Season 5 - Shrewsbury PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mark W   
Thursday, 25 April 2013 18:43

Shrewsbury Town v Oldham Athletic – League One


Greenhous Meadow, Shrewsbury


Tuesday 23rd April 2013, 19:45 K.O.



I’d been looking forward to my trip to Shrewsbury all season and it was shaping up to be something special. Not just a new ground for the flag, it would also be my first trip to New Meadow / Greenhous Meadow / Slightly Camp Meadow (whatever they are calling it this week). As the season progressed it became obvious that this could be a huge game with both teams desperately fighting against relegation. Plans were set and after an overnight flight back from San Marino I was getting an early train and having a day on the lash.


Then the snow came and it all got a little less exciting. The tight turnaround needed for a train back on a Tuesday night meant that plan went out of the window. The number of people interested in going diminished and then to top it all, the game became meaningless. Don’t get me wrong, I’m delighted that we are safe but a trip with something riding on it is definitely better than a meaningless game.


I had no choice but to book an afternoon off work and arranged to go on the Blue Belle bus from the centre of Royton. For those who read these reports regularly, that’s the same as the old Rifle Range bus only Mark the landlord has moved pubs.


We met up around four and it was great to see that Royton had made its usual effort for St George’s Day with a flag on every lamp post. Unfortunately the clash with our national day did mean that some of the regular faces were missing from the coach as they were off to a celebration in town.




An uneventful journey to Shropshire through rush hour traffic was only punctuated by repeated loo stops. I would love to blame it on the one girl on board but I think that would be so far from the truth I’d be embarrassing myself. There is an outside chance that lager might have been more of a suitable scapegoat. I suspect some of the lads had been in the pub quite a while before I got there.


Whereas I had originally been planning on an afternoon around the pubs of Shrewsbury before this game, instead it became a case of trying to find somewhere near to the ground. As we approached the stadium we spotted the Brooklands Hotel. As most people shouted for the driver to pull over, it turned out we had someone with some inside knowledge. “Carry on” cried Ian “You can park at the golf club and they have a bar that welcomes away fans”. If you’ve got an expert it is only right to take their advice so on we carried.


We made it into the car park of the golf club before we saw the “Strictly no football parking” sign. At this point Ian confessed that his information came from the official Latics website. I didn’t know anyone even went on there any more. The news that there’s people who are using it as a source of information is just worrying.


Not surprisingly we went to the Brooklands Hotel although even that wasn’t without incident as our driver, Bernard, refused to pay the £5 required to park. We didn’t care, the door was open and we were off for a drink. Parking wasn’t our concern.


I’ve heard really bad stories about the new ground at Shrewsbury, one of which being that there is nowhere to go for a beer. This seems really unfair. The Brooklands was a decent enough pub and they were well planned for an influx of away fans. One room was reserved for locals and a second was set aside for visitors. Not that this segregation was needed and most fans mixed happily enough in the beer garden.


The staff were making an effort for the day as well.


Staff in Pub 


I met up with Matt who was staying overnight in his camper van before an early start back to work in the morning. Unfortunately we only had chance for one beer before we needed to make our way over to the ground. Walking over I noticed a traffic sign which surely couldn’t have been meant for us.


Major Event 


Shrewsbury v Oldham being classified as a major event! There really mustn’t be much happens round these parts.


The stadium itself is pretty much what you expect from a new ground. Yes, it looks a bit identikit but to be honest it is exactly what we need. I thought it had a bit more character than some grounds we’ve been to. Colchester being a prime example. There were also plenty of busses lined up so presumably the club must make a good effort to help fans get there from the centre of town and surrounding areas.


We stopped to take a picture of the flag outside the ground. Matt tried to persuade a steward to hold one end of it but he was having none of it. Luckily a couple of home fans were much less shy.




It was almost kick off time when we got in and the team news had a surprise or two. The biggest shock was the name of Joe Cooper. It was a big shock for me anyway as I’ve never heard of the lad. Once upon a time I watched quite a bit of reserve team football but must confess that I’m out of the loop these days. There was also no place for Matt Smith or Robbie Simpson while Alex Cisak returned between the sticks. It was clear that Lee Johnson was using the game to learn a bit more about his squad. I fully understand the benefits of doing this but at the same time it’s a little disappointing after taking precious leave from work to discover that you are effectively watching the first friendly of the 2013/14 season.


The football was poor from both sides in the first half with Oldham’s best chance falling to Jose Baxter with a header deep into injury time. It was much more entertaining watching and listening to the home fans. My knowledge of Shrewsbury is very limited. In fact, the main thing I knew was what I had been told by a Port Vale fan at work. “They are vile”. It sounded a bit harsh. There was nothing I saw or heard which backed up this assessment but it did become clear why he’d made such a pronouncement. I get the feeling Vale and Shrewsbury don’t get on. It was clear that the main hatred was for Wolves. They sung about that for long periods but from time to time they threw in the odd song about Vale. Surely there’s got to be better teams to hate.


The Salop fans (I’ve no idea what Salop is by the way… I do now, thanks to Google… it’s an abbreviation of Shropshire) also seem to like a banner and I’m all in favour of that. They might want to provide explanations of some of them though. The ‘Spirit of 79’ banner is kind of self explanatory. You don’t need to know what they did in ’79 but you can appreciate that they probably did something. The ‘Wheelie Blues’ presumably refers to their disabled supporters. If not, I’m sorry if I’ve just caused some offence (I’m also sorry for the quality of the picture).


Wheelie Blues 


As for “Breath on ‘Em, Salop”, I’ve not got a bloody clue. I did love the use of correct grammar though. It would have been very easy, and probably cheaper, to have had that flag made without either the apostrophe or the comma. Well done for going the extra mile J


Breath on 'Em 


Anyway, back to the game… The second half was even worse. Whereas the first 45 minutes had seen two shocking sides, Shrewsbury decided to turn up in the second period. We didn’t. I might be being slightly unfair and it was nice to see a second debutant in Danny Gosset. Sadly he was another member of our youth system who had failed to previously register on my radar. While neither him or Cooper set the world alight, they both did enough to suggest that if they keep working they have a chance to establish themselves at the club.




It wasn’t a shock when the home side took the lead shortly after half time although the scorer did raise a few eyebrows. I don’t remember Joe Jacobson doing an awful lot while playing for us but it was he who stepped up to fire home a free kick. It could have ended up a being much more convincing scoreline but it remained at one nil.


My biggest disappointment, without doubt was that I didn’t get to see Rob Purdie play. When Dangerous Dave Penney signed Purdie we were told that he was the Messiah. This was the man who was going to fire Oldham back into the Championship. Sadly his season long injury meant that I never got the honour of seeing this Messi like character in an Oldham shirt. I thought this was my chance to finally see what he is made of but somehow he is not managing to force his way into the Shrewsbury side. I can only imagine it is to try and prevent him from making the other ten players look bad.


After an all round disappointing evening it was time for the return journey. At least we managed to come back a completely different way meaning we got a change of scenery. It’s not good though when you are nearly an hour into your journey home and you see the “Welcome to Wales” sign. Oh well, at least we knew, this day of all days, that there wouldn’t be a dragon brave enough to show its face. 


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Last Updated on Monday, 29 April 2013 16:11