Documentary – Welcome to Wrexham

Welcome to Wrexham poster

Steve Taylor-Bryant gets to watch his two favourite things courtesy of Disney+, football and Ryan Reynolds. Welcome to Wrexham...

There has always been something special about being a football fan. Regardless of which team you support you will have peaks and troughs; as a Tottenham Hotspur and Borussia Monchengladbach fan I have seen more disappointment than I have medals and jubilation but yet I still I still watch games thinking the outcome will suddenly change and we will become the best team in the world. It's all in the expectation, expectation is the killer. If you expect to win everything and then you don’t it is heart-breaking, and that’s as a fan of two teams who are relatively powerful within the top leagues of the two countries that I have lived in. Imagine now, if you will, that you support a team that has spent over a decade in a league so far down the football pyramid that it is literally the last rung at which you can be called a professional and then two Hollywood actors buy you. What is your expectation level going to be then? Welcome to Wrexham documents just that…

Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney are big names. Reynolds is the wise ass funny A list actor and, whilst his partner in the Wrexham venture is perhaps not the globally recognised figure that Reynolds is, he is still, well an actor. And, well, American, and, well, Wrexham is a non-league football team in Wales. What I was expecting from Welcome to Wrexham, because here is those pesky expectations again, is not what I got. The first four episodes of the show are not the Reynolds laugh-fest, Hollywood saviour-complex extravaganza I thought they would be. They are in fact incredible snapshots into the trials and tribulations of being a football fan, whilst also showing and, most importantly, caring about the people of Wrexham and the community that the club serves. Both Reynolds and McElhenney are naturally charming and, whilst the sarcasm and wit is prevalent, these are also two guys who admittedly don’t know how to run a football club pushing forwards regardless and the on-the-job learning the two go through is a fascinating watch.

Wrexham was owned by the fans, having had unscrupulous owners in the past, so this wasn’t as easy as Reynolds and McElhenney turning up with a big bag of cash, they had to make a business proposal to the supporters trust who voted overwhelmingly before the purchase could happen. Then they had to find and employ people who actually knew the ins and outs of British football to start them on the journey of getting Wrexham rebuilt. Whilst the initial fun at seeing two North Americans have to begin to understand what relegation means, because American sport doesn’t have consequences, and seeing McElhenney up at 4.40 in the morning looking like the Wrexham club shop had thrown up all over him as he watches a game from Los Angeles, add lightness and an almost magical touch to proceedings it is the interviews with the people of Wrexham, the behind the scenes with the players and the staff, and the effect that the game has on the community, especially coming out of a global pandemic, that carry the most weight. What could have been a sickly Hollywood advert about two rich actors with nothing better do than buy a football club across the Atlantic, is so much more than that. It is a deep show about how caring about the football club inspires and heals the community. Whilst there are obvious references to Reynolds and McElhenney’s fame dotted throughout, the impact of their superstardom is used to benefit Wrexham football club’s coffers.

We have yet to get to the point at which Reynolds and McElhenney fly over to Wales to watch their first game but from the four episodes available to me at the moment I am enjoying learning more about the community of Wrexham, I am enjoying meeting these characters that remind me of people that I know, and I am enjoying watching two screen icons squirm at the cost of relaying a pitch. Welcome to Wrexham is on Disney+ in the U.K with a new episode dropping every Thursday and is an entertaining and informative way to spend your downtime if you get the chance.

Image - IMDb

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