Andy Holt’s LDV Love Letter
For this article former Wrexham defender Andy Holt kindly agreed to text over his replies to my questions via Whatsapp, as I was up against the clock getting this one done.
I had planned to copy and paste in the replies around the body of the story I wrote, with a few edits here and there.
However, Andy’s replies flowed so well that I’ve decided to leave it untouched. You can tell it is spoken from the heart. A decade-and-a-half later and the magnitude of what Wrexham achieved that day is still not lost on those who made it happen.
Andy was one of the first names down on the team-sheet for Wrexham. He played in every round of the LDV Vans Trophy that season apart from Oldham away.
Here is Andy Holt’s LDV Love Letter. Enjoy.
“The final certainly was one of the highlights of my career, that’s for sure.
“I suppose beating my former team Oldham (6-3 on aggregate in the Northern Section final), was special too and it was only really when it came to playing them it became an “imagine if we won this” kind of moment.
“I remember the home leg — it was quite a dour affair (Wrexham won 1-0) but who cares, we did what we needed to do. I remember getting back in the changing rooms afterwards — we were all dancing around, hugging each other and chanting all kinds of nonsense, like you do when you’ve just made it to a final!
“The final was a little bit more special as it was at the Millennium Stadium. We travelled down and stayed over before the game. The day before, we went to the stadium to check out everything, the changing rooms, pitch etc. It was just magnificent, everything you’d dreamed it would be and more.
“I think with everything that was going on (club placed in administration)it was a welcome distraction but to be fair, football always had a good way of doing that. Once the whistle blew, nothing else mattered.
“We stayed at The Vale of Glamorgan hotel and it was amazing! Everything was certainly done right in preparation for the match, from the travel and accommodation to the club suits.
“I did a piece in the Sun newspaper where I had to describe all the players and what they were like. I said the gaffer (Denis Smith) walked like Darth Vader, so there in the middle of a double-page spread was Darth Vader with the gaffer’s head stuck on! I think it was published either on the day or the day before, so I wasn’t sure if I was going to get picked!
“The morning of the game, you tried to treat it like any other but it was hard not to get carried away! Imagine if we won! Imagine if I scored an overhead kick from 40 yards! Again, you dreamt of these kind of days when you were a child and it actually came true!
“Everyone seemed very relaxed and excited. The gaffer seemed very relaxed but always did hold himself very well. Jokes were made, the magnitude of the occasion played down and dismissed. This was a game, where the end goal was the same as any other.
“I do remember the gaffer said “no regrets!” It’s such a great saying and so simple. I say that to my son all the time now — don’t leave anything on the pitch, come off with no regrets!
“I remember the changing rooms were huge but we all still seemed close enough to each other.
“The warm up, just taking in the atmosphere, trying to not act like a kid in a sweet shop because you’re that excited and realise you needed to remain professional was tough! It was a beautiful sunny day and I just wanted the game to start!
“In the tunnel before kick off, I had Ben Foster in front of me and we heard the roar of the crowd — it was genuinely deafening!!! Ben turned and said “Holty, I’ve got goosebumps!” It was like the sound was amplified, it really was incredible!
“The game was not the best spectacle in the world, but again, who cares! We eventually did the job and just the elation, joy and relief when Fergie scored was amazing! The final whistle goes and the dreams have come true.
“We all ran round again, not sure what to do, scream, laugh, cry?! Hugs all round, loved it! We were celebrating with the fans then and that really was unreal!
“I was trying to locate my family as I had a bus-load come down. I ended up running into the changing rooms, grabbing my phone and rang them from the pitch!
“We went back into the changing rooms, champagne corks flying around, beers flowing and in walks Sir Alex Ferguson! Could this day get any better or more surreal?!? He went round to every single person and shook their hands and congratulated them, a really nice gesture, one I’ll certainly never forget!
“Then back to the hotel for the party to continue. My family were staying there so I went back to my room to see my three-year-old son dancing on the bed with my medal round his neck.
“It was just a brilliant few days and even getting on the coach home the next day, just one of those where you had your medals round your neck and you couldn’t do anything but smile!
“At the time, even though you knew it was a really big deal, it’s only when you look back and say, what an achievement, what a day that will go down in history!”