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Just the Italian Job: Up and Comers spreading Shrewsbury Town word far and wide

Buongiorno! Shrewsbury Up & Comers are eyeing a Mediterranean adventure after forging links with an Italian amateur club.

Up & Comers were keen to reach out overseas to create links with continental counterparts as amateur clubs alike try to recovery from the challenging Covid-19 pandemic.

And, to their delight, the Shrewsbury club's social media request was met by Talamone Calcio – a provincial amateur side from the stunning coastal fishing village in the region of Tuscany.

The two clubs have swapped shirts and the links even made the Italian press, much to Up & Comers boss Tom Reynolds' enjoyment.

Reynolds explained that he was hopeful that the connection would help their Italian friends through an extremely difficult period. Amateur football in Italian is not permitted to take place until October at the earliest.

And Unison Club-based Up & Comers – who for the 2020/21 campaign launched their first men's team following their hugely successful growth through junior football – hope to grow the partnership with Calcio and, when possible, to travel to Italy for a pre-season friendly or tour.

"It was on the back of the pandemic really, we were looking for a link with a football club in a different country and they liked us and got back to us," Reynolds said.

"Everyone has found Covid hard, we thought we'd reach out and we've formed a link.

"It has been hard on mental health and it's not just the UK it's affected, obviously it's hit other countries around the world.

"We sent them a jersey and they sent us one, hopefully in the future we can go and play a tournament and a friendly or something.

"This link is brilliant, we're all together aren't we? Football and grassroots. It's nice to link up with a foreign country going through the same thing.

"Football isn't all about winning, it's about playing the game and enjoyment. Who knows what the future holds?

"We were in the Italian paper, that was brilliant to for our club.

"We were invited to a tournament in Napoli for October. But we're not sure about the travel. It we can get sponsorship for Talamone to play that would be brilliant. It looks like an amazing place, I can't wait to go.

"We have to compete with Tuscany! We've got The Quarry and the River Severn."

Talamone are from the province of Grosetto on the west coast of Italy between Rome and Livorno.

They were initially established in the 1960's but reborn in 2020 after 10 years on the sidelines. They compete in the UispElite amateur league. Reynolds has exchanged messages with Talamone's commercial manager Marco Carpano.

"I don't think they've got a junior set-up yet, I think they are aiming to achieve that," the manager added. "We will be looking out for their results now when they restart and vice versa."

Up & Comers competed in the new Salop Leisure Football League last season and held their own in ninth place from the league of 14.

"Obviously the idea was to have a pathway to seniors from under-5s," ex- semi professional player Reynolds said. "We've just grown and grown over the years.

"Fair play to the league, they got the league going and then got us playing again in April, because in Italy it's locked down until October, which is very tough going.

"The most important thing for us was getting a squad in place and by the end of the season we've got a good squad of young players for next season, including a lot of junior players who have come back to the adult side. All Shrewsbury lads.

"The level of this league has really surprised and impressed me."

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