It’s not just on the pitch that you can feel the feel-good factor – as you walk around the city, it’s clear that the sense of community and togetherness is ever-present
Excitement builds as the crowd lines up at the barriers. You can feel it in the air as the chat gets louder when their heroes are spotted.
The first out of the Wrexham AFC racecourse are the players signing autographs and posing for selfies.
Then, fans start singing a favorite chant from It’s Always Sunny in Wrexham: “Nobody’s invested as much as a penny, bring in Deadpool and Rob McElhenney.”
Soon the crowd erupts in deafening cheers when American actor Rob, who took over Wales’ oldest professional team with Deadpool star Ryan Reynolds two and a half years ago, appears with the film crew in trailer.
The team is set to return to the Football League after 15 years in exile.
But it’s not just on the pitch that you can feel the feel-good factor, Hollywood is sprinkling its magic around town and changing its fortunes dramatically.
And as you walk through the city, it’s clear that the sense of community and unity is ever-present.
Fanzine writer Liam Randall, 34, of the Fearless in Devotion podcast, says: ‘You see people buying into it. Local businesses like estate agents, hairdressers, they all have Wrexham flags in their windows, they have the crest everywhere, it created a real sense of pride.
“The economy also benefits, which can only be good for the city.
“When I was young you didn’t see a lot of kids wearing Wrexham shirts, it was [Manchester] United and Liverpool shirts, now you go to the park and it’s all Wrexham.
“I remember the first game after Covid, walking to the stadium, it was so alive and I realized something was going on here.”
And soon the world started to wake up and notice it too.
Thanks to Welcome to Wrexham, the Disney+ documentary series which follows the takeover of the club by Reynolds and McElhenney, global sales of Wrexham Lager have soared and he has welcomed 10,000 visitors to his brewery over the past two years. only.
Meanwhile, £136million has been invested in Wrexham Industrial Estate by landowner Tim Knowles who cited this same feel-good factor.
The club’s transatlantic owners were granted freedom of the city for their immense impact.
Long-time fan Geraint Lloyd, 45, says: “They did that for all of North Wales. Wrexham Women had 9,000 fans at one match, so here you have a poster for Kings of Leon (who will play a gig on the ground next month).
He adds: “If you look at our heritage, it’s all coal and steel, the Gresford Colliery disaster (in which 266 men died in 1934) was coal.
“We’re not like Chester on the road which is posh, we’re very working class. That’s probably why they bought the club, there are lots of different stories you can hear here.
Trip boss Don Bircham, former CEO of Wrexham, said the star duo’s takeover was “beyond anyone’s wildest dreams”.
He adds: “It put the city of football not just on the UK map, but on the world map. The city benefited from the exposure, businesses benefited from the volume of people in town.
“You can’t get a ticket for love or money because now there are 10,000 people at every home game and when they build the new stand we could be talking about 15,000.
“They’re all coming to town, they’re all eating, they’re all drinking, and they’re all having fun.”
And it’s not just neighbors flocking to town, Americans and Canadians in particular have made the trip, including actor Will Ferrell who walked into The Turf pub, run by Wayne Jones, to a pre-match pint when he visited last month.
40-year-old fan Rob Clarke runs Mad4Movies in historic Wrexham Butcher’s Market and appears in the first series of Welcome To Wrexham.
“Americans, a few Canadians, a Japanese girl found me on a game day,” he said.
“We have struggled since Covid. It gave everyone a boost. When Wrexham is doing well, there’s always been a bit of a buzz and it’s so amplified.
Michael Starkey, 36, a financial adviser from southern Alabama, is another American fan who hopes to play the next game against Boreham Wood.
He says: “I went down the rabbit hole shortly after seeing that the takeover had taken place.
“I watched all the YouTube videos I could on Wrexham, listened to all the podcasts and immersed myself not only in the club, but also in the history and culture. It has become such an important part of my life.
“Fingers crossed, toes crossed, I’m coming next weekend.
“Rob sent me a message on Twitter, which was amazing and very surreal, thanking me for following and supporting the team.
“I will just say that he and the people around him are helping me at Wrexham a lot sooner than expected.
“If my passport arrives in time, it will change my life.
“Meeting the fans I have small friendships with – I’ve had people send me match schedules from 30 years ago and Wrexham Lager – words can’t do him justice.”
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