Cedwyn Scott, Notts County’s last hope, righted the ball on the spot from 12 yards and missed a chance to salvage his dream of promotion that was beginning to fade. The visitors had started the day top of the table, level on points with their hosts but knowing Wrexham had a game ahead that would prove crucial as the two clubs battled for the National League title and a single automatic promotion spot fought.
High in the stands, Wrexham’s Hollywood owners chewed frayed fingernails, hearts pounded in tension, Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney couldn’t watch. Scott stepped forward and the pair could finally bear a look, turning with eager eyes when goalkeeper Ben Foster tapped correctly to save the penalty and Wrexham began celebrating a 3-2 win to take the title in theirs to lay hands. A goalless draw against Barnet and then a win over relegated Yeovil now have the Red Dragons one win away from promotion to the EFL.
Their first chance at promotion comes against Boreham Wood at the Racecourse Ground on Saturday, before taking a final day trip to the seafront to take on Torquay.
“That was just banana,” Reynolds gasped as he and Foster embraced in the tunnel after defeating Notts County. “It was the most dramatic thing I’ve ever seen in my life. I couldn’t look – and then I turned around just in time to see you. I will never be the same again.”
Of course you could have scripted it too. Foster’s intervention was snapped from the frames, an aging hero called out of retirement for one last job. But that didn’t make the climax any less sweet as the Racecourse Ground roared. Perhaps there will be one more twist before the trophy is lifted, but for now this felt like the perfect ending scene to Wrexham’s fairy tale.
It was easy to scoff when Reynolds and Rob McElhenney finalized their takeover at the Racecourse Ground, dismissing it as a publicity stunt and a decision seemingly motivated as much by a desire to expand their entertainment portfolio as by a deep love of football.
And indeed, it would have been far easier for the pair to play the distant sugar daddies, fund the club from the Hollywood hills and jump in when it suited to improve their reputation or grow on social media. Neither needs that endeavor — there are wacky sitcoms to write and superhero franchises at the forefront.
But the couple has proven to be not only real Hollywood stars, but also real footballers. Seeing them in the drama of a clash at the top of the table that meant so much showed how they bought in after narrowly feeling the lows of last year’s promotion. Her qualities have shown in her investment in City and in supporting a women’s side making their own rise through the ranks.
That it’s also Wrexham feels kind of gratifying, the oldest club in Wales has been revived. Today’s city has always been a curious conurbation, a bit in-between in the border area, but football has always played a central role in society. The club may never have been in the English top flight but there is more than 150 years of sporting history embedded in the club, a team that has seen the ups and downs of so many smaller teams in lower and non-league football.
Sporting achievements can bind communities like Wrexham, which have been transformed over the last half century at a time of such significant cultural development. Football can provide a much-needed connection at times that now feel far away, bringing memories of family treks down familiar streets to get to the game, sharing pre-game cakes and post-game pints. Likewise, the investment and interest has also spurred new backers to further enrich and diversify the structure of the supporter base, reflecting the globalization of fandom.
All sporting entities crave global profile and cultural breakthrough and the presence of Reynolds and McElhenney is so valuable in highlighting the depth and color of the English football pyramid. For example, would viewers have been so keenly aware of Notts County’s struggle to return to where they feel they belonged, under their own unconventional owners, if they hadn’t been caught up in the broader story of Wrexham?
“It’s just crazy to me that there’s only one automatic promotion in this league,” Reynolds told BT Sport, magnanimous in victory and an unlikely supporter of structural reform in England’s fifth tier.
“If it were otherwise – and I think it should be – these two clubs would be partying together now because what they have done is not just creating drama that you would never see in a damn movie, but something that I think people will keep talking about forever.
“The fact that the National League has been given so much attention in this way is incredibly special and immensely worthy of not only the talent of Wrexham but Notts County as well.”
As petrochemical giants and state investment funds vie for commodities at the top of the game, and venture capitalists threaten to tear up the sport’s upper reaches to help the few rather than the many, here’s a club being rediscovered by two men who really care . Any mockery of Wrexham’s owners is misplaced – this is the kind of Hollywood story football should celebrate.