The oldest competition in the world offers the most contemporary stories.
The English Cup is looking for its last 16 protagonists this weekend and among them there is a chance to sneak in a single team that does not live in the professional ranks, Wrexham, a Welsh team that plays in the English fifth division and that hosts Sheffield United, from the second category.
The epic is usually repeated in a competition in which the draw is pure (yesterday Manchester City and Arsenal met and the former won 1-0) and is open to modest fighters.
The extraordinary is in the fur of Wrexham, a club controlled by Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney, two American actors who immediately document all their adventures in a television series,
Welcome to Wrexham
, which is broadcast throughout the world through multiple platforms (in Spain Disney+ does it).
"They are busy putting Wrexham on the map like never before", slipped King Carlos III, who together with his wife Camilla visited the club's fiefdom last December to celebrate one of the last determinations of Elizabeth II, that of granting the town, with 63,000 inhabitants, the status of city.
40 kilometers from Liverpool, Wrexham tries to rise with a commitment to new technologies from what was a long depression.
In the late 18th century it flourished from its lead and coal mines at the dawn of the industrial revolution.
There, cricket matches or horse races were already held in 1807 in an area known as Racecourse Ground, where in 1864 football began to be played.
Thirteen years later, it hosted the first recorded match between national teams, a duel between Wales and Scotland.
Wrexham co-owner Ryan Reynolds talks to his players as they await the arrival of Carlos III and Camila last December.
Founded in 1864, Wrexham is the third oldest professional football club in the world.
It was acquired by actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney in late 2020. Karwai Tang (WireImage)
King Charles and Camilla, along with Wrexham owners Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney.
During the visit, they met the staff and talked about the management of the club.ARTHUR EDWARDS (Getty images)
Wrexham fans watch an English fifth division match between their team and Maidenhead United in January 2022.OLI SCARFF (AFP)
Celebration of Wrexham's first goal against Maidenhead United at their stadium, Racecourse Ground.
The city is located in the north of Wales. OLI SCARFF (AFP)
A young fan poses with Wrex the Dragon, Wrexham's official mascot, during halftime in the match against Maidenhead United. OLI SCARFF (AFP)
Wrexham players leave on their way to the dressing rooms after the end of the first part of their match against Maidenhead United.OLI SCARFF (AFP)
A Wrexham fan buys a cake at one of the stands at Racecourse Ground, at halftime of his team's match against Maidenhead United.OLI SCARFF (AFP)
Supporters leave the stadium after the match between Wrexham and Maidenhead United.OLI SCARFF (AFP)
Wrexham fans chat in a pub next to Racecourse Ground, minutes before the start of the English fifth division match. OLI SCARFF (AFP)
A woman walks in front of a row of houses in the center of the city of Wrexham.OLI SCARFF (AFP)
It was in Wrexham that Spain hurled their way to the 1986 World Cup in a memorable match by Mark Hughes and in the midst of an electrifying atmosphere typical of a proud city.
Almost two thousand of its inhabitants were the owners of the team when an unexpected offer came to them just over two years ago: Reynolds and McElhenney, who had never been to Wrexham, offered 2.5 million euros in investments to settle debt and capitalize the club for gaining control.
It is an entity that only played in the second English category in two brief stages, the last between 1978 and 1982, but present in Europe eight times as Welsh Cup champion, who stopped playing at the end of the last century.
Only 10% of the followers voted against the arrival of the actors,
The Wrexham squad, along with King Charles III and Camila. Arthur Edwards (AP)
The end of the first campaign was a letter of adjustment and last season turned into a dramatic
when in the 119th minute of the play-off semifinal the team lost its promotion options.
He did it as the soccer canons of the Islands dictate: a throw-in that flew to the far post and a header into the net.
"We'll try again," said McElhenney, star of the series It's
Both he and Reynolds, star of
, first set foot in Wrexham a year after taking control of the club.
There they began to star in their most realistic film.
A somewhat deceitful sign greeted them: "In Wrexham the sun always shines."
"These people touch your heart," confessed Reynolds, a Canadian from Vancouver who even back then went out of his way to follow the team on YouTube and who left fascinated by the atmosphere at The Turf, the
that marks the entrance to the soccer field. of Wrexham, the only one in the United Kingdom from which for decades you could follow the games from your back balcony with a pint in your hand and a sign warning that no one leaves sober there.
“In places like this you feel the history and its legacy.
This is not a joke," Reynolds conceded.
On many occasions, the purchase of a soccer team entails acquiring the soul of the city in which it is located.
Wrexham fans, in a match played in their stadium.OLI SCARFF (AFP)
It all started one spring afternoon in Los Angeles.
McElhenney was working on a script and Humphrey Ker, a British actor who also gets on the other side of the camera and was crazy about watching the Champions League match between Liverpool and Barcelona that ended in an effervescent comeback at Anfield, was walking around his office.
That shocked McElhenney, who during confinement received Ker's suggestion to see the celebrated Netflix serial that narrates the misadventures of Sunderland.
McElhenney then imagined a script in which he was going to be the protagonist.
A consultant explored various options and Wrexham appeared on the horizon.
The next thing was to contact and convince Reynolds to partner and then appoint Ker, who lives in London, as CEO of the club.
He has almost 48 million followers on Instagram and calls his soccer experience "emotionally exhausting, financially idiotic and totally addictive."
The team fights one more year for promotion to League Two, the fourth echelon of English football, in a category, the National League, which is a well in which it has already been fifteen years: the champion of a 24-year championship barely climbs teams, of which six more are playing for a second promotion in an agonizing play-off.
Meanwhile, the plot of the docuseries advances with the contributions of the people of the city, the owner of the pub, the librarian, the singer of a local group or the center forward of the team.
Wrexham has become a mecca for fans from all over the world who fluctuate between fact and fiction.
Now the twist of the script brings an epic in the Cup,
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