When Shrewsbury toppled the other half of Merseyside
It was built as a stage for boy wonder Wayne Rooney.
But the afternoon belonged to Nigel Jemson – despite Shrewsbury Town’s experienced match-winner insisting afterwards “it’s not all about Nigel Jemson.”
In fact, if there was a young forward that lit up the afternoon on the heavy Gay Meadow surface it home academy graduate Luke Rodgers.
Rooney spent more time in the pocket of hometown Shrewsbury boy Pete Wilding.
Mat Kendrick, then Town reporter for the Shropshire Star, declared in his reaction ‘Dixie Dean, Alan Ball, Howard, Kendall, Wayne Rooney, David Moyes, I say, David Moyes, can you hear me? Your boys took one helluva beating!’
The third-round tie had an Everton banana skin and upset written all over it from the moment the tie arrived. Moyes, a Town centre-back of the 1980s, returning to Gay Meadow, Everton legend Kevin Ratcliffe in charge of the plucky underdogs – who were finding Third Division results tough to come by.
And so it delivered. Jemson’s first on 37 minutes was a stunning free-kick that gave Richard Wright no chance.
Rodgers, four days after turning 21, made the Toffees sick all afternoon long. All Thomas Gravesen could do to stop him was foul him. And up stepped Jemson.
Shrewsbury were denied a stonewall penalty by referee Steve Dunn as Peter Clarke fouled Rodgers in the box.
Town were well on top, as Moyes would admit afterwards, but Sweden international Niclas Alexandersson equalised on the hour after Alex Smith lost his man.
A replay was the least Town deserved, some argued it would have been a travesty, but Shrewsbury and Jemson were not to be denied.
David Unsworth fouled Steve Jagielka. Ian Woan lifted the ball in and there was Jemson to head home one of Shrewsbury’s most famous goals.
Shrewsbury were centre of attention and all eyes were again on Gay Meadow as Gianfranco Zola’s Chelsea arrived for round four. Sadly for Town, the little Italian’s magic is the outstanding memory from that day.
For Shrewsbury, league woes continued until defeats at Bournemouth and Hartlepool condemned them to the Conference for the first time in 54 years.