Football! But it’s more than that in the documentary series Welcome to Wrexham. Hollywood stars Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney ‘buy’ a football team and this could have gone terribly wrong. After all, what do Americans know about European football? Nothing! But it’s not about the success or the money that comes with owning a football club. It’s not about capitalizing on a comedic premise in a documentary. No, it’s genuinely about Wrexham, the Welsh town that has faced difficult times but has always stood behind their club. Wrexham AFC is one of the oldest football clubs and plays in the colors of Ajax and Middlesbrough. So, I had to watch it.
Not Just for Football Fans
If you’ve clicked on ‘read more,’ I can tell you: even if you have zero interest in football, this is a heartwarming, feel-good series. Truly. Of course, it’s about the footballers, but it also is about their families and the volunteers who support the club. It captures the fans, from young to old. These are ordinary people, each with their unique story, bound by their city and their football club. There’s a lot of history woven in, which resonates and tugs at your heartstrings. So, watch it, especially if you enjoy stories about everyday people.
But, of course, there’s football in it too. The aim is to propel Wrexham to a higher division. Achieving this goal requires investments from the stars, as you need good players to win. What becomes interesting is seeing how the inner workings of a football club function. How decisions are made and what other factors come into play. The more you look into this aspect, the more you root for the club’s success.
There’s a Story
It’s a true documentary series, but it has a storyline. The club has been languishing in the lower divisions for a while, and the new owners genuinely want to give the club a shot at climbing higher. It’s good for the club, for its revenue, and it lifts the spirits of the town’s residents. But above all, it makes for a compelling narrative – from underdogs to winners, hopefully. You can also research it yourself since the series lags behind reality. Will the club succeed in reaching its goals? Is that the only intriguing storyline? No.
Because, primarily, it’s about the stories of the people in the town. It’s capturing real-life to a certain extent. To a certain extent because some individuals involved in the series are so charismatic that they amass their fan following. Seriously! This naturally takes you away from ‘real life’ since recording their stories is no longer 100% authentic. But honestly, that’s not a bad thing.
Life with Ups and Downs
I grew up with a love for Ajax. My grandfather was a referee. My father lived in Betondorp, within walking distance of the Ajax stadium. Football was always a part of my childhood. Even now, I can still enjoy a good match (although they’re not as frequent anymore – many games seem dull and scripted compared to the matches I remember). But I also know that in my father’s family, football was a way to maintain connections. The best stories weren’t about Johan Cruijff’s perfect pass but about my uncle renting a cushion for the stands during matches, which my grandfather thought was a waste of money.
… Oh, let me explain: in the old stadium, the stands had hard wooden benches that weren’t very comfortable. So, you could rent a cushion for a few cents. It made sitting more comfortable.
It’s those stories around the game that make this series enjoyable. It’s the highs and lows of the families in the town that make you empathize. It’s an entire family, with a grandfather who once worked in the mines, a daughter who struggled to provide a good life for her children, and a grandson who’s already a huge fan of the club and ‘vlogs’ about it (disclaimer: I’m assembling a family from different people in the documentary, but you get the idea, right?). It’s beautiful to see how we, as people, are bound together by our passions, our loyalties, and our shared experiences.