boiniznamena – Wrexham Association Football Club, or Wrexham AFC for short, is a professional soccer team based in Wrexham, Wales. It is the oldest club in Wales and the third-oldest professional soccer team in the world, having been founded in 1864.
The club plays in the EFL League Two, the fourth tier of the English soccer league system, after winning the National League title in 2022-23. The club’s nickname is The Red Dragons, and its home stadium is the Racecourse Ground, which has a capacity of 10,771. The club is owned by Wrexham Holdings LLC, a company formed by Hollywood actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney, who bought the club in 2020.
Early Years (1864-1921)
Wrexham AFC was formed in October 1864 by members of the Wrexham Cricket Club, who wanted to play soccer during the winter months. The club initially played friendly matches and cup competitions, and won its first trophy, the Welsh Cup, in 1878.
The club joined The Combination, a regional league, in 1890, and won four titles in 13 seasons. The club also joined the Welsh Senior League in 1896, and won two titles in two seasons. In 1905, the club moved to the Birmingham & District League, where it competed for 16 years. The club also reached the quarter-finals of the FA Cup in 1904-05 and 1907-08, losing to Newcastle United and Everton respectively.
Football League Era (1921-2008)
In 1921, Wrexham AFC became one of the founding members of the Football League’s Third Division North, a new national league for northern clubs. The club spent 37 years in the Northern section, finishing as runners-up three times, but never winning promotion.
In 1958, the club was placed in the re-organised Third Division, and was relegated to the Fourth Division two years later. The club bounced back in 1961-62, winning the Fourth Division title, but was relegated again in 1963-64.
The club won another promotion in 1969-70, and reached the Second Division for the first time in its history in 1977-78, after winning the Third Division title. The club spent four seasons in the second tier, achieving its highest-ever league finish of 15th in 1978-79.
The club was relegated to the Third Division in 1981-82, and to the Fourth Division in 1982-83. The club recovered in the mid-1980s, winning the Welsh Cup six times in a row from 1984 to 1989, and reaching the FA Cup quarter-finals in 1986-87, losing to Arsenal. The club also won promotion to the Third Division in 1988-89, and to the Second Division in 1992-93, after beating Newport County in the play-off final.
The club enjoyed a successful spell in the second tier, finishing as high as seventh in 1996-97, and reaching the FA Cup quarter-finals again in 1996-97 and 1997-98, losing to Chesterfield and Coventry City respectively.
The club also achieved one of its most famous victories in 1992, when it beat the reigning English champions Arsenal 2-1 in the FA Cup third round, with goals from Mickey Thomas and Steve Watkin.
The club’s fortunes declined in the late 1990s and early 2000s, as it suffered financial problems and managerial changes. The club was relegated to the Third Division in 2002, and to the Fourth Division in 2004. The club also entered administration in December 2004, and was docked 10 points by the Football League.
The club exited administration in July 2006, after being taken over by a supporters’ trust. The club narrowly avoided relegation to the Conference in 2006-07, but could not escape the drop in 2007-08, ending its 87-year stay in the Football League.
Non-League Years (2008-2023)
Wrexham AFC spent 15 years in the fifth tier of the English soccer league system, known as the Conference Premier, the National League, or the Vanarama National League for sponsorship reasons.
The club had five unsuccessful play-off campaigns, losing in the semi-finals in 2010-11, 2011-12, and 2012-13, and in the final in 2013-14 and 2018-19. The club also won the FA Trophy in 2013, beating Grimsby Town on penalties at Wembley Stadium, and the Football League Trophy in 2005, beating Southend United 2-0 at the Millennium Stadium. The club also won the FAW Premier Cup, a competition for Welsh clubs, five times out of 11 editions, before it was discontinued in 2009.
In 2020, the club was bought by Wrexham Holdings LLC, a company formed by Hollywood actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney, who pledged to invest in the club and its community.
The club also appointed Phil Parkinson as its manager, and signed several experienced players. The club won the National League title in 2022-23, securing promotion to the EFL League Two with two games to spare. The club also reached the FA Cup third round, losing to Premier League side Leicester City.
Rivalries and Supporters
Wrexham AFC’s main rivals are Chester, Shrewsbury Town, and Tranmere Rovers, with games between the clubs known as the cross-border derby. The club also has rivalries with other Welsh clubs, such as Cardiff City, Swansea City, and Newport County.
The club’s supporters are known for their passion and loyalty, and have followed the club through thick and thin. The club’s average attendance in 2022-23 was 8,456, the highest in the National League. The club’s supporters also have a fanzine called The Red Passion, and a website called Wrexham.com.