Welcome to Wrexham – Season 2 Episode 1 Recap & Review

Welcome Back to Wrexham

Before we dive into the premier of Season 2 of Welcome to Wrexham, let’s quickly recap season 1. Rob Mcelhenney, who you might know from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, teamed up with Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool) to buy the Welsh professional football team, Wrexham AFC. They were nervous at first. Two American actors taking over an AFL National League (tier 5) team? Why? The answer, in a word, is community.

Both Rob and Ryan were enchanted by the town of Wrexham as well as the peoples’ pure passion for their team. It’s the 3rd oldest football club and oldest international stadium in the world. Wrexham itself, somewhat surprisingly, welcomed Rob and Ryan into the community with open arms, but not just because they’re celebrities.

In the first season, Rob and Ryan consulted with experts, got to know the players as well as community members, and proved to everyone that buying Wrexham AFC was not some flippant, mega-rich hobby. They care, they’re willing to stick with this team and become part of the community themselves. They spent a lot of time and effort with jersey redesigns, upgrades to the stadium (the Racecourse), a new head coach, and pricey player moves, including the acquisition of Paul Mullin. Wrexham made it all the way to the league’s semi-final, hoping to win and advance up the league. Sadly, it didn’t happen, but Rob, Ryan, and the Red Dragons are back and ready for season 2.

Episode recap

It’s important to remember that the football season portrayed in this season of Welcome to Wrexham has, in fact, already happened. That said, let’s dive into the premiere.

“So, the King of England called.” The show returns to a rejuvenated Wrexham. Jerseys are sold out, the whole town is filled with excitement and pride, and their football club is gaining fans from all over the world. It seems everyone is restless, hoping more than ever that Wrexham AFC gets promoted. With all the money poured in, failing to advance to ‘league two’ would be catastrophic not only to morale, but the literal financial sustainability of the club.

Even with all the money in the world, it’s the players who have to win the games, not least of which is Wrexham’s keeper, Rob Lainton. He suffered a tragic wrist injury 34 games into the previous season, and has been struggling to get back to 100% before the start of the 2022/2023 season. Mark Howard, an experienced player, is brought in as the new keeper.

Same as last season, coach Phil Parkinson brings the ‘enthusiasm’ (F-word) to the locker room plenty of times, tracked by number in the show. In their first game of the season, forward Elliot Lee steps up to help lead Wrexham to a 2-1 win. With the team off to a promising start, Rob and Ryan get a dose of “monarchy boot camp” in preparation to meet the King of England. Naturally, they struggle a bit to take it seriously.

A local man and lifelong Wrexham fan helps with an initiative to sell metal barriers for the old Kop (standing area of the stadium) and give the proceeds to charity. The King visits the Racecourse, and asks Rob if “it’s always sunny in Los Angeles.” The event goes well, and hopefully increases the chances of receiving government funding to upgrade the stadium.

Rob ‘whinges’ about the time it takes to secure the funds, so they begin the demolition of the Kop on their own dime. It’s bittersweet, as the Kop holds precious memories for the community.

The episode concludes with the first real test of the football season, an away game against rival Chesterfield. Chesterfield scores early, followed closely by an unfortunate error by Wrexham keeper Mark Howard, allowing an open goal. The game ends 2-0, Chesterfield wins. On top of this, the ‘Leveling Up Fund’ denies Wrexham’s request for government funds. “18 months of work trying to get funding for the Kop has just gone up in smoke.”

The Episode Review

Much like the entirety of the first season, this episode displays the lighter, more human side of what a docuseries can be. It feels like a glimpse into what reality television could be. The scenes are far less staged and it’s as informative as it is dramatic. Instead of focusing on toxic people and awkward situations, it’s all about positivity, community and growth, even when things are tough, or don’t work out the way people would hope.

This episode does an effective job of keeping a wide lens on everything going on. There’s a lot to latch onto, and many moving parts. From the logistics of team management, keeping up with individual players, returning to familiar spots like the Turf Pub, getting back in touch with the local residents, to Ryan’s irreverent humour and Rob’s passionate impatience for all of the business they have to conduct, Welcome to Wrexham is a feast for lovers of football and documentary television.

Perhaps the show’s greatest shortfall is simply a strange reality: by the time of this episode’s airing, the very open and public exploits of a football team are already revealed. It’s like the show has been spoiled by life itself. That being said, there really is more to the show than simply seeing how the season turns out for Wrexham.

There are a slew of amusing, hyper-real moments, like American tourists interrupting an interview at the Turf Pub, Boris Johnson speaking about the ‘Leveling Up Fund,’ Rob doing an interview on the set of It’s Always Sunny, and a disappointing zoom call taken on a studio backlot. If nothing else, this episode, as well as the show itself, displays the truth that football is about so much more than what happens on the pitch.

Generally speaking, it seems fair to expect this season to be more of the same, albeit with increased expectations. More eyes are on the Red Dragons now. The premiere did well to set the stage and show the larger context of everything happening. Wrexham AFC’s season is off to a somewhat uncertain start, but Welcome to Wrexham is smooth sailing.


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You can read our full Season 2 review of Welcome to Wrexham here!

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