Wrexham well beaten but unbowed in friendly test against Chelsea
It might not have been the result that anybody wanted, unless you were a Chelsea fan of course, but as far as tests are concerned Wrexham will feel like they’ve undergone quite the workout ahead of their return to the football league.
The eventual 5-0 scoreline may have been a little unfair on Phil Parkinson’s side; Premier League giants Chelsea scoring two goals in added on time, including the last kick of the game. However, the Wrexham boss would no doubt have been content with his side’s overall showing against a team who in the second half had three full England internationals on the pitch.
The gulf in class was there for all to see and the difference in truth was clinical finishing – Chelsea were, while on the occasions Wrexham threatened getting in behind Mauricio Pochettino’s side, they were wasteful.
On social media Wrexham fans were philosophical, while Chelsea fans couldn’t resist a little good-natured banter. Our favourite being the wag who commented: ‘That’s for Green Lantern’.
That’s for Green Lantern.
— CFChris. (@EmenaIo) July 20, 2023
There were still many pluses to be taken from this first US friendly match – both on and off the pitch.
On the pitch it was minutes in the tank against the sorts of opposition any player at League Two level would love to test themselves, with every member of the match day squad getting a run out.
Off the pitch, the numbers interested in this match underlined how Wrexham fever has well and truly gripped the US – another chapter in an extraordinary story that shows no sign of ending anytime soon.
The game was a 50,000 sell out at the Kenan Memorial Stadium in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, with what looked like a greater proportion of the crowd supporting Wrexham.
Tickets had been sold to fans from all 50 US states, while many travelled from abroad to attend the game.
Sports journalist Ben Jacobs posting on Twitter made this startling comparison.
16 July, 2022: Wrexham begin pre-season against Nantwich Town in front of 1,427.
19 July, 2023: Wrexham begin pre-season against Chelsea in front of 50,596. pic.twitter.com/F9dvZCF1bP
— Ben Jacobs (@JacobsBen) July 20, 2023
For those not able to make it to the stadium, organisers said that the friendly match was being televised live to more than 100 countries, including on ESPN in the States.
In the UK more than 4,000 viewers stayed up into the wee small hours to watch S4C’s coverage of the game on the Sgorio YouTube channel.
If these bewildering statistics were a gif it would surely be that well-worn but ever popular image of that blond-haired bloke who blinks in disbelief.
Leading up to the game, there was a sizeable sideshow and a buzz surrounding the Wrexham fan park, most noticeably around the marquee that was mocked up to look like famed hostelry The Turf. Landlord Wayne Jones even turned up to pull some pints and sign autographs.
There was also a songbook of Wrexham chants put together by executive director Humphrey Ker for those US fans new to the club being distributed for supporters to swot up on.
With the first trailer for season 2 of Welcome To Wrexham aired ahead of the match and with games against LA Galaxy, Manchester United and Philadelphia Union to come, expect the Wrexham express to roll on relentlessly across the United States.
When co-owner McElhenney tweeted post-match: ‘Thank you ChelseaFC!!!! Hopefully we’ll see you again in 5 years or so :)’, nobody would actually bet against it happening.
Those dyed in the wool, long standing fans of Wrexham must spend their days in a constant state of gleeful bewilderment at their new normal.
Make no mistake with Rob and Ryan at the helm, you can only conclude this particular train is bound for glory.
One of the cool things in Chapel Hill today: a pop-up of the Wrexham bar, The Turf, complete with an appearance from owner Wayne Jones. Part of the “Wrexchange Program” facilitated by @AviationGin. @Wrexham_AFC #FCseries pic.twitter.com/C8ubrOcILv
— Caroline Darney (@cwdarney) July 19, 2023
Wales hosting the 2030 World Cup? 🤔 pic.twitter.com/taN4gpLx81
— FC Series (@FC_series) July 19, 2023
Wrexham playing Chelsea in front of more than 50,000 in North Carolina tonight. Surreal for a club whose home ground back in Wales currently holds fewer than 11,000. 🏴🐲pic.twitter.com/io5a0UYVXM
— Men in Blazers (@MenInBlazers) July 20, 2023
— FC Series (@FC_series) July 20, 2023
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