Shrewsbury Town vs Morecambe, FA Cup Second Round, New Meadow, 2/12/17
I probably should feel bad about the fact that it has taken me two seasons to blog about a Shrewsbury Town home match, as a Shrewsbury Town fan it has been an odd two years without taking in a home match at the New Meadow (Yes I know it has a different name, but that is a sponsorship name, and I’m not using that name, as it sounds like a Conservative MP’s name). I’ve seen many a game at the New Meadow, as during my three years as a student in Wrexham, I held a season ticket in Block 9, Row Q, Seat 3, and spent many of my Saturdays watching Shrewsbury, and in all fairness if I had put as much time into my coursework as I had into watching Shrewsbury, I probably would have finished Uni with a 1st, instead of the 2:2 degree that I received. But would I change my time at Uni? Would I have spent more time in the Library and less time watching Shrewsbury? Well the answer to that is no.
I had been planning to get to a Shrewsbury match, but I’ve always been put off by the near two hour drive to get to Shrewsbury from Chorley, in all fairness when I started this blog I lived in Wrexham, and I probably should have gone to Shrewsbury whilst I lived in Wrexham, but there were so many grounds to go on adventures to around Wrexham. However with my mum coming up to Chorley for a week, it made sense to head down to Shrewsbury, watch the game, and then bring my mum back, instead of getting my dad to do so. At 12pm, I left Chorley and made the journey down to Shrewsbury, using the A49. If there is one thing in life that I do enjoy, it is driving on clear, country roads, as it allows me to escape from my daily life, although there was one hairy moment, as I came round a roundabout, doing below 30mph, and the back end of the car skidded out, luckily there was no-one behind me, and I managed to control the skid, when I parked up at the BP garage in Shrewsbury, I did check the car but couldn’t see any clear reason for the skid. Parking at the BP garage cost £5, and if you are visiting Shrewsbury I would recommend parking at the BP garage, as there isn’t a lot of parking available around the ground.
After a quick walk down to the ground, I headed into the clubshop and picked up a hat and a scarf for £16, as I expected the weather to drop, and had already prepared myself for very cold weather. Seeing as how I hadn’t been to the Meadow in a while, I took a walk around the ground, and stopped to read the banners which had been hung from the side of the Main Stand. I also made sure to stop and make sure that my brick was still in place by the reception, which it was. Whilst waiting for my parents, I took a look at the new Lidl construction, which is going up behind the North Stand, whilst the income will be good from Lidl, I just can’t understand how this is going to work on a Saturday when Shrewsbury are at home, traffic is going to be a nightmare, and in all fairness the club really needs to look at putting a larger supporters bar near to the ground, as I would have loved to have gone for a pint, but the PowerLeague bar is just too small. Finally my parents turned up, and we headed into the ground. I instantly felt at home as I passed through the turnstiles, and spent a few minutes looking at the murals which now decorate the concourse, I was also amazed to see the vending machines which provide an alternative to the catering facilities.
Speaking of the catering facilities, I decided to buy a bottle of Pepsi Max before the game, which set me back £2. However my parents also decided to buy some food and drink, with them purchasing a Steak & Ale Pie, a Sausage Roll, a Tea and a Bovril for the sum of £10.50. When we took our seats in the stand, I did ask my mum whether she was hungry as it looked like she had already eaten half of her Sausage Roll, however she responded by telling me that she hadn’t taken a bite yet, and that this half a Sausage Roll had cost her £3.20, she soon got sick of it, and passed me the last half of it, and it was bland, tasteless and if I had bought it from Greggs I would have taken it back, as it was horrendous, no wonder so many people bring in their own food, maybe that Lidl will come in handy after all. (I’ve not had chance to ask my dad how his pie was, but he demolished it, so it might have been good.)
The 2017-18 season marks the 10 year anniversary of Shrewsbury leaving the old Gay Meadow and moving into the New Meadow, and in all fairness it feels like we have been here a lot longer, there are still the same issues that were experienced when we first moved, such as a lack of toilet seats, but this place has become home. It may not have the charm or atmosphere of the Gay Meadow, but to improve as a club we needed a modern home, and unfortunately the Gay Meadow was never going to be that modern home. The ground is essentially symmetrical, with both stands behind the goal being identical, and the same can be said about both of the touchline stands. The East Stand (or the Roland Wycherley Stand) is the Main Stand, and houses all of the hospitality facilities, changing rooms offices etc. The West Stand, is the largest stand in the ground with a capacity of 3,317, and in block 19 the more vocal Shrewsbury supporters congregate. The South Stand, where I used to have my season ticket, is soon going to hold England’s first safe standing, as the footballing community came together to raise the necessary funds to allow the club to install the same kind of standing which works so well in Germany, and at Celtic Park, I’m not sure when the work is supposed to begin, but as soon as it is finished I’ll be making another trip down to Shrewsbury to take in the new safe standing. Finally the North Stand, houses the away fans, as well as the stadium control room and the scoreboard.
Today’s visitors were to be Morecambe, who were formed in 1920. Morecambe took a place in the Lancashire Combination League for the 1920-21, and shared grounds with the Cricket Club at Wood Hill Lane during the first season. At the end of the season, with football proving to be popular, the club moved to Roseberry Park, and a few years later purchased the ground and the name was changed to Christie Park in honour of Mr J.B. Christie who was the club president at the time. In 1925, the club claimed the league title for the first time, and this was later followed by success in the Lancashire Junior Cup, beating old rivals Chorley, after two replays, and in front of over 30,000 spectators. Mr Christie bequeathed the ground to the club in 1927, and then helped to incorporate the club into a limited company. The rest of the 1920s and the whole of the 1930s saw a constant struggle to keep football alive on the North West coast, with little or no revenue off of the field and poor results on the field, a recipe for disaster. Following the Second World War, the club saw an upturn in their fortunes, with steady progress throughout the late 1940s, and nearly all of the 50s. In fact the fourteen years from 1960 could be justifiably said to be Morecambe’s Golden Era, including a Third Round FA Cup appearance in 1962, a Lancashire Senior Cup victory in 1968 and a FA Trophy victory in 1974. However the next twelve years were to be barren, with the Grim Reaper never far from the Christie Park door. Attendances fell from a creditable 2,000 plus to a miserable 200 minus. However this downturn in fortunes was to end in the 1985-86 season, as signs of improvement appeared, as the club improved in the league, and it took ten years of continual improvement both on and off of the field to fulfil the club’s ambition on playing in the Conference. Morecambe began life in the Conference in the 1995-96 season, and soon became one of the league’s most feared sides, as they narrowly missed out on promotion on a couple of occasions. On the 20th of May 2007, the club beat Exeter City 2-1 at Wembley to win the Conference Playoff final, and therefore gain promotion to the Football League. The 2009-10 season was to be Morecambe’s last season at Christie Park, and they moved to the Globe Arena in 2010. Jim Bentley was appointed as manager in 2011, and has remained with the club ever since.
Shrewsbury’s journey in the FA Cup has so far consisted of a 5-0 win over Aldershot Town in the First Round, we have slipped recently in the league, however we are still sitting near the top of the table, which is a remarkable achievement given the stature of some of the other teams in the league. Morecambe beat Hartlepool United in the First Round, 3-0, and currently sit 21st in League Two.
Morecambe made themselves difficult to breakdown, and Salop had to remain patient through the first half. In all fairness Shrewsbury seemed to be slightly off of form, and we didn’t seem comfortable.
Despite being slightly off form, we did take the lead in the 32nd minute, as Alex Rodman latched on a cross from Shaun Whalley to tap the ball past Barry Roche in the Morecambe goal.
Roche was lucky to remain on the field, as five minutes after the opening goal, he brought Jon Nolan down in the box. The reason why I say Roche was lucky to stay on the field, is that he was the last man, and clearly stopped Nolan from having a clear opportunity on goal. The ref decided that whilst it would be a penalty, Roche would only see a yellow card. Shaun Whalley stepped up to take the penalty and converted nicely.
Half Time: Shrewsbury Town 2-0 Morecambe (Rodman 32, Whalley 37)
Normally at half time I would take a walk around the ground, but unfortunately I was contained in South Stand and instead I spent the break watching the subs warming up. During the First Half, our on-loan keeper, Dean Henderson, had been walking around the South Stand taking selfies with fans for a donation to Hope House. Henderson used to have a mop of hair, but has recently gone bald for Hope House, and it was good to see him interacting with the Salop fans. If I’d spotted him at half time I would have grabbed a selfie with him, but unfortunately he was only in the South Stand during the first half, and as much as I wanted a selfie with one of the best keepers to play for Shrewsbury in a while, I didn’t want to miss any of the football.
Morecambe made two changes at half time, with Vadine Oliver and Aaron McGowan replacing Alex Kenyon and Patrick Brough. With both teams back on the field the second half kicked off, with Salop attacking the South Stand.
Honestly, the second half was absolutely nothing to write home about, it was a poor half, with Shrewsbury doing what was necessary to book their place in the Third Round. I’m not sure how Stefan Payne managed to remain on the pitch for the second half, as he was off of the boil, and struggled in front of goal. Hopefully this is just a blip for the lad, as he is a good player.
In the 59th minute, Shrewsbury made their first change with Louis Dodds replacing Ben Godfrey. The second change came in the 70th minute with Arthur Gnahoua replacing Alex Rodman.
Morecambe made their final change in the 78th minute, as Callum Lang came on to replaced Adam Campbell. Shrewsbury’s final change came in the 80th minute, as Carlton Morris switched places with Shaun Whalley, in all fairness I would have replaced Payne with Morris, as Payne struggled throughout the game.
After five minutes of added time, the referee blew his whistle, and signalled that Shrewsbury’s name would go into the hat for the third round draw. I felt sorry for the Morecambe fans that had travelled down, as they had travelled further than I had to see their team lose, whilst they didn’t play badly, they just lacked a cutting edge in front of goal.
Final Score: Shrewsbury Town 2-0 Morecambe (Rodman 32, Whalley 37)
Following the final whistle, we made our way out of the ground and headed back down to the BP garage, where we switched my mum’s stuff from my parent’s car to mine. My dad began his journey home to London, and my mum and I headed off to Chorley, as my mum is an Arsenal fan, and as a I grew up supporting Manchester United (I realised around the age of 13 that I much preferred Shrewsbury Town, as I saw them more often), we decided to avoid the Arsenal vs Manchester United game on the radio, as it was on BT Sport, and with my new Virgin TV package, I had been able to record the game. Instead we listened to my mum’s all-time favourite musician, Neil Diamond. It’s odd how our tastes change, as when I was a kid I hated Neil Diamond, as in my mind he produced music for old people, and once or twice as a teenager I got annoyed with Kerrang magazine, as some of my favourite musicians admitted that they like Neil Diamond, however since growing up I have realised that Neil Diamond is actually a brilliant Singer/Song Writer, and I found myself singing along to some of his music.
Hopefully Shrewsbury will draw a good name out of the hat, and I have to be honest I am hoping for an away draw to Liverpool, Manchester United or Everton, as that would help me to begin to tick off some of the Premier League grounds, although I have been to Old Trafford before, and would love a trip to Merseyside.
With an attendance of 3184, I can see proper fans having an issue getting tickets if we draw a big name at home in the Third Round of the FA Cup, I mean it has happened before when we played Chelsea in the League Cup and Manchester United in the FA Cup. Honestly, if we get a home tie, I will most likely not attempt to get a ticket, as I would rather my ticket go to someone who follows Salop home and away, like my parents, Bizzy or anyone else that travels the length and breadth of the UK following Salop. If we got an away tie, then tickets may be easier to get a hold of, as many fair-weather fans won’t want to travel, and away allocations at Premier League clubs tend to be bigger.
As a club I like Morecambe, and although he is an ex-Telford player, I like Jim Bentley, as he is doing a good job with limited resources at Morecambe. It’s clear to see the affinity between the manager and the fans, as the fans once paid for a fine that Bentley incurred. Hopefully Morecambe can avoid the drop next season, and I’m hoping to get to a Morecambe home match soon.
Cost: £41 (£15 ticket, £3 programme, £16 hat and scarf, £2 Pepsi Max, £5 parking)
Well the cost would have been £41 however my parents paid for my ticket, and in all honesty I didn’t actually need the hat and scarf as the weather didn’t drop dramatically.
Hat-tricks see so far: 1 (This needs to change)
If any clubs are reading this, and want to use any part of my blog for their website or programme, then please feel free to do so, all I ask is that you credit my work.