Hollywood stars join fans as Wrexham win promotion

time:2023-06-02 12:58:34 source:CNN (Cable News Network)

Hollywood A-listers celebrated alongside lifelong fans as superstar-owned club Wrexham won promotion back to the Football League on Saturday.

Ant-Man actor Paul Rudd joined famous owners Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney to watch the Welsh club come from behind to beat Boreham Wood 3-1.

There were tears of joy among fans and owners as Wrexham returned to the Football League after 15 years away.

"We can hear how it feels to the town," said co-owner McElhenney.

Paul Mullin's two goals created a party atmosphere at the sell-out Racecourse and at the final whistle, emotional Wrexham fans spilled out onto the pitch as their Hollywood owners - who made the club world famous with their Disney+ We Are Wrexham documentary - cried in the directors' box.

"People said at the beginning 'why Wrexham?', this is exactly why Wrexham, happening right now," Deadpool star Reynolds told BT Sport, pointing to the celebrating Wrexham fans.

"I'm not sure I can actually process what happened tonight, I'm speechless."

Supporters - who once could only watch in horror as the club flirted with extinction and winding-up orders as it struggled with multi-million pound debts more then a decade ago - hugged and punched the air as they watched Wrexham win the National League title with a record points tally.

McElhenney added to BT Sport: "How it feels for the town is the most important to us - it's a moment of catharsis for them and celebration - and to be welcomed into this community and this experience is the honour of my life."

The owners joined their team on the pitch and embraced the players that made their dream come true before Wrexham captain Ben Tozer lifted the National League trophy.

Wrexham players sang Queen's anthem We Are The Champions in the dressing room as fans spilled out onto the streets after a historic evening and what their owners might describe as a Hollywood ending.

It wasn't lost on Reynolds, who wanted a memento of this historic occasion for him and his club, as his gate-crashed Wrexham's post-match press conference to get goalkeeper Ben Foster's shirt.

"Foster, Foster.... jersey now," demanded a joking Reynolds.

"It is his jersey," laughed Foster, the former England and Manchester United goalkeeper.

"It stinks by the way, it absolutely stinks."

Seldom has there been such a global focus on a team winning a title in English football's fifth tier, but the draw of Reynolds and McElhenney - plus their behind-the-scenes series at the world's third oldest club - has made Wrexham international news.

But promotion isn't just the dream of their celebrity owners, but the thousands of Wrexham fans - especially those at the sold out Racecourse on Saturday evening - that have suffered their fair share of turmoil and agony.

"This is fantastic, this is amazing - I can't speak I'm so happy, it's the best day ever," said supporter Laura Roberts as she left the Racecourse.

Elwyn Davies, a Wrexham fan since 1957, added: "This is absolutely wonderful, I didn't sleep much last night and I've been nervous leading up to the game but we did it."

"I can't believe we won the league - but we all knew it would happen," said 11-year-old Cali Howet, who cannot wait to see her team in the Football League for the first time in her lifetime.

"It's amazing - I love Ryan and Rob, they've done so much for the city."

Wrexham's promotion also got Royal approval as the Prince of Wales tweeted: "Congratulations Wrexham AFC.

"A club with such amazing history, looking forward to a very exciting future back in the Football League. Doing Wales proud," Prince William said on Twitter.

Former England striker and Match of the Day host Gary Lineker also congratulated Wrexham on social media, while Wrexham legend Mickey Thomas, the former Wales and Manchester United star, thanked the club's players and owners for sealing promotion.

The whole city came out to join the party and at half-time, staff at Maesgwyn Hall, where many fans were watching the game, said they had sold 6,600 pints so far and needed more kegs to make it to the end of the match.

BBC News reporter Brendon Williams at the Racecourse

In every corner of the city, a chant of "15 years of hurt" was heard over the Saturday evening breeze, but it was chanted with joy, because for those Wrexham fans, the hurt is now over.

Horns were sounding all over the place and there were still people outside the Racecourse gates for hours after the final whistle, presumably hoping to get a glimpse of their Hollywood owners to show their love and appreciation.

At one end of the ground, fans packed into the Turf Pub, where the club was formed back in 1864, now more famous for its central role in Ryan and Rob's We Are Wrexham series blockbuster.

Across the road, music and singing was blasting from the Maesgwyn Hall.

It felt like the whole city was celebrating - and for these fans, many of whom have suffered some dark times in recent decades, I get the sense that the party has only just begun.

However, it wasn't straight forward for nervy Wrexham as they were held 1-1 at half-time - and even went behind in the first minute as Boreham Wood opened the scoring.

But Wrexham responded as top scorer Mullin led an incredible recovery, scoring his 46th and 47th goal of the season as the side won the second title in their history.

"I'd like to say Paul Mullin is one of the greatest football players in the world," added It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia star McElhenney.

Much to the delight of acting star Rudd who was seen chatting with fans, posing for pictures and singing songs ahead of the big game in the pub next to the ground.

Since the takeover by Reynolds and McElhenney in 2021, the club has surged in popularity around the world with acting royalty Will Ferrell and football icon David Beckham going to Wrexham games.

But Rudd was there for one of the most important games in the club's 159-year history.

Mair Roberts, 81, and her brother William Griffiths, 83, have been coming to Wrexham games for 100 years between them.

Speaking before kick-off, William said he has been supporting Wrexham "for 60 odd years", and asked how today compares to the last six decades, he replied: "It's unbelievable isn't it? The owners we've got are fantastic."

Sister Mair has been coming for 40 years - and got it spot on as she predicted a 3-1 Wrexham win and promised she'll be "dancing all night" if they went up.

pursueing title rivals Notts County's win against Maidstone earlier, only one point separated the two teams before kick-off.

Nine-year-old Sonny, going to the game with his dad Doug, said he had never known a day as exciting as this one.

"I'm just really excited, I'm buzzing with excitement," he said before the game.

Paris Trow, manager of Maesgwyn Hall in Wrexham, said the city had changed substantially over the last few years since the takeover.

"It's just so much more busy, the amount of people coming… everyone's talking about Wrexham. It's just madness," she added.

"It's doing so much for the Welsh language, for Wales, Welsh culture, everything in general. It's just absolutely brilliant."

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