There’s no denying it. Americans - and people across the world - have fallen in love with this (at the time) non-league club nestled in the North-Eastern part of little ol’ Wales. And the story begins after th purchase of Wrexham AFC by Hollywood superstar Ryan Reynolds and that other guy from ‘It’s Always Sunny’. Following the release of an FX docuseries, the exploits of Welsh non-league side Wrexham AFC debuted in late summer 2022 to rave reviews, And it has churned up an American fanbase for a down-on-its-luck club battling in the fifth tier of the English footballing machine.
But what exactly is it that makes this story so compelling to the typical American viewer and fan? Is it the pure Hollywood aura? Hipsterism? Or just the general love of an underdog saga? Yep, granted, it’s coagulation of all of those things, but of course, there are deeper reasons.
The story starts in late 2020, where Rob McElhenney, star of such shows as ‘It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia’ and ‘Mythic Quest’, and Hollywood legend Ryan Reynolds, AKA, Deadpool, proceeded with plans to begin process of purchasing Wrexham AFC. Who happen to be the third oldest professional football club in the world, and the oldest in Wales. That news in itself managed to whip up quite the storm – a pair of high-profile Hollywood actors investing in a small, unassuming Welsh club that have been out of the Football League, with hardly any luck, since atleast 2008.
A short time later, it was to be announced that a documentary would be produced following their exploits as new owners of the club, including their epic quest to get back into the promised land of the English Football League.
‘Welcome to Wrexham’ had all the ingredients to become a sporting documentary phenomenon, A small, close-knit working class, once mining community. A once mighty, fiercely competitive team that had dramatically fallen down the pecking order. Fans who had endured the hardship left by previous ownership, and eventually came together to save their beloved club and iconic stadium; The Racecourse, also known as ‘ Y Cae Ras’ in my native tongue. New owners who are well-respected down to earth with fun and goofy personalities, They’re not the uber-rich Saudi oil magnates that drive Newcastle United to newly-found success or the Abu Dhabi Sheikh moneyballing Manchester City’s rise to football domination in recent years.
Over the first season, we all get to know some of the local characters that the town has to offer - including pub owner Wayne, who runs the Turf, painters and a plethora of local supporters and Volunteers for the club, a slew of normal every day people whose lives are intertwined with the fortunes- and misfortunes, of their beloved hometown club. The context of the struggles of the early 2000s, with dodgey ownership actively trying to sell Y Cae Ras out from under them, and the ultimate salvation that the Supporters Trust was able to give brings some serious weight to the remarkable comeback story.
Since day one, the loveable personalities of both football-club-owning-virgin owners were actively taking steps to improve the club, Hiring Phil Parkinson as new manager and making signings way above the norm for a club of Wrexhams stature, including goal machine Paul Mullin, from Ripping up and replacing the old, weathered and battered pitch, to campaigning and fighting, and eventually succeeding, to purchase the Stadium from the local council and demolish and eventually replace the iconic Kop stand with a new, modernised stand, allowing even more fans to attend matches, Getting Wrexham added to the FIFA video game franchise in the form of FIFA 22, Campaigning tirelessly to get the matches in the National League streaming worldwide to bigger audiences, Attending matches and signing new sponsorships to bring in revenue as well as merchandise sales in the form of kits, training wear ect.
Without all this, the side has continued to maintain some pretty impressive form, managing to finish 2nd in the National League in the 2021/22 season and heartbreakingly losing in added time of the play-off semi final, as well as reaching - and again, unfortunately losing - the FA Trophy final. All which drama we saw unfold on season 2.
Wrexham though, continued in the 2022/23 season to push on for that ever-elusive promotion to the Football League. Then, over 9 months of blood, sweat, tantrums and tears, Wrexham finally finished as champions in a nail biting season, and thus, were finally promoted into footballing royalty.
So, wether you’ve followed the club on Twitter, are catching the streams of live games, or simply enjoyed the docuseries, Wrexham continuing to pick up winnings results has definitely helped keep people paying attention to, and following this tiny Welsh towns pride and joy.