Two days before Wrexham’s biggest FA Cup draw in years and there is a problem in the club shop at the Racecourse Ground.
Customers wishing to buy the non-League club’s home shirt to wear in Sunday’s fourth-round tie with Championship side Sheffield United are leaving empty-handed.
Eight thousand red jerseys have been sold since last summer, with many shipped to addresses across Canada and the United States.
Demand exceeds supply and there is currently none.
The fifth-tier National League side has become big news since Hollywood actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney took control of the North Wales club two years ago.
The couple brought in a film crew to document their first full season in charge, with the hit series Welcome to Wrexham watched by millions in the United States.
As a result, the North Wales club – near extinction as recently as 2011 – have garnered a legion of North American fans, and a follow-up series is set to release later in 2023.
“Our job is to make sure the second series is as exciting as possible,” Wrexham boss Phil Parkinson told BBC Sport.
“There are some good episodes on our FA Cup alone.”
“We are in love with Wrexham”
A look at the visitor’s book inside the club shop at the back of the Main Stand shows the impact of Welcome to Wrexham.
There are signature pages from places like Texas, Phoenix, Indianapolis and Toronto.
Parkinson often finds himself waving to fans outside the racecourse who have traveled from the United States after watching the documentary, which chronicles the lives of Wrexham players and staff after the highly publicized takeover.
Paulina and Tanner Weeks were on the ground Monday lunchtime to greet the players for the midweek game at Gateshead, which Parkinson’s team won 3-0 take a three-point lead at the top of the table.
The couple traveled 4,300 miles from Little Rock, Arkansas, after watching Welcome to Wrexham.
“We fell in love with the story,” Tanner said.
Paulina added: “Without the documentary, we wouldn’t know anything about Wrexham. That’s 100% why we became fans.”
One episode covers the story of midfielder Jordan Davies and his partner Kelsey who lost their baby boy. The couple have since announced that they are Expecting a baby girl.
“I feel like I know all the players thanks to Welcome to Wrexham,” added Paulina. “I found myself shooting for them.
“Rob and Ryan have embraced Wrexham and they’ve given us the opportunity to do the same. We’re going home in a few days but we’re already planning to come back.”
Parkinson, appointed in July 2021, said greeting fans in the United States is now part of the job.
“It often happens when you come back from training. There are people taking pictures,” he added. “I had conversations with people who came from afar. People clearly enjoyed the documentary.”
Pub turned tourist attraction
At one corner of the racecourse is the Turf Hotel, the building where Wrexham was formed in 1864.
The Mold Road pub has always been a popular meeting place for fans before games.
More recently, however, it has become an unlikely tourist attraction with up to 30 foreign visitors a day after owner Wayne Jones appeared in Welcome to Wrexham.
Scenes shot inside the Turf include Deadpool star Reynolds and It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia star and creator McElhenney having a drink at the pub after flying over the United States, where they are based.
The building is full of Wrexham nostalgia.
A photo of Mickey Thomas’ famous free kick against Arsenal in the FA Cup in 1992 hangs on a wall.
There are references to the club’s run to the quarter-finals of the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1975-76 and the 1984 victory over Portuguese side Porto in the same competition.
“The Football Club and the Turf have become tourist attractions in their own right,” said Joe Bickerton, destination manager for Wrexham County Borough Council.
Since Welcome to Wrexham first aired in August, the city has officially becomes a city. In December, the King and Queen Consort stopped at the Hippodrome while visiting the area.
Bickerton added: “Every day we have people asking about the football club.
“We had a couple from Ohio the other day, people from New York and LA told us ‘we saw Wrexham posters in our neighborhood.’ is priceless.”
Wrexham’s profile on their social media platforms has surged since Reynolds and McElhenney’s arrival, with their Twitter account rising from 79,500 in February 2021 to 320,200 this month.
Subscription sales stood at 6,820 before the start of 2022-23. Three years ago, they sold 2,609.
The co-owners immediately invested £2m after taking over, their ambition reflected in a number of notable signings, including club captain Ben Tozer, who dropped two leagues to join Cheltenham Town.
However, Wrexham’s newfound popularity meant it became difficult to get a ticket to home games.
Sell-out crowds of 10,000 have become normal and that is expected to continue even after redevelopment of the Kop – the oldest part of the ground – takes capacity to 15,500.
“Every new fan is a welcome fan,” said Adam Phillips, a longtime Wrexham supporter who took his newborn daughter, now eight, straight from hospital to the racecourse. She was six o’clock.
“There is a trust in the city and may it continue for a long time.
“You can tell Rob and Ryan are genuine. Yes, they’re business people too and they want to make money, but I don’t care how much they make. These are exciting times.”
Reynolds and McElhenney embraced the community, regularly donate money to good causes at Wrexham.
“The owners have lifted the whole area,” added Parkinson, who orchestrated League Two Bradford City’s incredible run to the League Cup final 10 years ago and arguably the biggest shock in the league. FA Cup history when the Bantams beat Chelsea 4-2 at Stamford Bridge in the fourth leg in 2015.
“We know the ultimate goal is to get a promotion, but to have positivity in the city, it’s great to be a part of it.”
Regarding his relationship with the co-owners, Parkinson said: “They are engaged in everything that happens. When they are here they have lunch with the players and staff on the pitch.
“If we sign a player or if someone is injured, Ryan or Rob will call them.”
Having defeated the city of Coventry in the final round of the FA Cup, fans are very confident that they can beat a side three leagues higher again in front of BBC One live cameras.
Whatever the result against Sheffield United, Wrexham fans love life under their Hollywood owners.
“We’ve got a hell of a ride,” added Phillips.