Fans enjoy the fan park ahead of the Burton Albion win
Big guns, loud trucks and a helicopter delivering the match ball moments before kick off – what a way to spend a Saturday.
Throw in a crucial Shrewsbury Town victory against promotion rivals Burton Albion and you have one very impressive and successful day.
The Armed Forces Community Covenant teamed up with the club to give fans an opportunity to meet personnel from local Army, Navy and RAF units.
The club also offered free match tickets to serving military personnel and their families.
A fan park day atmosphere at the Greenhous Meadow with many supporters turning up early to meet members of the Armed Forces and to see a little bit of what life and a career in the forces is really like.
The club also invited the Royal Irish Military Band to play to the crowd at half time, to which they received a fantastic Shropshire applause.
The reservists are in need of boosting their numbers and Lieutenant Colonel Richard Jones believes that engaging the community with days like these is the best way of doing that.
He said: “Today is a pilot but we are hoping we can run this out to other sporting clubs around the Midlands.
“We need to expand the army reserves and today is all about engaging the community and generating interest in the armed forces.
“Shrewsbury Town have been an absolute god send. They have been really positive and very supportive. We have a very good relationship with the club and we are delighted and very grateful to them for today. We would very much like to make this a regular occurrence.”
Staff Sergeant Joanne Burton, a senior recruiter, was delighted with the set up at Greenhous Meadow.
She said: “We are here to showcase the reservist today. We have an array of stands with plenty of different aspects of life in the reserves.
“It’s fantastic that Shrewsbury Town have invited us today because we do struggle to get ourselves into the public eye, so to be able to put ourselves out there to so many people today is great and hopefully it will improve our recruitment interest.”
David Fairclough, the Community Officer for Shropshire Council is delighted that the armed forces and the football club are continuing their long tradition of working together.
He said: “There’s been a huge link between Shrewsbury and the armed forces for over 100 years. Shropshire is very synonymous with the armed forces and the military footprint here is huge.
“It’s great for the fans to come and see this sort of thing as not even Premier League clubs have had a forces day fan park.
“The Community Sports Trust have been fantastic and could not have done any more for Shropshire Council and the armed forces.”
Fans were able to experience clay pigeon shooting, rifle ranges as well as getting inside armoured vehicles and competing in a modified assault course.
Shrewsbury Town Captain Liam Lawrence proved he could hit the target off the pitch as well as on it after experiencing much success at the rifle range.
He said: “It’s a really interesting set up here. What these guys do is unbelievable.
“All the kids here including my little one need to know and understand what these guys do and it’s great for them to come and meet the officers and see all the different units.
“Just lifting the weapons shows how hard these men and women have to work to carry all this equipment, especially in 40 degree heat.
“Most of the guys in the army love football so it’s important that the armed forces and football have that link together. I just wish we could do more.”
Two more blues players were out in the fan park meeting fans and members of the Armed Forces. Winger James Caton was quick to highlight the importance of the day.
The winger said: “It’s a great day to show what the Armed Forces is all about and it allows us to recognise the good work they do.
“Football and the forces share similar beliefs in team spirit, togetherness and today represents just that.
“Shooting the guns is completely different than what you see on the computer games. It’s hard work and takes a great deal of skill.”
Defender Cameron Gayle felt it was great for the Armed Forces to allow an insight into their world.
He said: “It’s important for people to see what exactly the Armed Forces do for us so it’s great that today can give us a good insight into the life of a reservist.”
The Forces day was attended by many families including mother-of-two Louise Jones who, with family ties to the army, felt it was important to show their support.
“This is my first visit to the Greenhous Meadow and that is because of the forces day. It’s important to have that link as it benefits both the football club and the forces.
“It’s very important to have days like this as it encourages lots of different age groups to engage with members of the armed forces and the community in general.
“It’s nice to have something before the game and it has allowed us to make a whole day of it.
“The kids have been looking forward to today and for them to be able to get inside the trucks and hold the guns is just incredible. They have really enjoyed the day.”
Finally Jamie Edwards, Town's Community Development Manager, added, “It was great to welcome so many members of the Armed Forces to the Greenhous Meadow. We gave them a great platform to interact with the community which is part of our commitment when we signed the corporate convent. It also helps to continue the new matchday experience that supporters are now experiencing when attending matches.”