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Welcome to America, Wrexham!
Along with soccer, er, football giants Manchester United and Chelsea FC, the underdog squad toured the U.S. to gigantic fanfare—here's what happened.
America’s favorite Welsh soccer club ventured to the U.S. this past summer.
Wrexham AFC—the team co-owned by actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney, and made popular by the FX docuseries Welcome to Wrexham—played four matches on American soil this past month.
The tour started in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, headed west to Los Angeles and San Diego, and then ended on a stormy Philadelphia night less than two weeks before Wrexham began regular season play, but the soccer was almost secondary.
The once-downtrodden soccer club has become a global sensation and American fans were excited to catch a glimpse of them in the flesh.
They were introduced to star striker “Super” Paul Mullin, who is Reynolds’ and McElhenney’s favorite player; manager Phil Parkinson, whose halftime speeches laced with f-bombs are hilariously dissected in the series; and Wayne Jones, the real-life owner of The Turf pub in Wrexham that’s attached to the Racecourse Grounds (the world’s oldest international soccer stadium), who greeted fans next to a popup replica of the pub, where they stood in a long line to buy $18 gin drinks.
If they were lucky, they might have run into McElhenney, who bought Wrexham along with fellow star Reynolds for $2.5 million at the height of the pandemic.
McElhenney became famous via the sitcom It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and was overjoyed at the reception his club received in the City of Brotherly Love.
The welcome Wrexham received during the entire tour was hardly surprising. According to Parrot Analytics, audience demand for Welcome to Wrexham is eight times the demand of the average TV series in the United States and has higher demand than 99% of all documentary titles in the U.S.
Simon Meyer and his son, Cooper, both fans of the docuseries, traveled nearly 500 miles from the San Francisco Bay Area to San Diego, decked out in their Wrexham T-shirts and joined the record crowd of nearly 35,000 at Snapdragon Stadium.
Simon Meyer called the series “gigantic” and added, “What an investment, first of all, and then to watch them succeed as much as they have, it just makes your hair stand up. What a great series and what a great accomplishment for the two owners.”
Cooper Meyer added: “I’m just glad that they’re starting to blow up and I hope they succeed and go higher up in the leagues.”
Mullin, who was initially not a fan of participating in the program shared: “The day I got told they were doing a documentary; my first thought was: ‘That might be a waste of time. Who’s going to be interested in Wrexham?’”
But to his dismay, Mullin found out how popular they were just two hours after arriving at their first U.S. stop in North Carolina, where Wrexham faced off against powerhouse Chelsea in front of more than 50,000 fans.
“I was walking to get a drink from a shop and a car window goes down and they yell it’s: ‘Super Paul Mullin!’ That was the moment, ‘Ah, maybe what Rob and Ryan and everyone else has been telling us is true,'" Mullin said. “That’s probably the one that will stick with me and that was the first moment I thought, ‘Maybe they do know who we are around here then.'"
Wrexham supporters who pack Racecourse Ground love to serenade their team’s best player with the song “Super Paul Mullin” to the tune of Billy Ray Cyrus’ “Achy Breaky Heart.”
“It’s crazy, right?” Jones said about the impact of the docuseries. “[Wrexham] is a wonderful town, it’s a wonderful place, the people are incredible. The world is just getting to see what we’ve always known as locals. The world just seems to have taken to it. Long may it continue.”
Goalkeeper Ben Foster called the reception in America “mind-blowing."
He added, “It’s amazing to think that we’re making so many people happy. They would never have expected us to come out to America and watch Wrexham play in the games that we’re playing, with the crowds that we’re getting. So, for me, for them to be fulfilled with that, brings immense joy.”
Wrexham even made an impression with long-time Manchester United fans like Greg Hill of San Diego, who was “shocked” there were so many Wrexham fans at the match.
“Great show,” he said. “I think it brings it more to America. You obviously have a bunch of people here that had never heard of Wrexham before that TV show. The fact they have so many fans here is because of the show.”
Season 2 of Welcome to Wrexham premieres on Sept. 12. Season 1 is now available on Hulu.