Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney celebrate Wrexham AFC's promotion with bus parade

·4-min read

Hollywood actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney along with Wrexham AFC's players and staff have celebrated their recent success with an open-top bus parade.

Thousands of fans lined the route in the northeast Wales city to cheer both Wrexham AFC's men's and women's teams gaining promotion in their respective leagues this season.

The men's team are returning to the English Football League for the first time in 15 years - they will play in League Two in the forthcoming campaign.

Wrexham Women have been promoted from the Adran North League and will next play in the Adran Premier, the highest league for women's football in Wales.

The three-bus trophy parade started and finished at the Racecourse Ground stadium as it toured the city on a loop, allowing supporters to celebrate the efforts of players and staff.

The celebrations come after co-owners Reynolds and McElhenney, who bought the club in 2021, told Welsh-language broadcaster S4C this week that their aim is to reach the Premier League, even if it takes 20 years.

The stars, whose takeover and reported £10m investment in the Red Dragons has helped transform the club's fortunes, joined the women's team on the second bus, with manager Phil Parkinson alongside his staff on the third.

The men's team soaked up the adulation from the top of the first. Fans chanted "One more year" at ex-Premier League goalkeeper Ben Foster, who came out of retirement to sign a one-year deal in September, and several of his team-mates joined in.

Reynolds and McElhenney had previously tried to convince former Wales captain Gareth Bale to come out of retirement and play for Wrexham.

'It's a Cinderella story'

A US couple joined hundreds of fans who set up camp in a pub car park alongside the Racecourse Ground, having taken time out from a holiday in Ireland to experience the celebrations for a club they discovered during lockdown.

"With COVID happening all around the world we heard this story and we watched them on the streaming services," said Robin Beattie. "We fell in love with it."

"We happened to be on vacation in Dublin and said, 'Let's hop on over'. We're very happy to see the excitement in the town. It's a Cinderella story. We love it."

It will be down to Phil Parkinson to advise the celebrity owners on what realistic reinforcements are likely to be needed for next season.

Asked about the club's transfer plans for the summer window, McElhenney said: "We defer to Phil. We are actively talking about that right now. I know for a fact he feels as though we have a very strong side.

"No decision that we have made over the last two years hasn't kept the future in mind, so we never make a short-term decision.

"Any player that we have signed, we have signed to at least a three-year deal, except for one [goalkeeper Ben Foster].

"He is the guy we are going to work on, but other than that, I think we have a very strong side."

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Deadpool star Reynolds stressed Wrexham's long-term future would always remain front and centre.

"Ultimately, like any business, you want it to be able to self-perpetuate and continue growing. You don't want to lose money, but I don't think either of us are in this to make money either," he said.

"It's just about growing the best possible club and finding value in any place that we can find value, whether that is financial or emotional, sometimes it can be indistinguishable."

North Wales Police had warned fans to support the club safely by spreading themselves out along the 3.5-mile route.

Superintendent Nick Evans encouraged people to "take advantage of the whole parade route to avoid any potential overcrowding".

"There will be plenty of room for everyone to catch sight of the parade on its hour-long journey through Wrexham," he added.

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Wrexham AFC chief executive Fleur Robinson said that it was an opportunity to thank the community of Wrexham "for their incredible support".

"We are looking forward to commemorating a truly memorable and record-breaking season together," she added.

Wrexham Council's lead member for the economy and re-generation, Cllr Nigel Williams, said it was "a fantastic momentous occasion for Wrexham".