Marcus Braddock takes a look at all things Shrewsbury Town
I gave the Monday article a miss last week because we were playing on a Monday and that means there were already plenty of articles to read. It was also a little too fresh in the memory and this isn't meant to be a match report, more a reflection with the benefit of a couple of days. I could have done Marcus on Tuesday or even Wednesday but I like the alliteration and it doesn't give me a full week to whitter on about when the following Monday arrives.
The most obvious good news in the last couple of weeks came yesterday when we held Coventry 1-1. The one point we collected for the result was the one we needed to stay up so we can now plan for next season in League One. It was the proverbial game of two halves with the Sky Blues making life difficult for us during the first forty-five minutes. Their lead was nullified by an excellent second half, capped with a goal from top scorer Fejiri Okenabirhie. His sixteen goals this season have been vital to our survival and he'll be in the reckoning when our annual awards night comes on Sunday evening.
Another pivotal player on Sunday and pretty much all season has been Greg Docherty. His impact has been another factor in our survival and to see a player with his class pretty much every week has been a highlight for me. He's brought much needed tenacity to our midfield and has the ability to do something unexpected and spectacular which frightens the life out of opponents. I'd love to see him play at a higher level at some point because I'm pretty sure he has the ability. I'd also love to see him back here next season but realistically he should be knocking on Steven Gerrard's door about a first team position after his excellent season here.
The young player of the year award will also be hotly contested with Ryan Barnett and Ryan Sears both making good progress in the first team and looking the part. There is also Ro-Shaun Williams who's come in from Manchester United looking like a class act at just 20 years old. When you look at some of the younger players coming through the youth system it reassures you that the future looks bright for this football club. Speaking of younger players, the youth team followed last weekends 1-0 win against Morecambe with a 3-0 defeat at Port Vale in rough weather conditions. This weekend they face Tranmere Rovers at home.
There was further good news last week when it was announced that Shaun Whalley has signed a new contract that keeps him in amber and blue for another two years. He's one of our most experienced players and a great example for our younger professionals. How many times have we seen him dig us out of a tight spot when everything looked to be going awry? His indomitable spirit is something I'd have missed had he not signed.
Back to the positive news now and Sunday's London Marathon. Lifelong Town fan and community trustee Nick Jones has completed the 26 mile 385 yard course in aid of the Lingen Davies Cancer Fund with work colleague Steve Oliver. I'm not sure of the time he took but having seen some pictures of him after the marathon he looked remarkably un-exhausted after such a feat. I'm far too fat and lazy to do anything like that but both of may parents have completed the course so I know how much it takes in practice and physical impact on the body. Nick and Steve have my admiration.
My final bit of good news is that Shrewsbury Town have (yet again!) won the EFL Family Excellence award. As they do every season, the EFL send a mystery family along to two home games over the season to see what the matchday experience is like for families. We've won the award nearly every season since 2008 which seems pretty impressive to me. There do seem to be a great number of younger fans these days in comparison to a decade or two ago. So I guess the future is bright on and off the pitch.
The coming week brings the first team a huge home derby with Walsall who need a win to stay up! I'm sure they'll feel pretty confident after beating Peterborough 3-0 last weekend but the Saddlers haven't won away since they beat Gillingham 3-0 on January 19th. Fortunately, we're safe so can play without pressure, how all of that will influence the game is anyone's guess but it'll certainly be interesting.