“There’s a version of this story where we’re the villains,” Rob McElhenney says to his Wrexham AFC co-owner Ryan Reynolds at the start of this new docuseries. They’re doing their best to take in the surroundings and understand the task ahead of them as they visit the Racecourse Ground, the world’s oldest international stadium and home of the Dragons since 1864. For many years Wrexham was one of Wales’ best teams before a long slide led them to the fifth tier of the English Football League. McElhenney and Reynolds, who bought the club in 2021, aim to reverse that slide. It won’t be easy.
Welcome to Wrexham gives a captivating insight into Hollywood actor Reynolds and Always Sunny’ star McElhenney’s journey. As well as seeing them at home and work in Los Angeles, we meet Wrexham club officials, long-time fans and the players themselves, all while following the club’s fortunes during the 2021/2022 season. Anyone who follows football will know the tense ending (I won’t spoil it here), but the lead-up to its climax makes for a thrilling watch.
McElhenney’s interest in football was born out of the Netflix documentary Sunderland ‘Til I Die, which topped the viewing charts in 2018, meaning that he and his co-owner are newcomers to the beautiful game. This is leant into quite heavily throughout by providing an English-to-American translation whenever football jargon is used; this may be a little irritating to viewers who have a basic knowledge of the game, but what shines through is McElhenney and Reynolds’ passion for the sport. We see the former getting up at 4.30 am to watch the final game of the season, while Reynolds explains at one point that “our goal is to get the fuck out of this league” – music to the ears of any Wrexham fans for sure.
Supporters of Wale’s oldest football club and third oldest in the world are given a voice throughout, ensuring it isn’t just the McElhenney and Reynolds show. Among the colourful cast of local supporters, we meet the lead vocalist of pub band Declan Swans, who is undergoing cancer treatment; a young fan waiting longingly outside the stadium to meet his heroes; and a season ticket holder who credits fellow Wrexham fans with helping her to process the death of her husband.
Welcome to Wrexham’s real-life stories are especially poignant given the recent post-COVID return of crowds. After all, many of us won’t take going to football on a Saturday for granted again. You get the sense, as the series progresses, that, despite living half a world away from the Racecourse Ground, McElhenney and Reynolds – who, because of COVID, only attended their first Wrexham game in October 2021- are starting to truly realise the potential of the local community which forms much of their club’s fanbase.
Mutual respect between the faithful reporters and the A-list owners has the potential to blossom further should the club keep on progressing, but you will have to watch the series to find out how the most recent attempt to compete for that aim pans out. McElhenney can seemingly rest easy for now, though, as he and Reynolds aren’t being cast as villains in the Wrexham AFC story.
Welcome to Wrexham is available to stream on Disney+ now.