Why Welcome to Wrexham Will Be an Ultimate Sports Underdog Story

why welcome to wrexham will be an ultimate sports underdog story

Why Welcome to Wrexham Will Be an Ultimate Sports Underdog Story

Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney may not look like soccer moguls, but they are certainly making a good job of it. Two years after their sensational — some would say crazy — decision to purchase the Welsh football club Wrexham AFC, the team is gunning for promotion, stadium attendances have skyrocketed, and replica shirts are selling like hot cakes.

So how did Reynolds and Rob McElhenney do it? Where is Wrexham anyway? And what’s so special about the town’s football team? For answers to those questions, fans should tune into Welcome to Wrexham, due to premiere in August on FX in the United States and Disney+ in the UK. Curious? Here is why we’re excited to check it out.

Welcome to Where?

For the uninitiated, Wrexham is a former mining town of around 70,000 people and a stone’s throw from the English border. As North Wales’ biggest town, it has a university (named after Wales’ answer to Braveheart, the Welsh rebel prince Owain Glyndŵr), a cathedral, a surprising number of pubs… and not much else.

But that’s where Wrexham AFC steps in. A small club they may be — playing against the likes of Liverpool and Manchester United, four divisions higher than Wrexham, is a once-in-a-generation event — but the Welsh club has a heritage that even the best-known European clubs can only dream of. In fact, Wrexham is the third-oldest football club still in existence. Not only that, but their stadium, the Racecourse Ground, has been recognized by the Guinness Book of Records as the oldest international soccer stadium in the world and has been hosting sporting events from horseracing to boxing since the eighteenth century. Since the 1980s, the stadium has also hosted concerts for big-name rock bands such as Twisted Sister and Motorhead, among others.

Though the club has never played in the English Premier League (unlike its rivals in South Wales, Cardiff City, and Swansea City), Wrexham has another enviable claim to fame. Unlike English clubs of the same size, Wrexham, being a Welsh club, could qualify to play in European competition via a convenient little loophole — winning the Welsh equivalent of the FA Cup. Fans of a certain age still tell tales of the times when the Dragons (Wrexham’s nickname, after the Welsh national symbol) played the likes of Anderlecht, A.S. Roma, and Manchester United — and gave them a run for their money. Reynolds and McElhenney wanted to buy a “storied” club, and they definitely got one.

Hollywood Elite Take on a ‘Giant-Killer’ Team

Welcome to Wrexham has been teased ceaselessly on social media for months, with celebrity friends to Reynolds — such as Hugh Jackman — getting in on the fun. Much of the interest centers around the fact that, unlike Real Madrid, Chelsea, or Bayern Munich, Wrexham’s set-up is… a little more basic. With one of the stadium’s four stands, the sprawling Kop, having been unused for many years — as an old-style terrace with standing room only for fans, weeds happily grow on the decades-old concrete steps — it’s clear that Hollywood’s finest have a challenge on their hands if they are to pull Wrexham out of the doldrums.

Then there are the players — a mix of old heads and young talent, whose reactions to the arrival of Reynolds and McElhenney in the stadium range from starstruck to bemused. It’s not hard to see why, as it’s not every day that you come face to face with Hollywood A-listers, and certainly not in your place of work.

They seem to get it, though. “It’s an underdog story,” opines Reynolds in the official trailer, a description that is as apt for the team as it is for the town itself. It is feted as one of football’s great “giant-killer” teams, having beaten countless prominent London clubs against the odds over the years, where the decline of the mining industry over the past fifty years has hit hard. It’s not for nothing that the team marches onto the pitch every Saturday afternoon not to the latest pop hit but to “Yma O Hyd,” a Welsh-language protest song by Wales’ answer to Bob Dylan, Dafydd Iwan. The chorus translates into English as “Despite everyone and everything, we’re still here.”

How to Watch & Season 2

After initial reports that Welcome to Wrexham would be ready for broadcast no earlier than the second half of 2022, earlier this summer, release dates were firmed up. The docuseries will now premiere this month, with the first episode broadcast on FX in the United States on August 24, 2022.

The following day, it will become available to stream on Disney+ in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland and FX in the United States. A second season is currently in the works.

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