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Brief History

4 July 2012

A brief look back at Shrewsbury Town's history since 1886

A look back at Shrewsbury Town's history since the club's formation in 1886

Founded in 1886, Shrewsbury Town have, like most clubs, experienced mixed fortunes over the past 127 years, but are now heading in the right direction once more.

Promoted from League Two in 2012, Shrewsbury consolidated their place in League One by finishing 16th in 2012-13, completing the double over Coventry City and Preston North End among the highlights.  

The highpoint in the club's history was winning the old third division championship for the first time in 1978/79 under rookie player-manager Graham Turner. 

Shrewsbury proudly remained members of the second tier of English football (now known as the Championship) for a decade with a host of big clubs beaten at their old Gay Meadow ground. 

A steady declined followed although there were still positive seasons, the pick of them in 1993-94 when, with Fred Davies at the helm, the club won the third division title (then the fourth tier), also beating top flight Southampton in the League Cup and taking Kenny Dalglish's big-spending Blackburn Rovers to a replay.

But difficult times were just around the corner again which eventually culminated in relegation from the Football League in 2003, a painful 3-2 Gay Meadow defeat against Carlisle United sending the club down on a miserable night.

The club's time in the Conference proved, thankfully, shortlived as Shrewsbury bounced straight back up thanks to a penalty shootout victory over Aldershot in the play-off final at Stoke City's Britannia Stadium with goalkeeper Scott Howie the hero.

Back in the Football League, the club took a little time to find their feet once again, although they did unearth two talented local lads in Joe Hart and Dave Edwards who have both gone on to become experienced internationals.

Two Wembley visits for League Two play-off finals brought the pain of defeat, with Bristol Rovers beating Town 3-1 in front of a crowd of more than 61,000 in 2007 and a last minute Simeon Jackson goal condemning Shrewsbury to a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Gillingham two years later.

Wembley has not proved to be the happiest of venues for Shrewsbury for they also lost on their first appearance at the national stadium, going down 2-1 to Rotherham United in the 1994 Auto Windscreens Shield final.  

The biggest change for Shrewsbury Town in recent years has been moving from the picturesque setting of Gay Meadow, so named because of its former use as a fairground next to the River Severn, to the Greenhous Meadow on the southern edge of Shropshire's county town in 2007.

The all-seater stadium has a capacity of just under 10,000 and boasts excellent facilities which have brought valuable income streams to the club.

The Greenhous Meadow has hosted three England women's internationals and also men's under-19 and under-20 internationals featuring the likes of Danny Welbeck and Jack Rodwell who have gone on to be capped at senior level. 

Before moving to Gay Meadow in 1910, Shrewsbury Town had other grounds at Sutton Lane and at Copthorne, playing in various leagues, among them the Shropshire & District, Birmingham League and Midland League before they were admitted to the Football League in 1950. 

For many years, the club entered the Welsh Cup, winning the trophy for the first time in 1938 with victory over Swansea. Four further successes came during the 1970s and '80s, but entry into European competition was always denied since the club were from the wrong side of the border. 

Elevation to the Football League in 1950 saw the club play one season in the northern section of the third division followed by a further seven in the southern section.

They then became founder members of the newly-formed fourth division in 1958/59, gaining immediate promotion as runners-up to Mansfield Town at the first attempt.

Apart from a single season, 1973/74, Shrewsbury remained in the third division until their title success of 1978/79 when they were promoted to division two for the first time in their history. 

It was a campaign which also saw them reach the quarter finals of the FA Cup for the first time, knocking out Manchester City before losing to Wolves after a replay.

It was a feat they repeated in the 1982/83 season when, having beaten Bobby Robson's star-studded Ipswich, they lost an eventful sixth round tie 5-2 at Leicester City with Gary Lineker among the scorers for the Foxes.

Current manager Graham Turner, a club legend, is in his second spell in charge of Shrewsbury Town having returned in the summer of 2010 and is extremely popular with the supporters.

One of his most significant predecessors was Arthur Rowley, the holder of the record for the most goals scored, not only in Football League games but also in British competitive football, his 434 strikes - 152 of them coming for Shrewsbury - also beating the Scottish record set by Jimmy McGrory. 

Other notable Shrewsbury managers have been Sammy Crooks, an ex-Derby County and England player, former Burnley man Harry Potts, legendary former Manchester United and Northern Ireland goalkeeper Harry Gregg, and four more former internationals in Alan Durban and Kevin Ratcliffe (both Wales), Asa Hartford (Scotland) and Jimmy Quinn (Northern Ireland).  

Shrewsbury have also been renowned as cup giantkillers over the years.

They beat a star-studded Manchester City 2-0 in a FA Cup fourth round tie in 1979 and also hit the headlines after Nigel Jemson struck twice to beat an Everton team featuring a young Wayne Rooney 2-1 at the Gay Meadow in round three in 2003.

Shrewsbury also enjoyed a notable run in the League Cup during the 2011-12 season, beating Derby County at Pride Park and top flight Swansea City before James Collins headed them in front at the Emirates, only for Arsenal to eventually run out 3-1 winners. 

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