WELCOME TO WREXHAM: Unlikely soccer story puts Welsh city on the map

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Three years into the unlikely ownership of Wrexham AFC soccer/football club by Hollywood stars Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney, the appeal of their accompanying (and explanatory) documentary series “Welcome to Wrexham” continues to skyrocket. The series, and overall exposure, generated by the celebrity owners and the fairytale story that has ensued, has gifted the city with an unexpected moment in the global spotlight and, subsequently, a not-surprising surge of visitors to sleepy North Wales.

Indeed, it’s hard to imagine that the British Division Two team’s game against similarly lowly Shrewsbury would otherwise have been broadcast on Sportsnet across Canada last Sunday if not for the popularity of the TV series, which garnered five Creative Arts Emmys this week.

Not unlike the flock of “Ted Lasso” fans to Richmond outside London to see the setting for that hugely popular Apple TV show, Wrexham is welcoming both football and film fans eager to see what all the fuss about in a place of which Reynolds (the Canadian star of the Deadpool movies) tweeted: “The love for this club and town: Indescribable.”

“The hype about the place is fantastic,” says 36-year-old star player Steven Fletcher, who has played in the Premier League and internationally with Scotland. “When you come in, even for just training days, there’s loads of people around the stadium. I’ve played for Premier League teams, and you don’t see that.”

Recently, a season-high attendance of 12,233 fans attended a game against Barrow at Wrexham’s Racecourse Ground – reputedly the world’s oldest international football stadium – which is a remarkable figure given the team is still only playing in English soccer’s fourth tier.

The buzz around Wrexham and its owners reached new levels during a FA Cup run around this time last year when the ‘Red Dragons’ beat one second-tier Championship team in Coventry and then took another, Premier League-bound Sheffield United, to a replay.

That followed the historic team’s – it was founded in 1864 – promotion out of non-league football last year (where it had resided since 2008), which came with a dramatic conclusion to the team’s season, but also the TV series.

Parades and enthusiasm ensued in Wrexham (and the TV series was renewed).

Continuing to follow its unlikely Hollywood-style script, the team to date this year is in second place in the table, poised to move up again to just two divisional rungs away from playing the likes of Liverpool and Manchester United.

Fueled by the financial backing and promotional presence of Reynolds, and McElhenney (creator of TV show “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”), the club is unrecognizable (except to its legion of new international fans) compared to the one on its knees a few years ago amid ownership issues and financial concerns.

These days, there are sell-out crowds at the atmospheric Racecourse, which has a very North American feel to the place with Betty Buzz, United Airlines and Aviation American Gin on the electronic advertising hoardings and the sight of fans wearing hats of NFL teams like the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears.

“I don’t think any of us could have seen the whole furor at the club,” says Paul Mullin, another team star, about the explosion around Wrexham. “It’s been a phenomenal journey but one that’s not stopping here. We’re on the train for quite a while.”

Welcome to Wrexham

So, planning a visit perhaps?

Where is Wrexham?

 The bustling and historic market town of Wrexham is located on the English border in North Wales, about an hour’s drive south of Liverpool and 30 minutes from the famed black-and-white tourist town of Chester.

Beyond Wrexham AFC and the Racecourse, what is there to see?


  • The Wrexham Museum and Wrexham Heritage Trail.
  • Chirk Castle: A magnificent medieval fortress of the Welsh Marches, the 13th-century Marcher castle from 1595 became the home of the Myddelton family for over 400 years.
  • Saint Giles church: The historic Parish Church of Wrexham – a working church, not a museum – has been dubbed one of the “Seven Wonders of Wales” and represents a very visible sign of the faith of town’s people over many centuries.
  • Erridg Hall: A late 17th-century country house saved from dereliction in the 1970s, the much-loved home, garden and estate is filled with the stories of a family and their servants
  • Pontcysyllte Aqueduct: UNESCO has described this world heritage site as “a masterpiece of creative genius.” The first 18 km. of the Llangollen Canal is an outstanding piece of industrial and engineering heritage comprising embankments, tunnels, viaducts, and aqueducts, including the stunning Pontcysyllte Aqueduct itself and 31 other listed structures.

Beyond Wrexham

 In addition to aforementioned Liverpool (a rejuvenated city with unparalleled maritime heritage museums, Liverpool FC, and, of course, The Beatles), and Chester, Wrexham is an ideal base for exploring North Wales, including Snowdonia National Park – a two-hour drive; fabulous Conwy Castle (90 minutes); and the start of the Wales Coastal Path (30 minutes, at Chester).

(With files from Associated Press)

First published at Travel Industry Today


First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News