TOM SHAW has proved it’s possible to change people’s opinions after bringing up a century of games for Chester.
The 31-year-old midfielder made his 100th appearance for the Blues in Saturday’s dramatic FA Trophy first round victory over AFC Fylde, progressing 5-4 on penalties after an end-to-end 2-2 draw after extra time.
Shaw, signed from Alfreton Town in summer 2015, struggled for form during his first season at the Deva, but is now a hugely popular member of not just the playing staff but the whole club, and has filled roles of captain, assistant manager and caretaker manager over the past 12 months.
“I’m delighted and my family are really pleased as well,” explained Shaw, who has bagged 12 goals during his time with Chester.
“I didn’t think I’d ever do it at a club to be honest, I’ve always got to 80 or 90 games and moved on, so to get to 100 at such a big club, a great club, is something I’ll remember and be really proud of. Hopefully there’s plenty more to come.
“I love it here. I have a long journey to get here every morning but the people around the place and the people who run the club make it a great place to come and play your football.
“The matchdays are fantastic home and away, it’s a great atmosphere and the Saturdays make all the travelling and commitment worthwhile.”
Asked about a tough first season at the club where he suffered some abuse from the terraces, Shaw said: “There’s a few bits that made it a bit tough for me but sometimes you’ve got to drag it out of yourself.
“I tried my best in that first year but things just didn’t happen for me. I came back for the second year knowing I owed the club a little bit, owed the manager some performances and you’ve got to knuckle down.
“Some things don’t bounce and drop for you sometimes but if you put the effort in you’ll hopefully come out with some good reviews along the way.
“ It was a tough season at times but I’m pleased people are now enjoying my performances for the past year or so.
“It’s been an interesting season for me, I’ve learned a hell of a lot. My priority now is to give the club everything as a player and try to get us out of a sticky situation.”
The Nottingham-born former England C international was delighted to see the Blues progress in the Trophy and stressed that practicing penalties prior to the tie had paid off handsomely with five successful spot-kicks in a row.
“We’re really pleased in the dressing room with a very happy manager,” he said.
“It’s good to get two victories on the bounce and we showed a bit of character in extra time to come back from a late equaliser by them and win with five very good, calm penalties, which should give us a boost going into some important games.
“We practiced the penalties at the university and tried to make it as realistic by putting each other off in the run-up! The lads executed them really well with good technique and a good mentality to do it like that.”
Asked if he was pleased the tie had been settled on the day rather than going to a midweek replay, Shaw replied: “It’s definitely better, 100 per cent. For this competition it’s a great idea.
“You don’t get that backlog of fixtures if you end up with a few replays but it made it entertaining for the fans and I’m pleased we came out on top. My knee feels fine, there were a couple of block tackles in there and I came out of it fine so I’m really chuffed with it and I thank Kath and Luke for looking after me when I was out for six weeks.”
Shaw feels Chester’s performances are now picking up significantly under Marcus Bignot and is eyeing another crucial three points away at Halifax Town this weekend.
“It’s coincided with the manager being able to pick from almost a fully fit squad,” he added.
“It’s his system that he wants, and he’s got the personnel now to play that system so hopefully we can press on during this festive period.
“If you’ve lads like Andy Halls, Paul Turnbull coming off the bench, it gives you a fighting chance, lads who can change a game, some really experienced pros.”