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Wrexham Association History – All About the Club

They might be a small club from Wales, but recently Wrexham gets more coverage than half the Premier League clubs. This is undoubtedly due to their Hollywood owners, but Wrexham Association history is a colorful one as well. So, let’s find out all about Wrexham Association history below:

Wrexham AFC is but a small football club rooted in the charming town of Wrexham, Wales. Being the third-oldest football club in the world, Wrexham has a rich history that transcends borders, having participated in both English and Welsh leagues.

With its idyllic location on the English border, Wrexham is steeped in sporting heritage, both football and racing. Originally known for its prestigious horse races, the town’s annual event, The Wrexham Races, captivated visitors from far and wide. However, beneath the surface of this equestrian tradition lies an intriguing tale of the emergence of Wrexham AFC.

In the early 1860s, as the popularity of horse racing waned, a group of visionaries sought to provide alternative entertainment for the working class during the winter months. Two prominent figures, Charles Edward Kershaw and Evan Morris, spearheaded the movement, driven by a passion for athletics. Utilizing their influence and connections, they introduced football to the historic Racecourse, Wrexham’s current home stadium.

Wrexham’s Road to Glory

Credit: Sky Sports

On that historic day in October 1864, Wrexham AFC played their inaugural match against The Prince of Wales Fire Brigade, leaving an unforgettable mark on the town’s history. The game concluded with a 2-1 defeat but it signaled the beginning of a remarkable footballing journey. The founding members, including Kershaw, Tootell, Sykes, Broster, Hanmer, Knibbs, Heath, Taylor, Roberts, and Johnston, paved the way for future generations of footballers.

Beyond the confines of their club, Wrexham’s impact extended to the wider footballing landscape of Wales. Key figures like Kershaw and Morris played instrumental roles in the establishment and development of football in the country. Kershaw became the Vice Chairman of the club and Morris assumed positions of authority within both Wrexham FC and The Football Association of Wales.

Today, as the club is becoming a world renown penomenon thanks to Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney, we delve into the intriguing past of Wrexham AFC, unveiling a forgotten chapter in football history. From humble beginnings on The Racecourse to their enduring legacy, Wrexham’s pioneering spirit and unwavering commitment to the community continue to shape the club’s identity. It is on this foundation that new superstar owners, Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds have built the club’s recent success.

So, let’s embark on a journey that encapsulates passion, community, and the enduring spirit of Wrexham AFC.

Wrexham Association History

Credit: Front Office Sports
  • Full Name:  Wrexham Association Football Club
  • Nicknames: The Red Dragons, The Dragons
  • Year of Formation: 1864
  • Place of Origin: Wrexham, Wales
  • Home Stadium: Racecourse Ground
  • President: Rob McElhenney, Ryan Reynolds
  • Head Coach: Phil Parkinson
  • League: EFL League Two
  • Market Value: £8 million

Different eras of the club

Wrexham is a town in North East Wales with a rich footballing history. The Wrexham Association history is deeply rooted in the community and dates back to at least the 17th century, as it is properly shown in the Welcome to Wrexham documentary. 

While the town is located near the English border, Wrexham AFC has had the unique opportunity to participate in both English and Welsh leagues and competitions throughout different eras. The club’s home ground, The Racecourse, was originally a course for horse racing as the name would suggest but became the foundation for Wrexham Football Club. It is worth mentioning that the Racecourse ground is also the oldest international football ground in the world. With the introduction out of the way, Let’s explore the different eras of the club’s history:

The Early Years:

Credit: Under a Welsh Sky

The early years of Wrexham Football Club were marked by the pioneering efforts of community members who wanted to provide healthier alternatives to spending time in taverns. In 1863, The United Volunteer Services Club was established to promote athletic sports in winter evenings. Members of this club, including Charles Edward Kershaw and Evan Morris, were instrumental in bringing new forms of athletic sport, including football, to The Racecourse.

On October 22, 1864, Wrexham Football and Athletic Club played their first-ever game against The Prince of Wales Fire Brigade. Despite losing 2-1, the club laid the foundation for its future. The club’s first sports day was held on May 8, 1865, and became an annual event, attracting both the local community and visitors.

The Welsh Cup Dominance:

Wrexham Football Club continued to grow and achieved success in the Welsh Football Association Cup. In 1878, they won the first-ever Welsh Cup, defeating Druids 1-0. This victory marked the beginning of a remarkable run of Wrexham honors. As Wrexham would go on to win the Welsh Cup a record 23 times. The club’s success extended beyond domestic competitions, and they also made significant contributions to the development of football tactics. Their creation of a new pyramid system, consisting of two backs, three half-backs, and five forwards, became the norm in clubs across Wales and England.

Challenges and Name Changes:

In the early 1880s, Wrexham faced challenges with their home ground. The cricket club, which shared The Racecourse, increased their rent (up to £10 a year), prompting Wrexham Football Club to move to Rhosddu Recreation Ground. This change also led to a brief renaming of the club to Wrexham Athletic Football Club. However, the club returned to The Racecourse after negotiations, and their name reverted to Wrexham Football Club.

English F.A. Cup and Relegation:

Credit: Under a Welsh Sky

The club remained in the Combination League until 1905, by which time they had managed to win the league four times. Wrexham entered the English F.A. Cup in 1883 but faced a setback due to crowd trouble during a match against Oswestry. The club was initially banned from all English Football Association games but soon reformed as Wrexham Olympic Football Club and was re-admitted to the English F.A. Cup for the 1884/85 competition. The club returned to its original name in the 1888/89 season.

The team continued to play in the Birmingham District League, while also competing in both the English and Welsh F.A. competitions. They won the latter for consecutive years between 1909 and 1911. Lucrative international matches were also still being played intermittently on Wrexham’s home ground. At this time, Racecourse had hosted more international games than any other stadium in the World.

Post-World War II Era

Credit: The Buckley Society

In 1921, Wrexham secured another victory in The Welsh Cup and was subsequently elected to the newly created Third Division North of The English Football League. They came close to promotion to The Second Division of English football in the 1932/33 season, finishing as runners-up in Division Three North. However, the outbreak of World War II interrupted their progress. Despite this, Wrexham managed to play occasional games in different sections of The North Regional League.

Professional football resumed in 1946, but it took another ten years before the club added more silverware to their trophy cabinet. Wrexham won The Welsh Cup in April 1957 and had a notable FA Cup run earlier that year, reaching the fourth round where they faced the formidable Manchester United in front of a record-breaking crowd of 34,445 spectators at The Racecourse. Although United won the match 5-0, the significant turnout and increased interest provided a much-needed financial boost. Wrexham utilized these funds for a five-year plan to enhance The Racecourse’s capacity to 45,000.

Wrexham enters European competitions
Credit: Gambaran

In 1960, Wrexham experienced their first-ever relegation as they dropped into the recently-formed Fourth Division, but not before winning The Welsh Cup. However, their stay in the Fourth Division was brief, as they earned promotion back to Division Three in 1962. After two more seasons, they were relegated once again to Division Four.

The tides turned in 1970 when Wrexham secured promotion back to Division Three. The following season, they won The Welsh Cup once more, granting them the opportunity to compete in The European Cup Winners’ Cup. In 1972, Wrexham triumphed in their opening tie against FC Zurich in the tournament but were subsequently eliminated in the second round by Hajduk Split.

Modern Era Challenges:

Credit: North Wales Live

The 1980s was an era of mixed fortunes in Wrexham Association history. They defeated FC Porto in the first round of the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1984, adding to their reputation as giant killers. However, the club struggled domestically and faced relegation from the English Football League (EFL) Fourth Division in 1987. Despite this setback, the team regained their place in the EFL and experienced relative stability in the lower divisions.

In the 2000s, Wrexham faced financial difficulties that threatened the club’s existence. Ownership changes and mounting debts led to administration and even the possibility of liquidation.

A series of ownership changes inflicted severe financial issues upon the club, leading to debts of £2.6 million. As a consequence, the club underwent financial administration in 2004, resulting in a 10-point deduction in the league. Ultimately, this deduction led to the club’s relegation back to the fourth tier of English football.

Supporters rallied together to form the Wrexham Supporters Trust (WST) in 2011, aiming to secure the club’s long-term future. Through community ownership, the WST successfully saved the club from potential demise.

National League and Historic Achievements:

Credit: Sky Sports

Under the management of Gary Mills, the team enjoyed a memorable FA Trophy triumph in 2013, defeating Grimsby Town in the final at Wembley Stadium.

In recent years, Wrexham has shown signs of resurgence. In 2020, Hollywood actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney became the owners of the club, injecting newfound excitement and optimism. Their investment has brought increased media attention to Wrexham AFC, drawing global interest to the team’s journey.

Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney’s influence would see the club get featured in football news around the world almost as much as a mid-table team in the Premier League gets coverage.

Wrexham fans accepted the new owners with open arms, some even cosplayed as Deadpool, Reynolds’ infamous role as the Marvel anti-hero. Unlike many owners, who are distant from the club’s fans, Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney embraced Wrexham Association history and got involved with the people of the town as seen on the Netflix documentary Welcome to Wrexham, produced by both actors.

Promotion Back to the EFL:

Credit: Bleacher Report

In the 2021/22 season, the first season with the new owners, Wrexham was second in the National League and would later go on to lose the EFL play-offs at Wembley. but much of the foundation as well as the culture to get promoted was set up.

Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney started to build a connection with the club’s fanbase and beefed up the club’s infrastructure in their first season. They appointed Phil Parkinson as Wrexham manager, a serial promotion winner in the EFL, and started bringing in EFL-level talents like Paul Mullin and Olli Palmer.

This led to Wrexham, finishing first in the National League in the 2022-23 season, securing promotion back to the EFL after a nine-year absence. Wrexham’s dreams were coming true and with the new owners, the sky was the limit!

Fueled by the excellence of MVPs like Paul Mullin, Ollie Palmer, and homegrown talent Jordan Davies, the Wrexham Association future seems bright. The return to the EFL presents Wrexham with new opportunities to compete against historic rivals and reignite old rivalries. It also opens the door for the club to pursue further success. And potentially aim for promotion to higher tiers of English football.

Future Prospects

Credit: The Sun

Wrexham Association history is a testament to the resilience and passion of its supporters. From its early years as a means of promoting healthy activities to its dominance in the Welsh Cup and participation in English competitions, the club has experienced various highs and lows. Through challenges, financial difficulties, and ownership changes, Wrexham has endured and remained a focal point for its community.

With recent ownership changes and promotion back to the EFL, Wrexham AFC enters a new chapter in its history. The support and dedication of fans, combined with the ambition of Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney as owners, offer exciting prospects for the future of the club. Wrexham’s story serves as a reminder of the indomitable spirit that drives football and the enduring bond between a team and its community.

Wrexham Association Logo History

The logo of Wrexham Football Club features a prominent dragon, a mythical creature deeply rooted in Welsh folklore and symbolism. The dragon, with its fierce and majestic appearance, embodies the strength, power, and passion associated with the team.

The dragon in the logo is depicted in a dynamic and dynamic stance, poised for action. Its wings are spread wide, symbolizing the club’s ambition to soar to new heights and achieve success on the football field. The intricate details of the dragon’s scales and muscular build showcase the attention to craftsmanship. As well as the dedication to excellence that Wrexham Football Club strives for.

Surrounding the dragon are the club’s name, “Wrexham AFC,” proudly displayed in bold lettering. The font used in the logo adds a touch of modernity while maintaining a classic and timeless feel. The combination of red and white colors in the logo reflects the club’s traditional colors. These colors have become synonymous with Wrexham logo history.

Wrexham badge history is more than just a symbol; it is a rallying point for fans and a visual representation of the team’s values and aspirations. It serves as a beacon of pride and inspiration for players, staff, and supporters alike, symbolizing the collective pursuit of excellence and success.

Wrexham Association Kit History

Wrexham kit history is a long and storied one. In its early years, Wrexham predominantly wore simple yet distinctive kits. The club have played in a predominantly red kit with white features since the late 1930s

As the years went by, the club experimented with different kit designs, incorporating elements such as horizontal stripes, chevrons, and patterned sleeves. Wrexham’s kits also saw variations in collar styles, from traditional polo collars to V-necks and round necklines.

Throughout Wrexham jersey history, Wrexham has had a variety of alternative or away kits. Away kits often featured different color schemes, such as all-white or combinations of blue and yellow, while still incorporating the club’s crest and logo.

In 2014–15, to celebrate the club’s 150th anniversary, Wrexham wore a red and black hooped Nike home shirt as this was the club’s first-ever recorded home shirt.

The Dragons style themselves in Red and White

Since 2016, Wrexham AFC has had Macron as its kit supplier. Macron has played a role in organizing the team’s pre-season training camp in Portugal. In the summer of 2017, over 600 supporters traveled to Portugal to show their support for the team during a successful 2-1 victory over Louletano. This tradition has continued, with the team visiting Portugal each summer for their pre-season preparations.

Greene King Brewery entered into a two-year sponsorship agreement with Wrexham in April 2011. However, when Glyndŵr University acquired the Racecourse in September, the sponsorship deal was terminated due to the university’s exclusive agreement with another brewery. From the 2021-22 seasons onwards, the team’s kits feature an embroidered number “1934” on the back neck of the shirt as a tribute to the Gresford disaster.

The Wrexham AFC’s current on-shirt sponsers are the social media app Tik Tok. This has played a huge role in their new-found worldwide fame.

Wrexham Association Stadiums

The Racecourse Ground is a historic stadium that holds a special place in the hearts of fans and players alike. First opened in 1807, the Racecourse Ground is recognized as the oldest international football stadium in the world. Originally built as a venue for horse racing, it gradually transitioned into a football ground and became the proud home of the Wrexham Association Football Club in 1864. Over the years, the Wrexham stadium has undergone several renovations and expansions. This was mainly to accommodate the growing needs of the club and its passionate supporters.

The Racecourse Ground boasts a seating capacity of around 10,771, offering an intimate and electric atmosphere during matches. The stands are divided into four main sections: the Kop, Wrexham Lager Stand, Wrexent Stand, and the Macron Stand.

Before the outbreak of the First World War, the Racecourse Ground was extensively used for flying demonstrations. The possibility of establishing the Racecourse as the town’s municipal airport was considered by the Wrexham Borough Council. But eventually, the airport was developed at Borras.

In 1952, concrete terracing was installed at the popular Kop end, which remains the oldest section of the ground. Five years later, a record-breaking crowd of 34,445 spectators gathered at the Racecourse for an FA Cup fourth-round match against Manchester United. On September 30, 1959, the newly installed floodlights were inaugurated.

Following promotion to the Second Division in 1978, the Border Stand, named after the Border Breweries that owned the ground, was constructed. It is currently known as the Eric Roberts Builders Stand and is typically allocated to visiting supporters.

Racecourse’s amazing history

Credit: Under a Welsh Sky

Beyond its sporting significance, the Racecourse Ground holds a special place in the hearts of Wrexham fans. It has been a symbol of unity, passion, and unwavering support for the club throughout its history.

As Wrexham Football Club looks to the future, the Racecourse Ground remains an integral part of its identity. The club and its loyal fans recognize the historical significance and sentimental value of the stadium. Efforts are continually being made to maintain and improve the facilities. Ensuring that the Racecourse Ground remains a cherished home for generations of Wrexham supporters to come.

In 2002, the Racecourse Ground’s freehold was acquired by Wrexham A.F.C. from Wolverhampton Dudley Breweries for £300,000. However, the ownership was immediately transferred by chairman Alex Hamilton to his company Damens Ltd for a nominal fee. This transfer sparked controversy, leading to the renegotiation of Wrexham F.C.’s 125-year lease on the Racecourse.

The revised lease allowed Damens Ltd to evict Wrexham F.C. with a 12-month notice and a payment of £1,000,000. The annual rent for the club also increased from £1 to £30,000. In 2004, Wrexham F.C. received notice to vacate the ground, which triggered a strong backlash from fans. In a subsequent legal case, the High Court ruled in March 2006 that the ownership transfer of the ground had been improper. Ownership reverted to the club’s administrators at the time, who were handling the club’s financial difficulties.

Wrexham Association Fan Base and Members

Credit: Welcome to Wrexham

Wrexham Association history has them boasting one of the most passionate and dedicated fanbases in English football, as it was shown in the Welcome to Wrexham documentary. Their dedicated fan base has played an integral role in the club’s identity and success.

After World War II, Wrexham Football Club took steps to recover and rebuild. They established a fund to purchase new equipment, repair war-related damages, and undo alterations made during the war. Additionally, a supporters association was formed to raise funds for these endeavors.

Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, the supporters association financed the construction of several new stands, gradually improving the stadium facilities as attendance and ground capacity grew.

The fan base of Wrexham is diverse and includes supporters from various backgrounds and generations. The club has a strong local following, with fans hailing from Wrexham itself and the surrounding areas of North Wales and the bordering regions of England. However, Wrexham also has a significant number of supporters spread across the United Kingdom and even abroad. This demonstrates the club’s global appeal, especially since the Hollywood takeover and global exposure.

A club rooted in the culture of its fans

The club recognizes the importance of its fan base and actively engages with supporters through various initiatives and programs. Wrexham has a dedicated membership scheme that allows fans to become official club members, granting them exclusive benefits and access to ticket priority. The club also provides transportation for the fans who want to attend away games.

Furthermore, Wrexham fans actively participate in charitable endeavors and community initiatives. The supporters are known for their philanthropic efforts, organizing fundraisers, and supporting local causes. This sense of giving back to the community further strengthens the bond between the club, its fans, and the town of Wrexham.

In recent years, the fan base of Wrexham Football Club gained international attention when Hollywood actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney became the majority owners of the club. Their involvement has brought a renewed sense of excitement and global recognition to Wrexham. This has attracted a host of new fans and raised the club’s profile on a global scale.

Wrexham Association Rivalries and History

Credit: Chesire Live

Wrexham rivalries history goes back to the beginning of the club’s life. The Dragons have a longstanding and passionate rivalry with Chester Football Club, which is considered their fiercest rival. The rivalry between the two clubs dates back decades. It is rooted in the historical and geographical proximity of the two towns.

The Wrexham-Chester rivalry, often referred to as the “Cross-Border Derby,” is one of the oldest rivalries in English football. The fierce competition between the clubs creates an intense atmosphere whenever they face each other on the pitch. Matches between Wrexham and Chester are known for their high stakes, intense battles, and passionate displays of support from both sets of fans.

The rivalry is further fueled by the fact that Wrexham and Chester have often competed in the same leagues. The clubs have regularly met in league fixtures, cup competitions, and even relegation battles. Adding an extra layer of significance to their encounters.

The Wrexham-Chester rivalry extends beyond the pitch, with fans engaging in banter and rivalry off the field as well. Their encounters can often get bloody and dangerous as well as seen in the Welcome to Wrecham documentary.

Wrexham also shares regional rivalries with other nearby clubs such as Shrewsbury Town and Tranmere Rovers. These matches, although not as intense as the Wrexham-Chester clashes, still generate excitement and rivalry among the fans.

Ethan Dempsey
Ethan Dempsey
Ethan is a lifelong football fan. When he is not obsessing over the Premier League games, Ethan likes to read fantasy tomes, watch football documentaries and waste hours upon hours on video games.
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