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Shrewsbury

The game at Oswestry not being till the evening we took ourselves off to Shrewsbury on the Saturday afternoon. (I’ve already mentioned Shrewsbury Abbey in a 4/11/2018 post about Wilfred Owen’s Memorial in the Abbey Grounds.)

Since we didn’t know the town we stopped at the first Park and Ride and availed ourselves of the service. That was just as well because the traffic was very busy and the streets quite narrow.

We also asked someone if the pronunciation was “Shrew”- or “Shrow”- sbury and were told it didn’t matter, either would do.

The town’s history is clearly evident in its buildings, with several in the timber-framed Tudor style:-

Shrewsbury Buildings

Shrewsbury buildings

Shrewsbury buildings

Shrewsbury Tudor building

Shrewsbury Building

Infantry Junior Leaders Memorial, Oswestry

After the Second World War the military camp at Oswestry became a centre for Canadian troops, then the Royal Artillery and finally a training centre for Infantry Junior Leaders.

Also in the Oswestry War Memorial garden area is a Memorial to these Junior Leaders. Deus Vult translates as God wills.

Infantry Junior Leaders Memorial, Oswestry

Dedication plaque:-

Dedication Infantry Junior Leaders Memorial , Oswestry

Plaque to Junior Leaders who died on active service:-

Memorial to Fallen Infantry Junior Leaders, Oswestry

Junior Leaders Association appreciation for Oswestry:-

Infantry Junior Leaders Thanks to Oswestry

Royal Regiment of Artillery Memorial, Oswestry

During the Great War Oswestry was the site of an army training camp and military hospital. In World War 2 this was again brought into use this time as a Royal Artillery Training and Plotting Officers’ School.

Behind the gates of Oswestry’s main War Memorial is a gardened area wherein lie other memorials.

Royal Regiment of Artillery Memorial:-

Royal Regiment of Artillery Memorial, Oswestry

Near side of Royal Regiment of Artillery Memorial:-

Side of Royal Regiment of Artillery Memorial, Oswestry

Latin tag. “Ubique quo fas et gloria decunt.” “Everywhere where right and glory lead.”:-

Latin Tag, Royal Regiment of Artillery Memorial, Oswestry

Memorial Field Gun:-

Royal Regiment of Artillery Memorial Field Gun, Oswestry

Memorial Field Gun dedication:-

Dedication, Royal Regiment of Artillery Memorial Field Gun, Oswestry

Oswestry War Memorial

I hadn’t looked this up reasoning that Oswestry is a big enough town to have a prominent War Memorial and I’d find it quite easily.

Still we’d been wandering the town for an hour or so on the Saturday morning (having travelled down on the Friday and staying overnight so as not to risk missing the kick-off) and still hadn’t seen it. So I asked the young woman serving me at WH Smith’s till, “Where is Oswestry’s War Memorial?” Despite seeming to be a local she didn’t know.

Anyway I strolled on down the main street for about a hundred or so yards – and there it was.

A set of gates flanked by pillars, inscribed respectively “1914. There is a life in death,” and “1919. Ye have not died in vain.”:-

Oswestry War Memorial

1914 Pillar. Top plaque inscribed, “Erected in grateful memory of the men of Oswestry who laid down their lives in the Great War.”:-

Oswestry War Memorial Names

1919 pillar. Top plaque inscribed, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”:-

Oswestry War Memorial, Great War Names

The reverse of the pillars was later pressed into service as the Second World War Memorial with 1939 and 1945 on the pillars:-

Oswestry World War 2 Memorial

1939 pillar. Inscribed, “He that overcometh shall inherit all things: and I will be his God and he shall be my son.”:-

Oswestry War Memorial, World War 2 Names

1945 pillar. Inscribed, “In grateful memory of the men and women of Oswestry who laid down their lives in the war of 1939-1945.”:-

More Second World War Names, Oswestry War Memorial

Art Deco in Oswestry

As a town, Oswestry in Shropshire, England, may have seen better days. A lot of the buildings in the town centre looked tired.

The former Regal Cinema certainly has the deco look, though it’s now what looks like a hairdresser’s plus a Factory Shop. The original glazing would have looked better but the replacement windows are adequate:-

Art Deco Former Cinema, Oswestry 5

Reverse view. The canopy and roofline above are good features:-

Reverse View, Former Regal Cinema, Oswestry

Could this once have been a Woolworths? It’s now a Poundland anyway. And a Pep & Co:-

Art Deco Shop, Oswestry

Frontal view:-

Art Deco Poundland, Oswestry

The Sports Direct has also seen better days:-

Another Tired Art Deco Shop, Oswestry

British Heart Foundation:-

Art Deco Shop in Oswestry

Oswestry

The name is enough to bring on a warm glow for any Sons fan, more so to one who was there that unforgettable night, shrouded now in mystic memory.

Not that it was an unalloyed delight. For three-quarters of the game we weren’t in it – and it was a pretty glum experience. I was wondering why I had travelled all that way only for us to surrender meekly. Still we weren’t exactly out of it, not even when The New Saints scored early on the second half. But we gradually started to push forward and even got a couple of crosses in.

Then the moment it all changed with that pass from Kyle Hutton to Danny Handling, the sublime run from Mark Stewart to take away the defender and leave space for the shot, the shot itself, the outburst of almost disbelieving delirium, Danny Handling running up the park in delight, Sons fans applauding and shouting with a kind of relief.

Then a few minutes later the ironic cheers when the referee finally gave a free-kick against their defence for fouling Christian Nade, who’d been getting no joy up till that point.

Up stepped Froxy with that beautiful, beautiful, sublime strike into Sons legend. If his goal at Dunfermline earlier that season hadn’t already made him one, this certainly confirmed it.

Below are the game’s (short) higlights – with Welsh commentary.

Watch Kyle Hutton’s reaction to Froxy’s goal (at about 2 minutes seven seconds in.) It looks like he’s thinking, “Did that just happen?”

Sometimes the football gods are with you, at others not. Pity the final wasn’t so memorable, but that was another story.

Oswestry, however, will stay with me forever.

I took photographs, naturally, of the ground and the town, all coming up.

And of course I have already posted the video of the celebrations at the final whistle.

A Dreadful Year for Sons

2018 wasn’t a good year for Sons – Oswestry apart.

But I hadn’t realised how bad it was until I read this this statistical analysis of the playing year produced by a Sons fan on his “Tales From the Rock” blog and linked to on page 1610 of the “Sons Sorrow” thread on the Pie Shop, aka Pie and Bovril.

Played 55, Won 16,* Drawn 8, Lost 31, Goals for 60, Goals Against 104.

These stats show just why manager Stevie Aitken had to be binned.

There has been a small improvement under new manager Jim Duffy, but he is still labouring with the squad he inherited – a lot of whom seem to be injury prone.

*This count includes pre-season games against non-league opposition.

Rochdale 1-0 Accrington Stanley

English Football Tier 3,* Spotland,** 24/11/18.

As you can tell from this post’s title I’ve been away again. Down to see friends in Rochdale and seizing the opportunity to take in my first ever English League game. Not my first game in England – that was in Oswestry earlier this year, that wonderful magical night.

Rochdale AFC Programme 24/11/18

As you can see from the programme cover it was celebrating Ian Henderson’s 100 goals for the club.

My main impression overall was that the players’ work rate was higher than in the SPFL (Tier 3 or 2.) In particular the pressing was sharper and quicker.

I was a bit surprised to recognise the referee (from highlight games.) It was none other than Lee Probert. A high profile referee for a 3rd tier game surely?

Rochdale started on the front foot but Stanley’s more direct style soon had them making inroads at the back. Dale’s keeper Josh Lillis was only just back from injury and initially looked shaky, spilling the ball on his first contact but he was called on three times in the first half and made good stops each time. Stanley seemed prepared to shoot on sight but were only on target those three times. Dale tended to play the ball about at the back and tried to pass their way through but mostly didn’t penetrate. Dale’s number 7 scurried about, though, and his running style reminded me very much of Kenny Miller. Stanley had more of the first half but lacked that clinical edge.

Things changed in the second. Dale substitute forward Calvin Andrew immediately brought a new focus to the attack. Whatever Ian Henderson’s qualities winning high balls isn’t to the fore. Andrew put himself about and won the first four of his aerial duels. Thereafter the man marking resorted to climbing over him to get the ball. The Dale fans weren’t too keen on Probert’s failure to penalise that.

For all Dale manager Keith Hill’s desire to play football it was ironic that the goal came from that most basic of football attacking ploys, an inswinging corner. Ian Henderson worked himself room in the box to head it down and in. I thought the keeper might possibly have done better and kept it out but it squirmed under him. So goal no. 101 for Hendo. I think it was Dale’s only effort on target.

Stanley pushed in the final ten minutes but were reduced to long range efforts only, none of which troubled Lillis. Young David Perkins came on and perked up Dale’s midfield. He looked very much one for the future. Apparently Dale’s football academy is now one of the most respected in England.

It was a good result for my first experience of Spotland which is a tidy ground with stands on all four sides, the one behind the goal at Dale’s favourite end standing only. Stanley’s supporters filled the middle portion of the stand opposite the main one and made a lot of noise at the start. This faded towards the end. Dale’s supporters were notably more quiet and only roused thenselves a few times but it seems they take a good lot on away trips.

*EFL Tier 2 – call it Sky Bet League One if you must.

**The Crown Oil Arena, no less – it’ll always be Spotland to me.

Wilfred Owen

One hundred years ago today, only one week before the armistice which ended the Great War, perhaps the most resonant of that war’s poets, Wilfred Owen, was killed leading his troops across the Sambre–Oise Canal.

Wilfred Owen

On my trip down to Oswestry for the Challenge Cup semi-final in February I discovered his name is on the Great War Memorial inside Shrewsbury Abbey.

The Abbey:-

Shrewsbury Abbey

The War Memorial. Owen’s name is marked by a poppy:-

Shrewsbury Abbey War Memorial

Closer View:-

Shrewsbury Abbey War Memorial Detail

In the Abbey grounds there is a memorial dedicted to Owen. The text in red this side reads, “Wilfred Owen Poet 18/3/1893-4/11/1918.”:-

Wilfred Owen Memorial, Shrewsbury Abbey Grounds.

The memorial is titled “Symmetry” and was designed by Paul De Monchaux and erected in 1993:-

Wilfred Owen Memorial Title

Three other information stones surround the memorial. Birth and life:-

Wilfred Owen Memorial Information Plaque

Death:-

Wilfred Owen Memorial Plaque

Line of Poem:-

Wilfred Owen  Memorial Explanation

The memorial is in the form of a pontoon bridge. You can read more about it here.

The red writing on this side is the quote (line 40 of “Strange Meeting“) “I am the enemy you killed my friend.”

Wilfred Owen Memorial Reverse View

We’ll Always Have Oswestry

Sons have parted company with manager Stevie Aitken.

I can’t say it comes as a surprise. The fans forum site Pie and Bovril (aka the Pie Shop) has been alive for weeks with people clamouring either for him to resign or be sacked.

Results this season have been so disappointing, notwithstanding a long injury list, that it was almost inevitable he would have to go.

Many blamed his odd decisions for the loss in the play-off final in May and a perception that he was wedded to defensive football certainly didn’t help his cause.

He did keep us up in Tier 2 for an extra two seasons with quite a few notable wins against “big” teams and got us to the Challenge Cup final last term but again his negative approach to that game annoyed many fans.

The high point of his tenure though was the semi-final game against the New Saints at Oswestry. Being there for that was an incredible experience – even if for the first hour it felt like purgatory. Two great strikes more or less out of the blue saved us that day and rescued a poor season.

Now his tenure as manager ends even if he lasted longer than many at the Rock.

So long, Stevie, and thanks for (some of) the memories. It was time for you to go though.

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