Charlie Bennett looks at the proud history of Shrewsbury in our weekly spotlight...
We take an in-depth look at the goings on at Shrewsbury CC
Henry de Winton and John Charles Thring may be synonymous with forming the rules of modern football, but their friendship started on the playing fields of Shrewsbury School – and the wicket of Shrewsbury CC.
The pair called a meeting at Trinity College in 1848 and a set of rules were produced, which later became the basis of the FA’s Laws of the Game – but by then Shrewsbury CC were already nine years old and on the way to becoming one of the leading amateur sides in the country.
De Winton and Thring played against each other in Shrewsbury’s third ever match in 1839, and almost 200 years later the club’s links to the beautiful game are still strong – with former Manchester City goalkeeper Ken Mulhearn, former Coventry City star Steve Ogrizovic and current England shot-stopper Joe Hart all former players.
Currently in the Birmingham & District Premier League, which they joined in 2001, three years after teams from Shropshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire agreed to join forces, Shrewsbury have gone from strength to strength – lifting the 2010 and 2013 Premier Division title.
Batsman Rob Foster was captain between 2013-16 and has been involved with the club his whole life, his father John was part of the team which lifted the 1983 National Club Cricket Championship at Lord’s, and brother Ed is also a key member of the current team.
“When we first came into the Birmingham structure, we spent a lot of years going up and down between the divisions,” he said.
“But we have now won two Birmingham League titles and it has been a very good period for the club.
“We have always punched above our weight but the success the side in the Eighties had has always fuelled our ambition.
“To be captain was very special. In my first year as skipper we won the league in 2013 and we played some great cricket – that was the peak of the side.”
Foster also grew up with England goalkeeper Hart and is convinced he would have enjoyed a career in the game.
“Joe stopped playing at 17 but he was a very talented player and bowled very quick for his age,” he added.
“He could have had a career. He was very talented, just as he is at football, but that’s obviously the more appealing of the two.”
Shrewsbury have not only been a home to famous footballers, with the likes of former England batsman James Taylor and Worcestershire skipper Joe Leach both coming through the club’s system.
Taylor, who retired last year due to a serious heart condition, showed promise from the start and is the product of a youth set-up Foster hopes can keep the club at the forefront of a competitive division.
“A lot of lads, like Ed, Joe Leach and James, have gone on to levels far past the cricket club – which is great,” he said.
“You can never quite tell how good someone is going to be but James made a hundred for the first team aged 16 and things like that don’t happen by accident.
“He still has connections in Shropshire so he still comes down.”
Not a club to dwell on the past, Shrewsbury look firmly towards the future – with former Herefordshire player Ben Stebbings taking over as captain and Claire Green becoming the first woman to be appointed chairman in their history.
Green, who has been the club’s scorer at their London Road ground for 30 years, has enormous plans to increase female membership at the club and introduce a ladies side.
“I am 40 so I have been involved at the club for 40 years,” she said.
“It has been my life. My dad, Mike, used to play and I started scoring for the club, which was my main role, when I was ten.
“That has been my constant link and I have been a committee member since I was 15.
“I was voted in at the end of November and I was very proud. Towards the summer we are aiming to start some coaching sessions for girls and then get a team involved for next year.
After a third-placed finish last season, there is optimism of more success ahead of the new campaign with a committed squad hungry to rein supreme over the West Midlands once more.
“It is an exciting era. Ben has fitted in brilliantly and I think he will be a great captain for us,” Green said.
“We have a lot of players who travel miles and miles to come back and play for us on a Saturday. It just goes to show how committed they are and the type of club we are.”
They have not only been a home to famous footballers, with England batsman James Taylor and Worcester skipper Joe Leach coming through
Idyll: Shrewsbury CC’s ground is an oasis of greenery. Inset: the trophywinning team
Stalwart: Rob Foster