Shawbury close in on their main goal of returning home

Negotiations first started almost three decades ago and, as Shawbury United Football Club finally reached a breakthrough – there was a global pandemic.

Shawbury Utd Football Club
Shawbury Utd Football Club

You could forgive the ambitious village club for cursing their luck in their bid to bring football home.

But they finally had good news to shout about this week after a breakthrough which saw their planning permission granted.

It was revealed at the beginning of this year that Shawbury United, who boast more than 250 players from the newly-formed Shawbury Tots right up to their thriving first-team and a walking and veterans team, had been given land on a 99-year lease by local businessman Gerard Verdino to ensure their future.

And now the grassroots club are waiting on the green light from funding agents to start ground work on the 4.5acre site – which will feature five pitches – located on the A53 as you head into the village from Shrewsbury.

“Everyone at Shawbury is overwhelmed with the news and everything is heading in the right direction,” said delighted chairman Dave Richards.

“We get so close to getting things up and running and then a pandemic comes along!

“The first negotiations took place in 1992, before it took a backwards step and was then revisited eight or nine years ago due to houses being built in Shawbury and the gift of land to the club.

“Then we have something else (pandemic) come our way. The funding streams might be affected, we’ve got to find that out, but we’re optimistic after having the great news about the planning application.

“Getting the kids of all ages up until our first team there is our priority. We’re trying to get the whole community there.”

Shawbury reformed in 1992, playing locally until 1995 before spending the best part of two decades at nearby Wem only to then move 40 miles to Ludlow, where their first team have been playing since 2016.

Now their under-18s side and two successful Midland Junior Floodlit League teams also play at the Ludlow Football Stadium. The many junior teams play at multiple venues across the village.

Richards jokes the club should be named ‘Shawbury Wanderers’ due to their numerous homes.

But, with the support of the Shawbury Parish Council and various other funding streams, they are closing in on a dream return to the village.

“We’re a small village. I’m an ex-player and it’s always meant something to pull the shirt on and you can see that in the younger kids. It means something to it,” Richards added.

“All we want to do is get them under one roof. You hold on to that dream that it will happen.

“It’s taken an extremely long time. Unfortunately there’s people who won’t be around to see it who’ve put a lot of work in.

“We’re doing it for the people who’ve said it would never happen and to leave a legacy behind. Including the landowner Gerard, who will be a massive part of this.

“Hopefully one of these little kids will be a professional footballer one day having come through at Shawbury. That’d be the icing on the cake.”

Club members have pitched in to support fund launched in 1992 to help bring the club home, meaning there is cash in place to begin the development.

And Richards says there are no shortage of supporters keen to ‘get their hands dirty’ in a bid to meet the ambitious target of opening the facility for the 2021/22 season.

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