IAN HERBERT: Ligte, kamera, aksie! Wrexham’s famous duo Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney got a royal welcome as they rolled into town – but make no mistake, they are dead serious about giving this non-league Welsh club a Hollywood ending
The bashful demeanour of Wrexham’s owners Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney, as they stepped up through the club’s main stand to talk, may have had something to do with the royal welcome they have received here in the past few days.
They dominated the front pages of the local North Wales newspapers on Thursday, where their impromptu visit to the Turf pub, which borders the ground, featured extremely prominently. Relentless spirit shots were poured for them there.
‘I’m surprised we didn’t end up on the pitch,’ related Reynolds.
Ryan Reynolds (reg) and Rob McElhenney (links) want a Hollywood ending for Wrexham
As you passed the section of Mold Road pavement near the ground which was roped off on Thursday evening, with security guards on hand to ensure the pair could actually make their way out, you wondered once again if this was all too good to be true.
Yet the most striking part of an hour’s talk with the actors was how substantive it all seemed.
The conversation was leavened by far more serious resolve than the anticipated humour.
The incessant drizzle of a grey North Wales day – it’s not always sunny in Wrexham – was as inauspicious as the first match the pair had attended on Tuesday night: a 3-2 National League defeat at mid-table Maidenhead.
The Hollywood pair spoke to media at the Racecourse Ground on a drizzly Thursday afternoon
The Wrexham owners want to tell the story of a working class club and a working class town
But the look on the face of McElhenney – the member of this pair for whom this mission seems to have become a personal obsession – told you he had lived every moment of the 90 minute.
Reynolds has such an easy line in humour that the line ‘Maidenhead was intense, really intense’ ought to have come out deadpan. It was dead straight.
They made no bones about the fact that their reality TV series for the FX network – geregtig Welcome to Wrexham – is fundamental to why they are here. The word ‘storytelling’ featured four times.
‘We want to tell the story of a working-class club and a working-class town,’ said McElhenney. ‘The documentary is a huge part of that.’
McElhenney said this football epiphany dated to sitting on the sofa during lockdown, telling his wife: ‘I want to buy a football club,’ then persuading Reynolds to go in with him. Netflix series Sunderland ‘Til I Die had also struck a chord by then.
Wrexham has had more than its share of Sunderland’s post-industrial travails. The North Wales coalfield has gone the same way as the Brymbo and Shotton steelworks.
McElhenney spoke of reaching to the core of a working-class struggle replicated in the club’s struggle to reach the Football League, which it dropped out of 13 jare terug. ‘There’s a Cinderella aspect,’ Reynolds gesê. ‘It’s an underdog story.’
Reynolds and McElhenney also wish to take the club all the way to the Premier League
It was by no means all socio-economic seriousness. At one point Reynolds was asked how it felt to be the ‘big dog’.
‘That’s the kind of thing only my wife calls me,’ hy het gesê.
The pair can accept that other National League clubs will come gunning for them, though McElhenney felt that rival fans talking about his ‘petro-dollars’ was taking it a bit too far. ‘I want to say I do not own any oilfields,’ hy het gesê.
Talk of Wrexham being made a ‘global force’ was serious, wel. The pair were introduced to the town’s bid to be the UK’s 2025 City of Culture on Thursday and expressed a wish to help. Reynolds wants to get his friend Will Ferrell, die akteur, to the Racecourse.
There was a repeated wish – however much others might scoff – of taking the club all the way to the Premier League.
‘Couldn’t we theoretically make this happen?’ asked McElhenney.
‘Why not dream big,’ added Reynolds. ‘If you don’t dream big, you will never go there, so why not?’
Hollywood actor Reynolds takes selfies with fans outside the ground after arriving on Thursday
Reynolds, pictured with fans, accepts other National League clubs will come gunning for them
Easier said than done, natuurlik. The club’s labours suggest the Americans’ hope of promotion this season are not a given. But there is no hint of a threat to manager Phil Parkinson. ‘We believe in him,’ said McElhenney.
And when the Wrexham story has no more documentary series left in it, will they still be here?
‘Ja, 100 persent,’ said Reynolds. ‘I think that’s the entire idea,’ added McElhenney.
‘Eventually the documentary will cease but this club will not and neither will we. We’re going to be here as long as they’ll have us.’
Hollywood ending or not, it will be some story.