THE OFFICIAL SUPPORTERS CLUB
WITH BARRY DAVIES
This article has been written by Barry Davies one of the oldest and original members of the OSC. when Shrewsbury Town were based at the old Gay Meadow you would find him selling programmes on match days in the road on the entrance to the Gay Meadow, now you will find him on match days at the Southern end of the West Stand selling programmes.
He has taken time to write this article to give some idea of how long, and what the OSC have done up to the present day.
Barry Davies's article
Being the oldest member of the Shrewsbury Town's Official Supporters Club --
I Barry Davies was asked to look back over the years to dig out facts and details --- when it was formed ? --- who were the officers and committee members? --- what they did ? --- and how they raised funds to provide Shrewsbury Town Football Club with money to help run the club.
For many years the Official Supporters Club were the only fund raisers to help the football club.
I am not 100% sure when the Official Supporters Club came into existence, but what I been told by older supporters and looking back through records it was formed in 1950 WOW, the same year that the Town entered league football. In April of that year a well-known local newsagent and a longtime fan Mr. Edwin Gregory offered to donate £100 to launch a fund, the money was to be payable if matched by 24 other people, if the Town were elected to the football league.
This led to the setting up of the fund for Division 3 football. Mr. E Bate was appointed Chairman, Mr. W Corfield Treasure, while Mr. A Sykes and Mr. C Williams represented the chamber of commerce and " Happy " Sheldon the L. V. A. plus Mr. Sam Powell, Mr. E G Lambert, Mr. C E Duffield, Mr. E S Cooper, Mr. S H Jenks and Mr. F W G Morris from the supporter’s club with power to Co-Opt.
Between 1950 when this group of people were in office as a supporter’s club and myself joining the committee they had changed the shape of the old Gay Meadow. The Chairman " Cecil Duffill " and his committee were responsible for the terracing at the Tech End of the ground, this was appropriately named the " Cecil Duffill " terrace.
In the next 20 years there was the erecting of steel sanctions and roof covering on the riverside in January 1970, also the half time score board and clock. There was lots of ways of fundraising including, ( The Penny on the Ball ) this is the old penny which at today’s value is worth nothing, less than today’s penny, selling food and drinks from the buffets, Derby and Grand National draws, the printing and selling of the programmes, and a very big Christmas draw, they were long large tickets approx. 9ins x 6ins for many years, there were 150 prizes each week which were all donated, the ticket for example would read like this, No 1, Bottle of Whiskey, A. N. Other, the draw was easily the biggest draw in Shrewsbury and very successful as they were sold all over Shropshire for many years, the draw was conducted at the Shrewsbury Music Hall, all the committee members were in groups doing separate jobs, some writing out winning slips others putting them in envelopes, a group sticking on stamps and then 2 people putting them in their car and taking them to the sorting office in Castle Foregate and posting them, ( all in one night ) many people would receive their good news the next morning.
The penny on the ball was self-explanatory, it was a small white ticket 3 ins x 2ins with a number on it and a perforated counterfoil with the corresponding number on it, these tickets were sold inside and outside the Gay Meadow, the counterfoils were placed in a big blue drum and drawn out at half time ( just like the Golden Gamble these days ). The winner would receive the match ball, (they were not as expensive as they are today), the second ticket drawn out would win a cash prize.
The supporters club launched a floodlight fund committee in January 1967, the Chairman Dennis Bellingham invited other people to work on this fund, it consisted of the football club directors, manager, secretary, and supporters club members. The first decision was to add 3d ( that's in old money at today’s value a penny ) to the price of a programme, effectively doubling its price in order to raise £500 towards the new estimated £12,000 for installation of the floodlights, the reserve programme went up 1d old penny, and of course the supporters club arranged many more function to raise more money towards the floodlights.
The supporters club often presented the football club with cheques being a large amount of money for improving many parts of the ground such as office furniture and fittings also carpets and decorating.
In July 1960 the supporters club agreed a £3,000 interest free loan to the football club and announced a record membership of 3,951, they had already donated £14, 200 for ground improvements and the purchase of a house for the players.
When I joined the supporters club committee there was in existence a solid group of people still raising funds for the football club, at my first committee meeting in 1964 the committee officers were Chairman Dennis Bellingham, Secretary Fred Brown, while Stan Jones was the Treasurer, the committee members were Tom Wiggington, Mrs. Wiggington, Eddie Griffths, Albert Durnell Tom Sargent, and Molly Dolley.
The Official Supporters Club also had feeder branch clubs, the branches were at Ford where the committee consisted of Eddie Griffths, Albert Durnell, and Phil Taylor. the Wem branch where George Stoken was chairman and a committee of Merven Burrows, Ralph Prince, Vera Pope, Alan Follmer who is still with us today and as just taken the position of vice-president and Alans mother Mrs. Follmer. There was also the Baschuch and Ludlow branches, these branches produced their balance sheet and cheques at the main branch committee meetings and was entered in the main branch accounts.
The supporters club branches continued to expand with branches at Madeley, Ironbridge and Church Stretton.
Our committee meetings were held in one of the three metal framed corrugated huts under the main stand at the Technical College end of the ground ( Gay Meadow ) the other two were occupied by the manager and secretary of the football club, they were not like the plush rooms we have these days at the Lord Hill Hotel and the Greenhous Meadow to hold our meetings.
The official supporters club were the only group of fund raisers, their annual general meetings were often held at the Music Hall in the square in Shrewsbury, they were always well attended, as many as a hundred people would be there to hear the reports and view the big balance sheets, they would be able to cast their votes and to re-join the supporters club.
Another first for the supporters club was the " Player of the Year " , it was the brainchild of Barry Davies ( he wrote this article ) he raised the idea at a committee meeting, it was discussed at great lengths, and was agreed this should go ahead before the 1972-73 season started it was Barry who did the spadework like distributing the ballot forms and the task of collecting and counting the votes of which there were hundreds. The players were often presented with their trophies at a social evening at the Music Hall and Tiffanys night club. The first ever " Player of the Year " was Sammy Irvine.
The official supporters club officers and committee were hard working people who worked tirelessly and voluntary stocking the four buffets and serving hot food and hot and cold drinks also sweets and crisps.
The four buffets (which again were built with funds raised by the supporters club) were at the Station End, that was for away supporters, the Stand buffet was situated under the main stand at the station end, the tech end buffet was a busy one as it served two parts of the ground, the Tech end and the bottom half of the main stand, the Riverside buffet was built a few years after the other three, it was built to help the queues at the Tech buffet. All the committee officers and committee members shared the work in the buffets and helped by relatives and friends.
The Station stand had the following people working in it over a long period of time Bernard and George Thomas, Alan Durnell, Molly Dooley, John Berry, the Riverside workers were Alan Follmer together with his mother and aunty also Ralph Prince John Berry and Merven Burrows, while the Tech end which served two sections of the ground was worked by Brian Davies and his wife Mary plus some of Mary’s relatives, Fred Brown Tim Sargent Len Minto and Peter Sandford, the Stand buffet workers were Barry Davies with his wife Janet and their daughter Kim, other people who worked in that buffet were Tom Bristoe Helen Langley Sally Ellis and Jean Parfitt, a very large amount of money was made from these four buffets.
Before these buffets were built a hard working Molly Dooley used to walk around the pitch serving people with sweets and crisps from a wooden tray strapped over her shoulders just like the people sell ice-cream at the theatre today.
In the 1974-75 season the football club announced a trading loss of £51,681, the loss was tempered by donations of £35,000 from the supporters club.
In November 1976 the supporters club paid tribute to Fred Pyatts 25 years as secretary and handed over to Peter Sandford who took over as treasurer of the supporters club.
One of the most important gifts the supporters club, was kitting out the new gym at the Gay Meadow for the players including, weights, scales, ropes, treadmill, mats, benches, "etc."
They have also helped the grounds men by paying for mowers, wheelbarrows, rollers line markers, goal nets, and lots of other equipment.
Barry Davies was the public address announcer, by given team changes and reading out half time scores from other games.
Since 1950 I have mentioned many officers and committee members but since then over the past I have forgotten some but do remember more of them including Ralph Clayton, Brian Davies, Graham Hughes, Alan Follmer, Ann Ralphs, Sally Ellis, Dave Harry and of course there were lots more.
It has been proved the supporters club were first with many ideas and not forgetting the help they have given to SHREWSBURY TOWN FOOTBALL CLUB.
It is a known fact the "Official Supporters Club" have always been loyal and helpful to "SHREWSBURY TOWN FOOTBALL CLUB" by the "Thousands" of pounds they have given to the club.
"WE LEAD" ------- "OTHERS FOLLOW"
Written by Barry Davies
Thank you very much for your time and effort Barry