Shrewsbury - Greenhous Meadow
16/4/2011 Shrewsbury Town vs Stockport County (LD2) 5,711
My third football match in less than a week. After a long evening trip to Anfield to see Liverpool thrash Man City 3-0 on Monday night, arriving back home at 4,00am, I then went to see Southend trounce Bradford City 4-0 on the Friday night. Now in order to satisfy the rules of the 92 Club, I am going back to Shrewsbury to see Town play bottom of the league Stockport County. I went to see Shrewsbury Town almost two years ago, but it was a friendly against Leicester City and doesn't count towards the 92.
So I leave Leigh-on-Sea at 9.39 am. Today the trains aren't going into Fenchurch Street due to engineering works. Instead they go to Liverpool Street via Stratford, so the journey is a bit longer than usual. We finally get into Liverpool Street just after 10.30, so I have plenty of time before my 11.23 departure from Euston. I pass a lone QPR fan, obviously waiting for his friend from somewhere in East Anglia. On Liverpool Street underground station I have to wait at least fifteen minutes for a train to come in, so I'm glad I didn't get the later train from Leigh.
I get off at Euston Square and there are a couple of policeman waiting by the exit, as the Euston area is going to be very busy with United and City fans going to Wembley, and Millwall, Chelsea and Brighton fans all going up to the Midlands. I'm expecting to see the concourse at Euston a heaving mass of football fans, but in reality it's pretty quiet. I spot just a couple of Brighton fans on their way to a possible promotion party at Walsall, plus three Man City fans just arriving in the capital. Even my train seems devoid of football fans, though a few Brighton fans walk past my seat. Then a Sunderland fan on his way to Birmingham City comes into view further down my carriage.
The journey passes OK and I go all the way to Wolverhampton, where it's a twenty minute wait for my London Midland train to Shrewsbury, which stops at every station on the route, plus it's very crowded. I arrive at Shrewsbury at 2.15 pm and decide to walk to the bus station and catch a bus, rather than getting a taxi. A big mistake as I pass the Soccerbus just leaving as I enter the bus station! I try getting on a 25 bus, but the driver hasn't got any change and won't accept my £10 note. I give up and walk back to the railway station, only to find there's no taxis! I start to walk and after a few hundred yards see a taxi parked. I ask the driver if he's free, but he's not, but he gives me the number of the taxi firm to ring for a taxi. I ring them and they can't pick me up until 3 o'clock!
I start to walk again and come to a bus stop. This time there's a bus coming which is going to Meole Brace, which is near to the ground. I have to pay £3.20 as they don't do single fares and end up passing the ground within five minutes. The only problem is that he doesn't stop there as it's the bloody Park & Ride bus! I watch the ground fade away, but we soon arrive at the Park & Ride and I double back on myself. Luckily I see some Shrews fans going to the ground and I follow them. They go via a shortcut which takes them under the railway line and along a path to the back of the ground.
It's just before 3 o'clock and I try to go straight into the West Stand, once the steward has searched my bag, but they don't accept cash. So reluctantly I have to walk right round to the other side of the ground to the ticket office. I pass five coaches with Welsh names on them, so Shrewsbury have a fair number of fans from mid-Wales! Luckily there's no queue at the ticket office, but as the game's already started I buy a ticket for the main east stand, which is £21, £3 more than the west stand. I go through the nearest turnstile, but there's no one there! So I try the next one, which is manned. Surprisingly for a twenty-first century stadium they haven't introduced scanning yet!
There's plenty of seats available in my section, so I go right to the back for the best view. My stand looks to be about three quarters full, whilst opposite it looks about two thirds full. On my left is the Salop Leisure Stand which is less than half full. Whilst on my right is the away stand, which has about 200 or so Stockport County fans, who are making plenty of noise. In fact since the Greenhous Stadium (I hate that spelling!), was opened in 2007, it has never been full to capacity, with the record being 8,753 for a ladies football international.
Shrewsbury, as you would expect, being 4th, as opposed to Stockport's bottom of the league position, dominate. They score after fifteen minutes when Dean Bradshaw goes round the Stockport goalkeeper and places the ball into an empty net. A few minutes later Stockport defender, Glennon slides into Bradshaw in the penalty area and Shrewsbury get a penalty. Luckily Glennon gets just a yellow card, but Nicky Wroe easily converts from the spot. You think it's going to be a rout, but Stockport hold on, even hitting the bar just before half time.
At half I spot the Shrewsbury mascots, Lenny the Lion and his missus. Didn't he used to exist on TV in my childhood? There's no shooting the ball into a shed, as on my last visit here!
In the second half Stockport come out with all guns blazing and it's more of a match. They are definitely the dominant side, but it is their finishing which lets them down. Shrewsbury nearly get a third, on the counter attack. But it stays that way till the final whistle, by which time I have long gone from the ground.
I'm not the first to leave as there's obviously some other fans with the same mission as me - to get to the station in time to get the 5.31 to Birmingham. I start to walk, all the time looking out for a bus. In the end I get about half way back to the town centre, before a number 25 bus comes. It gets me back to the bus station for 5.15, so there's plenty of time to get to the station round the corner. I chat to a couple of County fans on the bus, who say they were resigned to Stockport going down as far ago as January. On Shrewsbury station I chat to a Shrews fans waiting for my train. I ask him what the final score was and how he gets to the station in time after each game. He tells me he gets a lift from a fellow fan going that way.
The Arriva Trains Wales train is packed and empties when most of us get off at Birmingham New Street. A London train is just leaving as I get off my train, but it's only a twenty minute wait for the next one. I get on it and it is empty at first, but soon fills up with many Brighton fans, who have just clinched promotion at Walsall, plus some loud and drunk Chelsea fans, returning from West Brom. As soon as we come into Birmingham International I pretend to be getting off and find a much quieter seat further down the train. At Coventry a few Millwall fans get on, but they are positively civilised, having middle class accents and drinking red wine!
As I get off the train at Euston a group of singing Brighton fans get off at the same time, but I overtake them, only to bump into loads of Man U and City fans on the concourse. I ask a couple of Man City fans if they won, and when they say "yes" I say "well done!" I then walk round to Euston Square tube station, passing yet more Man City fans and police. Then on the tube I chat to a Blackpool fan on his way back to his home in Chelmsford. Even on the train back to Southend there's more City and United fans, plus some straggling West Ham fans. I finally get home just after half nine.
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