Wrexham and the Prince of Wales (William, not Paul Mullin)


Will there every be such a thing as a normal existence for Wrexham AFC under Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney?

Probably not, judging by another surreal couple of days that underlined, once again, how life at this previously provincial football club has been turned upside down.

First, Prince William rode into town on Friday lunchtime with his extensive security detail to mark St David’s Day, the patron saints of Wales. Like many before him, including Hollywood stars Will Ferrell and Paul Rudd, the King’s eldest son headed straight for The Turf, a pub now familiar to millions through the success of the Welcome to Wrexham documentary.


William with McElhenney and the players (CHRIS JACKSON/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Having poured a pint behind the bar alongside landlord Wayne Jones and then downing a shot of whiskey with Wrexham co-owner McElhenney, the Prince of Wales moved next door to The Racecourse Ground to meet men’s manager Phil Parkinson and Steve Dale, the women’s team boss.

Ben Tozer and club captain Luke Young were also on hand to present William with a team shirt. A little over 24 hours later, Wrexham were running riot on the same pitch, as a first half hat-trick from Paul Mullin, surely the people’s choice Prince of (north) Wales, helped set up a resounding 4-0 victory.

After a tricky February that had yielded just eight points from seven matches for the promotion chasers, it was the perfect fillip to go with the royal seal of approval granted the previous afternoon by one of Wrexham executive director Humphrey Ker’s more famous former school chums.

“Days like this and the earlier visit from the King and Queen (in December 2022 to mark Wrexham being granted city status) are a reflection on the town as a whole,” says Ker, part of Friday’s welcoming committee for Prince William, who was in the year below him at both Ludgrove School and Eton College.

“Our modus operandi is to try and make laugh anyone who visits. We had a good chat. William is a football fan and we kept it quite relaxed and jolly, as we had when the King and Queen visited.

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The king and queen visited previously (Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)

“We were told later they’d really enjoyed it because the day was a little bit different to their usual fayre. I also got the sense William enjoyed it, which is great. He’s a football fan and wanted to poke his head through the gate, so to speak.

“There are all sorts of different parts of Wales that the Royals could be visiting and it is a sign of the direction of travel for the team and for the town that they choose Wrexham. This is a stop now that they want to make.”

Whether opposition teams in League Two will agree with the notion that The Racecourse is the place to be right now is debatable, Accrington just the latest to succumb when up against the division’s most formidable home record (41 points from a possible 51).

Not everyone in Wrexham had been delighted to see a second royal visit to their club inside 15 months. That much was made clear by how many joined in with a second half chant suggesting exactly where the various his and her majesties could stick themselves.

Really, though, a price surely cannot be put on the publicity Friday’s visit garnered for the club — not to mention, of course, content to fill a sizeable chunk of an episode in series three of the documentary, which starts next month.

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William in The Turf pub (CHRIS JACKSON/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

No-one will recognise this more than the two owners, Reynolds having missed all the fun due to being in the U.S editing his upocoming movie Deadpool 3. In the Candian’s absence, McElhenney got to take the future King through the club’s future plans, including the new £25 million Wrexham Gateway development that will see a 5,500 capacity Kop stand built.

Then he was able to sit back and enjoy a victory over Accrington that left manager Parkinson to reflect on another extraordinary chapter in the club’s recent history. And he felt the visit may have even helped relax his players after that indifferent run in February.

“It is a long season in football,” says the 56-year-old. “What you want is to freshen things up by different things happening, things to lighten the mood around the place.

“There has been a little bit of frustration creeping in but I felt there was a nice freshness about us today and it showed in the performance.

“So many great people have come to the Racecourse to meet the lads and that makes this a special club to be a part of. To meet the future King is incredible. We had a good chat.

“He’s clearly very knowledgeable, he was asking some great questions about ourselves and how we would set up for today’s game. He really knows his football. He’s a Villa fan, first and foremost, but I’m sure he will have been looking for our result today.”

William, having travelled to north Wales without wife Kate following her abdominal surgery on January 17, told McElhenney: “It’s a great success story you’re building here, everything you’ve started and achieved, it’s fantastic, so onwards and upwards — it’s exciting. And anyone who’s a true football fan wants to see you do well.”

(Top photo: Chris Jackson/Getty Images)





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