Wrexham 3-2 Notts County: Drama befitting Hollywood as hosts close on League return

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Wrexham owners Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney react during the Vanarama National League fixture between Wrexham and Notts County
The on-field drama captivated Wrexham’s Hollywood owners Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney as much as the rest of the crowd

When those involved in the world of film, fantasy and superheroes struggle to find the sense in the drama, then you know you are witnessing something special.

But the surreal has become the norm for Wrexham and their silver-screen stewards, Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney.

When the fans finally made their way out of the Racecourse after their top-of-the-table thriller with Notts County on Monday, when even the groundstaff had stopped working on the pitch, the north Wales club’s co-chairmen were still treading the turf, still smiling, still seemingly shaking their heads in disbelief.

Granted, their financial backing and all the razzmatazz that accompanied it was always going to make promotion back to the Football League seem like a reality for Wrexham after 15 long years.

But the way in which they took an almighty step towards ending that exile in a 3-2 victory over nearest rivals Notts County was stretching credibility even for those used to the weird and wonderful of Hollywood.

Both teams already on 100 points going into the game? Needs work. Two teams with more than 100 goals? A bit more oomph, perhaps. How about a penalty in the final minute of injury time, saved by a 40-year-old, in former England keeper Ben Foster, returning to the club he last played for 18 years ago?

“I can barely speak, it was absolutely, stunning, fantastic, incredible,” said McElhenney. “I think that was the most exciting sporting event this crowd ever seen, let alone the millions watching at home.”

And there were millions watching, partly because of the record-breaking runs engineered by both sides amid the jeopardy of only one automatic promotion spot, and partly curiosity about the Welcome to Wrexham TV documentary that has been a hit on both sides of the Atlantic.

Journalists from the Netherlands, Italy and Germany were all represented in the Racecourse’s press box, while local hoteliers said that hearing north American accents on trips to watch Wrexham are now commonplace.

On Thursday, a coach trip with fans from San Francisco turned up just to see the pub featured in the documentary and catch a glimpse of the stadium.

Those who descended on Monday, though, were very much here for the game being billed as the biggest in non-league history.

By mid-morning the fans were queuing near the stadium, trying to enter the pre-match parties. Even the night before the talk was of tickets, of tactics, of the tension of not blowing their big chance of promotion.

They knew the A-list owners would be in town, but that’s the norm now. That’s just Ryan and Rob. The football was what mattered.

And the showpiece delivered. The rough and tumble of non-league football, illuminated by the skill of John Bostock’s opening free-kick for the visitors in first-half injury time, then the surge of Wrexham momentum that saw Paul Mullin and Jacob Mendy put the hosts ahead.

Notts County, having shown this season they fancied more than a supporting role in this Hollywood script, responded, then trailed once more, before their penalty in the final seconds.

“Excluding the birth of my children, I’m not sure I have,” said Reynolds when asked if he’d ever experienced anything quite as emotionally draining as the match, answering against the background sound of Status Quo. Surreal, but again the norm.

“This is the most romantic game on earth. It was one of the most unique situations. My voice is shot from screaming.

“I’m used to working under extreme pressure, but usually I have some kind of say and control in it; here I had nothing so all I could do was watch and hope like everyone else.”

And so they did, every moment captured by documentary cameras.

Yet speak to anyone around the club and it is clear that this is not for show. They have fallen for football – and Wrexham – hook, line and sinker.

In turn, the fans of Wrexham who have seen enough bad times to be justifiably cynical, have fallen for them.

They too shook heads in disbelief. More than once, as the songs from the nearby Turf hotel where the club was founded carried on into the night, supporters turned and said ‘you couldn’t make it up’.

Reynolds added: “Everything about the sport and the way the sport is handled here, the pyramid system, relegation and promotion, creates stakes like nothing else.

“This was a game people will talk about for ages and the attention coming on the National League is special, but worthy of this town and of Notts County.

“What both sides have achieved is historic. I don’t think I’ve seen anything like it.”

Reynolds is not wrong. Wrexham – who lead Notts County by three points with a game in hand – need seven more points from their final four games to be sure of promotion.

They are already just four shy of breaking the record for most points in a professional league in the history of English football.

“I speak for Rob too when I say our hopes and goals rest on the hearts of the Wrexham supporters,” added Reynolds, who with McElhenney invested £3m last season alone according to recent accounts after their initial £2m to take over the fan-run club in 2021.

“We want this for the town as much as anything. I’ll be fine no matter what happens, but we want this for the town and the community.”

A community it’s now normal for them to feel part of. They were just two of the 10,000 at The Racecourse on Monday, ones who threw their arms around each other and celebrated into the night like all the rest.

Surreal yes. But that’s Wrexham for you these days.


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