Fifteen years after sinking into the fifth tier of the football league and two years since the arrival of stars from Hollywood – Wrexham’s promotion hopes could rest with Boreham Wood.
The North Wales-based club has been in the fifth division since 2008 but in November 2020 was bought by Hollywood star Ryan Reynolds and It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia co-creator Rob McElhenney.
Their involvement has given the club international recognition as the subject of an FX documentary released on Disney+ in the UK – Welcome To Wrexham.
It’s gained big-name sponsors in Expedia and TikTok and has even been a featured team on FIFA 22 and 23.
On Saturday, Wrexham face a crucial match.
Win and they will be back in League Two next season after a long wait. Lose and it will be a nerve-wracking game at Torquay on 29 April as they would have to hope for a win there to be automatically promoted.
Such is the significance of the match that fans have travelled from all over the world, including one fan who has left the US for the first time.
One person who knows the club’s owners well is Maxine Hughes, a US-based journalist originally from Conwy in North Wales who acts as their unofficial Welsh translator.
She told Sky News they “understood Wrexham right from the beginning”.
“They saw the town, and Wales as something they could easily get on board with,” she said.
“I think for Rob particularly, Wrexham reminds him of where he grew up.”
According to Hughes, the club’s owners have “fallen in love with Wales” and they “have this incredible respect for Wrexham AFC supporters”.
“I’ll always be grateful to Rob and Ryan for giving the Welsh language the boost they’ve given it,” she added.
‘It’s about a community’
Wrexham’s 3-0 win over Yeovil on Tuesday, which was watched by McElhenney’s comedy co-stars at the Racecourse, mean they need three points from two games for automatic promotion.
Phil Parkinson’s side will face a strong challenge though as Boreham Wood are unlikely to give them the three points on a plate.
When the two sides met in October last year, it ended in a draw – although this time Wrexham will hope to go a step further with a home advantage.
Wrexham came close to winning promotion last season after it finished second in the league, but missed out in the play-offs.
Their bid for promotion comes after Wrexham’s women recently reached the Adran Premier – the top flight of women’s football in Wales.
Could the team’s top scorer Paul Mullin be involved in securing a victory? He has scored 36 goals for Wrexham in the league so far this season.
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Boreham Wood are currently in sixth place on the table having won two of their last five games.
If Wrexham secures a victory on Saturday, their wait will finally be over and fans would have a moment to remember at the Racecourse.
But Hughes added that “the growing success of Wrexham AFC isn’t just about Rob and Ryan”.
“It’s about a community, who have stuck by that team through thick and thin,” she said.
“And I think that’s why the story if Wrexham has captured the world, it’s the people who make Wrexham what it is, and what it is becoming, and I’m in awe of the community of Wrexham every day.”
Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney have already brought a touch of Hollywood to Wrexham – now the club could be at the heart of a true FA Cup blockbuster.
The Welsh football side could face Manchester United or Manchester City – two of England’s biggest clubs – in Monday night’s FA Cup fifth-round draw.
It comes after the National League outfit came just minutes from pulling off a famous David-and-Goliath-style giant-killing against Sheffield United – a team three leagues above them in England’s football pyramid – on Sunday night.
A late equaliser meant Wrexham were forced to settle for a 3-3 draw – and a tough away replay – against their Championship opponents.
Club co-owner Reynolds, star of Marvel hit Deadpool, watched on from the stands as the emotional rollercoaster of a match played out below, later describing it as “one of the most exciting things I’ve ever seen”.
Tweeting after the match, he said: “When Rob and I got into this it all felt so impossible. But impossible is Wrexham’s favourite colour.
“That was one of the most exciting things I’ve EVER seen. Thank you each and every Wrexham supporter who came out and aimed your heart at that pitch tonight.”
Speaking to the media before the match, Reynolds also reiterated his desire to push the club into the Premier League.
While Wrexham fans will no doubt share the actor’s lofty ambitions, the club still has a long way to go, sitting four leagues below English football’s promised land.
But they could get a taste of Premier League life if they can win their FA Cup replay away at Sheffield United on 7 February – and draw one of the remaining big teams in the competition.
Wrexham, the only remaining National League side, could also face Premier League sides Tottenham, West Ham, Leicester City or Brighton.
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However, it will be a tie with 12-time winners Manchester United or current Premier League champions Manchester City that will really fit the Hollywood script for Wrexham.
It could prove a lucrative tie for the National League side, too. A draw against a Premier League side could earn Wrexham more than £200,000 in TV broadcasting income.
In 2017, Sutton United, then in the National League, earned £710,000 from an FA Cup run where they were eventually knocked out by Arsenal in the fifth round.
Wrexham still have to overcome Sheffield United in next month’s replay – but will be hopeful though of pulling off an upset.
On Sunday, the club became the first non-League team since the creation of the Football League in 1888 to score three goals in the first, second, third and fourth rounds of the competition.
They beat Oldham 3-0 in the first round, followed by a 4-1 win against Farnborough in the second, before beating Coventry City 4-3 in a dramatic third-round tie.
And they will be buoyed by the sensational form of striker Paul Mullin, whose goal on Sunday meant he became the first player since 1984-85 from a non-League club to net consecutive goals in the first, second, third and fourth rounds of the FA Cup.
With a superhero-playing owner, a lethal striker and the prospect of a near-undefeatable foe, Wrexham could be about to pen a story worthy of a true Hollywood epic.
Ryan Reynolds has been left “speechless” after Wrexham, the non-league team he co-owns with Rob McElhenney, dumped Coventry City out of the FA Cup.
The Welsh outfit beat the Sky Blues 4-3 at the CBS Arena in Coventry, with Sam Dalby, Elliot Lee, Thomas O’Connor and Paul Mullin all finding the back of the net during the game.
At one point, the visitors were 2-0 up against Coventry, who sit three leagues above them, causing Reynolds to write “What. The. F***. Is. Happening?” on Twitter.
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Wrexham then went 4-1 up, before the home team responded with two more goals – not enough to deny Reynolds’ team their first spot in the competition’s fourth round since 2000.
After the final whistle, the actor tweeted: “I’m completely and totally speechless. What a club. What a town. What a win. Wrexham AFC forever.”
The fourth round draw will take place on Sunday, and could see Wrexham face teams such as Leicester City, Reading, and Tottenham Hotspur.
Another surprise in the FA Cup this weekend was non-league Chesterfield drawing 3-3 with Championship West Brom, which means the pair will go to a replay.
Reynolds, best known for his roles in The Proposal and Deadpool, and McElhenney, who stars in the cult US sitcom It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, bought the Welsh club in February 2021, going on to make a documentary, Welcome To Wrexham, about the club.
In November, the pair welcomed King Charles to the club, as Wrexham celebrated its new city-status.
Reynolds and McElhenney are not the only Hollywood megastar owners of a British football club – Creed and Black Panther actor Michael B Jordan was announced last month as part-owner of Bournemouth AFC in Dorset.