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Spot on iconic scoreboard a great result for Wem firm

By Toby Neal | Features | Published:

Time to find what's the score at Shrewsbury Town in the 1980s.

This is the scoreboard at the Gay Meadow ground which allowed Town fans to keep up with the half time scores in other matches. Each fixture had a letter in the alphabet and the key would be in the programme.

The picture was sent to us by Barry Hawkins, and you can quickly see his special interest in the form of the Hawkins of Wem plant hire, drainage, and agricultural contractors advertising sign below.

"The sign was constructed for us and erected by Brown's of Wem on the half time scoreboard. Brown's sales manager at that time was Gordon Ralphs, who dealt with it, and Ivor Hookway was commercial manager at the football club," said Barry.

"It would be interesting to know if any of the supporters who are still about can recognise themselves.

"I was a partner in the family agricultural business based in Loppington that was started by my grandfather Ernest Hawkins in the 1930s, and developed by my father Charles Hawkins in the 1960s and 1970s, carrying out various work for local farmers.

"I joined the business upon leaving school in 1961 and was then already a keen supporter of Shrewsbury Town .

"Prior to a cup match in January 1979 I sent machines there to help clear heavy snow from the pitch to enable the game to go ahead. Fortunately it did and we beat Manchester City 2-0 with goals from Paul Maguire and Sammy Chapman.

"The advertising sign was in a very prominent position on the scoreboard and remained there for many years and was a very good advertisement.

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"I am not sure what the sign cost but it was made for us by Brown's of Wem, the building manufacturers, for whom we carried out extensive land drainage work on Mr Brown's dairy farms on the Welsh coast just south of Aberystwyth and they in turn built probably 10 sheds for us over a 20 year period in the 1970s and 1980s.

"The half time scoreboard structure was sadly removed some years ago as it was deemed to be unsafe, and our sign came down with it, prior to the club's relocation to The New Meadow. It was an iconic structure and is seen in various booklets depicting the history of football stadiums.

"I am in my 70s and am now semi-retired, but still live near Wem. Our business moved from Loppington and was divided into several parts over the years.

"I still enjoy supporting my local football club through its highs and lows, home and away. We now have a magnificent stadium and sound financial structure – and long may it continue."

Toby Neal

By Toby Neal
Feature Writer

A journalist in Shropshire for 40 years, mainly writes features and columns, especially about aspects of Shropshire history. Lives in Telford and is based at the Ketley headquarters.

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