David Cameron Walker

Posts Tagged ‘Greenhous Meadow’

I’d rather eat a sack of coal than be in a relegation battle

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

Twas the weekend before Christmas, not much was stirring at the Greenhous Meadow, not even a Lion. Twas a busy time in the Football League but not all was content for the Shrewsbury Town fans. They hurried and penned to their Mr and Mrs Claus, manager Graham Turner and chairman Roland Wycherley, their wishlists to get them out of the relegation mire and onto more stable footing.

One of their disgruntled elves, me Terry Lewis, has managed to compile a selection of the most requested presents from the givers for this year.

1. More than just fighting spirit:

Well actually this has come a bit early, but cheers all the same Santa. A bitter, grounded out victory over fellow strugglers Carlisle and great draws against clubs with more financial resources – i.e everyone’s favourite pantomime villains Crawley Town and M.K. Dons – will hopefully kick on and drive the club forward after a poor second quarter of the season. This all follows on from…

2. Stop conceding in the first 10 minutes or last five!

A lot of points have been dropped or missed as Town cannot defend for the full 90 minutes. We must be up there with Tottenham Hotspur as one of the clubs which throw away goals in the last few minutes of games!

Similarly, we just love to throw away a goal in the opening five minutes at least then perform better chasing a game with nothing to show for it. It’s simple mistakes which started on the opening day against Sheffield United and continued most game from there.

Expectations have come down and become more realistic of course since seeing how “well” we’ve got on since the last time I’ve blogged. I honestly think these spent and wasted points could cost the club big time towards end of the season. We’re only halfway but consider the teams with bigger crowds, revenues way above us gunning for top prizes, we have to make our plight more worthwhile than theirs and overcome these shocking mistakes.

3. Tie down the better players to new deals now:

This summer just gone we got absolutely run through by the slight ineptitude of both board and manager at letting players who could play in League One go. James Collins was developing into a terrific lower league striker for Salop before he went off to Swindon and, despite getting on, I never saw the point in offering our star defender and captain Ian Sharps a one year deal when he could have easily done the business in League One for a year at least, then become a decent squad player and possibly coach in second.

The ‘Man Mountain’ Marvin Morgan is still going good but doesn’t have a decent amount of time left. If Salop do go down he would be a more than capable weapon in League Two again. Since that’s becoming more than likely, it would be a smart idea to get his contract sorted. The lack of forward thinking is ridiculous. Roland has some deepish pockets with an okay football brain so seeing some of that would be appreciated.

4. Sort out the defence:

Whilst the strike force and midfield are decent to okay in a club for the stature of Shrewsbury in League One, I honestly can’t say the same for our defence. Cult hero Jermaine Grandison was shocking in League Two last year and to say he’s still struggling this season is an understatement. Michael Hector on loan was a bit of an abortion since he was howling everytime I saw him play. A few quid spent on better players or loanees in the upcoming window would be most welcome.

5. Get it right Graham or get out:

A bit of a harsh statement to make since Graham Turner finally has taken Shrewsbury out of League Two but the man can be infuriating at times. Putting players out of their preferred positions is a masterstroke of his. For example, I have not for the life of me ever seen the point of swapping a right full back and a right sided central defender. Never has worked tactically and considering they are two players who are already getting to grips with the quality of League One, it’s slightly suicidal.

Turner has managed to get in some decent loan signings. The problem is, they’re not exactly what we need. For example, Jeremy Helan was decent on the left and could go onto be better but at this stage of his career, but he’s no better than Paul Parry. Since the club were crying out for a decent goalscorer up front, it wasn’t what they were after.

As much as I love GT for what he’s done for the club in the past, he’s not doing the business at the moment. He’s got the upcoming Christmas rush to turn it around, but with the squad we currently have, well, it’s in his hands to keep us floating. If we’re not doing it right, the suggestion has to be made to get in someone who can at least get the team going.

So slight doom and gloom around the Mighty Salopia, and what festive treats are by the fireplace of relegation at this ‘magical’ time of year? Well an away trip for the “Bury” derby against, well, Bury in a massive six pointer. They will hopefully will be feeling low after some out of the blue cash problems. Then a tough three in a row against top half Brentford, Notts County and a turned around Coventry, before another couple of six pointers against Scunthrope away and Hartlepool at home. Shrewsbury must target and achieve 10-12 points on offer here to get on course with staying up.

I speak for fans of all relegation threatened teams when we’re eagerly awaiting the result of Portsmouth’s overlong running legal battle. The amount of time taken has now become a joke if you ask me, so much that any points deduction should be doubled. I’m not being harsh but this should have been put to bed during the first month or so of the season. I know their fans have been through too much but it’s not fair on 23 other teams in League One to not expect some sort of punishment over the farce it’s become.

There’s hardly any Christmas joy floating around Salop at the moment. With being out of the cups (don’t get me started on the Hereford game), it’s going to be a hard, long slog now towards April 27th, the last day of the season, in our bid for survival. On that day, we have Pompey at home. I get the awful feeling both teams staying up in this division will come down to that day. Some neutrals will wish for the other “hard done by” team over us, but we don’t care – long as the boys actually give us something to cheer about and TRY, that’s the most important thing.

Breathe on them Salop!

Written by Terry Lewis, We Are Going Up’s Shrewsbury Town blogger

Terry tweets at @thatterrylewis

Shrews won’t be forgotten men

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

What surprised me about listening to We Are Going Up’s League One preview show is that there wasn’t a mention at all for Shrewsbury Town. I don’t even mean for relegation, not even a shout for play-offs, mid table, nothing. So is that the be all and end all of the magic of Floreant Salopia? Not quite.

A great promotion push supported by an unbeaten home record for over a year saw Town finally cross the automatic finish line after being dogged by flirtation with the play-offs for three out of five seasons. The mastermind in all this was legendary club manager Graham Turner, back for his second stint in the daddy chair at Salop. A decent brand of football graced the Greenhous Meadow and other League Two grounds which hasn’t been seen by Shrewsbury for a few years, making them deserving winners of the runners-up spot.

Without being too cocky, the jump from being a big fish in a small pond in League Two to playing the likes of Sheffield United, Preston and Coventry doesn’t seem to faze Salop unlike a lot of teams that come up from the Football League basement. To coin a term I’m not too fond of, every game is a cup final and a lot of the Shrews squad appreciate the chance to mix with the ‘bigger’ boys of admittedly more well known clubs.

A character filled performance by Salop against a Preston side tipped for a good season is a grand start at home, where we’ve been undefeated for over a season. Coupled with a fantastic ‘never say die’ attitude against Sheffield United at Bramall Lane bodes well. Had Shrewsbury kept their concentration up and not conceded an 88th minute equaliser, a decent win over the measuring stick of Tranmere would have gauged where we are against established mid-table League One sides. Being honest, four points from nine against those three sides is a fair return, it’s just disappointing we dropped two against the Trannies and could have had the win in Sheffield. The style of football and level of performance against them does bode well for a good season though.

What’s remarkable is that we’re doing this after probably the biggest upheaval of a Town side I’ve ever seen. We’ve lost good League One standard players in Ian Sharps, James Collins and Shane Cansdell-Sheriff, after which a lot of fans would have the club nailed on for relegation. However, Turner has pulled off some decent signings, persuading ex-Cardiff City and Preston wigner Paul Parry to come to the Greenhous Meadow and start pinging in crosses and the winner against his former club. Ryan Doble is a player I’m excited by and I’m sure he’s glad to have the chance of first team football after his release by Southampton. Chris Weale is a big step up keeper wise and I’m sure he has a point to prove after his release from moneybags Leicester.

That’s not to say what’s left over from last year are schleps either. The ‘man mountain’ Marvin Morgan is a massive beast of a lad and an excellent target man for Salop to aim for. Mark Wright will be aiming to solidify himself as a League One player finally after two previous promotions on his CV, only to leave Walsall and MK Dons shortly after taking steps up to greener pastures. But Turner will undoubtedly look to take advantage of the loan market again as he did last season to boost a thin looking squad. I feel the team needs a decent spine – a pacy striker, solid central midfielder and a utility man to play across the back – to push on.

Realistically, I cannot see Town being dragged into a relegation battle this year. There are about four or five poorer squads on paper than them and that’s not including the Pompey situation. So maybe not so much the ‘forgotten’ team label we may have, but with the likes of Parry and company, I’d say we may be suited to mid-table safety. A sneaky play-off run would be nice but there’s just simply too many better teams in the third tier.

Personally, I’m just glad to be out of League Two and can’t wait for more away trips to the likes of the Ricoh, Deepdale and Fratton Park. Town are more than capable for laying down a marker this year with mid-table an easily achievable goal and my gut feeling is that they will end up better off than the ‘sexier’ more media friendly promoted sides in Swindon and Crawley Town. So if Shrewsbury are coming to you, catch us if you can!

Written by Terry Lewis, We Are Going Up’s Shrewsbury Town blogger

Same man, same result, 33 years apart

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

33 years ago this month, Graham Turner was celebrating a Football League Third Division win in his very first season in management as player-manager of Shrewsbury Town. His return as manager in 2010 created much optimism for success in the town once again, and only two years into his tenure he has provided. So what comparisons can be made, not only between Turner’s first & most recent promotion successes, but The Shrews’ prospects for retaining League One status for as long as they did in the 1980’s?

In front of a near 10,000 strong home crowd for the final home league game at the Greenhous Meadow, a solitary goal from James Collins in the 38th minute was enough to finally confirm promotion to League One for The Shrews. It was a match that Turner’s side dominated in the form of possession & chances, but it was Nicky Wroe who once again provided the opportunity for Collins to convert, with the final whistle sending the fans into pitch invasion pandemonium. Whilst Turner would have wanted the opportunity to go for the league title going into the final game, he was clearly in awe of his player’s efforts throughout the season…

“It was a surprise when we went up in 1979. And the expectations were greater this season, but we’ve got there in the end.” Turner stated shortly after claiming promotion to League One. “I’ve got to pay tribute to the players. They’ve been fantastic all season. For all the hard work they’ve put in, they deserve everything they’ve got.”

The League Two Manager of the Month for April also suggested that the art of being successful is to finish strongly, which is evidently justified in the fact that Shrewsbury were the most in-form side by winning seven & losing only once in their final ten games. Another stat, which has elevated The Shrews to promotion, is their unprecedented unbeaten home record this season in the Football League, only Manchester City look likely to match that out of all the English Leagues. Flashback to 1979 and you find one stand out similarity between both promotions. Under Turner’s first season as player/manager, The Shrews were also unbeaten at home throughout the whole season, a great credit to his coaching abilities over his career, in particular converting his playing experience into coaching as a solid defender. At no other club has he managed to lead a team to an undefeated home campaign, and as the River Severn literally and yet fittingly wraps itself around the town like his very own moat, under Turner’s helm Shrewsbury is known as ‘Fortress Meadow’.

As soon as the pitch invasion, the open top bus parade & town celebrations come to an end, preparations for League One commence. Several players have signed new contracts such as Shane Cansdell-Sherriff, Chris Neal, Nicky Wroe & most notably the skipper and one of the players of the season, Ian Sharps.

Players to leave the Greenhous Meadow already are Sean McAllister, Lionel Ainsworth, Carl Regan & Ben Smith, all have shown great promise but never on a regular enough basis to cement their place in an already strong starting eleven. Turner will hope that top scorer James Collins will sign a new deal offered to the striker some time ago, with the hope that the promising young talent will endeavour to prove himself at a higher level with The Shrews.

If we follow the performance of Turner’s winning formula of ’79, the Greenhous Meadow will hopefully be home to League One or better for the foreseeable future. When promoted to Division Two as it was back then, Town spent a decade at this level with Turner leaving his post for the dizzy heights of Division One with Aston Villa in 1984. With a combination of Turner’s previous experience in League One with Hereford and a team built based on a mix of experience supported by a string of exciting young players, Town will aim to not only retain their League One status, but grow as a club in all aspects in preparation to push for even bigger honours.

As previously stated in earlier blogs, it’s been seven years of near misses for the fans, but Town have finally snatched promotion, and once more Turner is the Pride of Shrewsbury, the Pride of Shropshire!

Written by Michael Aldridge, We Are Going Up’s Shrewsbury Town Blogger