Wrexham secures promotion in front of jubilant owners Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney

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Racecourse Ground, Wrexham
CNN
 — 

Wrexham fans will likely be singing into the night, serenading their famous owners in the process, because the wait for promotion is finally over.

On a raucous evening at the Racecourse, and with Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney – the actors who have transformed the club since their 2021 takeover – in the stadium, Wrexham secured promotion to the Football League after a 15-year absence.

Once the referee blew his whistle, a come-from-behind 3-1 win against promotion-chasing Boreham Wood secured, thousands of fans raced onto the pitch, the victorious players disappearing in the red mist as fans lit flares, waved banners, and lost themselves in the moment. Television cameras showed McElhenney shedding a tear.

It has been quite the journey.

It will be said that this was a tale made in Hollywood, but the truth is the story was always here, waiting for Hollywood. The historic small town club saved from the brink by its fans, once in the higher echelons of the English football league system only to tumble into the National League, its fortunes taking a downturn both on and off the pitch.

But then came Reynolds and McElhenney and Hollywood did what it does best, adding stardust and hope to create a magical conclusion to what is the end of a chapter, not the story.

Wrexham will next season compete in League Two, the fourth tier of the English football league. Three further promotions and they will be in English Premier League; easy to write, much harder to achieve.

Hours before kick-off, the sound of tooting horns and singing fans could be heard near the stadium. The atmosphere building for a kickoff which had been moved to later in the day so it could be broadcast live on TV.

There was no mistaking the significance of the occasion: win and the championship would be Wrexham’s and a first promotion since it was relegated to the National League in April 2008.

But the team had been here before, and failed. There was optimism – this team has only lost three times this campaign and dropped just two points at home – but also some uncertainty. Seeds of doubt are hard to rid after years of near misses.

Fans descended to the city in numbers, hotels were booked up for the night, pubs were overflowing, and there were film stars in attendance too, as is often the case these days.

Wrexham's fans celebrate on the pitch after the club won the title.

Accompanying Reynolds and McElhenney for this promotion-clinching match was Paul Rudd, star of Marvel’s “Ant-Man.”

He had been pictured in the Turf, a pub near the ground, before the match, the latest Hollywood star to visit the bar which regularly features in “Welcome to Wrexham” – the Disney+ documentary which follows the actors’ first season in charge.

Lifelong fans will often shake their heads in disbelief when asked about the impact the owners and their show have had on the club and the city. That this Welsh city is now recognized globally is a source of amusement and bemusement.

The documentary seems to have captured the imaginations of many, with Americans especially seemingly having fallen for a club which is the beating heart of its community.

New Wrexham fans, from Ohio, Los Angeles, Washington and Arizona, had come to Wales this week; some had tickets, some just wanted to be in the city to see for themselves what they had watched on TV.

The club’s worldwide appeal can be measured in merchandise sales, 80% of which this season has been in global sales, the club says. By December, the club had sold out of shirts – 24,000 home, away and third strips snapped up. It is unprecedented. Needless to say, a bigger order has been put in for next season.

Wrexham went 1-0 down after the first minute but came back to win.

What next for Wrexham? The competition in League Two will be tougher, but arguably the aim – promotion to League One – might be an easier challenge than the one the club faced this season as three teams are automatically promoted from League Two, instead of the one automatic promotion spot on offer in the National League.

In Phil Parkinson, in charge of the team since the summer of 2021, the club already has a seasoned manager, one who has now enjoyed four promotions in his career, as well as several players already accustomed to playing in the Football League.

Paul Mullin, the star striker who has been integral to the team’s resurgence, will likely be a key player next season too. He scored twice, the first a special curling effort which put the home team 2-1 ahead and a 71st-minute strike which all but secured the win sparked wild celebrations.

The records broken this season – with a game remaining the club has already broken the record for most goals and points in National League history – suggests Wrexham will be more than capable of being competitive next season.

When Reynolds and McElhenney took ownership of the club in February 2021 few could have imagined the impact the pair would make. The story, and the dream, continues.

Sumber: www.cnn.com

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