Wrexham AFC Co-Chairmen, Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds, were in town at the weekend, to see the Red Dragons secure a comprehensive 5-0 win over Maidstone United at the Racecourse Ground.
Before the game, we sat down with Rob & Ryan to discuss their visit, launch of the Welcome to Wrexham documentary, progression of the Kop Development and more.
You can read a full transcript of the interview below...
Firstly, how does it feel to be back here in Wrexham?
RYAN: It’s so strange to be on the other side of this [interview], I’m usually watching players do this! It feels good to be back. Every single time, without fail, walking in… goosebumps. It happens the second you walk out onto that pitch and look at this gorgeous church of a stadium.
ROB: I heard it from a group of my friends and family, they all said exactly the same thing. There’s a feeling you get when you walk in, a sense of history.
We spoke to Paul Mullin recently who said he’s still as excited now to be involved with Wrexham as he was on the day he arrived – does it feel the same for you?
RYAN: I hope Paul Mullin’s just as excited today as on the day he arrived, because we adore and need him!
ROB: I want him to be very excited today!
RYAN: Yes, I want his right foot, and his left. This has only gotten richer for me; I won’t speak for Rob, but this whole experience, this community, this Club is really in my cells and my DNA now. I wish I could have been back here on August 6 but this was the earliest I could get here and I’ve been champing at the bit to get here.
Rob, to have your family here for the first time too, that must be great. Have they taken to Wrexham as quickly as you did?
ROB: Yeah. It’s just so beautiful and it’s the exact kind of thing we’ve been talking about through the entire experience. I wanted to share it with my parents and also their children, and also hopefully – one day – their children too.
RYAN: They’ve left him for Wrexham, actually! He’s going back to California alone.
There’s never been a dull moment in your time as Co-Chairmen… is it possible to choose a highlight so far?
ROB: Today’s win! People won’t see this until after the game [against Maidstone], so I’m going to say today’s win is the highlight, because it will be the first time I’ve seen us win in person.
RYAN: For me, win or loss, I would say almost every experience that I’ve had at the Club, particularly here at the Racecourse Ground. This [Aviation American Gin Suite Balcony] is my spot where I’ll pace up and down. When we beat Stockport, I did 8,000 steps on my little smartphone pedometer thing, so I think I’m going to wear a hole in the cement by going back and forth on there. I love it, but it’s nerve-wracking; you feel it with every one of the nine or 10 thousand supporters out there, you feel every single thing they do, and in the exact same moment. It’s pretty intense, and unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.
Let’s talk about those fans. We know how much you appreciate them, but has it surprised you just how passionate they are?
ROB: I don’t know if it’s surprising, but I can tell you that the welcome we’ve received over the last year has just been overwhelming. I expected people to be open at least, but they’ve ended up embracing us with their full hearts and I know that goes a long way for us.
RYAN: Yeah, even on the matches that don’t necessarily turn out the way we want them to, I think they feel the spirit that’s imbued into everything we’re trying to do with this Club, and frankly everything they’re trying to do. We’re not making unilateral decisions here, it’s a collective, with each and every supporter in mind. I think they feel that, and Rob and I both get emotional when the Club hasn’t performed the way we wanted but the fans are there at the end, staying late and clapping or cheering on the team. It makes you want to cry, it’s a profoundly emotional experience.
By the time this is published, we’ll be just a couple of days away from the launch of the documentary, Welcome to Wrexham. What’s the overriding feeling right now?
ROB: I’m excited! I’m really proud of the show and think it turned out great. I think it’s exciting, I think it’s emotional, I think it’s really funny, but the beating heart at the centre of it is the town. I hope, more than anything, that the town watches and enjoys it as much as we do.
RYAN: I think there’s a sense that we caught as much as possible, the spirit of this community and this Club, and what it means to them. It’s pretty evident in the show and I’m excited for folks to see it. I’m excited for people to be introduced to Wrexham all over the world – certainly, we want people in Wrexham to see the show, but for people to be watching this in Canada, where I’m from, of Philly, it’s pretty remarkable.
As actors, does it feel a little strange? People will see a different side of you, I guess…
ROB: Yeah, it’s really strange. I think people assume we have cameras following us around all day long, but we really don’t. Generally, we have a modicum of control over when we’re on camera and when we’re not, but to walk around with things pointed at you at all times is a little nerve-wracking!
RYAN: It’s a little surreal, but everybody acts. You act, you guys back there [pointing], everyone in the stands, we’re all actors. Some of us just do it for a living.
The bigger picture is that the story of this Club – all its history and people involved – will be told to people around the world. That must be a great feeling…
ROB: Yeah, I was just talking to a few of the players this past week and I said ‘look, I think you’re going to end up having a few more million fans next week or the week after that.’ I love the idea of making Wrexham everybody’s second Club, in the UK or wherever else in the world. In the US, the number one Club.
RYAN: Friends of mine, some are in showbiz and some aren’t, are saying the word ‘Wrexham’ now, like it’s a normal part of the lexicon. I just think it’s so cool.
ROB: I get asked more about this than anything! More than anything in show business, that’s for sure.
The hope, of course, is that this is finally the season Wrexham make it back to the EFL. What would it mean to you for that to be the case?
ROB: That’s the goal, that’s the goal. We feel like, last year, so much of it was to build out the infrastructure for the Club to succeed in the short and long term and we feel that we’ve done that. We’ve assembled an incredible team of people who know exactly what they’re doing, and hopefully the result is the one we want.
Looking ahead, in general, the Club seems to be heading in the right direction, and that must be important to you…
RYAN: Yeah, that’s what we’re here for, ideally. We want to sustainably grow and build this Club, but we’re here rain or shine, this isn’t a fair-weather gig. We understood what was at stake when we stepped into this, or certainly Rob did when he talked me into this! It’s been an adventure. I feel like if your heart’s in the right place and you understand what it means to create something which is sustainable more than anything – that’s the name of the game and we’re super excited about it.
Part of that, of course, is the Kop Development. Having stood outside on the mini-Kop, just what does that mean to you?
ROB: That’s so much of what we wanted to bring to the entire experience, to be reverential and respectful of the grounds itself. We never want to move the Club anywhere, yet if we want to continue to grow and move the Club into the next decade and the next 50 or 60 years, we need to start improving aspects of the ground. We feel like the Kop is a step in the right direction.
RYAN: There’s a way to walk that tightrope in the right way, I think. To be incredibly honouring of the community and the history of Wrexham and North Wales, and simultaneously offer the supporters the kind of amenities and the feeling – it’s really more about a feeling – that they deserve for a Club of this stature.
To finish on your own feelings then, how would you sum up your Wrexham journey so far? Rob, let’s start with you…
ROB: [laughs] just one sentence?! Welcome to Wrexham.
RYAN: [laughs] I don’t have a sentence for you! I’m going to go with Welcome to Wrexham too.
ROB: Up the town.