Pat Lee Nichols and Alfie Sayers team up to bring the 22nd instalment of The Goalkeeper's Chronicle…Foster's Return!
The February 2021 purchase of Wrexham by North American acting duo Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney was backed by 98.6% of the 2,000 voting members of the Wrexham Supporters Trust.
The remaining 1.4% may have since been proven wrong by the thorough and assiduous approach of the Hollywood stars, having cut no corners to put the foundations in place for a bright future for the National League side. The 2021-22 season saw great progress for the club, but they ultimately fell short with a cruel second place finish. It was not to be in the Play-Offs on that occasion as Grimsby Town defeated them in a memorable 5-4 victory over two legs.
Fast forward to March 2023 and the club found themselves facing the same perilous position of 2nd place. Despite an expected points tally of 100+ points, only one of Notts County and Wrexham could go up automatically to the Football League. With games in hand and the footballing world watching, Wrexham called for a late revision to the script; a particularly media savvy one, too. On March 23rd it was confirmed that Ex-Premier League goalkeeper Ben Foster would be joining Wrexham on a short term deal.
Wrexham was where Foster learnt his trade all the way back in 2005. The then 22 year old Foster had a successful spell with the Welsh club, putting his career on a solid early footing. Ben Foster's agent, Richard Lee spoke exclusively to Goalkeeper.com about the deal:
“The fact it's a short term deal and an exciting time for the football club, the opportunity to feel the highs of playing a match again really got him going. That was the main driver”.
It is clear Ben was back for all the right reasons. And it's turned out to be a pretty incredible piece of business.
To his credit, Mark Howard - the goalkeeper who looked certain to step up following Rob Lainton's injury - was fully behind the move for Foster. He told gaffer Phil Parkinson to just 'do it' when he found out about the possibility of the club signing Ben Foster.
During a special episode of his podcast ‘Yours Mine Away!’ with Foster, Howard divulged more of his phone call stating ‘if it (signing Ben) gets us through that door mate and we get promoted, let’s just enjoy that’.
It was the goalkeepers' union at its very best. Besides just getting back out on the football pitch, Foster has benefited equally off the pitch from this deal. When talking with American broadcaster CBS after the a title changing 3-2 win over rivals Notts County on April 10th, he explained how his YouTube channel had seen unparalleled growth in recent weeks, gaining a huge 150,000 more subscribers in less than three weeks. The belief was rapidly growing.
His late penalty heroics and subsequent vlog has been seen by over 3.7 million people at the time of writing. It is Foster's third most viewed video of all time. The potential gravitas of a fairytale ending was something everyone wanted to feel a part of.
By Matchday 45 the path was clear for Wrexham. Winning either of their last two games would be enough to return to the Football League for the first time in 15 long years. The monumental game against Boreham Wood couldn't have started much worse, however, as within 60 seconds Wrexham found themselves behind. Ben Foster stood haplessly caught in no man’s land. However, the support of the 10,000 passionate Wrexham fans never wavered, and the team rallied as they had done all season.
A 15th minute equaliser, followed by a Paul Mullin double, completed the turnaround. Upon the referee's whistle, joyous scenes erupted with fans covering the Racecourse Ground's pitch. One of many players to be swarmed and swept up by fans was, unsurprisingly, Foster.
So, what's next for Ben? When asked the question of contemplating a return to Wrexham next season, he said: ‘Yeah for sure, you have to - you have to contemplate it.’ No matter what he decides to do next, he will never have to buy a pint in North Wales ever again
You can watch the game play out from the unique perspective of Ben’s GoPro and chest cam on his channel below.