This season we have been reflecting on 10 Years at Oteley Road - to celebrate this we will be bringing you an exclusive interview with a player from the last decade. Today it is Connor Goldson!
With two promotions and over 100 appearances to his name, it perhaps comes as no surprise that Connor Goldson was chosen by 80% of Town fans as their favourite defender of the last 10 years.
Connor went from an Academy graduate to one of the best defenders in the club’s history and has since gone onto excel at a higher level.
Goldson was just 14-years-old when he first stepped through the doors of Shrewsbury Town’s Academy and he has great memories of his time as a youngster at the club.
“It really enjoyed it”, Connor told Town Talk.
“I left Wolves to try and have a bit of fun with my friends, but when Shrewsbury came in I knew a lot of the lads because I’d gone to school with a few and played for the county side with a few of them.
“They fast tracked me really quickly and I think you need that as a kid. You need people to show faith in you and I really enjoyed it.”
At the end of the 2009/10 season Goldson was one of five young players to be offered professional deals with the club. The following season Goldson made his first-team debut as a substitute in Town’s 5-1 win over Lincoln City and then just a few months later he was lining up against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium. He remembers how the events unfolded that meant he lined-up against the Gunners.
“It all moved so quickly”, remembered Connor.
We played Port Vale on the Saturday and we won 3-2. I wasn’t even meant to be on the bench that day and in the warm-up Ian Sharps got injured in the warm-up, so I was on the bench and then after about 10-15 minutes Shane Cansdell-Sherriff got injured and I came on after not even meaning to be involved.
“Then on the Tuesday both of them weren’t fit and I was starting right-back at the Emirates. I had just turned 18 and it was an unbelievable experience. It was an experience that you just take in your stride at the time because you are so young, but it’s one you look back on now and it gave me a perspective of what the next level’s actually like.”
At one stage it appeared that Connor’s career at Shrewsbury was beginning to hit the buffers. After struggling to make an impact in the first-team he was loaned out to Cheltenham and it was actually a change in manager which reignited Connor’s career in Shropshire.
“I felt at the time that I should have been playing at Shrewsbury but it wasn’t to be”, Goldson said.
“I was coming on at right-back, coming on in centre midfield and I never really got a chance of playing centre-back. There were experienced players ahead of me and I said to the manager that I wanted to go and play and prove to him that I was good enough to play.
“I went to Cheltenham and I did well for four or five games and then Graham Turner resigned and Michael Jackson called me back straight away. I was happy that it was Jacko because I had grown up with him through the reserves and he had always mentored me and I think he’d believed in me since I was 16-years-old.
“I came back and he gave me the chance to go straight into the team and I think I played about 20-25 games at the end of a League One season where we got relegated, but I thought I performed really well and then going into the next season I had a big point to prove.”
Following Town’s relegation, the club appointed Micky Mellon as manager and Goldson revealed how Micky persuaded him to sign a new deal at Shrewsbury.
“He came in and he was brilliant”, said Connor.
“I think the whole club was on a bit of, not a downward slide, but after getting relegated there’s a bad mood around the camp and he came in and picked us up straight away.
“He came in pre-season and I was thinking about leaving to go into an Under-23s side in the Premier League and I remember sitting down and having a meeting with him and after five minutes in the meeting I said to my agent that I wanted to sign a new deal here and it was the best thing I ever did.
“He played me every week, he made me vice-captain and I think I played something like 56 games that year and obviously after that I moved to Brighton.”
During that season under Micky Mellon, Town were promoted to League One after finishing second in the league and Connor remembers that campaign with fond memories.
“I think you saw from very early on that the players he was bringing in were very good players”,
“He brought James Collins back from Scotland who you knew was going to score goals. He brought in James Wesoloski and Liam Lawrence into central midfield. We also had Ryan Woods who is now doing really well at Brentford.
“Then he brought in Nathanial Knight-Percival and I think it was after about three games we changed to a back three and it was me, Nathanial Knight-Percival and Jermiaine Grandison playing the back-three and, especially at home, no one could live with us and we were battering everyone.
“I remember when us and Bury were near the top of the league and Bury came to our place and we beat them 5-0 and we were just blowing everyone away at home. Once you get that momentum in a team it’s hard to stop.”
With the 2015/16 season just a couple of weeks old, Goldson made his decision to leave the club. He ruled himself out of a Tuesday night game against Chesterfield and the day later he joined Brighton. He admits that the manner of his departure wasn’t ideal, but felt he needed to move onto the next level.
“It was tough”, Connor admitted.
“I knew at the end of that season that I had to leave for myself. I knew I was ready to push onto the next level but at the same time I knew how good Shrewsbury had been to me and I knew how much I meant to the team at the time and the manager.
“At the time it didn’t go as smooth as I would have wanted it to, the way I left, especially with the manager who I had the most respect for but since then we’ve had conversations regularly.
“I think it was about a week later we were on the phone for about an hour and we had a proper conversation about how he thought of me and how much I thought of him and after that we’ve always kept in contact and I’m glad that he’s still there for me.”
It’s now two and a half years since Connor left Shrewsbury and much has changed. He is now a regular on the bench in Premier League, but he hasn’t forgotten his roots at Shrewsbury Town.
“It was always really good”, Goldson said of his time at Shrewsbury.
“I my first season we got promoted and although I only made four starts and three off the bench it was good to see what it was like to get promoted and what it takes.
“Obviously, getting relegated wasn’t great but personally for me I got back into the team and played 25 games, so I was happy but I didn’t want to leave after getting relegated.
“I wanted to leave on a high and that’s why I thought at the end of the second promotion season it was time to go because I can say that I went out on a high and I will always be happy that I made that decision.”