscurity will put an end to the 'Great Escapes' we've had to endure for the past couple of season. Oh, and can we please have a decent cup run this time?

What do you/Crewe think of Watford?
Being a London-based Alex Exile, I enjoy a trip to Watford, as it doesn't involve the nine am start that I face for home games. I think many Alex fans have enjoyed Watford's ascent to the Premiership, suggesting as it does that even the so-called small clubs can get a taste of the high life - if Crewe continued to develop as they have done over the past seventeen years (since Dario Gradi became manager) then who's to say we couldn't follow in Watford's footsteps in the next five or six years? Otherwise, Watford is not a club that excites great extremes of feeling among Alex fans; I think we've seen some pretty decent games between the two sides, usually played in a good spirit, and there are normally no problems between supporters. You could put the ground a bit closer to the station, mind!

What is the most beautiful thing about Crewe?
The glorious passing game played by Crewe first teams, most of who are homegrown and under twenty-five.

What is the ugliest thing about Crewe?
Stoke's pretty ugly - but it's about fifteen miles away. Otherwise, most things are pretty cool - the redeveloped all-seater ground is almost approaching a stadium these days, but to hear some of the tweed-wearing whingers, you'd think we were still in the old fourth division. Ban whinging - ban tweed!

Which pundit do Crewe fans hate the most and please think of something creative to do to him/her?
BBC Radio Stoke had Rob McKeown who seemed to only have ears for Joke Sh*tty and was always scornful about the Alex. He used to host a post-match programme slot called Praise and Grumble (more accurately "moan and mumble"), and - typical of the local media - this always seemed dominated by Stokies claiming that they were really the best local team, the sleeping giant, etc. (Their shiny new Britannia Stadium, convenient for the local incinerator and just about nothing else, has hosted Second Division Football for most of the time the Alex have been in the First, so they are clearly living in cloud cuckoo land!)

Anyway, best place to leave him would be buried up to his neck in the centre circle at the Britannia, condemned to watching long-ball hoof merchants eking out an existence for an eternity of mediocrity.

Can you recommend a friendly pub near Gresty Road?
A lot of visiting supporters seem to go to the Brocklebank pub on Weston Road - a fairly new place which is supposed to be family-friendly, and has its own carpark. Otherwise, among the more established pubs, you could try the Brunswick or the Barrel, both on Nantwich Road less than two hundred yards from the top of Gresty Road. The Royal Hotel is okay, but the bar manager was always a grumpy old git so we started going to the Brunny instead (some other pubs are home fans only).

Where's the best place to park near Gresty Road?
As a regular long distance traveller to GR, I normally park in the industrial estate off Weston Road (opposite the Brocklebank pub), just south of the roundabout near Crewe station. This has the virtue of a quick get-away back to the M6 motorway after the match.

What's the nearest railway station to Gresty Road and how far is it ?
For a club nicknamed the Railwaymen, it is not surprising that the nearest station is Crewe station. Gresty Road is about 150 yards from the station (turn left out of the station, take first left - opposite Royal Hotel), and the ground is less than 200 yards walk down. Five minutes maximum, even if you walk veeeeerrrryyyy sloooooowly.