And just like that, Wrexham’s 15-year purgatory in footballing anguish – better known by its official name, the National League – is over; the ear-splitting din reverberating down a teeming Mold Road announcing to the universe the christening of the third oldest club in the world as League Two newbies has officially passed.

You would have been forgiven if during all the Welsh bucket-hatted bonhomie you never noticed the usual wet towels thrown by their scowling critics. Jealousy is a cruel mistress, a popular anthem of which has ostensibly come to be a pithy suggestion to Wrexham fans to stick one of their co-owners up their backsides to the tune of SteveSongs’ ‘She’ll Be Coming Around the Mountain’.

Never underestimate football fans’ proclivity for cleverly vicious remixes on children’s classics, nor the extent to which unfettered envy can seep into the drooling psyches of supporters, transcending leagues and commandeering media headlines around the globe when actual good owners are involved.

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This is not a piece instructing football fans to shove their Wrexham jealousy — and it is jealousy — up their respective backsides, nor is this a piece constructed to malign or invalidate that jealousy, nor a rival team’s wholesale conviction to p*ss all over the Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds Wrexham parade during the season. In fact, I'm one of you.

If anything, this piece is designed to make you (me) feel infinitely better about your (our) jealousy of a club finally shaking off 15 years of non-league tragicomedy to the tune of Declan Swans; to validate your inherent response to the media circus surrounding the club as a totally objective, even involuntary reaction. Like vomiting from Taco Bell.

The old maxim goes that we’re not to covet thy neighbour’s anything. But when 'anything' is replaced with 'Hollywood owners with a fervent passion for their football club' and (most notably) 'oodles of raw, bottomless cash to fuel that passion', following that basic rule of thumb becomes incredibly difficult.

Yes, other football clubs and fandoms have every reason to feel the greasy tentacles of envy towards those clad in red and white and singing the name of former League-Two-should’ve-been-League-One-star Super Paul Mullin.

The swathes of potential clubs that Hollywood could have helicopterd upon and struck their dual-national North American flag into are infinite. That McElhenney and Reynolds’ whims led them to Wrexham – a lowly, uber-historic sleeping giant of north Wales – as their chosen helipad has triggered an unsolicited worldwide obsession that can roil the emotions of even the most reasonable and phlegmatic football supporter.

On a late train home from Manchester less than 24 hours before Wrexham’s tub-thumping promotion-securing 3-1 victory over Boreham Wood, I was greeted by one such person: a strikingly burly Stockport supporter with a panting bulldog and a softly gnarled red salt-and-pepper beard.

Jordan Davies celebrates with the Vanarama National League trophy
Jordan Davies celebrates with the Vanarama National League trophy

After being inquired of the team I support, I found myself swallowed by the spewing of truths: the game’s ever-constant decline from the indistinct ‘good ol’ days’, the raw and infallible purity of lower-tier football and the preferential treatment of the country’s upper echelons. The upper echelons and, of course, Wrexham.

Stockport, he explained to curious looks around the carriage, secured promotion from the National League last season after a decade of wilderness and are now fourth – fourth! – in League Two. Ten years is not 15 years, he conceded, but where is Stockport's media field day? Where are the mega-global docuseries and BBC News bulletins? Surely Stockport is as marketable as Wrexham?

I wasn’t sure if it was this man’s surprisingly dulcet voice, or the ginger manner in which he offered mini Tesco sausage rolls to his 10-month-old hyperventilating assistance dog as if they were Fabergé eggs, but I struggled not to empathise with the man’s case.

Because, the irony was, he was right. In fact, a number of the historic-cum-basket-case clubs inexpressibly yo-yoing in the lower league depths, flirting with the concept of existential dread and touting a history of financial strife, would make fine docuseries subjects. Notts County, for one, would be fantastic.

Why Wrexham?

Celebrate Wrexham's promotion back to the Football League with our 48-page special edition

Wrexham AFC have finally secured their place back in the Football League after 15 agonising years in the non-league wilderness. Phil Parkinson and his men were forced to battle almost until the very end to clinch the National League title, mainly due to the relentless challenge of Notts County at the summit.


The achievement was also due in no small part to the investment of the club's Hollywood co-chairmen Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney, who have immersed themselves in the vibrant culture of the Wrexham community. The team was also backed in huge numbers throughout the campaign by an army of supporters both in Wales and from across the globe.

To celebrate Wrexham's success, we're putting together a special print publication charting an unforgettable season in the history of the Dragons and reliving the big Hollywood fairy tale so far.

There will also be plenty of celebration pictures as well as a champions poster for you to enjoy. Pre-order your copy HERE or pick it up in participating retailers, supermarkets and newsagents in North Wales from 5 May, 2023.

If you don't live in the area, don't worry - we have you covered. We will post UK and worldwide.

It is a question which speaks to a grander human experience, the one in which you invariably question why your colleague – fine lad, but nothing special – received that big pay raise over you. Or why Sarah’s children know how to eat their peas without wearing them on their body like your own kids. Or why anything half-decent at all happens to someone else and not yourself? It’s the entire phenomenon of humanity, our inescapable instincts for self-interest and its relationship with the tenuous concept of fairness.

And it is a phenomenon most condensed and richly experienced in football.

Because most football fans embrace the game’s basic pillar that the rational response to absolutely anything is wrong. Overreaction and irreverence are key, even when we are consciously aware that this is the lane we’re electing to drive in.

So when something good happens somewhere else that is not your club, fans are bound by a civic duty to view the occurrence as a direct act of war.

In what division will Wrexham being playing in in five years' time? Vote below or click here

Wrexham has exponentially amplified this experience to new heights. This is the team-next-door who have cut themselves into a global media conglomerate. They made a local trailer company cool. An entire docuseries episode was crafted on the apprentice of a groundsman not knowing how to make eggs, and they made you feel a compelling level of affinity towards this total stranger that you never even held towards your own immediate family.

Yes, this club and its hierarchy are annoyingly charismatic. Wrexham fans refer to their owners by their first names, in a charmingly pleasing alliteration, and none of it is in subversive jest. The club un-retired former Manchester United keeper Ben Foster. They have also inadvertently un-retired Hal Robson ‘Cruyff Turn’ Kanu. And then fansrebuffed him.

It is difficult imagining Grimsby Town getting away with such pluck.

None of which has come to mention the Hollywood aspect. The Racecourse Ground and its rusted turnstiles have become the new Hollywood Walk of Fame. This is a team that convinced Elf, Ant Man and the cast of It’s Always Sunny to just show up in north Wales.

Joe Russo was with Paul Rudd in Wrexham on Saturday

Yes, the entire media kamikaze that has surrounded the club can be puke-inducing for those not of a Wrexham persuasion. It’s undeniably gut-squirming to watch the UK’s most elite football pundits fawn over the Hollywood owners like starstruck 14-year-olds at a first-ever Take That concert when those owners aren’t yours.

Watching Gary Lineker – the same unflappable Gary Lineker who hardly flinched during that sex noise phone prank – transform before the nation’s very eyes into a mimetic pantomime of a comatose smitten fangirl from the 1960s at the mere utterance of his name by Ryan Reynolds in the gantry before Wrexham’s FA Cup clash with big dogs Sheffield United is tremendous fun if you’re a Wrexham fan. If you’re not, it invokes a full-body convulsion.

Of course, if it were your club, we’d be unabashedly slurping back on that sycophantic-media juice. And that is the operative phrase here: "If it were your club". Because that fickleness is completely fine. That’s literally half the ethos of football fandom.

But looking at the Wrexham takeover and the subsequent success relished by the club and its corresponding community should also be considered more seriously through a prism of example after Saturday night’s promotion.

McElhenney and Reynolds have entirely rewritten the script for sustainable ownership. In a game where the status quo for club takeovers is cut in the mould of oil-backed sovereign nations and dubious megalomaniacs, this is a stewardship whose financial records are not merely transparent and clean, but seemingly aseptic.

Indeed, McElhenney and Reynolds represent the direct antithesis to the scheming, navel-gazing, rapacious stock character who has come to readily assume the role of football owner in today’s iteration of the game.

More significantly is the manner in which the pair utilise their investment. The club announced an annual loss of £2.9million and £6m in turnover in their first accounting period, a period which does not include the impact of the Welcome to Wrexham documentary. On the basis of this, Wrexham look set to slip seamlessly into League Two’s salary cost management protocol, whereby League Two clubs are restricted to spending 55 per cent of turnover on wages.

The numbers, of course, only tell part of the story.

After his team’s defeat to Wrexham, Yeovil Town manager Mark Cooper praised Wrexham’s ownership model, highlighting/italicising/bolding/outlining in Sharpie the owners’ modus operandi of leaving the football part of football up to the actual football people.

It can sound basic, but it's something that a number of owners, particularly American, routinely fail to consider. New Chelsea owner Todd Boehly fantastically flouts the convention, while the Manchester United owners the Glazers seem hellbent on refuting it. For those craving a more local comparison, a glance down south to Swansea will suffice for a similarly stark comparison.

Is it completely fair to compare what those in the Championship and Premier League are attempting to execute with the blueprints of a now-League Two side? Conventional wisdom says not. But Reynolds and McElhenney have shown the perceived fool-proof formula for football success of "money + football club = dominance" isn’t as airtight as Manchester City have suggested.

Wrexham's Paul Mullin celebrates following promotion to the EFL following the Vanarama National League match at The Racecourse Ground, Wrexham
Wrexham's Paul Mullin celebrates promotion

There is a heavy dose of humility in this strategy, a keen understanding from the owners of their roles as the marketable, engaging ringmasters of the show, as well as the savvy and respect to grasp the concept that football doesn’t merely happen on the pitch but in a deeply complex, exacting and ineffably fragile infrastructure that more often than not does not require their expertise. Or lack thereof.

History also comes into play. Wrexham’s story arc, as many have pointed out, did not begin when these two stumbled upon it during Covid-19. The story of modern football can’t be told without numerous chapters on the club and its fanbase. The Wrexham Supporters Trust deserve to be the asterisk over the entire Hollywood script.

McElhenney and Reynolds have not so much tapped into this history as run with it into the Yr Wyddfa sunset; that they have done so without sacrificing the charm, pride and identity of the club is one of the most laudable attributes of their ownership.

The caveat to all of this is that there is only one Rob and Ryan in football’s grand story. And this one has decidedly landed at Wrexham. The odds of your club being taken over by the exorbitantly rich and famous from Hollywood and subsequently ossified into the American psyche faster than the Beatles is highly doubtful.

And for that, you are right to be jealous. And for their current success too. And for the way in which this fanbase has been lifted into the sunshine and embraced.

But where the ownership duo’s circumstances can certainly feel like a special exception to the rule, their unrelenting passion for their club and their steadfast commitment to the community should not be viewed as such. Rather a blueprint for the future.

The latter risks sounding ridiculously romantic but perhaps one day this Hollywood miracle can translate to normalcy. Club owners will be more like Rob and Ryan, and the media circus won’t be required because that level of magnanimity and care is applied universally.

The odds are slim. Still, if there’s anything this new ownership has taught football in the UK, it is that nothing is impossible.

If nothing else from those gazing broodingly from the outside reading this, perhaps an iota of respect now underpins that totally warranted jealousy.


I spent the night at the Turf pub as Wrexham won the league and it was awesome as fans partied away

Wrexham promoted to Football League as Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney celebrate

Paul Rudd sips pints with Wrexham fans at pub as he supports pal Ryan Reynolds