Youngesters enjoy big day at the Morecambe gameSaha Stars were the first team to experience the new Shrewsbury Town Matchday Experience at the Greenhous Meadow on Saturday.
The U9 side spent the day going behind the scenes as well as receiving a 45-minute training session at the Power League, before watching on as the Shrews defeated Morecambe 1-0.
The Shrewsbury Town Community Sports Trust are heading up the ongoing event to allow the clubs younger fans to be able to experience what goes on behind the scenes on a match day as well as inspiring them to perhaps one day, be proudly wearing the blue and amber.
The Matchday Experience allows fans the adventure of seeing all that goes on in the build up to a home match.
Saha manager Phil Thomas was delighted with how the day panned out for his young side.
He said: “We have come here for our surprise Christmas party and the look on the lad’s faces when we turned up here today was priceless.
“There was so much for us to see and do. We were taken around the security office and shown all the cameras before going into the Sovereign Suites and down into the managers dug-out, which the lads really enjoyed.”
As the young footballers sat on the home team’s bench, they were given another surprise when manager Micky Mellon came over and had a chat with them as well as signing autographs.
“It was great for him (MM) to take the time out to come and say hi to the lads,” said Phil. “I think they were all nervous as it was the quietest they’d been all day.”
After being put through their paces at the Power League by Community Development Officer Aiden Wassell, Saha, accompanied by parents, then made their way back into the stadium and prepared for their kick-off jobs.
Phil added: “The players got to have their photo’s taken pitch side before performing their flag bearing duties as the players took to the pitch.
“Today has been a huge success. Everyone has thoroughly enjoyed the day, made even better with the town winning the game.
“I’d just like to thank everyone at the club and within the trust for making this day happen. The lads have all been great and could not be more pleased at how the day has gone.”
Eight-year-old Charlie Richards, who is a season ticket holder, was thrilled with everything he got to see today saying: “My highlight of the day has to be going into the changing rooms and seeing all the shirts hanging up.”
And Charlie, who’s favourite player is Town forward Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro, enjoyed the day so much that he’d like to come and do it all again.
Charlie added: “I’m a season ticket holder but it’s the first time I’ve seen so much of the club behind the scenes.
“I’ve really enjoyed today and would definitely come and do it again.”
A view shared by team-mate Rhys Jones who said: “Meeting the players was great. I’m a big town fan and meeting my favourite players Ryan Woods and James Wesolowski as well as getting their autographs was a highlight of the day.
“I am a season ticket holder too and I have seen some of the stuff behind the scenes before but some of it was completely new to me.
“Our coaching session was really good and I’d just like to say thank you to the coaches for all we did today and wish them a merry Christmas.”
The players and their families then got witness substitute Andy Mangan come off the bench to fire a late goal as Town beat Morecambe by one goal to nil.
Community Trust Manager Jamie Edwards is delighted at how well the Matchday Experience was received and is hoping that this is the start of a regular occurrence at the Greenhous Meadow.
Jamie said: “We are hoping the Matchday Experience will become a key feature on Match days for the foreseeable future.
“It is a fantastic way to engage with local grassroot football clubs within our community.”
More information will be available in January of games available for the rest of the season.