Survival of the fittest: Liverpool heads to Darwin’s birthplace


The best football team in the world arrives in Shrewsbury, a picturesque market town near the border of England and Wales, and the local mayor has mixed emotions.

“Because I’m a supporter of the Liverpool armchair, I’m going to be a bit conflicted,” says Phil Gillam ahead of Sunday’s fourth-round FA Cup match. “I just hope it’s a good game. Not only is it brilliant for the Shrewsbury Town Football Club, but it is also wonderful for the city as a whole.

In fact, a couple of generations after the Beatles played in Shrewsbury (the band is believed to have written the No. 1 hit “From Me To You” while touring there in 1963), another famous Liverpool band is in their 80s. kilometers (50). -mile) trip to Charles Darwin’s birthplace for a match that might not be as far-fetched as first imagined.

Liverpool are the newly crowned European club world champions and, with a 16-point lead, are on the verge of winning the English league for the first time in 30 years. Shrewsbury ranks 16th in the third tier.

Liverpool have won the FA Cup seven times. Shrewsbury has never made it to the finals.

The only competitive match between the two teams was also in the fourth round of the FA Cup, in 1996. Liverpool won that match 4-0 at the old Gay Meadow ground in Shrewsbury, where there was a coracle, a traditional boat small enough to carry it back: it would be used to retrieve lost soccer balls from the adjacent Severn River.

Fred Davies, who was christened “Coracle Man,” did his duty for years on the small boat, which is now on display in present-day Shrewsbury terrain. According to the BBC, “it was not uncommon for Fred to have to return the ball to the ground five or six times during a match”.

It was at Gay Meadow where Shrewsbury faced another Merseyside team, Everton, a clash with a 2-1 victory in 2003. It is still considered one of the biggest upsets of the famous old tournament, with a young 17-year-old Wayne Rooney on the visiting team and Shrewsbury 80 places lower in the English football pyramid at the time.

After seventeen years and Shrewsbury is not without the hope of another so-called “murder of giants.” Liverpool will have to throw a heavily weakened team for the match, which will reach the center of two major Premier League games for Juergen Klopp’s side when the title closes.

The Reds are still the favorites, for sure, but this will not be the usual Liverpool team.

It’s not that the Shrewsbury manager expects any favors.

“The best players produce it game after game,” said Shrewsbury coach Sam Ricketts, a former Premier League player with Hull and Bolton. “Much, much like Liverpool, they produce it Saturday-Wednesday-Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday-Wednesday and they do it every three or four days. And every week they are chopped up.

“At our level, each player has a championship match (second level). Every player has some weird Premier League game. It’s the level of consistency (what counts) “.

Under Klopp, Liverpool have never reached the fifth round. and the Reds last won the competition in 2006. This could mean it’s a trophy on Klopp’s radar this season, although he has shown in his team’s selections that he has his gaze very much on others. places, mainly the league and the Champions League.

“Is it a test (on Sunday)? Yes, maybe, but it’s not like proving the players, it’s a test in general as you play against a team that fights the fight of its life and we have to show how important the next round is to us, ”he said. Klopp.

Klopp played a virtual youth team against Everton in the third round, and Liverpool still won 1-0 at Anfield.

Shrewsbury won a shot at Liverpool by beating second-tier Bristol City 1-0 at home in a replay, the 89th minute winner coming from Aaron Pierre.

Shrewsbury also drew 2-2 with the Wolverhampton Premier League team at the nearly 10,000-place Montgomery Waters Meadow in the fourth round of the tournament last year (after going 2-0 in a ) before losing the 3-2 replay to Molineux.

The most famous resident of Shrewsbury is Darwin, the English naturalist famous for his theories on evolution and natural selection. He was born in 1812, the same day as Abraham Lincoln, in a surviving Georgian house.

Sunday’s match will be televised live by the BBC and some viewers could recognize Shrewsbury’s blue and amber T-shirts. A Shrewsbury replica kit is used by bassist Derek Smalls in the rock simulation documentary “This Is Spinal Tap.”

The FA Cup is full of stories of top-tier teams heading to narrow leagues in the lower league and struggling with an environment they rarely experience. This will not be the case in present-day Shrewsbury.

The club moved a mile out of town in 2007 to a new stadium with a large car park whose entrance has multiple signs warning students’ drivers not to use the space to practice.

Shrewsbury fans will expect the Liverpool strike to heed the warning.


This is a tenant case against the landlord when Saturday Coventry meets Birmingham in the fourth round.

Teams are sharing the ground this season after Coventry third-tier property owner London-based hedge fund Sisu has not struck a deal to stay at the club’s recent home, Ricoh Arena, with operators of the stadium.

Coventry amateur patients, who six seasons ago forced their team to play at home in Northampton amid a property dispute, have to travel 35 miles (35 kilometers) to see their team play in Birmingham and the presence team average has been halved.

With Coventry drawn as a “home” team, he will be in the strange position of hosting a club that lets him play at St. Louis. Andrew’s.

Coventry will always be synonymous with the FA Cup after surprisingly winning the competition in 1987, beating Tottenham after overtime in a memorable final. His manager, Mark Robins, also became famous in the FA Cup after scoring crucial goals for Manchester United in his trophy career in 1990. His winner in the third round against Nottingham Forest that year. season is believed to have kept Alex Ferguson in a job at United before Ferguson achieved unprecedented success at Old Trafford.


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