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How Wrexham provided a Hollywood ending to their Football League exile

22 Apr 2023 3 minute read
Wrexham co-owners Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney celebrate. Photo Martin Rickett PA images

Phil Blanche

Hollywood-backed Wrexham are back in the Football League after a 15-year absence.

The Red Dragons clinched the National League title by beating Boreham Wood 3-1 on Saturday, taking them to 110 points with one game remaining.

Here,Phil Blanche looks how Wrexham became fifth-tier champions and ended the long wait to be in the Football League again.

Star backing

Co-owners Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney have brought the glitz and glamour of Hollywood to Wrexham since first announcing their intention to buy the club in September 2020.

Deadpool star Reynolds and McElhenney, the creator and star of American TV comedy series It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, introduced Wrexham to international audiences with an award-winning FX documentary series last year and have been frequent visitors to the Racecourse Ground.

It feels as if Wrexham’s success has been fuelled by a Hollywood juggernaut – from a new army of fans on the back of the documentary’s success to taking part in a million-dollars veterans tournament and lining up a pre-season friendly with Manchester United in California this summer.

Financial clout

Wrexham’s budget and spending has dwarfed that of their National League rivals.

Reynolds and McElhenney have restructured the club from top to bottom since completing their takeover from the Wrexham Supporters Trust in February 2021, with reports that more than £10million has been spent.

Training facilities have been improved with a new performance gym built on the ground’s premises and there has been major investment in the squad on transfer fees and wages with the likes of strikers Ollie Palmer and Paul Mullin lured away from Football League clubs.

Parkinson at the wheel

Reynolds and McElhenney had just spent more than three months as owners when manager Dean Keates left the club after Wrexham’s failure to make the 2020-21 National League play-offs.

Phil Parkinson, who won promotions at Colchester, Bradford and Bolton and guided third-tier Bradford to the 2013 League Cup final, took over and led the Red Dragons to a runners-up spot behind champions Stockport.

They would eventually lose out to Grimsby in the play-offs, but Reynolds and McElhenney chose to stick with the 55-year-old Lancastrian and that call has paid off with a record-breaking season.

Magical Mullin

‘Super’ Paul Mullin had a leading role in the ‘Welcome to Wrexham’ documentary and has been just as prominent on the pitch.

Mullen raised eyebrows by dropping two divisions to join the north Wales club after spearheading Cambridge’s promotion from League Two in 2020-21 with 32 goals

The 28-year-old Liverpool-born striker has proved a National League sensation, scoring more than 70 goals in two seasons and leading to calls that he should gain international recognition for Wales – for whom he qualifies due to a grandparental link.

Racecourse record

The world’s oldest international football stadium that still hosts matches has witnessed plenty of goals and wins this season.

Wrexham have dropped league points at home only once this season, a 2-2 draw against Woking in February. They have scored 71 goals at the Racecourse Ground this term, netting five (three times), six and seven in front of their own supporters.

The average attendance at the three-sided ground is close to its 10,000 capacity with Wrexham fans creating an unrivalled atmosphere in the National League.

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Steve A Duggan
Steve A Duggan
1 year ago

Well done Wrexham – you have done Wales proud.

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