After spells at the helm of Swindon Town Rugby Club and the Worcester Warriors, Jed McCrory admits he’s fallen in love with the sport.
But the ’emotional’ urge to help his stricken local football club Stratford was too strong when the Bards were only six weeks away from administration in 2019.
The ensuing roller coaster ride with the part-time Southern League Premier Central team rekindled McCrory’s love affair with the sport.
The city, from which William Shakespeare was famous, is now in the spotlight for football.
League One Shrewsbury was Sunday’s visitors to the FA Cup first round live on ITV 4, which brought the hosts Â£ 50,000.
It was the biggest tie in their history with 2,800 tickets for their first appearance in the first round sold out in two hours.
For McCrory, the former head of Swindon and Worcester, it’s a sweet moment after the trials and tribulations of professional sport.
McCrory said ahead of the 5-1 loss to the Shrews: âIt was incredible.
âOur online ticket vendor told us that we could have sold over 8,000 for this game, such was the interest in the neighborhood.
âIt definitely caught the imagination of the community.
âStratford is well known for Shakespeare, but he brought football to the city.
âWe want to create our own version of ‘The Tame Shrew.’
“This meeting allowed people to dare to dream of the football club.
âKnowing what this means for the club and all the volunteers, it’s closer to me than any other achievement in the sport.
âIt was a moving decision to get involved.
âOn the back of a handshake to help, I agreed to do it because it was my local club.
âIt was very different from Ligue 1 football or Premiership rugby because your contribution can make a huge difference to the community.
âA few times, I fell in love with sport and its social networks, where it can be difficult.
âBut this level really grabs you.
âI could have retired and played golf.
âBut it’s a lot of fun and you have to figure out how to do it differently.
âI invested my money and hope my skills have helped as we have renamed and re-marketed the club.
“We are happy to be involved in 5-3 games as we try to play football the right way and keep our fans entertained.”
McCrory rose to prominence when he led a consortium that took over Swindon Town in February 2013.
But it ended in a bitter battle in the High Court boardroom in 2015.
He went on to lead a consortium that took control of the losing Worcester Warriors in 2018 before leaving eight and a half months later.
But his ties to Stratford run deep as McCrory lives locally with Lisa, his wife for 15 years, and his five-year-old son Max, even playing for juniors.
He added: âOver the past three years there has been a buildup of support because it is more than a football club.
âThere is rugby, table tennis, archery for the girls and we have an education program for the children.
âWe probably have an attendance of 1,200 people per week.
âIt has become a real community hub.
âIt was a remarkable turnaround and it’s the FA Cup that makes you stop and realize that.
âNow the Cup race money can help us invest in facilities to engage more with the community. “
Town, which was formed in 1946, has a team of players comprising plasterers and masons who, according to McCrory, “aren’t greedy guys.”
He promised to fund a memorable end-of-season trip if they made it to the second round.
“If they beat Shrewsbury, we’ll pay to get them to Ibiza.”