Last week, I went on assignment to North Wales to get a first-hand glimpse of what the United States of Wrexham phenomenon is like in person. As fate would have it, the Wrexham match I attended was the stunning 5-5 draw against Swindon Town. That comeback draw was certainly an eyeopener, but it was only one part of a weeklong stay in the Wrexham area where I wanted to capture how things have changed on the streets of the town that this year became a city.

On gameday, going to see Wrexham play is similar to other matchday experiences at clubs up and down the British pyramid system. With not a lot of parking available near the Racecourse Ground, Wrexham supporters often enjoy a pre-match pint at the pubs in the area, and then walk to the ground from all directions. Luckily enough, I was able to find parking behind the stadium in the parking lot of the local college. At £5 ($6.29) for matchday parking, it’s a bargain and less than a five minute walk to the Racecourse.

According to many Wrexham supporters I spoke to, tickets to Wrexham matches are best described as “gold dust.” Every seat is sold out. If you are fortunate enough to buy a ticket off the Wrexham official website, a matchday ticket costs as little as £22 ($27). Interestingly, one Wrexham supporter tipped me off that the club holds back a certain number of tickets for international supporters who live outside the United Kingdom, so it’s certainly worth becoming a club member so you can take advantage of this arrangement.

First impressions of Wrexham experience outside stadium

Walking up to the Wrexham club shop at the stadium, the first thing you’ll notice is that there’s often a line to get in. Once inside, you see why. The shop is certainly small, and there isn’t a lot of room to move around. Similarly, there aren’t a lot of replica jerseys available hanging up. The day we went, only the white away jersey was available, and all of the most popular sizes were gone. All that remained was XL and larger sizes.

The second thing that struck me about the club shop is the array of accents. We were only inside the shop for a few minutes, but we heard several Australian and American accents in conversation with store employees. Foreign accents aside, the club shop is desperately in need of more choices of product to sell. Don’t get me wrong, the store does have product to sell, but the selection is disappointing. When you see Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney wearing the Wrexham baseball caps and other clothing, you want to be able to buy it, but it’s not available nor in stock. That was a downer.

Outside the club shop and walking around the stadium, we met a couple who had traveled all the way from Sacramento for the game. A Wrexham supporter had gifted them two tickets for free, so you can imagine how thankful they were to the generosity of the Welsh soccer fans.

Inside the stadium, it’s a family-friendly crowd that creates a tremendous noise throughout the match. I sat in the Wrexham Lager Stand, and had a birdseye view of the entire stadium. Behind the goal where The Kop stand once stood, and where construction will soon begin on a new stand, I could see a dozen ticketless fans (including an American couple I had seen in the club shop) standing behind the closed fence. Even though their sight of the stadium is blocked, it was the closest thing those fans could get to being inside the stadium. From there, they could hear the fans singing, and the ooh’s and ahh’s of the crowd, even if they couldn’t see what was happening on the pitch.

Changing attitudes among all ages within Wrexham area

Speaking with several Wrexham supporters during my weeklong stay near the border of Wales and England, the impact the club is having on the Wrexham community is remarkable. From previous trips to Wrexham during the last two decades, if you saw people wearing soccer jerseys, they were mostly the red tops of Liverpool or Manchester United. Now, you see fans (young to old) proudly wearing the red color of Wrexham.

Going into the Wrexham community and speaking with some of the children who are Wrexham supporters, all of them know the Wrexham songs word for word. Instead of idolizing Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford or Virgil van Dijk, their heroes are Wrexham players such as Elliot Lee and Jordan Davies. That is a paradigm shift to see a new generation of Wrexham fans growing up who aren’t supporting the Premier League teams that are less than an hour away from North Wales.

Talk to anyone in the Wrexham area, and it’s very likely the topic of the soccer team will come up in casual conversation. Even people I spoke with who had no interest in soccer are paying attention to how Wrexham does every week. For those who can’t get tickets to home games, many of them are listening to the local radio broadcasts of games. Everyone in the community is plugged into the team.

Speaking to business owners, the town of Wrexham has seen an increase in tourism as well as money being spent around the city. There’s a buzz around the city where there wasn’t one before.

Being in the area last week, we kept hearing people say “Wrexham AFC has put the city on the map.” That’s true, but as many of us learned from the Welcome to Wrexham series, the locale of Wrexham with its long rich history has long been on the map even before the soccer team formed in 1864.

Where does the United States of Wrexham go from here?

Season two of Welcome to Wrexham debuts on September 12 on FX. We all followed their incredible 2022/23 season, so it’ll be fascinating to see what they show that we haven’t seen already, as well as what new things we will learn. The next chapter of the United States of Wrexham story awaits.

Photo: IMAGO & PA Images