The surreal has become the norm for Wrexham and their silver-screen stewards, Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney. On Monday, the Racecourse witnessed a top-of-the-table thriller between Wrexham and Notts County, and even when the match was over, the co-chairmen were still on the pitch, still smiling, still seemingly in disbelief. The financial backing and all the razzmatazz that accompanied it made promotion back to the Football League seem like a reality for Wrexham after 15 long years.
The 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? Two teams with more than 100 goals? 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? McElhenney described it as “absolutely, stunning, fantastic, incredible” and said it was the most exciting sporting event this crowd ever seen.
The match was watched by millions due to 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.
The fans 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 responded, then trailed once more, before their penalty in the final seconds.
Reynolds said that excluding the birth of his children, he had never experienced anything quite as emotionally draining as the match. He added that this was the most romantic game on earth, and that he was used to working under extreme pressure but usually had some kind of say and control in it; here he had nothing so all he could do was watch and hope like everyone else.
The fans of Wrexham who have seen enough bad times to be justifiably cynical have fallen for Reynolds and McElhenney hook, line and sinker. Wrexham 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.
Reynolds said that their hopes and goals rest on the hearts of the Wrexham supporters, and that they want this for the town as much as anything. He added that everything about the sport and the way it is handled here creates stakes like nothing else, and that this was a game people will talk about for ages.
The surreal has become normal at Wrexham these days. The community has embraced their A-list owners, and they have fallen for football – and Wrexham – in return. The match was one of the most unique situations ever seen, with millions watching and every moment captured by documentary cameras. It is clear that this is not for show; they have become part of a community that shook heads in disbelief at what they had witnessed. This was a game worthy of this town and of Notts County, one that will be remembered for ages to come.