Club Spot­light

Char­lie Ben­nett looks at the proud his­tory of Shrews­bury in our weekly spot­light...

The Cricket Paper - - BIG BASH LEAGUE -

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

PIC­TURE: Getty Im­ages

Idyll: Shrews­bury CC’s ground is an oa­sis of green­ery. Inset: the tro­phy­win­ning team

Stal­wart: Rob Foster

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