FA Cup First Round: Gainsborough Trinity FC vs Shrewsbury Town FC

Gainsborough Trinity FC vs Shrewsbury Town FC  

FA Cup First Round

Sunday 8th November 2015

The Gainsborough Martin & Co Arena, Gainsborough, Lincolnshire

It’s 1am. Salford City are about to kick off the second half of their FA Cup First Round tie against Notts County. Danny Webber is 20 seconds away from giving them the lead. I’m about to almost wake up my entire house.

As the BBC dedicated another couple of hours to the Class of ’92 owned Club – much to the chagrin of the type of people who write into Points of View about their being an Old Trafford bias in recent weeks – there could be no doubting the choice of broadcast was vindicated.

Friday night tends to be a gig night for me, meaning I’d be ignoring anything FA Cup related until returning home from hosting Buxton’s monthly comedy night at the Pavilion Gardens. While Salford City were playing their League Two visitors off the Moor Lane pitch, I was attempting to weave comedy magic from a girl called Jade about her favourite fireworks. Wiggly Worms, if you happen to be a connoisseur.

With Saturday’s fixtures also out due to work commitments, there’d be no opportunity to see Barnsley slump out to National League opposition or see if Worcester City could work their magic for a second year running against seasoned underdogs Sheffield United. In a word, no.

Scanning Sunday’s fixtures, one seemed to stand out. With 71 places separating Conference North’s Gainsborough Trinity and League One Shrewsbury Town, it looked like the perfect place for me and my six-year-old son to get our weekend’s football fix before the North London derby.

Dashing across to Lincolnshire following his Beavers’ duties at our village Remembrance Service, I pass the Gainsborough Trinity Arts Centre which I vaguely recall gigging at in my early days as a stand-up. The details are sketchy in my mind which, just like North London derbies, suggests it possibly didn’t go well. I tend to be able to recall every kick/punchline on the memorable nights.

We park around half a mile away from the ground and make our way through the terraced streets. There’s a traditional feel to its location that reminds me of the approach to Anfield, right up to turning the final corner where newer housing is being built. Jacob points out a small wall by someone’s house over which the pitch is situated and we discuss how many free footballs they must accumulate on matchdays courtesy of any wayward shooting.

On entering the ground, I keep my eye out for Chairman Richard Kane. We arranged a quick pre-match chat over Twitter and I’m keen to meet the man behind the profile picture; he’s certainly been active on social media since the Fourth Qualifying Round win at Wrexham’s Racecourse Ground drumming up interest for today’s game.

Trinity warm up on a chilly November afternoon in Lincolnshire

Trinity warm up on a chilly November afternoon in Lincolnshire

Dressed in a sharp blue suit to match his side’s shirts looking busy as kick-off approaches, he makes his way back to the touchline to chat warmly with supporters seated in the large main stand behind the dugouts. I catch him for a brief chat and ask him what being in the FA Cup First Round means to a Club like Gainsborough:

“We’re enjoying it,” he says with a big smile. “It’s a carnival atmosphere as you can see. Financially it’s a massive boost for the Club – we don’t get these paydays very often. Whatever the result, we’re still going to come out financially better off.”

While more glamorous potential visitors might have been available at this stage of the competition, the gulf between the two sides in the league ladder is considerable, with both sides coming into the game in lower midtable of their respective divisions in the third and sixth tiers.

With Trinity capitalising on this by promoting the game as David vs Goliath, there’s a buzz about the place that an upset could well be on the cards.

He continues: “Our lads are up for it, it’s the FA Cup and anything can happen. We’re going out there to try and win it and we might get another upset! There’s been a couple already this weekend and hopefully we’re gonna be the third one.”

And what about watching Salford, who overcame similar odds to book their place in Round Two? That must give renewed hope, I ask:

“Oh, absolutely it does,” he agrees. “Salford City are in a different position to us with the Class of ’92 and some serious money behind them. We haven’t got the same financial clout but financially for us, today is superb.

“But it’s also for the town,” he continues. “We don’t get days like this where we can celebrate Gainsborough and it’s great for that.”

Trinity's angry looking mascot looking for some bite in midfield

Trinity’s angry looking mascot looking for some bite in midfield

The people of Gainsborough have certainly responded to the heavy marketing the Club have invested in around the town. With over 2,000 fans still piling into the ground as we chat, there’s no doubting the game has ignited local interest – and it’s something Richard is keen to build on.

He continues: “We’ve really pushed the boat out so that people think I’ve enjoyed my afternoon, I’m going to start going along for league games.

“Our average gate is six to eight hundred on a normal day. Gainsborough’s not a massive town anyway so if we can get a few more to come through the gate off the back of this, fantastic. The lads are up for it so we’re just gonna go for it and see what happens.”

Finally, I ask him if he’d take a replay now or is it all about getting the job done today?: “Let’s try and win it today – take the stress away! I can’t cope with anymore,” he laughs. “It’d be nice to get a result today. If we get a draw, it’s another cash boost but I’d prefer to get it over with to be honest. I still fancy Sheffield United in the next round but bring them all on – we’ll have the David and Goliath flags out all over again.”

With that, he’s dragged away in a different direction; there’s no doubting his enthusiasm for the Club and the occasion, as a Shark mascot approaches from the opposite direction bearing Kane’s company name as the shirt sponsor.

The Gainsborough food hut where there are no boundaries to your order

The Gainsborough food hut where the only boundary to food orders is your imagination

Jacob and I share a tasty steak pie, chips, mushy peas and gravy and stand near the far corner of the end Gainsborough will attack in the first half. Behind the opposite goal, a shallow, open terrace is slowly filling with visiting fans from Shropshire.

Behind us, a group of lads also enjoy a pre-match snack. The boggling array of alternatives at the food hatch has been taken advantage of by their group – one of them is tucking into an unusual combination of chips, cheese and mushy peas. It must be a Lincolnshire thing.

A release of red balloons marks an impeccably observed silence before the game gets underway with the Football League visitors, sporting an Argentinian-style away kit, looking confident in possession during the opening stages.

The Two Ronnies briefly in shot as balloons are released during a period of silence

The Two Ronnies briefly in shot as balloons are released during a period of silence

Two men stood beside me discuss Trinity’s chances during this period of play:

“I just hope they’re still in it at half-time,” says one. “Be positive!” says the other.

“I am!” he replies. “You’re not,” replies his mate. “You said ‘in it’, not ‘win it’.”

“Same thing!” he says. “It’s not,” his mate replies. “I hope they’re winning at half-time.”

With that, they agree to disagree and focus back in on the game after what quickly descended into a cross between a marital dispute and a Two Ronnies sketch. Another man behind them chips in with “as long as it’s not a rugby score!” and I briefly fear it might all begin again.


It takes nine minutes for Trinity to get the ball into our half of the pitch with real purpose, winning a freekick which is dangerously floated into the box. The packed terrace behind the goal responds, as they do again for the first shot on target after 15 minutes and corner in the 19th.

“Referee, throw-in!” shout Ronnies A and B as a deep cross floats out of play and back in again before coming to rest in front of us. “It was a goal-kick, that, mate,” they say to Shrews’ defender Dominic Smith as he jogs over to take it. He smiles and nods in agreement as he launches the ball back into play.

While Shrewsbury have the better of the opening 45 minutes overall, the best chance of the game falls to Trinity in first half injury time. Marc Newsham’s looping header beat the Shrewsbury ‘keeper Leutwiler but not the far post as it bounced square off the woodwork and back into play. The whistle follows seconds later as the players leave the field to warm applause.

A packed terrace show their appreciation for the home side

A packed terrace show their appreciation for the home side

We head for the main stand behind the dugouts to watch the second half. Tired six-year-old legs, the threat of rain and the occasional drift of concentration to Premier League Collector Cards from my little wingman suggest it might be our best bet.

It was a good vantage point to see Abu Ogogo’s unnecessary kick on Brogan after the ball had gone on 55 minutes that incensed the Gainsborough player and bench. Missed by the referee, it was only deemed worthy of a talking to in a competitive game with more than a couple of strong challenges. It was the first example of Shrewsbury showing signs of frustration, although the balance was restored soon after when Jonathan D’Laryea picked up the game’s only booking for a more innocuous looking challenge.

Despite looking more equal to their opponents after the break, Gainsborough struggle to carve out the same number of clear cut chances as the first half. Nathan Jarman’s deflected shot causes chaos in the box as Leutwiler punches away and is fouled in the process, but beyond that chances are few. In the 70th minute, it would cost them.

Under pressure, Jake Picton’s attempted tackle, clearance and slip sees the ball robbed by Shrewsbury who advance at speed into the space created. James Collins’ fine shot into the bottom corner breaks the deadlock and, with it, the hopes of so many packed in behind the goal. They come close to adding a second just a few minutes later, hitting the crossbar.


“How long is left?” asks Jacob, somewhere between being engrossed in the game and enquiring about his post-match McDonalds. “10 more minutes mate,” I reply. “There’s one more big chance in this, just wait…”

A raft of substitutions, including Player/Assistant Manager Darryn Stamp’s introduction soon after, prove only enough to muster one more clear cut chance in injury time – and what a chance it was. A short period of head tennis advances the ball into the path of Brogan who controls the ball and shoots narrowly wide in injury time. The chance is gone, and Trinity are on their way out.

As the Shrewsbury players head for the dressing room on the final whistle, they’re given warm applause by the fans in the stand. It’s a small but sporting gesture that seems to be appreciated and is perhaps a little rarer within the more hostile surrounds of League One.

The game received just 16 seconds coverage on the BBC’s Sunday evening highlights package; Collins’ goal deemed the only moment worth noting in what had been a fairly entertaining tie. Unlikely we’ll see a documentary commissioned about Trinity just yet, then, but more extended highlights are available online.

The Trinity players head inside following a debrief on the pitch, with Chairman Kane there to greet each of them. His combined congratulations and commiserations are a reflection of what his side has accomplished tinged with the disappointment that it’s over for another year.

Chairman Richard Kane shows his appreciation for each of his players

Chairman Richard Kane shows his appreciation for each of his players

Chairman Richard Kane shows his appreciation for each of his players

As the last of the players trudge towards the dressing room, Darryn Stamp is approached by two young lads aged about eight:

“Can I have your shin pads?” one asks. The other, almost in unison, requests his boots. “Are you joking?” he laughs. “It’s not the Premier League, you know. I need these for the rest of the season! Or are you trying to tell me something?”

The Underdog Blog Record 2015/16

P 6 W 2 D 2 L 2 F 5 A 6 GD -1

Gainsborough Trinity FC vs Shrewsbury Town FC  

FA Cup First Round

Sunday 8th November 2015

The Gainsborough Martin & Co Arena, Gainsborough, Lincolnshire


Gainsborough Trinity FC             0       –

1             Shrewsbury Town FC


                Collins (71)


Gainsborough Trinity FC: 1. Budtz, 3. Lacey, 2. Roma, 6. Picton, 8. Brogan, 7. Russell, 4. Binns (14. Bignall 76’), 5. D’Laryea, 10. Jarman, 9. Newsham (12. Stamp 82’), 11. Drury (16. Yates 83’).

Substitutes:  15. Davis, 18. Rigby, 19. Bemrose, 21. Hedge.

Shrewsbury Town FC: 1. Leutwiler, 31. Smith, 13. Gerrard, 4. Whitbread, 3. Sadler, 17. Ogogo, 6. Black, 29. Cole (19. McAlinden 74’), 22. Clark (16. Vernon 62’), 9. Collins, 12. Brown (10. Whalley 45’).

Substitutes: 7. Lawrence, 23. Barnett, 28. Patterson, 33. Rowley.

Referee: Darren Bond

Att: 2,180


3 thoughts on “FA Cup First Round: Gainsborough Trinity FC vs Shrewsbury Town FC

  1. Pingback: Welcome to The Underdog Blog | The Underdog Blog

  2. Thanks. Nice write-up. I wish I could have been there.

    You mention the houses round the ground. There’s no blue plaque, but one of them, behind the main stand, was the childhood home (and probably birthplace) of Alf Spouncer, who played for Trinity in the 2nd division in 1896-97, won the FA Cup with Nottingham Forest in 1898, played once for England (v Wales), and was Barcelona manager in 1923-24 (with a 100% league record but a humiliating defeat in the Copa del Rey).


  3. Pingback: FA Cup Second Round: Grimsby Town FC vs Shrewsbury Town FC | The Underdog Blog

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