We catch up with Shrews­bury Town’s 1978/79 Di­vi­sion Three cham­pi­ons

The Football League Paper - - INSIDE - By Neil Fissler

NOT EVEN the most one-eyed Shrews­bury fan would have thought pro­mo­tion was even a re­mote pos­si­bil­ity, let alone win­ning the ti­tle, go­ing into the 197879 sea­son.

1. John Malam: The as­sis­tant man­ager left the game and spent more than 25 years work­ing for Shrop­shire Coun­cil as their Gipsy Li­ai­son Of­fi­cer.

2. Jack Keay: Cen­tral de­fender who skip­pered Derry City to a League of Ire­land tre­ble in 1989. He be­came a mort­gage bro­ker and in­de­pen­dent fi­nan­cial ad­viser in North­ern Ire­land.

3. Steve Cross: De­fender who be­came a physio and has worked at the Princess Royal Telford Hospi­tal. He has also been a sum­mariser for BBC Shrop­shire.

4. Ian Atkins: De­fender who won First Di­vi­sion and Cup Win­ners’ Cup hon­ours at Ever­ton. En­joyed a long ca­reer in man­age­ment and is now As­ton Villa’s chief scout.

5. Ken Mul­hearn: Goal­keeper who won a league ti­tle with Man City and ran three pubs in Shrews­bury be­fore be­com­ing a porter at Shel­ton Hospi­tal. His grand­son Harry Lewis plays for Southamp­ton. 6. Bob Wardle: Goal­keeper who moved to Liver­pool but his ca­reer was ended by an eye in­jury. He set­tled on the Wir­ral and be­came na­tional devel­op­ment man­ager for an au­to­mo­tive com­pany. 7. Colin Grif­fin: De­fender, who started more than 400 games for the Shrews. Spent time at the club as a coach be­fore be­com­ing a post­man. 8. Steve Hayes: Cen­tral de­fender who played in two pro­mo­tion suc­cesses with the Shrews. He went into the build­ing in­dus­try in Tor­bay be­fore re­turn­ing to the Mid­lands. 9. Tony Larkin: De­fender who be­came di­rec­tor of busi­ness and en­ter­prise at the Royal Na­tional Col­lege for the Blind in Here­ford and coached GB’s Blind Foot­ball team at the 2012 Par­a­lympics. 10. Carleton Leonard: Left-back who made 200-plus ap­pear­ances for the Shrews. He has run pubs and clubs in his na­tive Oswestry and also coached in Shrews­bury’s Cen­tre of Ex­cel­lence. 11. Richie Barker: Man­aged a num­ber of clubs with suc­cess and also held as­sis­tant man­ager and chief scout roles. Now lives in re­tire­ment in Mar­ket Dray­ton. 12. Mike Roberts: Mid­fielder who made one sub ap­pear­ance. Now lives in Taun­ton and has taken early re­tire­ment af­ter work­ing as chief ex­ec­u­tive of a prop­erty main­te­nance firm. 13. Steve Big­gins: For­ward who en­joyed pro­mo­tions with Ox­ford United and Derby. He went into teach­ing at Old Hall School and then be­came the master in charge of foot­ball at Shrews­bury School. 14. Jake King: Full-back who man­aged Telford (twice) and Shrews­bury. A qual­i­fied chef, he has been a pub­li­can and owned Smoke Stop BBQ, near Shrews­bury, un­til sell­ing it last Au­gust. 15. Gra­ham Turner: Cen­tre-back who twice man­aged the Shrews, Wolves, Villa and Here­ford, where he was also chair­man. 16. Jimmy Lind­say: Mid­fielder who also won Third Di­vi­sion hon­ours with Here­ford United. An­other who be­came a pub land­lord in Shrews­bury. Now works for the coun­cil. 17. Paul Maguire: Mid­fielder who helped Port Vale win pro­mo­tion from Di­vi­sion Four. Now based in the Crewe area, he has worked as a sales rep. 18. Peter Lough­nane: Winger whose fa­ther, Brian, also played for Shrews­bury. He was a car sales­man in Mel­bourne but has now re­turned to Shrop­shire and is fleet sales man­ager for Bud­gen Mo­tors.

NOT PIC­TURED David Tong: Mid­fielder who helped home town club Blackpool win the An­glo-Ital­ian Cup. Now work­ing as a taxi driver. Trevor Birch: Mid­fielder who be­came an in­sol­vency ex­pert be­fore help­ing to at­tract Ro­man Abramovich to Chelsea and now runs his own ad­vi­sory busi­ness. Bob Chap­man: De­fender who runs a se­cu­rity fenc­ing firm with son Robert, who played county cricket for Not­ting­hamshire. which was a week’s wages back then, if any­body scored two goals.

“And I was lucky enough to score the two goals, so I went to the shop the fol­low­ing day, signed the match ball and the owner went out the back and got the £200. We had a great sum­mer af­ter that.

“Ian Atkins scored a penalty in that game, but I should re­ally have got the hat-trick and gone for £300 from the sports shop in­stead!” days al­most 40 years ago.

“Gay Meadow was so tight you were right on to the crowd. The fans could touch the play­ers – they were that close.

“So, it could be re­ally in­tim­i­dat­ing as well. We started off with about 3,500 and then, for the last match of the sea­son, there was a record 14,400 in the ground but it was more like 20,000.”

An FA Cup run, in which they despatched First Di­vi­sion Manch­ester City in the fourth round and ended with a six­thround re­play with Wolves, meant a back­log of fix­tures.

Gra­ham Turner’s side sealed pro­mo­tion to the Sec­ond Di­vi­sion for the first time ever with a 4-1 win over Exeter City af­ter they ended the sea­son with a run of five games in two weeks.

King has a very spe­cial rea­son to re­mem­ber the game that won pro­mo­tion as his two goals brought him a spe­cial bonus from a lo­cal busi­ness.

“We knew three or four games out from the end of the sea­son that we were go­ing to do it, es­pe­cially with our last game of the sea­son against Exeter City, who were mid­dle of the ta­ble,” he said.

“We thought there was never any dan­ger of them beat­ing us. Then, a lo­cal sports shop said they would give any­body £200,

They fin­ished the pre­vi­ous sea­son that far out of the pro­mo­tion pic­ture in 11th place they weren’t even in the same post­code.

Lack­ing the fire­power of ri­vals Wat­ford and Swansea, who were later to make their mark on the First Di­vi­sion, in­stead they built the foun­da­tions of their suc­cess on an un­beaten home record and a mean de­fence.

Jake King, who played 39 of the 46 league games for Shrews­bury, help­ing the club win their first ever league ti­tle by a point from run­ners-up Wat­ford and third-placed Swansea, says they even shocked them­selves.

“It was bril­liant. No­body ex­pected us to win pro­mo­tion. We did re­ally well,” he said.

“Wat­ford had El­ton John and Gra­ham Tay­lor while Swansea were man­aged by John Toshack, so we were the min­nows of the di­vi­sion.

“There were no stars in our squad, but we had plenty of work­ers. We were clos­ing teams down and do­ing the things they do in the Pre­mier League th­ese

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