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 Ryan Woods!
Perhaps the most naturally gifted player of the last 10 years, it comes as no surprise that Ryan Woods topped the voting when fans were asked for their favourite players from the last decade.
Add to the fact that he came through our very own Academy and you have a player that warmed the hearts of Town fans before going onto bigger things.
Woods joined Shrewsbury as a 15-year-old in 2009 and he has fond memories of his days in the Academy.
“Obviously things didn’t work out for me the way I would have liked them to at Walsall, but I’ve always said that it was the best thing that ever happened to me really”, Ryan told Town Talk.
“I remember turning up at Walford College one day and on my first day I played in a trialist game at right-back. I don’t think they really fancied me there and then I turned up the next game and played central midfield and I signed my youth contract the next day I think.”
Three years later Ryan signed his first professional deal with the club alongside fellow central midfielder Elliott Turner, he remembers being incredibly nervous before finding out whether he would be offered a deal.
“I had a lot of people telling me that I would get offered a contract but you just never know in football and I think all the lads were really nervous”, Woods said.
“I’d already seen the lads before me walk-in and not get offered anything and that only added to that nervousness really, but I managed to get offered a one-year deal and managed to keep impressing from there really.
“The main thing at that stage was to become a professional football player, to keep improving to the best I could and hopefully things would work out for me, and thankfully, touch wood, they have so far.”
Woods made his debut at the backend of the 2012/13 season, but it wasn’t until the following season that he got a prolonged run in the side.
“Again it was a little bit of luck”, said Ryan.
“I think Tamika Mkandawire’s wife was having a baby, so he missed that game against Rotherham and I went in at right-back, which I hadn’t done for a long time, I managed to get man of the match in that game and sort of played the rest of the season after that.
“I look back at that season now and think that it was a good thing because I had that high of playing every week but I also suffered the massive low of getting a relegation. It made me more willing to get Shrewsbury back into League One and luckily we managed to do that the following year.
“I might have had a successful career ahead of me but I would never have left on good terms knowing that we got relegated and never made up for it. It meant the world to me that we managed to get Shrewsbury back to League One, where they belong.”
Graham Turner was the man to give Ryan his debut and he has fond memories of the veteran manager.
“He was good”, continued Woods.
“He was really old school. Him, John Trewick and Tony Ford were brilliant with me and it was great. I will never thank them enough for the opportunity they gave to me at the end of day.
“Jacko was a massive part of me improving as well. He had a lot of confidence in me and I think that had a part to play with Micky Mellon giving me a chance in midfield.
Mellon took over at the end of the disappointing 2013/14 season and Woods believes his character was vital in turning the club around.
“I absolutely loved playing for him”, admitted Ryan.
“He was a really good character and someone that I like especially because you could go to him and talk to him about not just football, but you could talk to him as a friend as well.
“When someone’s got the confidence in you that Micky and Jacko had, it was always going to stand me in good stead for improving and giving me that confidence to show what I could do.
“We had an unbelievable squad that year. I don’t know how we didn’t win the league to be honest because we pretty much passed everybody off the park, but Burton were a very difficult team to beat and still are today.
“The experience of having Liam Lawrence on the pitch and in the changing room, and Weso was somebody that I loved playing with because he would do all my running for me and just allowed me to get on the ball, which is what I like to do.
“Having that sort of calbre of player who has been there and done it, like Liam Lawrence had, was great to learn from and he was there to show you where you needed to be at if you were to become a top player.”
During that promotion season Woods really started to make a name for himself and none mores o than on the 28th October 2014 when Woods outshone Oscar in midfield in Town’s League Cup game against Chelsea. It was on that day that Ryan realised he was ready to go further.
“That’s a day that will live long in the memory”, said Woods.
“It’s one that you will never forget because of how close we actually pushed them. It was an own-goal in the 81st minute that we actually lost from and it was really difficult to take, but we can walk around with our heads held high for going as close as we did.
“That made a really big difference in my career. I think after that game teams really sat up and took notice of me, and I think in some ways that game was the springboard for me.”
With Town now back in League One it seemed inevitable that Woods and his fellow Academy graduate Connor Goldson would move on, and so it proved. On 1st September 2015, Woods joined Brentford for an undisclosed fee and it brought to an end a six year affinity with the club.
“I think it was always likely to happen that season but I was always going to give my 100% best for Shrewsbury and it was a really tough thing for me to do”, Ryan said.
“But, if I wanted to impress in my career and have a future then I had to make that move to the Championship. Brentford’s a great club and I’m looking to improve again here, keep progressing and see what happens.”