Star Rating:

Welcome to Wrexham

Streaming On: Watch Welcome to Wrexham on Disney+

Season: 1

Actors: Ryan Reynolds, Rob McElhenney

Genre(s): Documentary, Sports

Football can be hard to understand for outsiders of the sport. Supporting the less glamourous teams outside of the Premier League and beyond can seem even more mystifying.

However, what 'Welcome to Wrexham' picks up on is the pure magic of what football can do for a community. It might not be that exciting on the pitch for the most part, but the true spirit of the sport is cheering on in the stands week in, week out, rain or shine.

In 2020, Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds purchased Wrexham AFC, one of the oldest clubs in the world, in the 5th tier of English football (which also includes some Welsh teams). Dropping down a division could financially ruin a club and getting promoted is an extremely difficult task. It's a purgatory which Wrexham AFC have been in for nearly 15 years.

When Rob and Ryan decided to invest in Wrexham and become joint-owners of the club, it was seen as a Godsend. Why would anyone in their right mind choose to take over a National League team from Wales? After watching 'Welcome to Wrexham' it quickly becomes clear.

The series introduces us to the wider of the community of Wrexham at a time when the club is in financial trouble and struggling in the league. They are a far cry from the billionaire-backed behemoths of the Premier League, but still a club propped up by tradition and pride from their supporters. There are no glory hunters in these lands, let me tell you that.

The docu-series interviews fans, players and volunteers, all deeply rooted in the club's wider community. Their stories are varied, heartfelt and genuine. There's tales of bereavement, illness, financial struggles - all human experiences. We're taken into homes, pubs and back offices and get to see some very vulnerable moments. One thing that becomes clear is the reliance on football as a support system. The town loves the club.

While the community is well and truly represented in the docu-series, given its half-hour episode length, it could have served the show better to have fewer interviewees and more focus on specific stories. The interactions are fleeting and before we know it, we're meeting someone new.

The reality of life in Wrexham is juxtaposed with their new Hollywood owners, who communicate from their LA mansions to try and get things in order, becoming well and truly entrenched in the rollercoaster of football.

While this 'Ted Lasso' style fish-out-of-water story can seem a bit grating considering their financial privileges, there's a charm to McElhenney's raw enthusiasm in learning about the club and his deep-rooted love for sport. We see him get up 4am to watch their matches with his son - a nice mirroring of his youth spent cheering on the Philadelphia Eagles with his old man.

Reynolds seems slightly less doe-eyed about the whole affair and, given his penchant for business (he owns a marketing firm, a gin company and a mobile network), it's fair to say he's got a lot on his plate. But he is more than happy to take part in promotional work and investing into the club, and his charm is undeniable.

The fact that McElhenny and Reynolds are probably the least interesting part of the series is a testament to the stories being put front and centre. The actors' part in the show can come across as a bit scripted and distant compared to the locals - it can sometimes feel like their playing a particularly interactive game of 'Football Manager'.

While the series is certainly less polished than the glorified PR stunts of the 'All or Nothing' series, it's hard to brush off a sense of opportunism coming from North American owners where sport is a much more commercial business, especially if you're a cynical football fan like this reviewer.

However, the days of true underdog stories are long gone. Football in particular is an extremely harsh environment to flourish without financial backing and it's clear to see the positive difference the duo have made on the club and wider community already.

'Welcome to Wrexham' proves that there's more to football than the Premier League and to see a smaller club get the limelight for once truly is a story straight out of Hollywood.

'Welcome to Wrexham' releases on Disney+ on Thursday, August 25.