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 Dave Hibbert!
The first goalscorer in a non-competitive game, the first goalscorer in a league game and the first man to score 10 goals in a season at what is now known as the Montgomery Waters Meadow – Dave Hibbert was the ‘Hitman’.
Between 2007 and 2010, Hibbo, as he was affectionately known, scored 30 times in 112 games and became a real fans favourite in that period.
His popularity has remained and many Town fans still remember the former number nine fondly.
It therefore comes as no surprise that many fans voted for him as one of their favourite strikers of the last decade, something that Dave is very grateful for.
“It means a lot”, Hibbert told Town Talk.
“I absolutely loved my time at Shrewsbury and I think it was probably my most enjoyable time in football. It was a new era when I joined with the new stadium. It was a great time for the club with the transition and obviously a great one personally as well.”
Finishing touches were still going on when Hibbert rose high to head home the first ever goal at the New Meadow against Gianfranco Zola’s A-Line All Stars. A few weeks later he was scoring a penalty in the League against Bradford City to once again cement his name in the history books. Not bad for a 21 year old that had only just joined the club from Preston North End.
“We had a really young team and I was only about 21 when I joined, so it was a big change”, Dave admitted.
“You could see that the club really wanted to move in the right direction with what it had going on with the stadium and the way things were run, so it was an easy decision to come and it was a great stadium as well, so it was great to walk into.”
After finishing with 12 goals in his opening season, big changes occurred at the Meadow with Paul Simpson replacing Gary Peters and big name strikers like Grant Holt and Richard Walker joining the club. The changes saw Hibbert move down the pecking order and he was forced to spend much of the season out of the side as Town reached the League Two Play-Off Final.
“I think there were some big characters brought into the football club and with that pressure we fell short by losing in the play-off final”, said Hibbert.
“There were some very good characters, don’t get me wrong, but it was a bit of a strange season really. We had previously had a very young team and then we went with more experience.
“It helped bring me on and got the best out of me by being around players that had played at the highest level, so it was a good learning curve.”
However, things can change quickly in football. When Town signed Nathan Elder and Kris Bright, it appeared that Hibbert’s chances would be limited, but the failure to get Bright’s international clearance through on time gave Dave a lifeline and he gleefully accepted it, scoring 15 goals in his third and final season with the Town.
“When I came back into the side people thought my time was over, but that’s when I had to show a lot of strength and character”, Dave continued
“I scored in the first game of the season and then went on a really good run and ended up clearing up at the end of season awards.
“It was obviously disappointing to miss out on the play-offs, but it was a good season personally and led to a lot of interest at the end of the season.
“To be honest I was really happy at Shrewsbury and going was probably one of the hardest things I ever had to do because I absolutely loved it there and the fans were very good to me.
“It was a great place to work, but Peterborough has just come down from the Championship and they were having a real go at getting back to the Championship, which we did in that first season, but unfortunately for me I had a horrific injury, which curtailed my career really.”
His time at Shrewsbury was a mix of highs and lows, but one goal in particular stands out as his favourite.
“I think my favourite goal was probably against Ipswich”, Hibbert smiled.
“I think it was a League Cup game in the 2010-11 season and we lost the game on penalties, but I scored a volley from quite a distance.
“I think Roy Keane was the manager of Ipswich then and he was one of my heroes as a kid, so it was a standout goal.”
Hibbert’s time at Shrewsbury remained his most successful and because of his bad injury he was never able to reach the heights again. It’s now over seven years since he pulled on the blue and amber shirt, but the club remains important to him and he still returns from time to time.
“It’s always the first result I look out for”, said Dave.
“When I was playing a bit part-time for Telford I came back for a Senior Cup game and had a terrific reception from the supporters, which obviously meant a huge amount to me. It’s a great place to come back to and I loved every minute of it.”