After a couple of more laid-back episodes, Welcome to Wrexhamdishes out its first hour-long entry to give audiences its best look at what it’s like to own a professional soccer team, even one in the depths of English football’s National League, and it’s both a lot of fun and a lot of work.
That is because “Welcome Home” really does a great job of summing up the sports owner experience from both Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds’ point of view, as well as that of the people whose lives were absolutely turned upside down when the two men decided to buy Wrexham. For fans, this essentially means getting to see the fun aspects that Football Manager can’t quite replicate to alleviate the responsibilities owners face, but most notably it also shows the two actors are getting better at their new jobs.
If Welcome to Wrexham's last episode saw McElhenney and Reynolds attend their first away game, it’s now time to take a trip to their new home and finally experience all the warmth the Racecourse has to offer, and also see firsthand where their money is being invested. “Welcome Home” kicks off rather adequately with a brief intro from the club’s groundsman and his apprentice because the docuseries manages to put Wrexham’s people back in the spotlight in an episode that’s supposed to be all about the Hollywood stars.
So yes, Buddy Holly’s “Everyday” may still be the series’ intro song, but McElhenney and Reynolds hitting Wrexham is definitely not an everyday occurrence for the townspeople. Meanwhile, viewers also get some hard numbers as they McElhenney and Reynolds’ Wrexham venture is costing them just over $1.3m a year in losses until the club gets promoted to League Two, English football’s fourth-tier competition, as their budget is currently that of a team from that category.
Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will Wrexham as the club’s facilities were just beginning to benefit from the extra cash the actors brought with them because, remember, Welcome to Wrexham covers only the 2021/2022 season. Whether it's the possibility of buying a Wrexham membership, the team’s shop getting new merch, or the club’s new TikTok branded kits, this small city is currently undergoing a football revolution.
The people of Wrexham love McElhenney and Reynolds, however, the two are eager to hear dissenting voices in their tenure which allows the audience to see some conflicting viewpoints around the Hollywood Football Manager project. Take former club volunteer director Spencer Harris, whose job to keep the team afloat seems impressive, and yet his labor is largely derided by some of Wrexham’s most hardcore fans.
Whether it’s local reporters, volunteers like Annette Gardner, or just the usual pack of regulars at The Turf pub, seeing these conflicting views from up close is fantastic because it depicts how passionate people can be over their beloved Wrexham, a feeling that McElhenney and Reynolds are just beginning to acquaint themselves with. And well, there’s plenty of drinking too, which not only makes for the perfect icebreaker, it also encompasses the sheer absurdity of the people of Wrexham now doing shots with Hollywood millionaires.
What makes Welcome to Wrexham great is that this kind of story shouldn’t be real, it’s supposed to belong in the fictional territory of Ted Lasso’s optimistic takes on football, but even coach Lasso gets to coach a decent Premier League team. It’s funny to see AFC Richmond and Ted Lasso join FIFAbecause it allows players to pit that team against the Wrexham fairytale, albeit the latter being incredibly real and so much of an underdog that they barely show up in the game's radar.
Do McElhenney and Reynolds give Wrexham a financial edge? Sure, but money alone can’t buy sporting success, especially not at these levels, which is why is great to see the two actors tackle the transfer window meeting with manager Phil Parkinson in order to address the team’s needs. Even if one were to downscale the massive investments made by the owners of Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain to National League Levels, they’d still dwarf Wrexham’s sole outlandish singing of star striker Paul Mullin.
Before matchday, McElhenney and Reynolds join one of the team’s training sessions, and it’s great to see them hang out with the players, many of whom have benefited from increased wages under new management and who want to do the Wrexham project right. A 1-1 draw with Mullin out due to suspension might not be the Racecourse dream they had pictured, but their heartbreak at conceding late goals symbolizes the actors’ growing attachment to the club.
Welcome to Wrexham is at its best when it reminds viewers that the series’ setting, very much like football, makes no sense. It’s a sport that fascinates people all over the world, one that can be inspiring and painful at the same time, what the documentary allows us to see is how McElhenney and Reynolds catch the football bug just like Elijah Wood in Green Street Hooligans, or anyone who can’t wait to see Ted Lasso’sthird season.