Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Greenhous Meadow

The slightly unlikely-looking programme
cover star is one Alan Bowers - a member of the club's
Community Walking Football team.

Shrewsbury 1-0 Rochdale

8th April 2017

I had attended Shrewsbury Town's final competitive match at Gay Meadow – a scoreless bore-fest with MK Dons – and was more than a little disconcerted to learn recently that that swansong had taken place almost ten years ago.  Christ, where had all that time gone?

Anyway, since moving to their new home (New Meadow, then Greenhous Meadow) on the southern edge of the town, The Shrews had enjoyed two promotions, endured one relegation, as well as hosting cup ties with both Manchester United and Chelsea.  The latter match setting the current ground attendance record (if the occasionally accurate Wikipedia is to be believed) of 10,210.

This afternoon's encounter caught a Shrewsbury side in severe danger of adding a second relegation to their Greenhous tally - as a run of six matches without a win had seen the club drop into one of the four League One relegation places.

Visitors Rochdale for their part, could still in theory at least sneak into one of the play-off spots, even if being five points adrift of both Southend and Millwall this late in the season, made it look a tall order indeed.  And I wondered if in their heart of hearts the visitors really felt their season to be already over.  

For I can think of no other reason for the dispiritingly unambitious performance they put up.  One down for most of the match, they appeared at times more intent on not conceding a second, rather than throwing the dice, in an attempt to rescue something from the match.  Two strikes which were both chalked off for offside apart, I cannot recall Rochdale summoning up a single shot on target. 

Visiting No 10 Callum Camps looked a bit of a player though, as did the hard-working Calvin Andrew – even if it had been his error which had led to the home side opening the scoring.  The big lad had an eventful 90 minutes all told.  He appeared to spend the first half at full back, moving briefly to centre-mid for a spell after the break before, presumably at the behest of his manager, being moved up front.

But was The Shrews' day, even though the hero was perhaps an unlikely individual.  

I had bought a ticket for the game in the West Stand, but as I had been allocated a seat down the front pitchside, I migrated to one of the wings where I could get a better view from higher up.  I took a seat in splendid isolation at the end of a row amid a two-thirds empty section.  But minutes before the match began, an elderly chap climbed the stairs, stopped next to me, and requested if he could have his seat.  I pointedly looked at the sea of unoccupied ones around us and smiled, assuming he was making a joke .  But no – apparently I was in HIS seat.  Aware of the importance of Lucky Seats in stadia, I happily shuffled a few spaces along.  

From here I swiftly learned the chap was no great fan of his side's forward Stefan Payne.  “Ye'r lazy!” he bellowed at one point, and “Rubbish” after another of Payne's first touches bounced six feet off his toe.

The Stefan Payne fan-club.

But he had the good grace both to cheer when PAYNE opened to the scoring after 16 minutes, and to show his appreciation when the forward was substituted around the hour mark.  But to be honest,  Payne's contribution apart from his goal, which he did finish rather neatly, had been negligible.

His co-forward Louis Dodds looked a far more accomplished performer; one second-half turn and run was a rare gem of quality in the match.  Another chap who caught the eye was right-back Jack Grimmer, who generally went about his task with quiet efficiency, rarely putting a foot wrong.  

The home support, possibly a consequence of too many disappointments in recent weeks, only really came to life in the closing 20 or so minutes, with some effective bouts of rhythmic clapping starting up to encourage their side over the line.  But they had to rely on a linesman's decision to rule out what looked to me anyway, a perfectly good injury-time headed equaliser by the aforementioned Andrew.

Shrewsbury Town v Rochdale - April 2017

Stefan Payne gets proceedings underway.

This looks unlikely to end well for Rochdale's Joe Rafferty.

Shrewsbury Town v Rochdale - April 2017

Shrewsbury Town v Rochdale - April 2017

Shrewsbury Town v Rochdale - April 2017

Nathaniel Mendez-Laing

Sometimes the spectacular comes off.....

.....and sometimes you just end up looking silly.

Shrewsbury Town v Rochdale - April 2017

Callum Camps

Jack Grimmer

Stephen Humphreys

Shrewsbury manager Paul Hurst 

Shrewsbury Town v Rochdale - April 2017

Home full-back Junior Brown takes a tumble.

I do appreciate Rochdale's Calvin Andrew probably moved back from an offside position,
but he looks well onside as he heads in a stoppage-time non-equaliser.



Panorama of Greenhous Meadow, Shrewsbury Town FC.

The match programme I found to be one of the better ones I have encountered on my travels, even if attempting to locate the current league table proved a bit of a challenge.  There were some fine historical articles (always of interest to the neutral) and a lengthy interview with goalscorer Payne – a chap who clearly has had to fight hard to get where he is today.  A stark reminder that below the top two leagues, there are precious few fortunes to be made in full-time football.

I noted someone by the name of Kevin Davies (not the former Bolton player one assumes) had, in a real labour of love, rooted out the details of all those players who had turned out for The Shrews since since 1950 – this edition of the programme featuring a selection of T's.  Checking to see if I recognised any of the Scots, I was puzzled to note one Jon Taylor, who had played over 100 times for the club, had been born in Liverpool, Scotland!  

This geographical anomaly was not a one-off, as I learned apparently both Stroud and Drogheda appeared to have been relocated to Caledonia.  Walsall is, it seems, now in Northern Ireland, Stornoway in England, and most alarmingly, Blackpool has been translocated to Nigeria.  Clearly some cut 'n' paste job gone awry.  But that was fine.  Having been involved in producing match programmes myself in the past, I am aware of the thankless task it can be - with each minor error mercilessly pounced upon. 

I did so like the programme cover – this in stark contrast to the over-groomed, over-paid footballer-as-male-model covers stars clubs seem compelled to use these days.

One would almost think the town of Shrewsbury is looking to (whisper it) hide it's football stadium.
I eventually located the Greenhous Meadow via a retail outlet, following a trail which took me through the loading bay
of a Sainsbury's store, then under a dingy, graffiti-ridden rail bridge and along this recreation of The Narrows.

Greenhous Meadow, Shrewsbury Town FC.

Exterior of the Salop Leisure Stand.

Greenhous Meadow, Shrewsbury Town FC.

Greenhous Meadow, Shrewsbury Town FC.

Exterior of the Greenhous Meadow West Stand.

Exterior of the Greenhous Meadow West Stand.

Panorama of Greenhous Meadow, Shrewsbury Town FC.

The Pro-Vision CCTV stand houses both the away fans and the scoreboard.

The Roland Wycherley Stand.

Panorama of Greenhous Meadow, Shrewsbury Town FC.

The Salop Leisure South Stand.

Greenhous Meadow, Shrewsbury Town FC.

As stated earlier, I had some years ago attended a match at Gay Meadow back in the day, so before leaving Shrewsbury, I made my way to the site, with the vague notion of taking a few snaps from the same spots as my original ones a decade previously.  To produce sort of then-and-now images.


Initially no joy – some rather hideous-looking upmarket flats had since been built on the site, and what had been the entrance to the ground along The Narrows was now blocked off by not only a road barrier but a set of serious-looking automated gates.  

Undaunted I wandered along to the Abbey Gardens from where a riverside path wound along the Severn past where the ground would have been.  But, even then, there was no real way of knowing where anything had once stood.  I did wonder if this path was part of the private estate, a notion reinforced both by the fact I had to turn back at a locked gate, and the basilisk scowl I was treated to by a woman cycling along the path.

I did note the place is now called The Old Meadow – all reference to gayness seemingly airbrushed out of history.  Which just struck me as a bit mean.

The New Meadow (or is it Riverside Meadows) flats complex now sits on the fomer site of Gay Meadow.

Although Gay has disappeared from the name of the site, I was reasonably mollified
to note there was now a Coracle Way incorporated into the new build.

Former site of Gay Meadow from across The River Severn.

Apropos of nothing in particular, I just liked this shop I found on Coleham Head.

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