When we think about football, we immediately picture, in our minds, the giants of the game - Manchester United, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Juventus, Peter Crouch and so on. But what about the 'little teams'? The also-rans. The cannon fodder. Today, we focus on one such team, Shrewsbury Town, and provide you with some things you couldn't possibly have known about them, because I just made them up.
1) VERY OLD CLUB
Shrewsbury Town Football Club is the oldest known club, having been mentioned in the Domesday Book, and, therefore, already a going concern by 1086.
The 'rews' portion of the word 'Shrewsbury' is pronounced 'rose', which gives you something like 'SH-ROSE-BREE', but this, in my considered opinion, is rather pretentious, and so I prefer to pronounce 'rews' as 'ruse', giving you the far more sensible 'SH-RUSE-BERRY', because I am a northern oik.
The club's nickname is 'The Shrews', which rhymes with 'The Screws', 'The Shoes', or even 'The Dog Poos', but not 'The Shows', 'The Toes', or 'My Nose'.
Or 'ground', as normal people call it. It's rightful name is the poetically quaint, and slightly-homosexual-sounding Gay Meadow, but this is a throwback to earlier days when the word 'gay' meant 'bright', 'happy' or even 'cheerful', rather than 'desirous of same-gender sex'.
5) KIT COLOURS
The team plays in yellow shirts, blue shorts, and blue socks, which is quite smart.
Their change strip - worn, ironically, away from Gay Meadow - is all pink.
6) IN THE COMMUNITY
There's a very close link to the local community at the club, with many of the players - and, indeed, townspeople, being related to each other - and there is someone in every family who is involved in farming. As part of their training, the squad goes into the fields three times every week, and helps local farmers plough the fields, sow crops, stack bales of hay, round-up stray sheep, milk the cows, chase the milkmaid and rub her breasts, and collect chicken eggs, which they then guzzle down raw. They also put a stalk of hay between their teeth to look like country folk, and some of the players are still chewing this when they arrive at the ground on matchdays. Some even chew during the game.
7) GIANTKILLING ACTS
Shrewsbury have long been associated with FA Cup successes against opposition from higher leagues, having beaten top-flight club Everton 2-1 in a shock defeat heaped upon the Merseysiders by their former player - now Shrews' boss - Kevin Ratcliffe, on 4 January 2003.
Shrewsbury's all-time record defeat came in a match against Small Heath, in the Birmingham League, on Christmas Day, no less, 25 December 1895, when they were soundly beaten 13-0. Playwright, William Shakespeare had predicted the loss in his play, The Taming of the Shrews in 1592.
8) FAMOUS PLAYERS
Shrewsbury have nurtured many young players that have gone on to greater things with the so-called 'big clubs', and some to international stardom with their national teams. One of these was Kevin Keegan, who was born in Shrewsbury, and came through their ranks before signing for Scunthorpe United, from where he went on to play for Liverpool, SV Hamburg, and England. Another was Sir Stanley Matthews, who hated Shrewsbury so much, he ran away to Blackpool when he was just a three-year-old tot. He never returned. A lesser-known fact is that Lionel Messi was once a visitor to Gay Meadow when he was just a baby, and, inspired by this visit, went on to become the best player in the world, all thanks to the humble Shrews! (Not really!)
9) ONLY 9
We did, in fact, promise you ten things that you might not know about Shrewsbury Town Football Club, but we could only find nine, including this one.
Sorry about that.