A Shrewsbury Town Museum?
Shrewsbury Town fans love their history. And down a back street in Belle Vue, a community pub can be found that not only embraces the club’s history, but has become a ‘mini-museum’ of STFC memorabilia.
The Prince of Wales has long been a home for Town fans who attend games down at Gay Meadow. Being within a short walking distance (just a stroll down Betton Street), the floodlights of the picturesque ground would come into view.
When the club moved to Oteley Road, the supporters trust (shrewsTRUST) set up a number of bus routes from pubs around the town to take supporters directly to the new ground. The Prince was the first to volunteer. And continues to run their bus to this day.
The pre and post-match scene is not one of just ‘Blue and Amber’. Supporters from away clubs have got to hear about this gem of a pub tucked away down the back streets of Shrewsbury. Famed for its real ale, friendly community of people and its artefacts of Shrewsbury Town, many fans from Accrington to Plymouth make the ‘pilgrimage’ up to The Prince when their teams come to town.
Inside the bar area is a collection of old photographs and press cuttings. Whats stands out is a faded blue print on white poster advertising a home game with Mansfield Town. April Fool’s day Town won that day 2-1, and finished third in the league that season. (And still as a non-league club back then). But that is not why the poster is important. It was from the last full season played before the outbreak of the Second World War. The next season did start (ironically against Mansfield) but lasted only three games. Matches were suspended following the 4-2 defeat to Peterborough United on September 2nd 1940. Town continued to play ‘friendlies’ until the Midland League restarted in September 1946.
There is an even older piece of memorabilia. A photograph of the Shrewsbury Town team from season 1911-12. Only the second season Town were at Gay Meadow. The wooden huts behind the team were the changing rooms (these were located against the railway embankment). There was only a small stand at this time for spectator accommodation. However I’m told this was a significant improvement on facilities at Copthorne Barracks (one of Shrewsbury’s previous home grounds).
It’s not just inside The Prince where you can find STFC history. Outside seats bought from the old Gay Meadow are installed around the bowling green with signage from the old buffets, and exit gates. There are also some indicating admission prices and a Loggerheads badge (thankfully the club are re-instating the town’s crest for the 2015/16 season).
On the field, Town finally confirmed their promotion to League One with a 1-0 win at Cheltenham. This led to some amazing scenes, as a very friendly pitch invasion saw fans and player celebrating in equal measure. The club have done an amazing job in turning fortunes around, and a massive must go to club Chairman Roland Wycherley, his Chief Executive Matt Williams, Manager Micky Mellon and the players for achieving such a feet. The fans have been fantastic and followed the team all over the country. As I write this article, The Prince was due to hold a ‘promotion party’ to celebrate Town’s brilliant achievement, following the final home game of the season. I wonder how many of the photos taken of the celebrations will survive and go on the wall for future generations to look at?
article by Adrian Plimmer for the Belle Vue Magazine