Photo: Patrick McElhenney/FX
Welcome to Welcome to Wrexham sSeason two! It’s a pleasure to be here again to talk about Wrexham AFC, the historically significant football team that just might make it. If you haven’t seen the first season of this entertaining little sports documentary, don’t worry. Here’s an explainer I wrote last year, and the series premiere will give you a nice little recap and a bunch of pivotal moments to get you up to speed. Shall we?
The premiere once again focuses on Wrexham AFC, a traditional football club that has stagnated in the fifth tier of English football for the last 14 years, but has loads of potential and a strong fan base. Significant and repeated cash injections from Hollywood greats Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney have produced some strong results, thanks largely to the team’s renewed ability to attract talent from football’s higher echelons. The most notable additions last season were new manager Phil Parkinson, striker Paul Mullin and striker Ollie Palmer. In the context of the show, Parkinson is best known for his enthusiastic and frequent use of F-bombs; Mullin for being a local boy and goalscorer (quiet whistle of recognition for his 79 goals for Wrexham so far); Palmer for, well, hotness. Ryan and Rob point out that Palmer has a lot of female fans, which is probably due to the fact that he never keeps his shirt on, which is accompanied by a lingering shot of abs. Mr. Palmer put so much time and care into the development.
Okay, okay, Palmer is also an excellent player, having scored 33 goals in his first two seasons at Wrexham. There’s a little montage of a whole bunch of new players, but the only one we get to spend time with in this episode is new goalkeeper Mark Howard. More on the other new ones later, I’m sure.
In addition to the countless pounds invested in squad improvements, Rob and Ryan have also spent £200,000 replacing and then resurfacing all of the turf on the team pitch. Unfortunately, their investments to date have not quite yielded the desired result of promotion to League Two. The Red Dragons’ 2021-2022 season ended with a heartbreaking loss in the National League playoff semifinals Welcome to WrexhamThe second season covers the team’s 2022-2023 season.
The mood is a combination of cautious optimism and a deep awareness that the window of opportunity for the success of this entire project is narrow. Since the debut of Rob and Ryan’s ownership and of Welcome to WrexhamOver 24,000 jerseys were sold at the team’s official merchandise shop, with one fan describing the experience as “the ride of a lifetime.” Shaun Winter, long-time Wrexham fan and co-host of a podcast about the team’s fortunes, notes that he has been asked to sign shirts for fans of the show who have come from as far away as Brazil, Thailand, the USA, Australia and Portugal. There is a certain, barely controlled dizziness in the air.
That’s all well and good, but there’s no getting around the fact that this team absolutely has to win. They need to win many, many times so that they can finish the season at the top of the National League standings and gain promotion to the next league, League Two. As the club’s comedy writer and managing director Humphrey Ker succinctly explains, the advertising promises more money in the form of prizes and TV contracts, more exposure and game attendance, and a reasonable chance of recouping some of Rob and Ryan’s investment to bring in. The two are both enthusiastic about the team And Ryan was clear about what was at stake and stated clearly: “If the team does not get promoted after the 2022-23 season, the club will be completely unsustainable.” From this point on, success or failure is up to them players and their coaching staff. At the end of this episode, their record is 1-1-0. They still have miles to cover before they sleep.
Meanwhile, Rob and Ryan’s efforts to fulfill their promises to the team, the city and the fans take two forms: major club infrastructure projects and the PR coup of a meeting with His Majesty King Charles III. The former involves the demolition of the Kop, one of the old stands at the Racecourse Ground, the stadium where Wrexham AFC play. The Kop is beyond repair and since it was designed as a standing room only, it was never a comfortable place to watch games. But for a tradition-loving following, it is the stuff of sentimental legend; Wayne Jones, who runs the pub next to the racecourse, sneaked into the Kop as a child to watch his first ever Wrexham game and was immediately hooked.
A few minutes spent with local metalworks owner and long-time Wrexham AFC sponsor Phil Salmon is enough to show how deep the love for the Kop runs among the team’s fans. He turns the rusted, dilapidated red metal barriers that stopped the Kop stands from crushing each other to death in their home team enthusiasm into collector’s items by refurbishing and repainting them to sell to local charities. Salmon seems to gain nothing from this project other than the satisfaction of doing something meaningful for his community. It’s very pure and I don’t have any particularly uncontrollable feelings about it.
Looking ahead to the rest of the season, one of the big narrative projects is to build on the human interest stories established in the first season. For this to work, Rob and Ryan must continue to fade into the background – gradually and credibly. Both have such intense main character energy that the surest way to achieve this goal is to make yourself scarce. I don’t know how the whole season will unfold, but if I were to give strategic guidance, I would ask the guys to hold off until the last two or three episodes of the season.
The way things are at this moment, Welcome to WrexhamThe use of Ryan and Rob is quite effective. The episode opens with her arrival and then extends Be silent is funny and slightly annoying. What on earth could have made these obsessively talkative guys so speechless? The King of England has called! This leads to the funniest set piece of the episode, which is a bit about the preparations for King Charles III’s visit. in Wrexham, where he stops at the racecourse to meet various team greats. Since Rob and Ryan are farmers from the colonies, their preparation for the royal visit includes attending what Ryan calls “monarchy boot camp.” (“It’s like the military, but you have to hold up your little finger.”) Yes, it is beings the etiquette right there. Somewhere Miss Manners is proud of you, people!
Humphrey grumbles a little about being left out of the etiquette lessons, but anyone named Humphrey with an accent that posh doesn’t do that need take etiquette lessons. In particular this Humphrey – who, like many Prime Ministers and both of the King’s sons, attended Eton College; which easily exudes the vibe of a child born with quotes Burke’s peerage; whose maternal grandfather was named Vice-Admiral Sir Dymock Watson and was later the subject of this Humphrey’s own 2011 Edinburgh Fringe production, Dymock Watson: Nazi Destroyer! – doesn’t need these lessons.
Anyway! The royal visit is a success; Rob and Ryan hold up their pinkies, everyone looks very attentive, and the King successfully delivers an amusing line to Rob about how he’s heard it’s always sunny in Philadelphia.
The club waits eagerly (and to Rob’s increasing annoyance and amazement, he waits, and for variety, a little longer) for news of his request for £20 million Leveling Up Fund Funds from the government. The entire new stand must be built by the start of the 2024-25 season, so the management team decides to demolish the old Kop themselves pending approval of their application. So. About that. They don’t get the financing. Chief executive Shaun Harvey notes with well-earned exhaustion that the rejection amounts to “18 months of work going up in smoke”. He understands the Conservative Party, which was responsible for the Leveling Up Fund, did not approve the club’s application in part because it believes it will not hold Wrexham’s seat at the next election. This is quite a test of Harvey’s unwavering commitment to trusting the process (a phrase that sends both a shiver of hope and a shiver of horror down anyone’s spine). Philadelphia 76ers fan), but after a lot of sighs and some very silly and dry jokes from Rob, Ryan and Humphrey, it’s on to the next one. What else can they do?
• There’s always an enthusiasm meter on the screen counting Phil Parkinson’s obscene remarks to his players, but I think the focus should really be on his pre-game PowerPoint presentation, which is so endearing it could make me swoon. (F-bomb total for this scene: pretty tame five, but the season is young!)
• The ostensible reason for His Majesty’s visit to Wrexham was to recognize its designation as a town rather than a town. What does that even mean? I’m glad you asked. Here are Mark Cooper-Jones and Jay Foreman, aka: YouTube’s Map Menexplain.
• Shaun Harvey’s very emphatic reference to Trust in the process must be the influence of well-known Philadelphia sports fan Rob McElhenney. I’m here for it.
• Best Needle Waste: “Air on a G string” (lolllll, I’m 12), by Johann Sebastian Bach.
https://www.vulture.com/article/welcome-to-wrexham-season-two-premiere-recap.html Welcome to the Wrexham season 2 premiere recap