Welcome to Wrexham is #PRgoals
5th December 2022 by Kate Logan
As we find ourselves once more in the grip of World Cup fever, there’s another football story that’s already enthralled us this year.
‘Welcome to Wrexham’ has been a fascinating watch.
It’s also scored priceless positive PR for a football club that’s been rescued by its bootstraps more than once.
If you’re not familiar with the Disney+ documentary, it’s a behind the scenes look at the Hollywood takeover of Welsh non-league club Wrexham AFC.
Led by American actor Robert McElhenney, who somehow managed to persuade Deadpool himself, Ryan Reynolds, a Canadian, to become his business partner, the programme follows their first season as owners.
While still learning the offside rule and, perhaps most importantly, what football means to the fans in this passionate north east corner of Wales, the pair slowly begin to appreciate the realities of running a football club.
It’s a story like no other. While American takeovers and documentaries on streaming channels are nothing new to the Premier League, at this level (Wrexham play in the fifth tier), they are both highly unusual.
The documentary delves into the new owners’ motivation, day to day tribulations, fan dedication, and local fascination around what has been a bizarre but thrilling event in football history.
It satisfies our need to see the headlining new owners but is also takes us on a journey with the fans, like The Turf landlord Wayne Jones and likeable yet outspoken painter and decorator Shaun. For fans like Wayne and Shaun the football club really is life. Shaun hates his job and recently split with his partner, yet football gives him hope, every weekend. And while too often that hope leads to disappointment, it occasionally leads to unbridled, intoxicating joy. It’s a familiar rush that keeps sports fans coming back for more every week, and it’s captured eloquently in the series by Wrexham’s loyal supporters.
This takeover had been about the best PR it’s possible to get for a football club. But there’s a bigger and even more heart-warming story that Welcome to Wrexham brought into focus. It’s put real people in the spotlight, and we’ve all fallen a bit in love with this story, and their stories. This town and its community are rightly central to the tale and the global interest has given the local economy a huge boost.
Wrexham is back on the football map and, having started my journalism career in the town (which has recently received city status too), I couldn’t be happier. I once witnessed a crucial victory in the club’s history, having covered the Court of Appeal case in London that was featured in the “Hamilton” episode of the documentary as a young reporter at the Wrexham Leader. While that made headline news at the time, it still felt the club was battling for all its worth. This feels so different. Wrexham AFC is on the up and we’re all invited along for the ride.
I find myself checking Wrexham’s scores and the National League table every week these days, and I’d wager I’m not the only one. Wouldn’t it be great if series two of Welcome to Wrexham featured their long-awaited promotion back to the football league? Now that really would be priceless.