Why Season 2 of Welcome to Wrexham shows Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenny at their best
Blake Lively can’t be the only one whose jaw dropped when news broke that her husband was a Hollywood A-lister Ryan Reynolds and It’s always sunny in Philadelphia a star Rob McHelen announced that they were going to buy struggling football club Wrexham AFC back in 2020. Among the questions asked among the general public in North America back then was “Who? ”, “Why?”, “How?”, and, usually, “Where on Earth is Wrexham?”
Fast forward to 2023, and it’s safe to say that a good proportion of the TV-watching public know exactly where Wrexham is, what life is like there, and how Elliot Lee is getting on forward for goals this season. Reynolds and McElhenney docuseries Welcome to Wrexham was a surprise hit on its FX/Hulu debut in 2022, drawing huge audiences and glowing reviews for its riveting portrayal of the down-to-earth happenings at the Racetrack. Here’s why the second season, which dropped on September 12, will show Reynolds and McElhenney at their best.
They wanted a team with history – they got one!
When the Hollywood couple announced their interest in buying a football club, they also made it clear that they wanted a team with history; and with Wales’ AFC Wrexham, they certainly got it. When the genteel cricketers of the mining town decided to form a football team to have something to do in the rainy winter months back in 1864, Abraham Lincoln was the president of the United States, wars were still fought with cavalry and cannons, and the world knew nothing of light bulbs, telephones, or airplanes. Furthermore, in the world of sports, big football names such as Manchester United, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, and Liverpool have not yet been talked about – because Wrexham is not only the oldest football club in Wales, but the third oldest in the world.
Although the team never reached the dizzying heights of the Premier League, being one of the few Welsh clubs big enough to compete in the English football system brought Wrexham more money over the years. . But the club’s status as a team from Wales also added another very unusual chapter to its history. Unlike any English club of its size, for 20 years and more Wrexham AFC competed in European competition, against the best clubs from the continent’s premier leagues.
As frequent winners of the Welsh Cup, Wrexham gained entry to the European Cup Winners’ Cup representing Wales, and the 1970s and 1980s saw many memorable nights at the Racecourse, with Wrexham recording famous results against the likes of Anderlecht and Porto. In domestic competition too, they often punched well above their weight, earning a reputation as “giant killers” for knocking big-name teams like Arsenal out of the FA Cup irregularly.
It gets better. Wrexham Racecourse has been hosting sporting events of all kinds for almost 300 years. The ground is even in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s oldest international football stadium – in fact, the site is so old that when a new ground was built in the late 1990s, the architects to design around 200 historical. – a year old pub overlooking the pitch for conservation purposes. When Reynolds and McElhenney arrived, they not only visited the pub for a quick drink, but also checked out the cavernous Kop – a large terrace that stood behind one of the goals – which was full of weeds and unused, after that. failed a safety inspection a few years earlier. This year, the spies came in and demolished it, and work is now underway on a new, state-of-the-art facility courtesy of Deadpool and Mac.
New blood for a struggling team
While history is great, it’s the performance on the pitch that counts – and not just the stadium that has been improved by the new owners. Reynolds and McElhenney found a club languishing in the National League – the slow but unimpressive fifth tier of English football’s pyramid, where they often found themselves playing in front of small crowds against half-decent teams. professional and other, down-on-. fortune clubs whose glory years have been and gone. It was a long way from the club’s halcyon days in the late 1970s and early 1980s, when the Racecourse became a fixture with crowds of 20,000 and more, as Wrexham pushed for promotion to the top flight. McElhenney said it all after a game in 2021 where the players had to clean the pitch with brooms during an away game: “We’ve got to get out of this f****** league.”
Fortunately for long suffering Wrexham fans, Hollywood put their money where their mouth was. With manager Phil Parkinson given a decent budget to expand the playing squad, some shrewd signings combined with good old fashioned hard work on the training ground were central to Welcome to Wrexhamfirst season. Before long the team was playing home games to sell-out crowds, and with the vocal supporters of the Dragons behind them, the club made it to the playoffs. The end of the season was not to be a fairy tale however, as the club lost their match 5-4. Reynolds and McElhenney didn’t care, and we can hardly blame them: the team has acquired a global following of a size and passion that other clubs of its ilk can only dream of , and soon found Hollywood A-listers like Hugh Jackman. the way to home games.
Reynolds and McElhenney – in it for the long haul
The great thing about it Welcome to Wrexham, however, that Reynolds and McElhenney are so visibly affected by it all. Everyone knows how fanatical football fans can be about their clubs, but from the outset, it’s clear that AFC Wrexham are not only important, but completely at the heart of town life which has seen hard times since the coal mines closed. who created the life of his life fifty years ago. Not only that, but Wrexham fans own both club and ground to a degree that franchise teams can only dream of – back in 2011, when the club faced relegation existence due to unpaid tax bills, fans raised over £100,000 overnight to ensure. he stayed in business. One pair of fans even gave their wedding money to keep the club away.
Such community commitment was not lost on Reynolds and McElhenney, who have earned a lot of respect in Wrexham for their support of local causes. It has also gone down well in North Wales that Reynolds in particular has shown support for Welsh, which is still widely spoken in much of the country and by many Wrexham supporters, and which is a source of great pride for Wales. Indeed, a Reynolds film Red Noticereleased on Netflix in 2021, even featuring Welsh subtitles.
But the big question on everyone’s lips is: are Hollywood stars real, or just there for the lolz? Much debate has been generated in the UK about the possibility of two inexperienced celebrities running football clubs positioning themselves to take advantage of the publicity and make a cut out of the series. TV, just to sell them if things go wrong in the future. Professional football is, after all, big business, and more than a few British football clubs have hit the dodo due to big-name owners getting involved. too many investments without long-term plans for sustainability, and then bailed out when it comes. hard
But during filming Welcome to WrexhamIn the second season, both men have made statements saying that they are committed to the club for the long haul, regardless of the cost. During the official trailer, Reynolds believes: “The responsibility is not only to win and get out of this league – it will never let go of this community. “If the club’s rollercoaster 2022-23 season is any indication, it’s fair to say the pair’s commitment to Wrexham – never far from the surface in the show’s first season – will be very much there season 2: their reaction at Wrexham games, and in one crunch game in particular, it takes a bit of a beating. There is also a sudden appearance of modern Wrexham fans from around the world at home games ; the upcoming women’s team, who like their male counterparts have spent most of the year gunning for promotion; and the small matter of flying around with none other than King Charles III.
How will it end for Wales’ most famous underdogs? Having already returned to the promised land of the English Football League, will the venerable Welsh club be able to climb the ranks to the Championship – or even go one better, and mixed with the world’s biggest teams in the Premier League? It’s a tall order – the kind of ending Hollywood screenwriters shy away from writing for implausibility. But how Welcome to Wrexham has already proven, sometimes the unthinkable has a way of coming true.