Following last week’s adventures into deepest, darkest Charlton to see Shrewsbury take a 1-0 lead in the play-off semi-final, I was sadly not able to attend the return leg in Shropshire on Sunday; it turns out the 310-mile round trip was quite literally a step too far. I was, however, able to go to a local pub to watch the game with some friends I’d converted at a house party the day after my first-leg experience. I’m almost certain the words “and then Jonny Nolan just hit it on the half-volley and it went in OFF THE BAR” left my mouth at least 5 or 6 times that night.
While at the pub, news of my plight reached as far as the table next to us – a group of 4 men aged somewhere between 40 and 60 who had presumably stayed following the coverage of the Premier League. As a side note – and I’m being entirely serious – these guys were buying jägerbombs with every round of pints, and probably averaging a round every 20 minutes. In fairness, the jägerbombs may have been a recent addition to the order, potentially as a result of the drop in quality from the televised Premier League game to the televised Shrewsbury game.
Nonetheless, the 4 dedicated drinkers were clearly intrigued at the level of emotion I was showing at every half-chance, big challenge, corner, and throw-in that occurred; so much so, that one of them turned to ask what the hell was going on.
“It’s a long story”, I said.
“I’d love to hear it”, replied the 40/50/60-year-old man with a half-mullet/half Anakin-Skywalker-from-Attack-of-the-Clones haircut.
And so news of my plight travelled onward, like the story of Nemo’s dad in Finding Nemo except instead of an array of wondrous sea creatures gossiping in the Great Barrier Reef, it’s just a fat bloke in Dixons telling this other fat bloke in Dixons what happened at the pub.
The rest is history: another 1-0 win for the Shrews, a pitch invasion that I would have so dearly loved to be a part of, and plans for a trip to Wembley. I am delighted to confirm, at the time of writing on this beautiful Thursday morning, that my two friends and I will be singing our hearts out for our beloved Shrewsbury Town. This isn’t about £170 quid anymore. This is about the journey that this football club has taken me on this year.
Oh yeah, and the England squad’s been announced. Guess I should probably say something about that. WHY DIDN’T YOU PUT JONNY NOLAN ON THE PLANE, GARETH?! HE HIT A HALF-VOLLEY OFF THE BAR, GARETH! OFF THE BAR!