WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
We catch up with Shrewsbury Town’s 1978/79 Division Three champions
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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