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Wrexham AFC series returns to S4C

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Wrexham AFC series returns to S4C

S4C’s cameras have been following Wrexham AFC supporters as the club won promotion to League One…

The new series of Wrecsam: Clwb Ni shows the impact of the football club’s success on the town and its people. S4C cameras capture the season through the eyes of some of the characters from the first series, as well as new fans who have fallen in love with the club.

The first episode, which begins this evening on the Welsh-language channel,  brings to screen how the club has always played a significant part in Cled Ashford’s life. During his years as a scout, he has discovered talents such as Ian Rush, Barry Horne and Michael Owen.

“My role at the moment is ‘biggest volunteer on earth’ – I do everything no one else is keen to do, which includes scouting for lads to play for the team. I enjoy it.

“I’ve been scouting for over 20 years, from the time when Bryan Flynn was manager, and have been scouting for the academy for years. I’ve been more involved with the youth team and the academy over the last ten years, working within the club in terms of welfare and education, and volunteering on Sundays when the Academy is playing.”

Cled Ashford / S4C

The club’s success has had a significant effect on the recruitment of new players:

“Things have changed a lot recently” he said. “We’re still under the same pressures as before – Wrexham is completely different to Cardiff and Swansea – we’re so close to Everton, Liverpool, Man City and Man Utd. We have the big clubs over the border; of course, their attraction has always been incredibly strong, and that still stands. Since going from the National League to League 2, and now to League 1 people are taking more notice. So when we’re looking for new players, it’s certainly an advantage. A lot of lads from the Premier League and the Championship come to us for trials.

“But there’s another side to that too; it’s harder for a local lad to get a place because the standard has risen so much. This year we’ve done really well – four lads in the academy have been given a pro contract for the first team next year, so that is a success in itself.”

The town was propelled to new levels of global fame in 2020, as news of Wrexham AFC’s takeover by Hollywood actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney made headlines and dominated social media feeds worldwide. Overnight, the American and Canadian business partners became the town’s – and even Wales’ – most famous ambassadors. The club’s fame has brought in new visitors from afar to the town, which has led to new friendships.

Neil Jones / S4C

Neil Jones, who is originally from Caernarfon has lived in Wrexham for over 20 years, and has been following the club for 18 years. Two years ago he met Bud at the Turf Bar in Wrexham. Bud, who lives in Canada was over in London with his work. He decided to head to Wrexham to watch a match when he realised they were playing during his stay.

“He had nowhere to stay that night as all the hotels in town were full” says Neil, “so I told him if he could stay in the spare room at our house. We’ve been mates since then. He comes over every year and stays with us. Sometimes he joins us online to watch games too.”

Neil has benefitted from the camaraderie of the ‘family’ of supporters as he faced change in his life.

“I’ve had a season ticket for four years now. There’s a large group of us that go to the games – it’s great to have a gang of friends thanks to the club. I finished in the army after 24 years last summer, and I started a new job in Wrexham. Luckily it was a nice transition. A lot of soldiers struggle with not having that camaraderie after they finish in the army; they can feel alone and lost. But this has meant I have loads of friends around me.”

Neil’s garage – or ‘man cave’ as it’s called – was originally adapted by him to display the club’s memorabilia and play darts, but has developed over the past few years as a popular meeting place for the group before every game.

The three-part series starts on S4C at 9 pm tonight (Thursday 9 May) and is also available on S4C Clic and BBC iPlayer.

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