Promotion winner reflects on his two spells with the Town.
Nicky Wroe made just 75 appearances in Blue and Amber over two spells, but during the 2011/12 season he was at the heart of Town’s promotion to League One.
He created a brilliant midfield partnership and with his eye for a goal from midfield, he became one of the most popular players of that era.
Wroe joined Shrewsbury on the final day of the 2011 January transfer window in a move that saw Jake Robinson head the other way on-loan. He admits that it was a move he was ready to make.
“It was a big move”, Nicky told Shrewsweb.
“I’d obviously had a good spell at Torquay and they were doing well, but I knew there was a chance to move and Shrewsbury’s a bigger club, so it was a good move for me at the time.
“I’d been down on the South Coast for two and a half years and me and my missus thought that we didn’t want to be there too much longer.
“We’d kind of been there, done it and we were a bit too far away from family as well, so moving closer to home to a bigger club meant there wasn’t really a decision to make.”
Nicky joined a squad that were sitting handily in the Play-Off spots with promotion seemingly a distinct possibility and he felt he had to prove himself.
“When I first signed I thought that I was going to have to really pull my finger out because we had some good players who were doing well and coming into a team that was doing well and was already established was going to be tough”, Wroe said.
“At Torquay you were training at different places and the facilities weren’t half as good as they were at Shrewsbury. The new stadium at Shrewsbury is a great facility and there’s not many grounds like that with training so close.
“Being at the ground was good because you saw the same faces each day, which was good, and I think that made everybody gel because you were all in it together and that made a big difference.
“I’ve been at clubs where you don’t have dinner altogether and when you’ve finished training people just get off, so I think being together really helped.”
Town missed out on promotion by just one point and instead were forced to play in the play-offs. By spooky coincidence Town would end up facing Wroe’s former club Torquay United in the Semi-Finals and as Nicky explains, it didn’t go to well.
“It wasn’t a good spell against Torquay”, Wroe said.
“I think we got beaten 5-0 in the league when Jermaine got sent off and then we just couldn’t score against them in the play-offs, which was frustrating.
“I remember watching them play against Stevenage in the final and I remember thinking ‘I hope they don’t get promoted’. I still like the place, but it would have been hard to take having left there.
“I did think if we had got to that final, because of how Stevenage play, we’d have probably passed them off the park, which was a bit gutting, but the year after we made up for it with a really good season.”
Town have suffered Play-Off defeat before and the following season has always been a struggle. However, this team wanted to prove that didn’t have to be the case.
“It can go one of two ways”, Nicky continued.
“You can either get your head down and sulk about it or roll your sleeves up like we did. Graham Turner obviously added some people to the squad, which made a difference and made it better, and it was a good season, probably one of my most enjoyable seasons playing to be honest.
“I think there was a good squad of about 20 lads that all could play, which meant there was plenty of competition. I think there were at least two people for every position, which drove everybody on all season, knowing that somebody would take your place if you weren’t performing.
“That’s probably one of the best squads I’ve played in. Everybody knew their jobs and we were well drilled, but we played some quite attractive football as well, so as a midfielder it was a good team to play in.”
That season included a brilliant cup run in the League Cup, before sealing promotion in the penultimate game of the season against Dagenham and Redbridge. Nicky has fond memories of that season.
“Going to Arsenal really stands out”, Wroe said.
“James Collins put us 1-0 up and that was a great moment. I also remember promotion very well. It was a great achievement to get promoted. It was a long slog, but to get automatic promotion was really good.
“To be honest I have good memories of my whole time at Shrewsbury. We had a good coffee club with Matt Richards, Marvin – who was just setting his business up – and Sean McAllister. Everybody got on really well outside of football, which made it a lot easier when you were there.”
With promotion secured a number of players were out of contract, including Wroe. He and fellow Town man Shane Cansdell-Sherriff both decided to move to Preston North End, a move Wroe believes was too good to turn down.
“My contract obviously came to an end and Preston came in for me”, said Nicky.
“I was a bit reluctant to leave, but I think anybody in my position would have gone to a bigger club. I had a good first season there, but pretty much ever since then things haven’t quite gone to plan, especially the second season there, so that’s where I look back and wonder what would have happened if I had stayed at Shrewsbury, but at the time it was too good an offer to turn down.”
However, Nicky would find himself back in Shrewsbury less than 18-months after he had initially left. This time it was a loan move and Nicky joined a team that was at the wrong end of the division. He admits that the feel around the whole club was very different.
“Obviously the team were struggling and I’d not been playing, so it was hard to get my fitness up”, said Wroe.
“There were a lot of loans that season as well, with me being one of them, and sometimes that just doesn’t work out. There were a lot of young lads and I think sometimes young lads on-loan have got their own agenda, so it just didn’t work out unfortunately.
“I was disappointed because I’d obviously had such fond memories of the place from my first spell and then I came back and didn’t really do myself justice, and unfortunately I wasn’t able to help the team out as much as I would have hoped.
“It was a totally different atmosphere as well from what I was used to down there. When everyone’s doing well everybody gets along well. When it’s not everybody tries looking after themselves and things get scrutinised a little differently to when things are going well.
“At the time I thought it was a great chance to go back, get them going again, get myself going again career wise, but it just didn’t quite happen unfortunately.”
Town ended up being relegated that season and Wroe’s career also followed a downward spiral. He spent two years at Notts County but has since featured in non-league for FC Halifax Town and Bradford Park Avenue. In many ways his time at the Meadow were the best of his career and it is a time he looks back on with great fondness.
“They were great times”, Nicky admitted.
“I enjoyed living in the area, the family enjoyed coming down as well, so I enjoyed it. It was a good club, a nice town, nice people, so I’ve got fond memories of it.”