We are delighted to welcome a Shrewsbury Town supporter, Carl Jones*, to talk about his club, football in general and Wednesday’s league cup second round tie at the Stadium of Light in particular. Carl wasn’t sure whether he could attend but has now arranged to be there, hoping for an upset against whatever side David Moyes – a former Shrewsbury player of course – puts out. He reckons there’ll be another 2-1 scoreline, and still not in Sunderland’s favour …
Salut! Sunderland: Did you clap your hands when drawn against us. If so why, and of course if not, why?
Carl Jones: To say I clapped my hands when drawn against Sunderland would be a slight over-reaction, whilst very delighted to see my team travel to a Premier League club and us to be able to look forward to a possible giant killing, the prospect of five-hour coach trip on a Wednesday night dampened the spirit, but a new ground and hope of cup upsets certainly whets the appetite.
So what memories, handed down, if as I suspect you are too young for first hand, do Shrewsbury fans have of nearly 100 starts by David Moyes at Shrewsbury as a goalscoring centre back at the back end of the 1980s?
Unfortunately the only person able to pass memories down to me – my dad – can’t remember much about him during his playing days for us!
One win, one defeat and a draw in League One so far. How are you shaping up and what is your minimum/maximum expectation for the season?
We started the season shakily and as supporters some started to fear the worst. However, watching Town through pre-season and seeing the positives from the first few league games and the Huddersfield cup game I’m sure we’ll be OK this season. Expectations are survival and consolidation after last year’s near miss, anything above mid-table will be a bonus.
Describe the experience of supporting a club like Shrewsbury. Does the town get behind the team or do you spot glory-seeking big club tops around the place?
Supporting Shrewsbury comes with a mixed experience, watching them home and away most weeks means I know a lot of very similar minded people who love this club to bits. But walking round town, it can be a struggle to find people willing to back their local team, until of course big cup draws, such as the previous two years with Chelsea (Capital One Cup 2014/2015) and Manchester United (FA Cup 2015/2016) means the whole town gets a bit of a buzz. But on the whole you do see a lot of big club shirts and those of the European giants around too often for my liking!
Joe Hart – and of course Moyes – apart, who are the players who have most impressed at Shrewsbury over the years?
Over the years I have watched the town and can remember, there have been some players who have come here and really impressed, including Grant Holt, albeit one season before his move to Norwich, Dave Edwards (Wolves) who started his career with us at the same time as Joe Hart and was another you could tell had a good future ahead. Others who impressed include Luke Rodgers (Sutton Coldfield Town), Luke Daniels (Scunthorpe), Lionel Ainsworth (Motherwell), Connor Goldson (Brighton) and Ryan Woods (Brentford).
What have been your own highs and lows as a supporter?
For me the lowest moment as a Shrewsbury fan was seeing my beloved club relegated from the Football League at the age of nine in 2003. Whilst I was slightly too young to understand the full extent, seeing fully grown men, including my dad, sat dejected and upset hit me as to how big a moment this was. Closely following has to be losing to an injury time header in the League 2 play-off final at Wembley. Highs for me include our promotion at the Britannia Stadium from the conference in 2004, beating Wayne Rooney’s Everton in 2003, and two promotions to League 1!
What is your assessment of the current chairman, Roland Wycherley, and manager, Micky Mellon, and how far, realistically, can they take you, a club with a long, proud history but a small ground and entirely lower league existence?
Currently, I think Micky Mellon is walking a bit of a tightrope with a lot of supporters but he is still a learning the game and will develop as a manager over time. Roland I believe could be the right man to take us forward still, despite some fans not agreeing. He has our club running financially stable, with owning our own ground being a big help. Realistically I think with the current set up we are probably pushing towards our limits which would be an average League 1 side who are consistently mid-table with the occasional push towards the playoffs, but with a bit more investment maybe they can take us further. The ground has room to expand which I feel if we were to take a step up and require it we would be willing to do to develop the club. However a lower league existence means nothing anymore, you look at Burton Albion and where they are at in the Championship, but teams like Leeds United and Portsmouth who have been there at the top level and are now struggling for their size shows just how much that is now insignificant.
Guess the Score (for fun) at https://safc.blog/2016/08/just-before-we-all-abandon-hope-its-shrewsbury-in-the-league-cup-guess-the-score/
Any thoughts on Sunderland – the club, the fans, the city, region, Moyes (if not already covered)?
Sunderland as a club always intrigue me, a club with so much potential who seem to struggle year on year and it baffles me when looking as an outsider. The potential to be a good Premier League side is there, so why hasn’t the club achieved that? However, David Moyes may well be the man to help Sunderland reach that potential, looking at how far he took Everton it would be great for the Premier League if he could do similar with the Black Cats.
And your view of all the money sloshing around the top end of football and its impact on the rest of those involved in the game?
The money at the top end of English football quite frankly sickens me. It’s a barbaric amount which could be spread across all levels of the game, allowing for English football to develop across all levels, from the Premier League to lower levels and grassroots football, which would help develop England’s quality of football and national side for the future, which is surely what everyone wants to see.
League cup winners this season. Your prediction and feel free to nominate Shrewsbury.
As much as I would love to dream about us winning the League Cup, I can’t see it. However, I’m never willing to make predictions on cup competitions until nearer the quarter finals as with the love of the cup you never know what will happen.
Premier and League One top four finishes?
Premier and League One bottom threes?
League 1 (four get relegated):
Diving: as bad at your level as ours? Still worth trying to eradicate, along with other forms of cheating or a lost cause?
Diving is still a big part of the game at a lower level, but because it is a bit more physical it’s a lot harder to tell. Whilst personally I believe we should still try and eradicate it and any other form of cheating, someone will always try it and it is most likely a lost cause trying to stop every instance of it sadly.
Will you be at our game after all? What will be the score?
I will be at the game, after booking last minute holiday to cover the time off! The chance to visit a new ground and hopefully witness another special night with the town in the cup competitions was too much of a chance to turn down. I think we might edge it 2-1, Shrewsbury goals coming from Moha and El-Abd
I grew up supporting my local club because of my dad, who would take me religiously most weeks if he wasn’t working, and if he was I’d be sat in my Gran’s living room with the radio on listening to the excellent commentary of BBC Radio Shropshire and the lively Stuart Dunn. Over the years I’ve followed my club more and more, making ridiculous trips to some of the most random places to watch football games, supporting the club in ventures they have run, helping to run one of the supporters’ groups and working to involve the fans and players together more in the community by running charity events.
Interview: Colin Randall