Phil Parkinson out to reward Wrexham fans after ’15 years of pain’

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Phil Parkinson has his mind set on ending 15 years of hurt on Saturday as Wrexham look to seal their long-awaited return to the Football League.

Victory over play-off chasing Boreham Wood at the Racecourse Ground would secure the National League title and a return to League Two for the first time since 2008.

For all the Hollywood hype and international attention which has come since Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney bought the club in late 2020, go back to 2011 and an unpaid tax bill of £200,000 led to a winding-up petition. Promotion would be a reward for those that kept Wrexham alive.

Wrexham's Racecourse Ground
Wrexham have been absent from the Football League for 15 years (Nigel French/PA)

“I totally understand what it means to everybody. There are supporters who have been incredibly loyal and passionate behind the club. The whole town and area has got behind the club and it would be very special if we could finish the job off.”

Parkinson, 55, has previously earned promotions at Colchester, Bolton and Bradford, and also guided the Bantams to the 2013 League Cup final while they were still in League Two.

But he said promotion with Wrexham would be “right up there” amongst his achievements “because of the importance of getting a team back into the league”.

Tuesday’s 3-0 win over Yeovil put Wrexham on the brink of a promotion which has appeared theirs for the taking since a 3-2 win over nearest rivals Notts County on April 10 put them top in a fraught title race.

The excitement is obvious in Wrexham, with players mobbed by fans seeking autographs and selfies as they arrived for a gym session after training on Thursday morning.

Parkinson is trying to keep things “normal” in the build-up to Saturday’s game but he admitted nothing is really normal about life at a National League club that boasts its own Netflix series, and which welcomed King Charles and the Queen Consort for a visit late last year among a string of celebrities.

All that could be distracting, but securing promotion would prove otherwise.

“They’ve coped with it really well,” Parkinson said of his players. “They’ve enjoyed it.

“It goes back to recruitment, bringing in players who would embrace that. We’re a very unusual National League club with an incredible spotlight on every single game.”

Given the spotlight has been on Wrexham for so long now, the extra attention this captivating title race has brought has perhaps been easier to handle.

“It’s almost become normal,” captain Ben Tozer added. “To some people on the outside it might seem like a bit of a circus but we’re so used to it now.

Wrexham's Ben Tozer, left, shields the ball from Notts County’s Jodi Jones
Ben Tozer, left, shields the ball from Notts County’s Jodi Jones (Barrington Coombs/PA)

“The pressure has always been there. We’ve always put the pressure on ourselves.”

Wrexham have already set an English professional record with their tally of 107 points, still with two games to play, but Notts County’s own form means there is still work to do.

“Everyone would rather have won the league by March, it’s just the way things are, people want things easy,” Tozer said of the fight.

“But if you want to win a league it’s hard, you have to do the right things day in, day out. It’s been great to have that pressure. We’ve both been pushing each other.

“It’s been a bit like (Lionel) Messi and (Cristiano) Ronaldo, pushing each other on. It’s been tough and it’s been good.”

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