Jon Matthias on the Shrews
Kevin Ratcliffe carried the can for last season’s relegation – was this unfair?
No. It was his team, his tactics and his persistence with players who were blatantly unfit and were not getting any fitter that saw us relegated. Our defence, his apparent field of expertise, was appalling. I think the board and many fans were afraid of being too negative so nothing was said until it was too late. In March, chief executive Keith Sayfritz commented that this season was “not as bad” as the Great Escape season of 2000. That sort of misplaced optimism is why it ended up so much worse.
What will you miss most about being in the League?
Has there been a real rivalry between Shrewsbury and Telford despite not playing each other?
We have been playing each other most years in the Shropshire Senior Cup, but the Shropshire FA have been a bit slow in selling the rights to Sky, so most people have missed that. This season it will be all about who wins the Conference games, with, no doubt, a bit of Salopian aggro outside the ground thrown in for good measure. The cup is in Town’s trophy cabinet again already, so that’s a good omen.
Are expectations for this season high?
Most recently relegated League clubs have done pretty well in the Conference so the expectations are huge. New manager Jimmy Quinn has talked a good game since he arrived from Northwich, but he will have to produce the goods. There was a massive outcry after the opening-day home draw with Margate. After last year I think the fans will get at the players and the board after every duff result.
What was your greatest moment as a fan?
Beating Everton in January, even though it has been overshadowed by relegation. My personal greatest moment was being mascot against Grimsby in the old Division Two (we won 4-1 – I missed the first goal because I was getting changed out of my kit).
Milestones & Millstones
1886 Shrewsbury Town formed; clinch runners-up spot in the Ditherington Flower Show six-a-side tournament
1891 Win the Welsh Cup for the first of six triumphs that make Town the competition’s top English club.
1910 Move to the Gay Meadow. In the first season floods caused postponements. Not much has changed.
1950 Elected to Division Three (North). First League game is a 0-0 draw with Scunthorpe. Town finish fifth from bottom. None of the bottom six that season is in the League any more.
1958 Arthur Rowley (official Town legend) arrives as player/manager. In his first season bags a club record 38 goals to secure promotion from Division Four. In seven years he scores 152 times.
1960 Town beat Everton 2-1 in the League Cup and reach the semis.
1968 Rowley leaves, three years after hanging up his boots.
1975 Town return to Division Three after one season back down. Champions four years later, marking the beginning of a ten-year stint in the (old) Second Division.
1994 After two relegations, beat Scunthorpe to win the (new) Third Division.
1996 Town lose at Wembley in the Auto Windscreens final. A certain Nigel Jemson scores twice for Rotherham.
2000 “Sir” Mickey Brown scores twice as Town beat Exeter in the Great Escape to avoid relegation from the League.
January 2003 Town beat Everton 2-1 in the FA Cup. Nigel Jemson repays his Wembley debt.
May 2003 After defeat by Carlisle relegates Town, they play their last League game (for at least a season) against... Scunthorpe.
Mickey Brown ~ Started with Town as a trainee. Was sold to Bolton. Came back. Was sold to Preston. Came back. Scored the goals that kept us in the League in 2000. Set a new record for appearances for the Town. Was released. Helped Boston United win the Conference.
Kevin Ratcliffe ~ Started with Town as a trainee. Was sold to Bolton. Came back. Was sold to Preston. Came back. Scored the goals that kept us in the League in 2000. Set a new record for appearances for the Town. Was released. Helped Boston United win the Conference.
From WSC 200 October 2003. What was happening this month