A touch of Hollywood

Nobody seems to talk about Wrexham FC without mentioning the takeover in 2021 by Hollywood stars Ryan Reynolds & Rob McElhenny, the club’s co-Chairs.  Suddenly, a National League football side that had struggled for years, gained international attention.  By April 2023 they won the National League (their 1st league title in 45 years) with a record points total of 111.

How are they doing?

This looks like being a tough test for Rovers.  It’s a game that was postponed from December.

Wrexham are 3rd in the league, so in an automatic promotion slot in their first League 2 season back.  They are one of the highest scoring sides in the league (at almost 2 goals a game).

If there are some rays of hope for Rovers, it is Wrexham’s home form that has been their real strength this season.  They have scored 44 goals at home compared with only 14 goals away.  Recent results for Wrexham have been a little mixed – they were on a 3 match losing streak before winning their last 2 games;

Newport 1-0 Wrexham, Salford 3-1 Wrexham, Wrexham 0-1 Bradford, Sutton 1-2 Wrexham, Wrexham 1-0 Notts County.

Overall, they have 17 wins, 7 losses, and 7 draws.

The Manager

Phil Parkinson has managed Wrexham since 2021.  The former midfielder has had an impressive managerial career over 20 years.

2003–2006 Colchester United
2006 Hull City
2008–2011 Charlton Athletic
2011–2016 Bradford City
2016–2019 Bolton Wanderers
2019–2020 Sunderland
2021– Wrexham

Phil Parkinson - Men's Staff - Staff - Wrexham AFC

Wrexham manager, Phil Parkinson.

Who to watch?

3 of Wrexham’s players featured in the National League’s team of the season, announced in the summer.  All are still at the club.

Striker Paul Mullin is a player Rovers fans will have seen winning the League 2 golden boot when he was at Cambridge.  After Cambridge were promoted to League 1, Mullin made a surprise move to National League Wrexham.  One of the highest paid contracted players, Mullin continues to be force for Wrexham with 10 league goals this season.  He is Wrexham’s 2nd top scorer.

Centre back Ben Tozer used to be a Cheltenham player and is Wrexham’s rock at the back and one of their most influential players.  Tozer’s main claim to fame is a weapon of a long throw.

Elliot Lee is a passionate controlling central defender who scores goals.  A product of West Ham, where he made just 2 Premier League appearances, Lee had played most of his career in the Championship and League 1 before his move to Wrexham in 2022.  Slightly out of character, he can’t seem to stop scoring goals this season both with head and feet.  With 14 goals this season he clearly has a knack of turning up at the right time, and is Wrexham’s top scorer.

The Bookseller - Rights - Century scores autobiography by Wrexham AFC star Mullin

Striker Paul Mullin.

Gone a little bit sour' - Ben Tozer opens up about leaving Cheltenham Town for Wrexham - The72

Centre back Ben Tozer.

New Wrexham signing Elliot Lee reveals reason why he shunned EFL clubs for Dragons - North Wales Live

Central midfielder Elliot Lee.

The Club

Wrexham FC lay claim to be the 3rd oldest professional association football team in the world.  Their home, the Racecourse Ground, is the world’s oldest international stadium that still continues to host international games.

Most of the club’s early history has been spent in football’s 3rd tier.  There was a brief spell in the late 70’s when they played in the 2nd tier, and a couple of periods in the 4th tier in the 60’s and 80’s.  Financial troubles saw a steep decline which ended with them relegated to the National League in 2008.  In 2011 the Wrexham Supporters Trust (WST) took over the club to save it from expulsion from the National League (£127,000 was raised by fans in one day).  In 2021 Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenny took over the club from the WST and, in 2022, they bought their ground back from Glyndwr University.  Overall, it has taken them 15 years to return to the EFL.  This is their first season back.

If their league form over the years has been average, their form in the Cups has been a feature of the club’s history.  These are some highlights;

  • 8 campaigns in the European Cup Winners Cup between 1972 and 1996 – they qualified as Welsh Cup winners.  The years below are all in the FA Cup.
  • 1973 – quarter finalists after beating Shrewsbury, Rotherham, Middlesborough, Crystal Palace & Southampton.
  • 1992 – defeated champions Arsenal 2-1, helped by a famous Mickey Thomas free-kick.
  • 1995 – defeated top flight Ipswich 2-1 at home (lost 5-2 to Man Utd in the next round).
  • 1997 – beat West Ham 1-0 in a replay at Upton Park.
  • 2000 – beat top flight Middlesborough 2-1.
  • 2023 – defeated Coventry City before losing to Sheffield Utd in a replay – the last non-league side in the competition.

The side are known as The Dragons since the early 2000’s (‘the Robins’ was thought to be too unoriginal!).

Wrexham have some quite bitter local rivalries, with geographical neighbours Chester, Shrewsbury and Tranmere in particular.  Wrexham has a hooligan firm called ‘the Front Line’ that has been involved in some major disorder since the 1980’s.

Wrexham’s Racecourse Ground.

Wrex the Dragon, Wrexham’s mascot.

Some Hollywood background

Ryan Reynolds with wife Blake Lively and 2 of his daughters.

Ryan Reynolds is a Canadian who also became an American citizen fairly recently.  He was engaged to Alanis Morrisette, engaged and married to Scarlett Johansen, and is now married to Blake Lively, his co-star in the 2010 film Green Lantern.  The couple have 4 daughters (the most recent born this year) – the eldest of these is called James.  Reynolds has appeared in over 50 movies – the ‘Deadpool’ trilogy perhaps his most well known.

Rob McElhenny with wife Caitlin Olsen.

Rob McElhenny is the lesser known half of Wrexham’s Hollywood duo.  His movie credits include 8 films but he may be best known his writing and producing and for his TV work – ‘It’s always sunny in Philadelphia’ his best known.  He married Caitlin Olsen in 2008 and they have 2 sons.

In July 2023, McElhenney was diagnosed with “a host of neurodevelopmental disorders and learning disabilities”.  Philadelphia born and raised, McElhenny bought a bar in Philadelphia (Mac’s Tavern) in 2009.