Welcome To Wrexham | Addictive docuseries about football isn’t about football at all

welcome to wrexham
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Welcome To Wrexham has everything; Hollywood stars, a working class town in Wales searching for glory on the pitch, a sweary manager. We take a closer look at TV’s best docuseries. 

NB: The following contains mild spoilers for Wrexham AFC’s current season. 

If you’re not watching Welcome To Wrexham, you’re truly missing out. Granted, it’s not exactly Game Of Thrones, but it might be one of the best things on telly currently. I’ve always found it difficult to tune into documentaries and docuseries, but Welcome To Wrexham has become a weekly tradition during its two previous seasons and the third season looks to be just as addictive and heartwarming. 

I hate football, which is why I never imagined I would enjoy Welcome To Wrexham. The series follows the titular Welsh football club after Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds bought it in 2020. The club has a passionate, loyal fanbase, but they’re stuck in the lower leagues with an ambition to one day be promoted.  

The magic of the series is that it’s not really about football nor is it about Reynolds and McElhenney. Naturally, all of those elements feature in the series, but this is a series about community, about something bigger than sport. 

welcome to wrexham ryan reynold rob mcelhenney
Credit: FX Networks

The first season, which premiered on Disney+ in August 2022, followed Reynolds and McElhenney after they purchased the historic football club with the intention of restoring its glory. The season was full of ups and downs with its narrative mostly focusing on Wrexham’s dreams of being promoted from the National League to League One. 

Through its 18 episodes, we meet a roster of local people, to whom Wrexham AFC is everything. We’re introduced to Scoot, who sings in a local band but is also struggling with cancer treatment; Annette, who found community among Wrexham fans after losing her husband; and Wayne, the landlord of the local pub, The Turf, which seems to be the unofficial headquarters for fans. 

We also meet the team’s new coach, Phil Parkinson. He’s an old-school manager and not averse to a swear word or too. In fact, it sometimes seems that every other word Parkinson spits out at his players at halftime is some variation of ‘f*ck’. He’s also able to get the players in shape – and just like that, they start winning, match after match, and the fans are filled with hope. That long-awaited promotion out of the National League feels so close and achievable. 

At the end of the first series, however, Wrexham narrowly misses out on a promotion, shattering the long-time dream of fans and players alike. Yet, the season ends on a high note: there’s hope again that Wrexham might make it, that they might not be stuck in the lower leagues forever. 

welcome to wrexham phil parkinson
Phil Parkinson, not looking very happy. Credit: FX Networks

The second season doubles down on introducing more fans and more players to us. We meet Millie Tipping, an autistic fan who benefits from a Quiet Zone at the Racecourse (that’s the Wrexham stadium). Wrexham’s star goalscorer Paul Mullin has a particularly strong bond with Millie as his son is also autistic. 

Episode six also focuses on the Wrexham women’s team. Most of them work other jobs; Rosie Hughes is a prison guard and Lili Jones works as a kitchen porter. The episode, titled ‘Ballers’, is a welcome expansion of Welcome To Wrexham’s narrative. 

Another episode introduces us to midfielder Antohony Forde, whose wife is diagnosed with a brain tumour and his brother is diagnosed with leukaemia. In season one, we met another midfielder, Jordan Davies, whose partner was pregnant but they eventually lost the baby. Both episodes show the support the players receive after such devastating news. 

The show also dedicates time for larger issues. Season one episode ‘Wromance’ focuses on male friendships and the unique space football gives to bromances while ‘Gresford’ in season two explores the Gresford Colliery tragedy. 

Then there’s Reynolds and McElhenney. Much of the show obviously focuses on the pair trying to get Wrexham AFC to the higher leagues, but some of the show’s best humour comes from their complete obliviousness when it comes to the good, old footy, or soccer as the Americans call it. 

It’s not just about Deadpool and It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia’s Mac not understanding the offside rule (to be fair, I still don’t get it either), but their complete amazement at the passion and commitment of the fans when it comes to the team. There’s also so much history and cultural significance that the pair never even considered when they bid on the football club. 

At the end of season two, Wrexham just clinched a victory against Boreham Wood. The final scenes are ecstatic as the fans storm the pitch and, later on, the team and the owners all get up on a truck for a victory parade. 

Season three, which premieres on the 3rd May on Disney+, will look at the team’s success in League Two of the English Football League. If you’ve been following their season, you know most of the twists and turns of their story. In fact, the season is still on-going in the real world, but the overall winners have already been decided. 

Of course, Wrexham are keen on being promoted once again, this time to League One. Now, allow us to speculate for a moment here. If Wrexham get promoted to League One, their next goal would be to be promoted to the Championship, hopefully spawning a fourth series of the program. To be clear, no such season has been greenlit yet, but hey, we can dream, right? 

Championship is where it gets tricky for Wrexham, though. That’s only one step away from the Premier League, but it’s arguably the toughest jump to make because you’ll be going up against all the teams who’ve been relegated from the Premier League and are looking to get back up there. 

welcome to wrexham ryan rob
Credit: FX Networks

Whether or not Wrexham make it to the Championship or the Premier League is irrelevant here, although it probably isn’t for Wrexham fans. But a trajectory like theirs makes for great telly. Like I said, Welcome To Wrexham isn’t really about football. It’s about community and hope, dreams coming true. 

While promoting the third season, Reynolds and McElhenney have been speaking about the financials of owning a club like Wrexham. McElhenney told The Associated Press (coming to us via The Independent) that his books were in the red a “pretty significant” amount and Reynolds said “accountants don’t really want to hear about the emotional investment.”

The pair don’t seem to regret the money they’ve put in. They’ve even talked about their commitment to expanding the Racecourse to fit up to 55 000 fans in the future. 

“I think we recognise how lucky we are that we can be in this position where it isn’t about making money or any of those things,” Reynolds told the AP. “I mean, you have to be in a pretty privileged spot to be able to do this to begin with. But eventually, you know, as we climb up the leagues, we’re going to need outside help in order to sustain this club.

“One of our great mission statements and – this is something that is still a huge target – is to create a sustainable model for a sports club like this and allow it to support itself long after we’re dead and gone.”

Reynolds’ words only emphasise that neither their decision to buy the club nor Welcome To Wrexham is about two lads from Hollywood taking over a football club, but about the hope they’ve given to the community. 

Welcome To Wrexham season 3 premieres its first two episodes on the 3rd May, with a new episode following every Friday on Disney+ in the UK. 

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