Lenny takes part in the Stockholm 10KM Midnight Run
Lenny the Lion, Shrewsbury Town's shy and retiring mascot, has spread his wings a bit further wider than usual by successfully completing an overseas run.
Lenny pounded the streets of the Swedish capital in the Stockholm 10KM Midnight Run, clocking an impressive 78 minutes.
Lenny received more than a helping hand from exiled Town fan Graham Owen, who donned the outfit for the run after collecting Lenny from the Greenhous Meadow on a recent visit home to nearby Newtown in Mid Wales.
Graham is heavily involved with the flourishing Swedish Shrews Supporters Club, who enjoyed a successful trip to Shrewsbury last October when they watched the goalless draw at home to AFC Wimbledon.
As for his recent experience of undertaking the role of Lenny for the Stockholm run, Graham said: "Despite the relatively cool evening, it was a case of overheating and a lack of air with lots of liquids needed. Lenny upset one of my work colleagues, a lawyer, by beating her by two minutes!
"He attracted a lot of attention and several people came up and posed wanting pictures taken together.
"We are also planning for Lenny to attend a few other events and sights around Stockholm – which we will be documenting."
Graham added he was pleased how the Swedish Shrews was going from strength to strength, revealing there was a growing army of Town supporters now based in the Scandinavian country.
He said: "The idea of the Swedish Shrews was something I’ve had for the last few years. There are a few other Shrews spread out over different parts of the country and there is even a website called “svenskafans” which caters, among other things, for Swedish fans of various English clubs.
"There is a section on Shrewsbury which has information about the Shrews – latest match reports and news etc. I am not directly involved in the website, but there are a couple of other enthusiastic people involved here.
"In the last couple of seasons more people have caught on to Shrewsbury and I get asked at work and other places about how they are getting on.
"Some 18 months ago in March 2011 four of us came over for a game and we then decided to get more people involved which in due course led to a trip for the Wimbledon match last autumn when 14 people came.
"By that time we had hooked up with a group of football crazy 50-60 year olds known as The High Valley Vets.
"They have been playing in teams together since their young days and still play together as a team, although opposition is hard to find!
"They came to Shrewsbury with us and after making contact with Ant Thomas from the club's Away Supporters team, we arranged a tour of the ground and a Saturday morning match against the Shrewsbury supporters.
"We had a wonderful reception at the club, from the pubs and taxi drivers."
Graham, who plans to watch Town at Leyton Orient in November and the home game against Crewe a week later, now hopes more Salopian exiles will come on board under the Swedish Shrews banner.
"Our next stage is to make the Swedish Shrews more formal but not too formal," he said. "We are going to meet on Sunday, October 14 at a pub in Stockholm to watch the televised game against Walsall.
"Then we will have a meeting to discuss membership and activities, and if we should start an independent supporters club or be affiliated to one of the Shrewsbury supporters clubs
"Borrowing Lenny to run the 10km midnight run was part of the process to create more interest but it's a pity he’s going back on October 4 and won’t be around for the meeting."
As for Graham's own Shrewsbury Town supporting background, he said he had followed the club from an early age as they were his local Football League side growing up in Newtown.
"I started watching the club as a lad," he recalled. "The first Shrewsbury match I recall was the FA Cup replay against Tow Low Town in January 1968 at 15 years of age.
"I remember the magic of the first match under footlights. I ended up sitting on the concrete support to one of the floodlights at the Station End. From then on I was hooked.
"I became a regular supporter, getting to as many home games as possible, and the occasional away game. It continued through the 1970s.
"In 1980 I moved overseas, first to the USA where I lived for five years. Supporting Shrewsbury consisted of checking on the results in the New York Times on a Sunday morning, the BBC World Service or perhaps a telephone call or letter from a mate.
"What a surprise, then, to see a Salop shirt when I went to watch Spinal Tap in 1984!
"Getting to matches was very restricted and then in 1985 I moved to Sweden and still followed the club by watching the results in the newspapers and getting to perhaps one or two matches a season.
"It wasn't until after making a long trek back to the last game at the Gay Meadow against Grimsby in 2007 and travelling back more regularly to the UK to visit my ageing mother that I had the chance to fit in more games.
"For the last four seasons I’ve been to about five or six games a season, culminating in 10 matches last season, including the epic trek to the last home game of the season against Dagenham which saw me having to travel via Zurich and spend the night at the airport."
Graham has enjoyed, like all of us, plenty of highs following Town over the years and has no doubts in describing Alf Wood as his all time Shrewsbury favourite.
He added: "When using the word heroes, Alf Wood always springs to mind. He was a strong, entertaining, determined defender and attacker rolled into one. He always gave 100 per cent and could produce the unexpected.
"Memorable games include the FA Cup third round game against Arsenal in 1968 when the likes of Alf Wood and Peter Dolby played for Shrewsbury and George Graham and Bob McNab for the Gunners.
"Ricky Moir, Jim Holton, Ken Mulhearn are other names that spring to mind - and Graham Turner, of course, both as player and manager as he's a credit to the game.
"Other memorable games have been the fiercely fought derbies against Wrexham.
"In more recent times it was always exciting to watch Grant Holt.
"I saw the friendly against Wolves this summer and then the League Cup match at Leeds. I couldn't fail to be impressed by Matt Richards and Michael Hector also looks promising, as did a couple of the new midfielders Paul Parry and Luke Summerfield.
"Incidentally, I met Bernard McNally in a pub in Newtown in August. He recalled his time at Shrewsbury with much fondness and spoke highly of Graham Turner.
"It was also nice to hear such a positive description of his time at the Gay Meadow."
firstname.lastname@example.orgTo find out more about the activities of the Swedish Shrews, send Graham an email at
email@example.comAnd if you're an exiled Town supporter living outside the UK, we would love to hear your story. Drop a few details to community development manager Martin James at