ON THE ROAD: Paul Mullin scripts the Hollywood ending for Ryan Reynolds as injury-time double books FA Trophy final date at Wembley for Wrexham
- Wrexham sealed a place in the FA Trophy final after beating Stockport 2-0
- Paul Mullins scored a dramatic late brace to help his side qualify for the final
- Co-chairman Ryan Reynolds was in attendance at the Racecourse Ground
- The result comes just a week after a sensational 6-5 win against Dover
Another of the more surreal days in the life of Wrexham concluded with Ryan Reynolds on the pitch with the team’s players – discussing the helplessness of being a football fan, his day-trip to North Wales from New York and the previous week’s 6-5 win over Dover.
‘You can’t do anything but just sit there and be a victim,’ Reynolds told team captain Ben Tozer after two very late goals by Paul Mullin had sealed an FA Trophy Wembley final place. Those who know a little about the club’s 14 years in the fifth tier will attest to that.
Wrexham amassed 98 points in the 2011/12 season but a Fleetwood Town side jet-propelled by Jamie Vardy’s goals were promoted to the Football League instead. They lost a play-off final the following year to a team bought by a National Lottery winner – Newport County.
Paul Mullin (above) scored a dramatic late brace to book Wrexham’s spot in the FA Trophy final
Co-chairman and Hollywood star Ryan Reynolds was pictured with midfielder Jordan Davies
The obstacle in the first full season since Hollywood stars Reynolds and Rob McElhenney bought the club has been Stockport County – a club spending £50,000-a-week, according to their recently published financial results. They flew to last week’s game at Eastleigh by private jet.
There is no naivety from the Welsh end of the equation. McElhenney and Reynolds installed Shaun Harvey, the former EFL and Leeds United chief executive to help them understand the challenge and evade the pitfalls of new ownership.
Boldness has been the byword. Forwards like Mullin and Ollie Palmer would not look out of place in League One. It means the club are by no means profitable, despite the new owners’ sinking an immediate £2million into their bank account. The loss for the year to June 2021 was £1.7m, a £437,000 increase on the previous 12 months.
Harvey said in Saturday’s programme notes that the figure will not recede in the current financial year. He has instituted a review of how the club can generate more income from the club’s stadium on non-match-days and it helps that there is a huge potential following. The 8,700 attendance here was par for season.
Co-chairman Reynolds (left) later ran onto the pitch to celebrate with goalscorer Mullin (right)
But the club’s new sponsorship tie-ups reveal the biggest creative possibilities. Major new sponsors TikTok and Expedia know the profile that McElhenney and Reynolds, with the fly-on-the-wall documentary chronicling their ownership, will bring. A tie-up with cybersecurity firm 1Password reveals the creative possibilities, with Reynolds and Wrexham’s players featuring in an ad for the outfit, filmed at the club’s ground.
Thinking the players will be inept at managing their digital privacy, Reynolds – who is giving a dressing room team-talk on the issue – is taken aback to find they are one step ahead of him and are already users of 1Password’s services. ‘Had no idea Wales was so cutting edge,’ Reynolds mutters under his breath. ‘Idiot,’ mutters Mullin, deadpan. The benefits of signing the Liverpudlian transcend his 19 goals. Reynolds clearly likes his company.
The Stockport method of progress, under imaginative local property developer Mark Stott, has been more conventional but hugely successful.
Mullin hit a stoppage-time brace and was congratulated by Hollywood superstar Reynolds
The team draw equivalent crowds to Wrexham, in what is evolving into a fight for predominance of League One proportions. Paddy Madden was signed from Fleetwood Town on a three-year deal and wages thought to exceed £3,000 a week when the League One side had no particular wish to sell their second top scorer. He was their greatest threat on Saturday.
Mullin made the difference, though. Despite screwing an outstanding chance wide, his lobbed first goal on the counter-attack, from the left corner of Stockport’s box, was of the highest order. Promoted by Reynolds and McElhenney to their huge social followings, it had generated 2.1million views on the club’s Twitter feed by yesterday.
A 95th minute second was not far behind it. ‘He is very confident in his own ability. A very confident player,’ Wrexham manager Phil Parkinson said of Mullin in the aftermath. ‘The mentality of goal-scorers is so crucial. It’s not being scared to miss and not letting misses affect you. He really has got that.’
A journey to Wembley to face Bromley, who beat York City in the game’s other semi-final, will be another great episode for the film-makers. ‘See you at Wembley,’ McElhenney tweeted Reynolds on Saturday night.
The more cherished prize of automatic promotion remains some way off, though Parkinson agreed that this win is a major psychological boost in the fight to reel in a side who lead them by 11 points at the top of the National League. ‘We spoke about that with the lads – that it was important today that we made a statement,’ he said. ‘I feel we’ve done that.’
The teams face each other again at The Racecourse on May 8 and Reynolds certainly thinks automatic promotion is attainable. ‘I think we’re the best team in the league,’ he told Tozer before rushing away for the long journey home.
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