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The inconvenient truth in the so-called 'fairytale' of Wrexham FC

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Roar Rookie
24th April, 2023
15
12003 Reads

I have enjoyed the Wrexham story as much as the next person and personally am pleased to see them climb their way back into the football league after a 15 year absence.

However, I am finding the surrounding publicity and the idea of it being “a fairytale” somewhat exaggerated and a little tedious and in some ways quite misleading. As far as the story goes, it is similar in many ways to the rise of Manchester City, albeit on quite a different scale. On a smaller scale, look at the Melbourne City story and I don’t hear anyone lauding the owners and management for doing such a fine job and taking the A League title for three consecutive seasons.

The club was bought by two stars – Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney – who were prepared to inject money into an ailing club that was based in a town that has been struggling with everything thrown at them by successive conservative governments going back to Margaret Thatcher’s days, along with a small c conservative few years of Tony Blair’s government.

New money brought new expectations and new management and last year the club saw personnel changes and then realising they didn’t have the right manager, they brought in Phil Parkinson who they believed could lead them to the promised land. The other big signing was Paul Mullin who they persuaded to play in a lower league, most likely though for more money than he would have earned had he stayed at Cambridge, playing in League One.

Last season didn’t exactly go according to plan though. Whilst they ran a close race for the title, they fell a place short to Stockport County, missed out on the play offs and lost the FA Vase final.

This season hasn’t been quite the easy passage many believed the second season of the new era would bring but it has possessed a certain inevitability and the current media fuss and hype does a disservice to many of the other teams who battle away in the National League, trying to earn that one spot in the fourth tier of English professional football.

I did have a good laugh a few weeks ago after both Wrexham and Notts County passed the 100 point mark when Ryan Reynolds announced that both teams should be and deserved to be promoted; a certain irony coming from a country where sport is a total closed shop and expansion is the way to join, providing you can find the funds.

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During my lifetime I can immediately count 14 teams currently playing in the National League who have at some point occupied spots in one of the four divisions of the English game. There is even a side – Oldham Athletic – that has played in the Premier League.

It all goes to highlight the good and bad times of a club, its fortunes and the emotions of the fans. I have read plenty that the rise and fall of football teams often reflects the whole area/town and there is evidence aplenty to support that view although I could equally mount a counter argument.

After all, we have Notts County, a founder member of the football league, desperately trying to escape the clutches of the National League, and a stone’s throw away, Nottingham Forest are enjoying a season of premier league football.

The North East demonstrates the rise and fall in fortunes with Newcastle enjoying their best season in my memory unless you count losing a few cup finals and meanwhile Middlesbrough and Sunderland are quite a few places lower.

I don’t argue that the injection of money into a club automatically brings success; it takes good management, a decent playing roster and the right support network and it doesn’t happen overnight.

However, there is a myriad of clubs playing non league football that must be looking in at the Wrexham Story and thinking “if only” and wondering if their club will ever find its way back to the dizzy heights of the football league.

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