Ryan Jervis takes a look at the plight of some our local rivalsTown Talk, the Shewsbury Town matchday programme, is packed with some great articles and we've decided to add a few to ShrewsWeb for Town fans to have a read.
Count our blessings
The continuing financial fragility of our very near neighbours Hereford United is a timely reminder to us all of how precarious the funding of a football club can be and how very fortunate we all are that our own club is in very safe hands. It is very easy for us to assume that we will always have a football club, fit for purpose, financially viable and able to field a competitive team.
Formed in 1924 Hereford have a long and proud history the highlight of which must be the 2-1 defeat of Newcastle United in the third round of the 1971/72 FA Cup at their home ground Edgar Street. They had already forced a draw at St James’ Park and in the replay Newcastle scored first and an upset looked unlikely. That was until Ronnie Radford struck a 35 yard exocet past the Newcastle goalkeeper followed by the winning goal scored by substitute Ronnie Radford.
Today Hereford pursues its trade in the Evo-Stik League Southern Premier Division with gates of around 500. They languish in the middle of the table, are manager less and have huge debts and there is a complete lack of supporter confidence in the leadership of the club. The future of this famous little football club is in some doubt.
If there is any doubt that the demise of a football club is a rare and isolated event look no further than even nearer neighbours Telford United before they added the AFC to their title. They overstretched their finances and had to be revived by a new management.
And if we go a few short miles north of Shrewsbury we have the trials and tribulations of yet another football club famous for its giant killing acts and the frequent scene of some fiery encounters against the Town. Wrexham hit the proverbial buffers and are still trying to claw their way back into the football league following several failed attempts.
Slightly further north is Chester where again poor management and inept financial controls of the club’s affairs led to their ruin as a football club. They too are trying desperately to emerge from non league football and return to the heady days when Hereford, Wrexham and Chester were all eagerly anticipated local league derbies which every Town fan relished.
It is important that we never take our club for granted. Having descended to the depths of despair back in May our season so far has been nothing short of remarkable. How fortunes can change in little more than half a year. Even in our most optimistic of dreams nobody could have anticipated our successful passage to the fourth round of the Capital One Cup culminating with a pulsating and competitive encounter with no less than the Premiership leaders.
Whilst we were all feeling sorry for ourselves back in the close season questioning who was to blame for Towns relegation one man had decided he needed what has become that famous ‘root and branch’ review of our football club. A new highly experienced Chief Executive, a new Manager joined the conveyor belt like recruitment of talented players the likes of which had never been witnessed at our football club – and very likely at any other club for that matter.
For a club that seemed to find difficulty recruiting quality players a few weeks earlier it began to feel that anyone who was anyone now wanted to pull on a Shrewsbury Town shirt. This one man is of course our Chairman whose depth of despair as last season’s woeful pattern of decline came to a climax with relegation was deeper and more painful than anyone’s. This was not helped by those few supporters whose short memories and distorted sense of history completely failed them as they directed their venom towards the easiest target of all.
Thank goodness Roland Wycherley’s commitment and loyalty to Shrewsbury Town is greater than anyone’s. A lesser mortal might have capitulated to the angry onslaught of unreasonable voices demanding he took all of the blame and make way for someone else. The hope is that our fabulous season continues into 2015, our Chairman for one deserves nothing less. Happy New Year.