Bob Davies sat down with Pam Coe and Dave Wynn back in August to discuss their roles manning the players entrance on a matchday.
Opposing players and officials, plus others permitted access to the Montgomery Waters Meadow through the players’ entrance on matchday, are assured of a warm welcome.
This is because two of the most dedicated Shrewsbury Town fans it has been my pleasure to meet during my long association with the club are manning the doorway tucked away behind the club shop.
And it is that love of the club over many years which guarantees visitors arriving on matchdays will be greeted with a smile and a few kind words from Pam Coe and Dave Wynn.
The part they play on matchdays, however, is quite extraordinary as they don’t even live in Shropshire, which means their trip to the ground takes up 12 hours of their day!
Home to Pam and Dave is Chester, and while for Dave it is a return to the county where he was born – in Shifnal – Pam didn’t have anything to do with Shropshire until the pair were persuaded to take up a job as stewards at the old Gay Meadow ground way back in 2003. It was down to Town’s ex manager Jimmy Quinn that they were talked into making the move.
Dave explained that they worked at Chester City until the club got into financial difficulties and they moved to Northwich Victoria.
Quinn was manager there at the time and when he took over at Shrewsbury during their spell in the Conference, he asked them if they would like to work at Shrewsbury, so they did.
Dave said he worked as a steward in the Wakeman end at the Gay Meadow and Pam became involved with Mrs Williams, who worked on the catering side and made tea for the officials at half-time.
“After that, I worked on the door with Freddie Hales and it all sort of took off from there,” said Pam.
So began a love affair with Shrewsbury Town which has blossomed over the years to the point where their life revolves around when and where Shrewsbury Town are playing.
“Although we get paid, we would still be happy to do the job for nothing,” Dave declared.
Their matchday routine never varies, he added. “We leave home at around 9am, stop for breakfast on the way, and arrive at the ground around 11am.
“After the match, we stop for something to eat and get home about 9pm. It is a 12-hour day, and we love it and wouldn’t do it if we didn’t enjoy it so much. We have been doing it now for nearly 20 years.”
Their official titles are stand managers, but when they arrive at the ground both Pam and Dave welcome people before, as kick-off approaches, Dave takes up his duties in the south stand and Pam helps out in the tunnel.
“We have a close involvement with the players working here,” said Dave. “We have got to know so many players; past players and past managers we feel we are not just stewards, but part of the backroom staff as well.
Dave said that three or four years ago, when they were talking about the safe standing area in the south stand, the chairman asked fans to nominate a steward and he was honoured that they proposed him because they had seen him at away games as a fan and not as a steward.
“Being a steward and a fan are two different things,” said Dave, “but they asked for me, I think because I have a good rapport with the fans.”
In their position on the door, of course, Pam is the first to greet the visiting team coach when it arrives at the ground and she recalled, with pleasure, meeting the likes of then Manchester United manager José Mourinho, the Liverpool boss Jürgen Klopp and one time England manager Sven-Göran Eriksson
“They were all particularly nice people,” said Pam, “especially Jose, who posed for a photograph with me.”
But there had been one incident, she said, which was not so pleasant.
It came on the day Manchester United were in town for an FA Cup tie and two fans came to the players entrance and claimed they were part of the team.
“They weren’t even dressed like players, but they barged past me and moved towards the changing room, but I pushed past them and made them leave,” said Pam.
Dave said the move from the old Gay Meadow was a little bit of a problem because initially, the new ground lacked atmosphere. As far as the fans were concerned, they had left so much tradition behind at the old ground.
“But football has to adapt, and it is very different now, especially since the safe standing area was introduced,” he added.
Shrewsbury Town, they said, meant the world to them and to underline their devotion to the club both Pam and Dave were bubbling over for the start of the new season, as well as planning their transformation from stewards to fans on Town’s away days.
“We go to all away games and have probably missed only two when we were away on holiday but this year, we hope to go to all the away games,” said Dave.
“I know it sounds silly, but we look where the fixtures are and book hotels in places which are too far away to travel there and back in a day.”