Wrexham AFC has Hollywood house owners, Premier League ambitions and TikTok sponsors. First: Tamworth
Wrexham's first preseason trip with fans was two hours away from home and ended in a 5-0 win. Almost a thousand supporters made the trip. Courtesy Wrexham AFC
Nobody really knows where Wrexham AFC is going under the control of superstar actors / owners Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney, but all journeys have to start somewhere and 1,193 viewers will be able to say "I was there" on the day this sporting adventure really took off Click started.
On Saturday, Wrexham visited The Lamb, a tiny non-league stadium in Tamworth, England that is as far away as you can imagine from the showbiz glamor that Wrexham's Hollywood owners have brought to their new team. If Wrexham makes it into the English Football League and thanks to the support (100% control, signed by the Wrexham Supporters Trust and an investment of £ 2 million in the club) from "Deadpool" star Reynolds climbs the ladder to the Premier League and McElhenney, creator of "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia", the 5-0 win at The Lamb, a site between a railroad line and a mall, will mark the moment when it all began.
Although Reynolds and McElhenney completed their acquisition of Wrexham in February halfway through the club's Vanarama National League (fifth division of English football) season, COVID-19 restrictions meant the first time the preseason friendly against Tamworth on Saturday that fans have been able to watch their team since the two actors joined the Welsh club, which made the game feel like an official start.
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Of the 1,193 fans at the stadium, 950 were 70 miles from Wrexham – they even had to endure the toilet closes at half time due to a clogged pipe in the visitor area – so to be fair, the excitement and anticipation has grown with a fan base desperately waiting for that her team escaping non-league English football and returning to the Football League (EFL) for the first time since relegation in 2008, really broadened.
“There aren't many EFL-level clubs that would bring that many fans to a friendly. "There is an expectation, but we have to be big enough and strong enough to endure it.
"We have to deal with it and embrace it – it's about playing for a big, ambitious club. No job is ever easy, no matter what level you work at, and it is sure to have many challenges along the way bring."
Parkinson's appointment by Reynolds and McElhenney underscores the ambitions they have for their team. The 53-year-old has played over 800 games with clubs like Sunderland and Bolton Wanderers, and in 2013 led fourth division Bradford City to the EFL Cup final with wins against Arsenal and Aston Villa. As an established manager with a solid reputation, Reynolds and McElhenney are making a statement and luring Parkinson to Wrexham, as is the signing of summer striker Paul Mullin, who set a League Two record in 46 games last season of 32 goals scored to help Cambridge United wins the promotion.
"I spoke to Rob (McElhenney) before I got on board and have had several chats in the last week or so," said Parkinson. "He cares about the players we're looking at and I'll explain the specific goals and why we need them, let him know where we are in the negotiations. He's in America and very frustrated that he wasn't able to to convey oneself in this way. " still, but he's very interested and communicating with Ryan about the things I pass on to him.
"They are very dedicated and passionate about making the club a success. I came here because it gives me the chance to rebuild a club."
Several fans brought banners expressing their appreciation for their new owners. Courtesy Mark Ogden / ESPN
Sources told ESPN that Reynolds and McElhenney bought Wrexham after an in-depth search for a European football club because McElhenney saw similarities between the city and his hometown of Philadelphia in the sense that both working-class regions are passionate about sports. And Wrexham is something of a sleeping giant in the lower division, so the club has the potential to grow and possibly even rise as high as the Premier League.
The Welsh reached the quarter-finals of the European Cup Winners' Cup in 1976 and played in the same competition against Manchester United in the 1990/91 season. In 1992 they caused one of the FA Cup's biggest surprises when they defeated reigning champions Arsenal with a 2-1 win at the Racecourse Ground. Although North Wales has long been a hotbed of Everton and Liverpool fans because of its proximity, Wrexham still has a large and loyal following, as evidenced by the nearly a thousand supporters on the two-hour trip to Tamworth.
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"We're still pinching ourselves about the takeover of our club by Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds," Ian, a Wrexham fan, told ESPN. "The Supporters Trust ownership model felt right at the time, but we were being forgotten. If the 2019-20 season hadn't ended prematurely (due to COVID-19), we might have been relegated to the National League." North.
“The Americans brought humor into it. Their social media output shows they don't take themselves too seriously, which is good, and the new management team and players are showing good ambition. I don't want the club becomes a company and loses its soul, I don't want us to become the minor league version of Manchester City, a vehicle for a Gulf state to promote itself.
"All the successes in the world would not be worth it if the soul of our club were lost."
Another fan, Gary of Ruabon, believes the Reynolds-McElhenney acquisition is just good news for the club.
"It's an amazing story for us," he said. "Most of us had started to accept that Wrexham was destined never to return to the EFL. It was heartbreaking at times to see the club struggle since relegation in 2008. But last but not least, Ryan and Rob Wrexham have returned Brought joy. " They gave us hope and excitement and it's all so surreal.
Parkinson's hiring is yet another sign of Wrexham's intent as his pedigree is far higher on the ladder of English football. Ian Horrocks / Getty Images
"It's really bizarre to have Hollywood stars in your club."
Wrexham flags with the American and Canadian flags – Reynolds is originally from Vancouver – were scattered around The Lamb on Saturday. One carried the words "Hollywood Fancy Dans", another said "R.R McReynolds: Making Wrexham Great Again".
The impact of Hollywood A-listener in charge of the club can also be seen on Wrexham's jerseys, with TikTok signing a shirt sponsorship deal and paying Expedia to have the company's name on the back of the shirt. It's hard to imagine that any other team outside of the league would be able to sell their jersey to two multi-billion dollar companies.
In Tamworth, Wrexham played in their new green and gray away shirt, which McElhenney had chosen to pay homage to the Philadelphia Eagles NFL team, which wears the same colors. But beyond the glitz and fame, the only way for Reynold and McElhenney to make sure the Wrexham story is scripted is to make sure they win. The documentary, "Welcome to Wrexham," which the two men oversee, promises to give a glimpse into the rise and rise of a humble football club, which begins when the National League season kicks off with a home game against Yeovil on August 21.
"You want to win things, you are not in football to lose games," Port Vale defender Shaun Brisley told ESPN. "The main goal is success in the end and that is promotion back to the Football League.
"I didn't really know much about the owners, but when they get a manager of Phil Parkinson's caliber, you know they mean business this year. They are trying to get this big club back into the Football League and I have just … want to be part of it. "
It's always sunny in Philadelphia, but they want some of that sunshine in Wrexham too.