As Paul Mullin delivered the punchlines of Wrexham’s Hollywood script, County struck gold with the striker they signed for just £50,000 from Gateshead.
From ball boy in Middlesbrough to hard work as a labourer, 41-goal sensation Macaulay Langstaff is the Rembrandt Notts County masterpiece discovered in the attic.
Wrexham Paul Mullin’s 42-goal shootout for striker Langstaff at the Racecourse Ground on Monday has been billed as the greatest non-league game in history.
As Mullin delivered the punchlines of Wrexham’s Hollywood script, County struck gold with the striker he signed for just £50,000 from Gateshead.
With delicious timing, Wrexham’s shock 3-1 defeat at Halifax on Good Friday and County’s 3-0 win over Wealdstone left both clubs on 100 points atop the National League.
Before the end of the month, one of them will be promoted to the Football League – and the other will have to negotiate the drama of the play-offs, where Wrexham broke down in a madhouse of nine goals against Grimsby last season.
Langstaff, whose haul comes exclusively from open play, was compared to Erling Haaland earlier this season as he leveled the Manchester City beast’s goal for goal.
But he credits his humble, unassuming roots on Teesside for his incredible form and taking to life in the box like a Venus flytrap devouring passing insects.
He said: “I was a ballboy at Middlesbrough when I was 12 and I’m still a huge Boro fan, but it’s been a special eight months and I would love nothing more than to play for Notts County in the Football League.
“Early in my career, I worked as a laborer for about six months and played in front of around 100 people for Stockton Town before I managed to get a full-time job in football.
“Getting out of bed while it was still dark to go to work motivated me to become a professional footballer.
“Jamie Vardy and Rickie Lambert, who moved from non-League to England, had that drive and desire, so there is a way forward if you want it. Working in a factory has been very helpful to them and they have shown what you can accomplish.
“Obviously I play at a lower level than Haaland, so any comparison with him was just kind of amusing, but at the same time being mentioned in the same sentence as him gives you that bit of confidence.
“I don’t have Haaland’s physical attributes but I can replicate the positions he has in the box because he scores a lot of goals at the far post – and if it’s good for him, it’s good enough for me. .
“Although people say scoring goals is the hardest part of football, I don’t believe it because I have teammates who pass three players and put it on a plate for me in the box.
“But you have to respect what Paul has done for Wrexham this season and the comparison starts with the numbers we have achieved.
“He’s a proven goalscorer, not only at this level but also in Ligue 2, and he’s had an amazing season.
“I’ve only spoken to him once, when we played each other at Meadow Lane earlier in the season – before kick-off he came up to me and said, ‘Hey, you’re flying in. this moment”, which was very respectful of him.
“For someone who’s had such a great career so far, giving me this recognition was fantastic and there’s no rivalry between us. We’re probably pushing each other to score as many goals as possible. .
“I’ve never set goals because if I set a goal of 20 and hit it, I might have felt comfortable with that and I never want to live in that space or become less motivated.
County and Wrexham have scored 212 goals between them this season, with Langstaff and Mullin accounting for 83 of them. Ridiculous, but incredible.
It would be a travesty if they didn’t both regain League status – Wrexham have been out of the EFL mainstream for 15 years, while the Magpies dove into the shooter’s hatch in 2019.
County boss Luke Williams said: “Goals make the world go round in this industry, and when you look at it now, we completely ripped Gateshead off to sign Macaulay for £50,000.
“But that was their rate at the time and it turned out to be incredibly good value. It’s like stealing, but we’re delighted with it.
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