Shrewsbury Town PA operator Ryan Jervis: Perfect duo in charge at Shrewsbury
Long-serving Shrewsbury Town PA operator Ryan Jervis was invited to the Meadow for a coffee with chairman Roland Wycherley.
He remembers it well. “Two or three seasons ago we were having a bit of a bad time and for the first time ever I got a call from the chairman saying will I go and have a cup of coffee with him – I said I’d be delighted to,” recalls Jervis.
“We had quite a long conversation, he shared his childhood memories with me.
“The man is huge at Shrewsbury Town, I think. It’s only now that people are beginning to really appreciate just how terrific and important he’s been.
“I remember him saying he could do with a footballing man, somebody who could help him run the club.”
And this is where Jervis, who has been on the mic ‘down the Meadow’ for 42 years, believes Shrewsbury Town struck gold by appointing chief executive Brian Caldwell.
He adds: “I think in Brian Caldwell he’s got that perfect balance of someone with terrific knowledge and complete trust and confidence of the chairman.
“I think we’re seeing the benefits. The chairman feels comfortable we have a supporters’ parliament and input from them, such a fantastic relationship between the club and supporters. I’m glad.
“He also said he was thinking of stepping down. My words were ‘why the hell would you do that?’
“I think the arrival of Brian Caldwell brings somebody with wit, communication skills, knowledge of the game, ability to negotiate, that’s why we’re seeing some really good players come into the club.
“One of the great problems for Brian Caldwell is just tempering the chairman’s ambition. I’ve always tried to spell out that I don’t think we’d be where we are without Roland Wycherley.
“When he became chairman we were very much financially pressed. If you asked me what had been the greatest development it has to be the new ground, even though we still hark back to the old days.
“But the arrival of Brian Caldwell cannot be underestimated, with the support he’s given our chairman.
“When the chairman steps down there is no guarantee that the financial certainty we’ve had will continue.”
In his role with Shrewsbury, Jervis, 70 – a Town fan for half-a-century – has addressed the teams and announced the goalscorers under 20 permanent Salop managers, including current boss Sam Ricketts.
Former head teacher Jervis admits there were aspects of last season under Ricketts that left him disappointed, but remains optimistic that Shrewsbury’s young manager will learn lessons in style and balance moving forward.
“I don’t think many of us have been very happy with this season,” he says. “I think if Sam is being entirely honest he hasn’t been very happy.
“He’s a new manager, and for any manager Shrewsbury Town has to be one of the most perfect, great clubs to come to.
“The manager doesn’t have to worry about whether he or his team will get paid, there’s money there, an ambitious chairman, a really well-run club.
“There’s a really good core of support, I know they’re a little bit fickle at times which upsets me, I hate hearing criticism of the football club, from inside or out.
“I’m hoping that Sam will have learned from this season, mistakes he thinks he’ll have made and use that experience he’s building up.”
Shortly into Jervis’s dedicated stint as stadium announcer, Town made a habit of thrilling FA Cup experiences.
There was the stunning run to a sixth-round replay at Molineux in his first season, 1978/79, and brilliant successes against a high-flying Ipswich in the early 1980s that brought huge occasions against Everton and Leicester.
Jervis picked out the third-round victory over Everton in 2003 as a stand-out memory – and under Sam Ricketts Shrewsbury have rekindled some of the FA Cup magic.
The Welshman has guided Salop on back-to-back runs to the fourth round, knocking out Championship opposition in the process, to set up glamour ties against top-flight opposition.
Both Wolves and Liverpool have arrived at the Meadow in huge sold-out occasions and could do no better than escape with a 2-2 draw.
The former, against Ricketts’ old club, Town should have held out after leading 2-0. Then, in January, it was the European and world club champions who sacrificed a two-goal lead.
But Jurgen Klopp made the immediate decision to effectively discount the Anfield replay, Shrewsbury’s first ever trip to Liverpool, because of scheduling.
The German insisted he and his first-teamers will be away on sabbatical, a call which left a sour taste with the man who had hollered Jason Cummings’ name over a rampant Meadow half hour earlier.
Jervis adds: “I rate Klopp hugely, as one of the best managers of all time that will go down in the annals. But what he did was wrong and he probably realises it.
“He was disappointed and could see the piling up of fixtures, I actually don’t think the break did Liverpool any favours.
“Liverpool is my second team, my whole family are Liverpool supporters, it was a huge occasion.
“I’m still not really recovered from that (Shaun Whalley) goal that was disallowed at Anfield. I look at it and think ‘this is wrong – how far back do you go to decide on offside?’ Apart from the result it was one of the great occasions, there have been many and we’ll have many more.”
On the sad and surreal prospect of football returning to Shrewsbury without supporters, Jervis, an ever-present when the Town are at home, quips: “I could be there to go through the motions to create the atmosphere. Who knows?”
Just as for some the matchday experience wouldn’t be the same without the Town MC’s comforting tones, Jervis would be somewhat lost without the Saturday afternoon or Tuesday night action.
At the toughest periods in his distinguished life and career, the football club was a comfort to Jervis.
“When I eventually became a head in 1995, for the first time in my teaching life after 25 years, I experienced stress and anxiety,” he confesses. “My wife noticed it first, I was changing the sheets every day, I didn’t want to do the things I used to, I look back now and realise it was significant stress.
“I went to the doctor and was pleading for him to say I had something seriously wrong because I felt so ill. I always remember the one place I felt OK was at the Gay Meadow. I remember thinking ‘thank God there’s a game on Saturday’.”