Shrewsbury Town Football Club
- Town: Shrewsbury, Shropshire
- Founded: 1886
- Ground: New Meadow
- Nicknames: The Shrews; Salop; Town; The Blues
- Colours: Yellow and blue vertical striped shirts, blue shorts, blue socks
- 2021-22 League: EFL League One (3rd tier)
- Best League Finish: 8th in Division Two [now the EFL Championship] (1983-84 & 1984-85)
- Best English FA Cup Result: Quarter Finals (1978-79, 1981-82)
- Best English League Cup Result: Semi-Finals (1960-61)
- Football League Third Division / EFL League One (3rd Tier)
- CHAMPIONS: 1978-79
- Playoff Finalists: 2017-18
- Football League Third Division / Fourth Division / EFL League Two (4th Tier)
- CHAMPIONS: 1993-94
- Runners-Up: 1974-75, 2011-12, 2014-15
- Playoff Finalists: 2006-07, 2008-09
- Football Conference / National League (5th Tier)
- Playoff Winners: 2003-04
- Football League Trophy
- Runners-Up: 1995-96, 2017-18
- Welsh Cup
- WINNERS: 6 times
- Runners-Up: 3 times
Shrewsbury Town are an English league side based in the Shropshire town of Shrewsbury. Founded in 1886, they have spent the majority of their long history within the lower two divisions of the English Football League, although the Shrews did achieve their best league finishes in the mid-1980s when they achieved two consecutive finishes in the second tier of the English football pyramid. Despite losing their Football League status in 2003, they bounced back the following season, and they are currently competiting in the EFL League One (third tier of English football) for this season. Despite a long history, they have only won two league championships – winning the third tier title in 1978-79, and the fourth tier title in the 1993-94 season. Due to their close proximity to the Welsh border, and when English clubs were invited into the tournament, they have also won the Welsh Cup on six separate occasions, last winning the old competition in 1985. Finally, they play at their recently constructed New Meadow stadium, which was opened in 2007, and replaced their old historic ground of Gay Meadow which was famously located right next to the River Severn.
To talk about Shropshire’s only EFL team and a side that finished in 17th position in the 2020-21 EFL League One table, is the excellent David Preece. David is a Shrewsbury Town and Chorley supporter who also groundhops, and blogs about his journey on his superb blogside “David’s Adventures in Groundhopping“. To find his blogsite and social media accounts, follow the links below:
- Twitter: @DavidJohnPreece
- Website: https://davidsadventuresingroundhopping.wordpress.com/
Q. Who would you say is Shrewsbury Town’s best player, and coach/manager of all-time, and the reasonings behind the choices?
The first name which comes to mind for our best ever player is Arthur Rowley, who is our record league goalscorer with 152 league goals [in 236 appearances between 1958 and 1965]. Arthur served as a player/manager for Shrewsbury, and in his first season with the club he led us to promotion from the old Fourth Division, and he also led the way in the scoring charts as he was the league’s top scorer, a feat he repeated the next year in the Third Division.
However to say that Arthur Rowley is both our best ever player and our best ever manager would be unfair to a couple of people. Such as Mickey Brown, a wonderfully gifted winger who saved the club from relegation in our “Great Escape” season in the 1999/2000 season. Where Arthur Rowley is our record goalscorer, Mickey Brown holds the record for most league appearances with 418 appearances in total.
There’s also Graham Turner to consider, as both a player and a manager. A tough central defender, Turner joined the Shrews in 1973, and became our player/manager in 1978. During his first stint as Shrewsbury Town’s manager, Turner kept us in the old Second Division and also guided us to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup twice. Unfortunately Turner left us in 1984 for Aston Villa, but in 2010 he returned home. In between his time in the Shrewsbury Town hotseat, Graham managed Wolverhampton Wanderers and for a period was the chairman/manager of Hereford United. It was from Hereford that Turner returned to Shrewsbury, and in his first season with us he led us to the play-offs where we were beaten by Torquay. The next season was even better, as we were automatically promoted to League One. In our first season in League One, Turner kept us in the league but in our second we were relegated and Turner left. Ultimately though Graham Turner getting us promoted in 2012 provided the springboard for where we are now.
But to cut a long-story short, I’m going to say that Mickey Brown is our best-ever player, and that Graham Turner is our greatest manager.
Q. Who could be regarded as a ‘cult hero’ for the club in both in the past and present squad?
Obviously Mickey Brown, Arthur Rowley, and Graham Turner could all be considered cult heroes for the club, but I’ve already spoken about them, so first off I’d have to say Dean Spink [striker/defender who played for Shrewsbury between 1990 and 1997, and in a second spell in 1999], as after all he was named as our Cult Hero in a BBC Football Focus Poll in 2004, beating Steve Anthrobus and Austin Berkley to the honour.
There’s also former Welsh international Dave Edwards [winning 43 caps for Wales and part of the successful Euro 2016 squad] to consider. Dave truly was “one of our own”, as a boy he used to watch games at the Gay Meadow, and as a teenager he played for our supporter’s team before breaking into the actual Shrewsbury Town first team in 2003. After spells at Luton Town, Wolverhampton Wanderers, and Reading, Dave returned to Shrewsbury in 2019 satisfying the wishes that he’d come home.
For me there’s also Peter Wilding. Pete was the very definition of a utility player, as he pretty much played in every position on the pitch for us, even playing as a goalkeeper in 1998 when our keeper was injured against Torquay. Pete is most remembered for the 2003 FA Cup Third Round match against Everton where he kept a certain Wayne Rooney under control for 90 minutes.
Another who comes to mind is Steve Jagielka [midfielder who played for Shrewsbury from 1997 to 2003], the older brother of former England international Phil Jagielka. Steve was a wonderful player to watch, and unfortunately he passed away recently. Something of a “super-sub” ‘Jags’ helped turn quite a few matches in our favour.
More recently we had goalkeeper Dean Henderson on loan from Manchester United [for the 2017-18 season], and he firmly endeared himself to the fans with his performances on the pitch, and his brilliant attitude off of it. It’s rather strange to consider Deano a cult hero considering he only spent one season with us on loan, but he really did make an impact on the fans, and I’d love him to return one day.
As for the current squad, the only answer is Shaun Whalley [34-year-old winger/striker]. Shaun has been with us since 2015, and will hopefully be with us for a long time to come.
Q. Of the current squad, who would you say is the best player at Shrewsbury Town and why?
Aside from Shaun Whalley, there’s not really anyone that comes to mind as being the club’s best player currently.
Q. Are there any players who you think we should be focusing on for the future – who would you say is the most exciting up & coming talent at the club?
As a club we’ve produced a fair number of talents in the past; Joe Hart [34-year-old goalkeeper who is currently at Celtic but played for Shrewsbury from 2003 to 2006], Dave Edwards [35-year-old midfielder currently at Bala Town but played for Shrewsbury from 2003 to 2007, and then again from 2019 to 2021], and Tom Bradshaw [29-year-old striker currently at Millwall and played for the Shrews from 2009 to 2014] to name a few.
At the moment, my choice would be Charlie Caton [18-year-old forward, and son of Bala Town manager Colin Caton]. He’s played for the Welsh national youth teams and is looking to break into the first team at Shrewsbury. Described as a natural goal-scorer, I can see Charlie doing well for himself.
Q. Who would you regard as Shrewsbury’s biggest or historical rivals?
We’ve a few rivals to choose from, but unfortunately at the moment we are in a higher division than most of them. Our biggest historic rivals have to be Hereford, followed by Chester, and Wrexham, however with all three of those clubs currently in non-league we’ve not played them recently.
Telford United could be considered rivals, but again we hardly ever play them except for in friendlies.
The rivalries with Port Vale and Walsall have taken on more importance in recent years, but that’s mainly due to the fact that we haven’t got many other rivals in our league.
Personally, I always looked forward to the games against Chester, Hereford and Wrexham, and those three would be the teams, I say as a Shrewsbury Town fan, I dislike the most.
Q. How would you describe the current state/performance of the club?
Financially we’re doing well. We’re stable, and unlike our rivals, we haven’t had a dodgy owner. Roland Wycherley gets a bit of stick for not splashing the cash, but he’s kept the club alive for decades now, and I’d rather be stable than in financial ruin. Improvements have been made to the stadium experience, though there is still a way to go.
On the pitch we haven’t had the best of starts, but that’s been the case since our incredible 2017/2018 season when Paul Hurst almost led us to the Championship. Since Hurst left we’ve struggled to find a manager as good as he was, having gone through John Askey and Sam Ricketts. Currently Steve Cotterill’s in the hotseat, but he missed a lot of last season due to Covid-19 which made life difficult. Hopefully we’ll turn things around but I don’t see us competing for promotion this year.
Q. Looking at Shrewsbury Town’s history, what would you say has been the best game, result, or performance in your opinion?
Shrewsbury Town 4-0 Hereford United, on the 23rd of November 2010. It was Graham Turner’s first game against his old club since joining Shrewsbury Town for the second time, and there’s nothing like beating your rivals.
Q. Do you have a favourite or iconic shirt from the history of the club?
Most Town fans would say the “Spinal Tap” shirt from the 80’s, made famous by the Spinal Tap movie. For fans of the more eccentric kits, the 1992/1993 “Scrambled Egg” shirt is pretty iconic. But personally I am a fan of the 2005/2007 “Ajax” kit.
- Pictures of the “Ajax” Shrewsbury Kit:
Q. What are the best and worst things about being a fan of ‘The Shrews‘?
Having seen Chester, Hereford, and Telford go out of business and then reform, and having seen Wrexham come very close to going the same way, I really cannot overstate how good it feels to be able to say that I support a club which is stable. We don’t lurch from crisis to crisis, dodgy owner to dodgy owner. I’ve never had to worry about the future of Shrewsbury Town, which is a priviledge to be able to say, because as much as I dislike Chester, Hereford, Telford, and Wrexham no-one ever wants to see a club go out of business. Though they might support the wrong club, the fans of Chester, etc, didn’t deserve to have to go through what they did.
The worst thing about being a Shrewsbury Town fan has to be the fact that we are cursed at Wembley. We’ve been to Wembley five times overall, once at the Old Wembley, and four times at the New Wembley and we’ve won the grand total of zero of those games. Being beaten at Wembley never gets any easier, and one day I hope to see us win there but I’m not holding my breath!
Q. Finally, what are your hopes for the future of Shrewsbury Town?
That the stability continues, sure I’d like to see the club advance through the divisions, but I don’t want us to risk it all financially.
A massive thanks you to David for answering our questions on football on The Shrews. Remember you can find his social media accounts and blogsite in the links at the top of the blogpage.
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