I just want to take a moment to complain about my local football club. Shrewsbury Town. Some may not have a clue who I mean, some will. In particular, I want to complain about the whole commercial operation and the way they have lost touch with reality.
I decided that this year, I would buy my eldest son the new home shirt for his birthday, maybe even get a name and number printed on it too. The kit was launched on 31st July at the club’s open day, and I have no idea how many were on sale because before too long, the smaller sizes had sold out. Another shipment was due on the 20th August it was announced. So, today, just two days later, I rang the club to see if I could place an order to be picked up and paid for in person. No chance. I was informed by a simpleton on the other end that they still didn’t have any of the smaller sizes in stock, and wouldn’t until Saturday (if at all, he wasn’t sure!). “Could I ring on Friday, they might know a bit more then?” Like a wally, I said yes. I should have said “No. Here’s my number. YOU ring ME when they come in!”
This is merely the tip of the iceberg. The junior shirt is going to set me back £30. Yes, that’s right, £30. Just for the shirt. Printing will cost more on top. I’m all for supporting my local club and encouraging my son to support his local team instead of chasing glory with the likes of Liverpool, Manchester United and City or Arsenal, but the bottom line is, I can walk into a branch of JJB Sports and get a whole kit – shirt, shorts and socks for £30. It’s just crazy. Which brings me on to my next gripe. You can only buy the Shrewsbury kits from the club shop. Nowhere else. You would think that a small club would want to cast their net as wide as possible. In days gone by, you could go into Salopian Sports or Sports & Games in the town and get yourself a shirt. Not any more. I tell you, they’ve got Premier League ideas being implemented by Sunday League cretins.
Then we come to the match-day arrangements for fans. It’s a 10,000 seater stadium on the outskirts of the town. They get average attendances of about 5,000 for a home game. But only parking for about 200 cars, and no arrangements for any parking elsewhere. You can pay a fiver to park in a pub car park just down the road, and that’s about it. There used to be a park and ride facility from a number of places around the town, but apparently these weren’t cost effective, so they were axed.
And if you want to go to a game, you have to make sure you know you want to go well in advance. Gone are the days when you could decide on a Saturday morning, or a Tuesday lunchtime to go to a game, give your mate a call and wander down to the Gay Meadow and pay on the gate. These days you have to buy a ticket. And before you do that, you have to register. Something my brother knows all to well!
But the worst thing of all is, I still keep supporting them and giving them my money because after all, they’re in my blood.
Come. On. You. Blues.
Graham Turner’s Barmy Army.