Wrexham's unscripted Hollywood ending
Sports have increasingly become fodder for content in the never-ending streaming wars, but you can't script what Wrexham did on Saturday in northeast Wales.
Driving the news: The fifth-tier Welsh club purchased in 2021 by actors Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds beat Boreham Wood, 3-1, to clinch the National League title and earn promotion to the English Football League, where they last played 15 years ago.
What they're saying: McElhenney and Reynolds — who documented the club's history and its first season under their ownership in the FX docuseries, "Welcome to Wrexham" — waxed emotional after the game.
- "This is a moment of catharsis and celebration for [the town of Wrexham], and for us to be welcomed into their community has been the honor of my life," said McElhenney.
- "I'm still somewhere between giggling and sobbing," Reynolds tweeted the following morning. "This town and this sport is one of the most romantic things on earth."
The backdrop: Wrexham's path back to the EFL began during COVID lockdown, when McElhenney first learned of promotion and relegation while watching Netflix's "Sunderland 'Til I Die" docuseries. In a moment of revelation, he told his wife, "I think I want to buy a football team."
- He zeroed in on Wrexham because the working-class, blue-collar town reminded him of his hometown Philadelphia, and before long he and Reynolds were partners in the venture.
- They came agonizingly close to promotion last season, losing in the playoff semifinal, but got over the hump this season behind star player Paul Mullin, whose 47 goals are just one shy of Manchester City superstar Erling Haaland's tally.
Fun fact: Mullin is the National League's highest-paid player, making $6,200 per week. Haaland makes $623,000 per week.
The big picture: Wrexham, founded in 1864, is the third-oldest professional soccer club in the world. But they'd still be relatively unknown globally if not for "Welcome to Wrexham."
- Docuseries have taken over sports recently, bringing viewers behind the scenes and heightening drama in a way that seems almost made-for-TV.
- But ultimately, the magic of sport is that it's unscripted. McElhenney and Reynolds couldn't guarantee this Hollywood ending — the players had to go out and get it done.
The bottom line: Just two seasons into McElhenney and Reynolds' stewardship, Wrexham is moving on up — which will make for a great TV show.