Shrewsbury Town

Ground New Meadow
Date Saturday 17th November
League League Two
Result

Shrewsbury

1

0

Barnet

HT

0

0

Att

5,169

Sykes 90

 

 

Entrance: £16 (min £15) Programme: ?? Coffee: £1.50

Shrewsbury BadgeThe New Meadow was a bit of an unexpected bonus, actually suggested by the missus. One of the 92, too, which is a bit of a rarity nowadays.

She wanted to go christmas shopping in Shrewsbury and luckily for me the Shrews were at home to Barnet. A family day out with a ground thrown in for good measure – it doesn’t get much better than that!

Their new stadium, before even having seen it, was not going to live up to their previous ground, in my eyes. I had been to the Gay Meadow a few times in the nineties and it was one of my favourites; a quintessential provincial English league ground, that was 97 years old in its final game. I loved standing under the low-roofed away end, especially on the sunny day in May 2001 when Brighton celebrated winning the Division Three championship; running onto the alarmingly uneven pitch afterwards, despite getting beaten 3-0 by a superior Shrewsbury.

The walk to Gay Meadow from the station was a perfect length, too, with pubs evenly spaced for pint breaks. On the day we celebrated the Championship Albion fans filled the Nags Head, halfway down the High Street, scaring a few perplexed Saturday shoppers with the raucous singing. After reaching the bottom of the hill it was a pleasant crossing of the river Severn to the ground. It was the kind of ground and town that Charles Dickens would be best writing about.

The town of Shrewsbury is a quaint historic market town, with a castle and many fine old buildings set in a hilly and narrow town centre. Famous residents include the Father of Evolutionary theory, Charles Darwin, one of the greatest and most influential scientists of modern times; and the eighties pop group T’Pau, who wowed us with the sage advice Don’t push too far. Your dreams are china in your hands.

Maybe Shrewsbury took the advice from the flame-haired lead singer Carol Decker, in having a 10,000 capacity stadium. It’s enough to cater for their average league game whilst filling most seats but not too much to make the atmosphere non-existent. Like Chester, I think they chose a good number. OK, there may be a few disappointed people on big cup games but you have to weigh this against League Two reality and trying to give the stadium a full feel.

Outside the Ground

After escaping from the claustrobic shopping centre at 2.20 I walked to the station to get a taxi. If it a fair way from the town centre, and looked fairly in the middle of nowhere off a big main road. Despite arriving outside in reasonable time I was made late by the absolutely infuriating ticketing system that seems to come as standard for all new grounds. Instead of the simple process of paying at the turnstile you have to stand in an enormous queue waiting for fans to discuss at length where they want to sit to some teenager with no time management skills. I can’t tell you how much this annoys me; it seems to me just a pointless, typically British, piece of bureaucracy with no logic behind it.

I was in a bad mood entering the ground at 3.04, the ticket clerk having walked 10 feet to his tickets for about the twentieth time. So I wasn’t well-disposed towards the New Meadow at first, cursing modern league football with its ever increasing sanitization and rigidity. I refuse to buy league programmes any more for the same reason. It pains me to do it, as I have an OCD need to have a souvenir for each game, but it doesn’t pain me enough to pay £2.50 for some manager’s clichés, homogenous stats and adverts. Top class football knows it has a monopoly on gate prices and programmes because it knows the average fan is an addict, who cannot easily give up the Saturday routine of programme/turnstile.

The New Meadow has four separate stands, both ends almost identical and both sides similar with the one backing onto the front entrance having some executive boxes and what looked like a middle area of ‘special’ seating. It was actually quite refreshing to see a new ground with four totally separate sides, keeping the old tradition of football stadia alive, albeit in a very uniform way. The view was excellent and the seats stretched up 18 rows. Like Stoke’s Britannia, the gaps between the stands did create a noticeable draft.

Far End

I really enjoyed the game. It started a tad slowly but just got better and better. Shrewsbury had had a terrible run of late (just one win in ten), after making a great start to the first campaign at the New Meadow, including an opening day 4-0 win at Lincoln. This was evident by the very tangible level of anxiety in the crowd, even in the first few minutes – it was the angst of anticipated frustration.

Main Stand

Shrewsbury played like a team desperately short on confidence; the telltale signs were there – breaking away, only for the lead man to turn and pass backwards when nearing the opposing goal, never getting the benefit from deflections and bounces and players never shooting, even when on clear site of goal. Despite this they still looked good and were unlucky not to score. Barnet played well, too, and made some quick confident breaks.

Other Side

As the darkness fell in the second half the atmosphere rose. The fans were noisy now, singing the chant Salop Salop Salop. The Barnet fans, to their credit, kept up a good singing level throughout. The New Meadow floodlit seemed to take on a different aspect. In the light it seemed a bit anodyne, much in the same fashion as other new builds, but with the desending darkness really came to life. The game continued to enthrall despite the lack of goals but just when a lot of home fans had left despondent, and the remaining fans had resigned themselves to a disappointing draw, the ball fell nicely to Sykes who smashed it against the underside of the Barnet keeper, who saw it trickle over the line.

I felt sorry for Barnet and their fans – it was a cruel way to end a great contest, but the relief for Shrewsbury was a joy to witness. It was an excellent advert for League Two football.

Night falls

By the way, I rang a taxi after the game and they couldn’t get one to me unitl 6pm, and no bus passed me as I ran /walked the 3 or so miles back to the town centre to meet my wife and boys outside Marks & Spencer.

Links: Lets face it, all League club websites are all the same with that annoying advert that you have to bypass, so here’s a link to Shrewsbury’s finest singers – T’Pau – the official site!!

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About thegroundhog

I live underground, occasionally popping up at non-league and Welsh grounds. I live on a diet of insects, small rodents, nil-nils and post and pre-match angst.
This entry was posted in Groundhopping, Stadia, Grounds, Travelog. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Shrewsbury Town

  1. Shaun Smith says:

    Good report Dave, like yourself it is a rare treat to grab a league ground nowadays.
    Website looks much better since you’ve gave it a fresh lick of paint. 🙂

  2. thegroundhog says:

    Shaun,
    Thanks. Although I’m a bit concerned at your use of the words ‘much better’! Was it awful before! 🙂
    Should be another ’92’ this Tuesday at Donnie’s new ground.

  3. g says:

    i also ran on the pitch in 2001 and shook hands and congratulated both micky adams and bobby zamora

  4. g says:

    should stay although i used to watch the shrews regularly up to 2004 ive not been to newground thirty two quid before seeing a ball kicked and the parking arrangements are notorious attrocious,esp as their is a park and ride car park next door that your not allowed to park in on match days.doh

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