Cedwyn Scott, Notts County’s last hope, repaired the ball on the 12-yard spot, standing on a chance to salvage promotion dreams that were beginning to fade. The visitors had started the day top of the table, level on points with their hosts, but knowing that Wrexham had a game to play that was likely to be crucial as the two clubs competed for the National League title and a single automatic promotion place.
High up in the stands, the owners of Wrexham’s Hollywood were biting their frayed fingernails, hearts beating on timpani with tension, Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney couldn’t watch. Scott stepped forward and the pair were finally able to stomach a look, turning with eager eyes as goalkeeper Ben Foster struck home to save the penalty and Wrexham began to celebrate a 3–2 victory to put the title in their hands. A goalless draw at Barnet and then a win over relegated Yeovil has now put the Red Dragons one win away from promotion to the EFL.
Their first shot at promotion comes against Boreham Wood at the Racecourse Ground on Saturday, before a final day’s trip to the coast to take on Torquay.
“That was just bananas,” Reynolds gasped as he and Foster hugged in the tunnel after the win over Notts County. “That was the most dramatic thing I have ever seen in my life. I couldn’t look, and then I turned just in time to see you. I will never be the same again.”
Of course, you could have written it. Foster’s intervention was ripped from the footage, an aging hero called out of retirement for one last job. But that made the climax no less sweet as the Racecourse Ground roared. Perhaps there will be another twist before the trophy is lifted, but for now this felt like the perfect final scene to Wrexham’s fairy tale.
It was easy to scoff when Reynolds and Rob McElhenney completed their acquisition at the Racecourse Ground, dismissing it as a publicity stunt and a decision that seemed motivated more by a desire to expand their entertainment portfolios than any deep love of football.
And indeed, it would have been so much easier for the couple to play the aloof sugar daddies, bankrolling the club from the Hollywood hills, jumping in when it was convenient to boost their reputations or climb social media. Neither of you need this fling: there are wacky sitcoms to write and superhero franchises up front.
But the couple have proven to be not only genuine Hollywood stars, but also genuine football people. Watching them enraptured in the drama of a top-of-the-table clash that meant so much showed just how bought they have been, having sorely felt last year’s promotion lows to the point of missing out. Her qualities have been shown in her investment in the city more broadly and in supporting a women’s team that is making its own rise through the ranks.
Let it be Wrexham, too, feels somehow nice, the oldest club in Wales reinvigorated. Today’s city has always been a curious conurbation, a bit in between in the border areas, but football has always played a central role in society. The club may never have been in the English top tier, but embedded within the club are over 150 years of sporting history, a team that has experienced the ups and downs of so many smaller teams in lower league and non-league football.
Sporting success can unite communities like Wrexham, reshaped over the past half century in a period of significant cultural evolution. Soccer can form a much-needed link to days that now feel distant, bringing back memories of family walks down familiar streets to get to the game, sharing pre-game pies and post-game pints. Similarly, investment and interest have also energized new fans to further enrich and diversify the fabric of the fan base, reflecting the globalization of fandom.
All sporting entities crave a global profile and cultural projection, and the presence of Reynolds and McElhenney is invaluable in highlighting the depth and color of the English football pyramid. Would viewers have been as aware, for example, of Notts County’s struggle to return to where they feel they belong under their own unconventional owners if they weren’t wrapped up in the wider Wrexham story?
“It’s crazy for me in this league that only one automatically goes up,” Reynolds told BT Sport, magnanimous in the win and an unlikely supporter of structural reform in the English fifth tier.
“If it was different, and I think it should be, both clubs would be celebrating together right now because what they’ve done is not only create drama unlike anything you’ve ever seen in a fucking movie, but something that I think people you will be talking for a long time.
“The fact that so much attention has been paid to the National League in this way is incredibly special and immensely worthy of the talents not just from Wrexham, but from Notts County as well.”
As petrochemical giants and state investment funds scramble over commodities at the top of the game, and venture capitalists threaten to tear apart the upper reaches of the sport to benefit the few rather than the many, here’s a club rediscovered under two men who really care. . Any mockery of Wrexham’s owners is out of place – this is the kind of Hollywood story football should celebrate.