Life after Leeds United – movie star encounters, weird Thorp Arch return and mistaken identity red

Bryce Hosannah had no idea what he was signing up for when he put pen to paper on a deal at Wrexham following his Leeds United exit.
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

From the cameras following his every move to the Hollywood A-lister following him on social media and the 10,000 following at home games, any belief the youngster held that life would be quieter in North Wales, after the all-consuming Leeds madhouse, has been definitively banished.

Hosannah recently returned to Thorp Arch with his club as they trained at Leeds' base ahead of an FA Cup tie at Blyth Spartans, completing quite the 14-month circle for the full-back.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Arriving back at the club he left in August 2021 was 'a bit weird' but Hosannah holds no bitterness towards the Whites because his release came as no real shock.

"I would probably say it was expected," he told the YEP.

"At 22 I was probably too old to play Under 23s football. I'd been on loan with Bradford but I'd had an operation on a bad hamstring injury so I hadn't played in a while and I wasn't near enough to the first team. I still had a year left on my contract but I remember they put me in a group of younger players that they just didn't see a future for. There was me, Robbie Gotts, Niall Huggins, Jordan Stevens and we were basically told it was our last summer so we had to find another club basically, because they brought in a new group for the 23s who were going to get priority.

"I'd been there for quite a while so it was a bit disappointing but at the same time I know that's just football. That's how it works. So you just take it on the chin and luckily there were talks with a lot of clubs last summer."

Bradford, for whom he played 11 times in a 2020/21 loan spell, were interested but when deadline day rolled around Hosannah was Wrexham-bound.

QUIET LIFE - Ex-Leeds United man Bryce Hosannah is playing in front of 10,000 at Wrexham and featuring in a Disney+ documentary along with his club's famous owners. Pic: LAJ PhotographyQUIET LIFE - Ex-Leeds United man Bryce Hosannah is playing in front of 10,000 at Wrexham and featuring in a Disney+ documentary along with his club's famous owners. Pic: LAJ Photography
QUIET LIFE - Ex-Leeds United man Bryce Hosannah is playing in front of 10,000 at Wrexham and featuring in a Disney+ documentary along with his club's famous owners. Pic: LAJ Photography
Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The project Phil Parkinson had told him about sounded enticing and there was some talk of what the club's famous ownership meant for players but the wing-back laughs when asked if he knew what he was in for.

"No," he admitted.

"When I spoke to the manager he was saying how they were planning on doing a documentary and obviously Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney were the owners and they had signed a few players who really should have been signing for League One teams, so I knew we had a strong team but the season before had been behind closed doors, so we didn't really know about the crowds. We now average close to 10,000, which is mental. As for the documentary I didn't know there would be cameras at training every day and stuff like that. It was a bit of a whirlwind when I first joined."

Actors Reynolds and McElhenney starred heavily in the first season of Welcome to Wrexham, a documentary following their unexpected and eventful takeover of the third-oldest professional football club in the world, but so too did the players.

Even for Hosannah, who came from a Premier League club, such intense media involvement took some getting used to.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"At first, just in general, you take care of what you want to say when the cameras are there because you don't want to get caught saying anything too bad that could end up getting used," he said.

"With time we got used to it, now they're back this season as well because I think there's a second series.

"There's a really nice guy who's on the crew called Miloš, he's the connect between the players and staff and the camera crew, so he knows when to take the cameras away, when they're comfortable being around, so you just kind of get used to it when they're there every day. Until you're involved you don't realise how much footage isn't used, compared with what is.

"No one really knew what to expect when we watched the documentary but I feel like it was a good representation of the club and quite good to watch."

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The media activity increased further when the club's owners rocked up.

Reynolds, known to millions around the world as Deadpool, and his co-owner, McElhenney, creator and star of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, are very famous and very funny.

To Hosannah, they're very friendly and very normal.

"They're just really cool guys," he said.

"As a player, you see Ryan Reynolds has followed you on Instagram and you're like what's going on? But they come in and they just speak to everyone, they don't act like owners, they just speak almost like fans of the club and it is a bit surreal when they come in and sometimes they do a bit filming, adverts at the ground and you see them in action. They're really great guys when they come down and speak to the players.

"People just react to it differently. Some people get a real buzz off it and some people for them it's just football and that's just an extra, but I feel like everyone's taken it in the right way as well."

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

That wasn't all Hosannah had to deal with, initially. If the cameras, famous faces and the rigours of National League football don't make a man of you, the M62 will.

"To begin with, because I didn't have a place, I was actually commuting in from Leeds to Wrexham, which was a nightmare, especially in the morning," said Hosannah.

"I'd say it was about a two-hour drive. But now I've got a place just half an hour up the road, I got that in October last year so I'm a lot more settled now."

He soon found his feet on the pitch as well, breaking into Parkinson's side and staying there for a 15-game league run.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"It was good, I think last year I played 31 games," said Hosannah.

"Coming off the back of quite a heavy surgery, if you had offered me that I would have taken it. I went through a run in the team where results were good and I was playing well and it was good to be playing, even if it was at a lower level, playing regular first team football in front of big crowds every week. It was enjoyable. It still is."

It can't be easy, though, moving down into what is technically non-league having played against his peers on the carpets of Premier League 2, even with that League Two loan experience.

"Honestly, I think having played in League Two the National League is tougher because in League Two you kind of know what you're going to get, but there's so many teams in this league that are just unknown entities," he told the YEP.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"You can see some of the results from last year, they're so unpredictable and even though it is the fifth tier there's still some really good players from all teams. With how the league is structured for promotion it's a hard league to get out of as well. Only two teams go up, only one automatically. Look at Grimsby who struggled at stages last year - they went up through the play-offs and now they're quite comfortable in League Two. I feel like rather than non-league it's more just an extension of the EFL and a lot of the teams in this league could go up to League Two and be comfortable."

That narrow route to promotion is made all the more treacherous by the presence of other clubs who should really be in the EFL, like Notts County, Oldham Athletic and Chesterfield, where Hosannah experienced his favourite away day last season.

"We won 2-0 after playing really badly in the first half," he said.

"Our away support is madness, we sold out the whole stand, there were flares on the pitch and everything, that was probably my most enjoyable away I've had since I came here."

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

His least favourite, at Maidenhead where he was red carded in a case of mistaken identity, was a genuine highlight of the documentary and a source of amusement for family and friends.

"I was going for a normal flick on, the referee blew his whistle and I heard a bit of commotion but I didn't see anything that happened. I was just waiting for the game to restart but the ref called me over and I said 'why are you calling me over' and he just pulled the red card out of nowhere. It was a bit mad. At the time I didn't really know what to do, I'd never been in that position before. I think it was in my first few games and I was thinking 'what have I signed up to here?' It obviously got rescinded so it was all fine, I can look back on it now and laugh.

"Me and Paul Mullin do not look alike so I don't know how they made that mistake."

Despite the money ploughed into the club and Mullin's avalanche of goals, Hosannah and Wrexham missed out on promotion last season, suffering a 5-4 extra-time play-off semi-final defeat to Grimsby Town.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"I was kind of involved in the Leeds dressing room and I've seen after losses how it can be but I don't think I've seen a quieter dressing room than after the Grimsby game, just because of the nature of it," he said.

"It was a mad game with some bad refereeing decisions and a noise from the crowd that meant you couldn't hear people on the pitch.

"I feel like everyone put a lot into last year and in a way it just makes us more determined to do it this year."

That wasn't his only disappointment - Hosannah travelled to Wembley for the FA Trophy final but injury kept him from the hallowed turf as the owners' guests David Beckham and Will Ferrell watched on.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"Towards the end of last year I was out for about six weeks with a knee injury and came back and played a few games and then right at the end of the season I just had like a small tear on my quad, so I remember I missed the last game of the league season and I missed Wembley, which was really tough," he said.

"Obviously everyone wants to play at Wembley and I had to go down and watch."

A contract extension to 2024 was the summer signal that Parkinson and Wrexham considered Hosannah a significant part of their plans and he considers himself better for the experience in Wales.

This season has been stop-start due to injuries but when he returned to Thorp Arch in October to prepare for the FA Cup game, he felt more like a professional footballer than when he trained there in Leeds colours.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"I'd say the main difference is just maturity which comes with age I guess, and experience," he said.

"I probably feel more like a professional footballer now than I ever did when I was at Leeds in the 23s trying to push for the first team. That's not really real football. Now I'm part of something with people who all have something on the line, it's more important and there's more at stake."

As his owners made clear in the documentary, there is a huge amount of money at stake should Wrexham fail to go up this season, but so much more is wrapped up in the club's potential return to the EFL.

Leeds fans can attest to the frustration that sets in during a lengthy period in a division lower than the one where you really belong.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Wrexham, 14 years outside the Football League, sit top of their division right now by a point and once again giving it a right good go.

Will this be their season? Hosannah's answer is a mature one.

"Promotion is the goal, but it's easier said than done," he said.

"There's still some strong teams in this league and we've just got to try and focus on ourselves and try and get the best possible result in every game and see where it takes us."

The whirlwind isn't done with him just yet.