Hollywood actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney can sprinkle more stardust on the FA Cup when non-league Wrexham faces Sheffield United in the fourth round on Sunday.
Reynolds and McElhenney’s £2 million ($2.4 million) takeover of Wrexham stunned the football world and brought an unexpected touch of glamour to humble north Wales two years ago.
Wrexham has been on an upwards trajectory ever since, reaching the National League play-offs last season and finishing as FA Trophy runners-up.
This weekend’s FA Cup tie is a break from Wrexham’s main goal of winning promotion back to the fourth tier after a 15-year absence.
Phil Parkinson’s side sits top of the fifth tier National League, three points ahead of second placed Notts County.
Sheffield United, currently second in the Championship, could pose a significant barrier to Wrexham’s hopes of springing an FA Cup shock.
But Wrexham has already claimed a Championship scalp this season with its surprise 4-3 win at Coventry in the third round.
Wrexham is in the fourth round for the first time since 2000 and Reynolds, known for starring in the “Deadpool” movies, admitted the Coventry win left him “totally speechless”.
Optimism has been sky-high at Wrexham ever since the Hollywood takeover, which enabled Parkinson to bolster his squad with several signings usually beyond the reach of a fifth tier team.
“The owners and all of us together are working hard to put Wrexham firmly back on the football map. This is a great step in that direction,” Parkinson said.
“We wanted a home tie because I just feel the Racecourse deserves a special FA Cup game, and we’ve got it. It’s going to be a cracking atmosphere.”
History of upsets
The early days of Reynolds and McElhenney’s reign were captured in the popular Netflix documentary “Welcome to Wrexham”, with the streaming service planning a second series later in 2023.
Reynolds and McElhenney even hosted King Charles at the club’s modest Racecourse Ground in December as part of the celebrations of Wrexham being given city status.
“Our job is to make sure the second series is as exciting as possible,” Parkinson told BBC Sport.
“There are a few good episodes on our FA Cup run alone.”
Wrexham’s growing social media presence in the Reynolds and McElhenney era reflects the club’s new-found cult following.
The club’s Twitter account now has over 320,000 followers, with Reynolds and McElhenney keeping Wrexham in the spotlight with their emotional tweets when following the team while at home in the United States.
“I’ll probably hear from them before the game, and obviously they’ll be following the match,” Parkinson said.
“They watch every game home and away in the National League over in America, and do make the odd trip over. They’ll be wishing us all the best, with a clear understanding that it’s a great day for the club.”
Wrexham already had a history of memorable cup upsets well before Reynolds and McElhenney brought the club to a wider audience.
In 1992, Wrexham, then in the fourth tier, inflicted a humiliating 2-1 defeat on reigning English champion Arsenal in the third round at the Racecourse Ground.
It also knocked out top-flight West Ham in the third round in 1997, the third tier team winning 1-0 at Upton Park.
Wrexham has even taken its giant-killing conquests to Europe, famously ignoring its fourth tier status to eliminate Porto in the 1984-85 Cup Winners’ Cup.
If the lowest ranked team left in this season’s FA Cup cause a shock this weekend, it will be another Hollywood ending for Wrexham and its celebrity owners.