Wrexham seal promotion to English Football League with blockbuster win

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Wrexham seal promotion to English Football League with blockbuster win

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Paul Mullin wheels away in celebration of Wrexham's third goal
Paul Mullin wheels away in celebration of Wrexham's third goalReuters
Wrexham secured a fairy-tale return to the English Football League after a 15-year absence with their Hollywood owners watching on as they beat Boreham Wood 3-1 to win the National League with a game to spare on Saturday.

All eyes were on the Welsh club owned by Hollywood actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney as they sought the victory that would secure their emotional return to League Two.

Boreham Wood threatened to rip up the script when they scored in the opening minute, but an Elliot Lee (26) equaliser after 15 minutes settled the nerves of the sell-out Racecourse Ground.

Wrexham co-owners Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds celebrate their third goal
Wrexham co-owners Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds celebrate their third goalReuters

Wrexham then turned on the style after the break with striker Paul Mullin (28) scoring twice, his second goal in the 71st minute kick-starting the promotion party.

Promotion rivals Notts County had earlier beaten Maidstone 5-2 to raise the stakes but Wrexham responded in blockbuster fashion to seal the title.

They have an incredible 110 points with Notts County on 106.

When the final whistle sounded Reynolds looked overcome with emotion in his seat in the stands while thousands of fans streamed on to the pitch with red flares being set off.

Wrexham's promotion back to the Football League is one of the most unlikely stories for many a long season, thanks to a healthy dollop of Hollywood glitz.

The 158-year-old club was relegated from League Two in 2008, faced financial oblivion and after three heartbreaking losses in the promotion playoffs were destined for football's wilderness.

The COVID-19 shortened 2019-20 season saw the club reach its lowest ebb as they finished 19th in the National League but a strange twist of fate was just around the corner.

In November 2020, Canadian actor Reynolds and American actor McElhenney bought the club after their bid received almost 100% backing from the Wrexham Supporters Trust - most of whom must have been scratching their heads in astonishment.

Ryan Reynolds signs autographs before the game on Saturday
Ryan Reynolds signs autographs before the game on SaturdayReuters

Suddenly everything began to change for the gritty border town, once known for its iron and coal and leather industry.

Reynolds and McElhenney set about restoring the pride back into the football club and within months, Wrexham became the first minor league side to feature on the hugely-popular FIFA video game in the 'rest of the world' category.

Soon the fantasy football was being played out in real life and Wrexham finished second in the league last season before losing 5-4 to Grimsby Town in the play-off semi-final.

The locals, who may have suspected at first it was simply a publicity stunt, were energised by the enthusiam of the new showbiz owners who took a keen interest in all aspects of the club, from the fans to the women's team.

Then, in 2022, the club took on cult status thanks to the Disney docu-series 'Welcome to Wrexham', which struck a chord with sports fans across the Atlantic and beyond.

Celebrities such as Will Ferrell and Hugh Jackman began to show their support while American tourists began flocking to the town for a pre-match pint with the locals.

"We could not buy the promotion that (the owners) are bringing to the area," Jim Jones, chief executive of North Wales Tourism, told the BBC.

"It's a great gateway for people who visit Wrexham to then visit the rest of beautiful north Wales.

"I think there's not a lot that we really have to do because Rob and Ryan are doing it all for us."

Reynolds and McElhenney have not just invested heavily in the club - they have become diehard fans - evidenced by their chewed fingernails in a heart-stopping 3-2 win this month against promotion-rivals Notts County.

"That was the most dramatic thing I've ever seen in my life. I couldn't watch – I'm never going to be the same again," Deadpool actor Reynolds said after Wrexham's former Manchester United keeper Ben Foster (40) made a last-gasp penalty save.

Saturday might have even topped that as the club Reynolds and McElhenney transformed served up a blockbuster.

Check out the game summary with Flashscore.

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