Modest Shrewsbury host the world champs … an alternative view


The World Club and European Champions roll into Shropshire on Sunday for one of the biggest games in the history of Shrewsbury Town. Liverpool’s youngsters will be red hot favourites to advance to the fifth round against the “The Shrews”. However, the Reds will be wary of the home team who overcame Bristol City in a replay in the third round thanks to a goal from Aaron Pierre who wrote himself into Shrewsbury Town folklore with an historic 89th-minute winner to set up the clash.

The city of Liverpool and the town of Shrewsbury have some things in common. Both stand on two of England’s most famous rivers; the Mersey and the Severn. Shrewsbury produced one the great thinkers of the 19th Century in Charles Darwin and Liverpool had one of the great thinkers of the 20th Century in Bill Shankly. 

That would be one hell of a conversation!

 “Tell me Charles, what’s this thing about Man evolving from the apes?. All my ancestors were Scottish!”

Or maybe  “What’s this Bill, I’ve heard you’ve said  “Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.”, Is not the survival of the fittest more important to consider?!”

“I can assure you Charlie son, my Liverpool teams are always the fittest”!

Shrewsbury had the great war poet Wilfred Owen and Liverpool once had Eurpoean footballer of the year Michael Owen. Both have a good cup pedigree with Liverpool victorious in the English FA Cup on seven occasions since 1965 whilst Shrewsbury have remarkably contested nine Welsh Cup finals and winning on six occasions with the last being in 1985.

The teams have only met on one previous occasion in 1996 when Liverpool won 4-0 at Gay Meadow at the same stage of the Cup with goals from Stan Collymore, Jason McAteer, Robbie Fowler and an own goal by a home player. This game came while Liverpool were en route to an FA Cup final appearance made famous for their white Armani suits and a later winner from Manchester United’s enfant terrible Eric Cantona.

Shrewsbury have now moved on the Montgomery Water Meadow and have a number of recognisable faces in their squad, perhaps most notably former Wales international David Edwards. Edwards played 61 times in the Premier League while at Wolves, and was part of the side that surprised the Reds with a 2-1 win at Anfield in the fourth round in 2017.

Ex-Manchester United right-back Donald Love has been Shrewsbury’s most-used player this campaign, and could be a vital outlet deployed in a more advanced role in manager Sam Ricketts’ team.

Love left United for Sunderland in 2016, but after struggling for game time at the Stadium of Light made a free transfer to the Shrews last summer, establishing himself as a key figure.

Shrewsbury are also known “The Salop” taken from the County of Shropshire’s motto “Floreat Salopia”, “May Shropshire flourish!”. It would be a massive shock to see anything other than Liverpool finishing with a flourish like many of the great National winners coming past the elbow to be victorious in the world’s most famous national hunt race at Aintree.

History is on Shrewsbury’s side. They have only lost once to Liverpool in their entire history and they beat the then UEFA Cup champion Ipswich Town in the FA Cup in 1982.

Whatever about an imagined dialogue between Darwin and Shankly, if Liverpool win and William Shakespeare were alive and at the game, the Bard would surely record the event in a play.

The Taming of the Shrew-sbury comes to mind as a decent title or maybe Love’s Shrewsbury’s Lost!!.


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