Wide World of Wales
Away We Go
For anyone who loves the beautiful game, 2022 has been a great year for football content. Having just finished on Amazon Prime, All or Nothing: Arsenal focused on North London’s biggest (second biggest?) club during last year’s tumultuous roller-coaster of a season. However, nowhere else is there more tumultuous ups and down than in the lower leagues. In that respect, Welcome to Wexham is a whole different animal.
As explained in the first episode, for those unaware on how English football works, there’s a hierarchical pyramid at work, which starts at the peak of the Premier League and works its way down to the National League, then the National League North and South as well as the divisions below that. The bottom 3 or 4 teams for the season are relegated while those at the top are promoted. It’s a cutthroat, heartbreaking and nail-biting structure and for those teams stuck in the lower divisions, it can be a nightmare to claw your way out and get into the higher divisions of football’s elite.
Boasting the accolade of being the third oldest club in the world and the oldest in Wales, Wrexham’s history has been mired in glory… followed by misery. Now stuck in the depths of the National League, eking out victories but not moving anywhere in a hurry, Welcome to Wrexham is a whole new ball game. And for the new owners, that statement couldn’t run truer.
Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney made history when they both decided to buy out Wrexham Football Club, having previously had no experience in the industry – or with football as a whole. However, with a team around them and a camera crew at hand, Disney and FX’s latest documentary dives behind the scenes to see all the ups and downs of the 2021/2022 season as Reynolds and McElhenney try to escape the National League with their newly acquired team.
It’s likely that many people around the world won’t be familiar with the National League and its lack of funding, but this first season does a great job easing people into how the league operates and how brutal these lower leagues can actually be. The facilities are lacking, the funding entirely reliant on ticket sales while what happens on the pitch can be just as challenging.
There are some really solid animations explaining how these different systems work, along with some humorous cutaways to explain slang terms in English, Welsh and America. It’s a small touch but one that tactually works really well to make this more accessible to the masses.
Welcome to Wrexham could have been a complete cringe-fest but in reality, this is actually a pleasantly surprisingly and thoroughly enjoyable documentary. While the episodes are a little short, clocking in at 28 minutes a pop, you’ll be utterly gripped from start to finish during Wrexham’s rollercoaster season.
Verdict - 8/10