The CEO's thoughts ahead of today's match
Good afternoon and welcome to today’s League One game here at Portman Road. I’m delighted to welcome Shrewsbury Town’s directors, management team, players and supporters, to what will be another challenging EFL encounter.
Since penning my last programme notes, we’ve had three games in the space of just over 10 days, and what a 10 days it has been. Following a tough 1-1 draw at home against Sheffield Wednesday, we saw an amazing performance and incredible result under the lights at Portman Road with a 6-0 victory against Doncaster Rovers. Seeing Portman Road under the lights with 18,000 fans was just incredible and again, reminds me of the size of this football club and the size of the opportunity that lies ahead for all of us. However, following a long journey for our supporters to Accrington, we were brought down to Earth with a real bump at The Wham Stadium. Paul and the players, in simple terms, know that it wasn’t good enough. We set our standards higher and whether we win, lose or draw, we need to be better. Rest assured, Paul and the team are fully aware of that.
It was a 250 mile-plus journey from Portman Road to Accrington, so I took the opportunity to meet a number of fans before the game. I was amazed at not only how many fans had travelled from Ipswich but also how many northern fans had attended the game on a dull, dark and wet afternoon. I’d just like to offer a huge thank you to all the fans that travelled. It makes me extremely proud to see the numbers that travel away and support this football club – thank you.
On Tuesday night we travelled down to Priestfield Stadium for our Papa John’s Trophy game with a much-changed team. I have to say that everyone staked their claim for more regular first-team football in a 2-0 away victory. Winning is something that needs to be embedded into the culture of the Club from staff to managers to players. It will be a theme that runs right through the Football Club that everyone needs to understand. Winning isn’t something that comes easy, and winning isn’t something that just happens. If it did, we would all be superstars. Winning is earned and I’ve said to the staff and players before, it starts with the little things. We need to make sure our home is a fortress on the pitch and is a home that our fans enjoy and can be proud of again.
Therefore, behind the scenes, the work continues. We intend to reorganise our Community Trust and substantially expand the amazing work that it already undertakes in our local community. Over the upcoming weeks, there will be more information coming out to fans in relation to this, but it is an area of focus for us. The Community Trust will sit at the heart of everything we do. It is a fundamental pillar upon we will build the Club and take it forward. To say I’m excited about the plans for the Trust is an understatement. Watch this space…
In other areas behind the scenes at Portman Road, we will be reopening reception very shortly. After a three-year period where it has been in the dark, our front door will be open, warm, and welcoming to all stakeholders. Again, if we can’t do the little things right then we can’t do the big things right. You will also see further changes in the FanZone. I’ve enjoyed coming out into the FanZone before the last few home games with some of our players to meet supporters of all ages – we will continue to do this. I also understand that the facilities need to be better. Whether you’re buying food, drink or pre-match entertainment, we need to improve and, be under no illusion, we will. It’s a message that I’m driving home to our players, coaches and office staff.
One of the most exciting things for me about being at this football club is the space in front of us. We must always respect the past, the history and the amazing tradition that the Club has, but we must also build for the future. That excites me so much, because there is so much to do, so many areas we can enhance and develop and so many opportunities to take the Club forward and make a real difference. But as ever, I make no apologies for repeating this, we can only do this together. I want to drive attendances at home, I want to build a fortress, I want to build a Portman Road that we are all proud to come to and to build a Portman Road that is packed for every home game.
Enjoy the game and get behind the boys.