Dream tie for Town with Chelsea to pay fourth round visit
Wow. Just wow.
So it’s Chelsea who will be heading to the Greenhous Meadow in the fourth round of the Capital One Cup. How good does that sound?
What a fitting reward for Shrewsbury Town after their giantkilling heroics against Blackpool, Leicester City and Norwich City already this season.
I feared, almost expected, that Town would be paired in the last 16 with MK Dons, perhaps a long, unappetising trip to Bournemouth, but Chelsea it is, very much a case of Town hitting the jackpot!
It’s a tie for all Salopians to look forward to as the club move into the national spotlight once again with the visit of Jose Mourinho’s all stars.
While it would have been fantastic, of course, to have had the glitz and glamour of a big night out at Stamford Bridge, rather like that memorable visit to Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium three years ago, there’s something very special about a big club coming to Shrewsbury.
After all, it does not happen too often.
To see Chelsea’s vast collection of international footballers at the Greenhous Meadow is a mouth watering prospect.
Such is the quality of Mourinho’s multi-million pound squad, big names aplenty are guaranteed to be heading to Shrewsbury.
Just look at some of the players involved in their third round victory over Bolton: Cech, Cahill, Hazard, Oscar, Drogba, Schurrrle and Remy.
What an opportunity for Shrewsbury’s home grown talents like Ryan Woods and Connor Goldson to pit their wits against genuine world class stars.
Town, inevitably, will be massive underdogs. Most teams much higher up the football pyramid are when they come face to face with Chelsea.
But Shrewsbury have in their favour a fantastic home record with six wins and a draw from their seven games at the Meadow this season, the last six of which has seen goalkeeper Jayson Leutwiler record a clean sheet, a fine achievement at any level of the game.
All the pressure will be on Chelsea and it promises to be a truly special occasion with tickets for next month’s tie set to become easily the hottest ticket in town over the next few weeks with the clash set to be a sell-out.
Matt Williams, the Shrewsbury Town chief executive, summed up the level of anticipation sweeping through the town and around the county today when he spoke to BBC Radio Shropshire’s breakfast show this morning.
“It’s fantastic for the football club and the town,” he said. “We should sell out and hopefully it will attract the TV cameras and we can showcase everything that we do right at the Greenhous Meadow.
“From the supporters’ point of view, to get the opportunity to see a team like Chelsea in Shrewsbury is fantastic. Obviously, with my selfish head on, with my business head on, we would have liked to be at Stamford Bridge in front of 40,000.
“But we’ll take a 10,000 sell-out at the Greenhous Meadow and TV coverage.”
Chelsea will become comfortably the biggest name team to visit Oteley Road – with apologies to Galatasaray last summer! – and their appearance will rekindle memories of the last time they came to Shrewsbury for an FA Cup fourth round tie in January 2003.
Inspired by Italian great Gianfranco Zola, Chelsea ran out 4-0 winners that night, but the sight of Lampard, Terry, Petit and company taking to the Gay Meadow pitch was a special one.
Going further back, Town and Chelsea used to be rivals in the old second division (now the Championship), a fact which will probably seem hard to believe to the younger generation.
I can just about remember being stood on the Riverside at the Gay Meadow, aged nine, watching Gary Stevens and Alan Brown score the goals as Town beat Chelsea 2-0 on the banks of the Severn on New Year’s Day 1983.
It completed a stunning double for Shrewsbury that season following a 2-1 victory at Stamford Bridge thanks to goals from Bernard McNally and Steve Cross a couple of months earlier.
If Shrewsbury can repeat the trick by beating Chelsea again next month, it would surely have to go down as the greatest ever result in the club’s history.
What a night it promises to be…