Chris Weale could be a party pooper at Yeovil

Shrewsbury Town goalkeeper Chris Weale could be a party pooper at ex-club Yeovil’s celebrations to mark the 10th anniversary of their promotion to the Football League.

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A youthful Weale was a virtual ever-present in Gary Johnson’s side as they ran away with the Conference title in 2003.

The last line of defence helped maintain an unbeaten home record as Yeovil built solid foundations to move up to the third tier within three years.

And the shot-stopper plans on joining the weekend festivities on Sunday.

He will link up with former team-mates like Gavin Williams, Darren Way, Adam Lockwood and recently-appointed Oldham boss Lee Johnson at a party being staged at Huish Park on Sunday.

But, before then, Weale hopes to have helped Shrewsbury to another away success as they edge ever closer to guaranteeing League One football next August.

He said: “It will be good to remember those days at Yeovil, as the atmosphere at  during the promotion year was great.

“We finished quite a few points ahead of everyone. I was 21 at the time and, having been born in Yeovil and having gone to the club’s Centre of Excellence, it was just a great experience.

“For a club of that size, they have done fantastically well since.

“Since then, Terry Skiverton has done well to keep them in League One and, this season, the finances are that much better which has meant Gary Johnson has been able to build a stronger squad.”

Johnson has again triggered the upward momentum he oversaw during his first four-year term of charge of the Glovers.

They sneaked back into the play-off mix with their 2-1 Easter Monday victory at Notts County.

Despite difficult managerial spells at Peterborough and Northampton, Johnson still retains his legendary status around mid-Somerset.

But Weale reveals he needed to convince the former Latvia national manager he was worthy of a long-term role in his team.

Former Yeovil boss David Webb was keen to take the emerging Weale with him to Southend, but the goalkeeper suspected Yeovil’s non-league status was soon coming to an end.

He said: “I remember sitting in a Yeovil fish and chip shop with David Webb trying to persuade me to join him.

“But I went straight in and told Gary I wanted to be the club’s No 1. Gary had only just come in as manager, so I think he was a bit taken aback.

“But I grew up supporting the club, so the love I had for them meant I wanted to stay and prove myself good enough to play for.”

The 31-year-old recognises many of the attributes in Johnson’s current Yeovil squad that came to the fore when they followed up their Conference success with a League Two title two years later.

Weale said: “Gary knows how to get teams scoring goals and they have looked impressive this season. It will be tough.”

None more so than Paddy Madden, whose 22-goal haul makes him League One’s most potent striker. Madden was on the mark twice when Yeovil eased to victory at the Greenhous Meadow last October.

James Hayter was also on target in the 3-1 win and has weighed in with 13 goals, as he has brought his vast experience from lengthy spells at Bournemouth and Doncaster.

It's a well-organised and hard-working unit in the typical Johnson mould but Shrewsbury are no soft touch on their travels, either.

A raft of gritty displays have pushed them nearer to safety. No more so than their recent draws at Carlisle and Crewe, which came on the heels of a form-busting 3-2 win at Milton Keynes Dons.

Weale noted: "The table looks a lot better than it did,. We’re seven points clear of the bottom four, but we still need to get a few more points.

"It looks like we have done enough to stay up, but we have just got to make sure now. It’s frustrating to look back as we have dropped points and maybe we should be higher up the table.

"But I am sure we will discuss it and analyse it at the end of the season and plan for next year.”

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