Wrexham AFC have gone from non-league obscurity to the toast of Hollywood, with stars packing the stands, a Los Angeles bus tour and a documentary that’s been a hit on both sides of the Atlantic.
The Welsh side’s 3-2 victory against Notts County on Easter Monday is the latest stage in a remarkable turnaround story for the club, which is now on the cusp of automatic promotion to the Football League after a decade and a half.
Since being bought by Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney in early 2021, Wrexham have soared both on and off the pitch, with hordes of new fans and the backing of celebrities including Will Ferrell, John Cleese, Jack Whitehall and Jason Watkins.
The Crown’s Emma Corrin was among the celebs at Monday’s game, with Reynolds hailing her as a ‘new addition to the family’. Ferrell did not appear to be in the stands yesterday, but attended a game in February after enjoying pints with fans in a local pub.
Wrexham, who now need seven points from their final four games to clinch the National League title, have benefitted from the massive surge in interest since their Hollywood takeover.
Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney bought Wrexham in early 2021. They are seen at Monday’s game
The Crown’s Emma Corrin (left) was among those to watch Wrexham triumph against Notts County yesterday
As part of a publicity blitz for the documentary, a bus visited stadiums and bars as part of a glitzy Los Angeles bus tour in August
Their 10,771-capacity Racecourse Ground has been full for most games this season, and foreign supporters including Americans, Australians and Canadians are now ‘the norm’.
These new fans have provided a welcome boost to the club’s finances, with 24,000 shirts sold in the first seven months of the season alone and visitors lugging off bags of merchandise back home.
Crucial to the club’s transformed reputation was Welcome To Wrexham, which followed McElhenney and Reynolds as they learned how to run what fans are proud to call the third oldest professional football club in the world.
As part of a publicity blitz for the documentary, a bus visited stadiums and bars as part of a glitzy Los Angeles bus tour in August.
Wrexham had struck gold.
In the first month after the documentary started screening, club merchandise revenues rose from $74,000 (£60,000) to around $446,000 (£360,000), with huge demand from the US, which the series is primarily aimed at.
It’s impossible to overstate the global profile — particularly in the US — that the documentary series has brought.
The US papers needed to establish a few basic points. ‘It’s pronounced ‘Rek-sm’ with a silent W’ the LA Times informed its readers in one of the hundreds of reviews of the series.
And the media requests to see the club and speak to Parkinson include the Philadelphia Inquirer, here for the Boxing Day match against Solihull, and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, currently planning their own trip.
Will Ferrell earlier this year enjoying a pint in The Turf pub which is right next to the Racecourse ground and features in Welcome To Wrexham
Ferrell was then seen at the ground taking a look at the pitch ahead of the clash with Wealdstone
John Cleese and Jason Watkins are two more famous faces who support Wrexham
Emma Corrin sporting a baseball cap as she watched the dramatic win on Easter Monday
Reynolds hailed Ms Corrin as a ‘new member of the family’
Foreign fans are making the town a tourist spot, with a coachload of fans from San Francisco recently visiting The Turf pub, which is a key setting in the documentary and asking if they can see other locations filmed in the stadium.
To date, McElhenney and Reynolds have already pumped some £10million into the club and look to open their wallets further as they pursue a bold dream – promotion to the Premier League.
Future ambitions aside, Wrexham fans will be ensuring they make the most of what is already proving to be a fairytale period.
Monday’s win was secured with a spectacular save by keeper Ben Foster, who was kissed by Reynolds after the final whistle.
He later told reporters: ‘Rob kissed me fully on the lips and Ryan called me a double handsome b*****d,’ Foster said after the game. ‘I’ll take that.’
‘They’re so happy, if you could order an absolute bob on, top of the class, top of the range owner, then you would just package them two up because they are as good as it gets.
Goalkeeper Ben Foster saved a 97th-minute penalty to hold off Notts County and seal a 3-2 win for Wrexham on Monday
The goalkeeper was embraced by a stunned Ryan Reynolds in the tunnel after the climax
Foster plunged to his right to make a brilliant one-handed save to deny County forward Scott
After Monday’s game Rob McElhenney tweeted that he couldn’t believe he once found football boring
Reynold’s wife Blake Lively seen on the pitch at Wrexham in March
‘It means so much to them, they care so much, they do it properly. I’ve been here for what three weeks now and it’s ran so professionally you would not believe. It is ridiculous how they run it, so fair play to them they deserve all they get.’
The celebrity duo appear committed to the club, with Reynolds recently bagging himself a £1.5million home in the nearby village of Marford.
The star will be joined at the four-bedroom home by his wife Blake Lively, 35, and their children James, eight, Inez, six, and Betty, three, as well as their fourth baby born earlier this year.
The source added: ‘Ryan is moving to Marford and it’s all the locals can talk about. His house is on the poshest road.’
‘It might not be the Big Apple but the red carpet will be rolled out when Ryan comes to town.’
American tourists Tanner and Paulina Weeks (pictured) visited earlier this year to buy some Wrexham merchandise
Reynolds recently bagged himself a £1.5million home in the village of Marford as he commits to Wales (pictured: one of the homes in the area)