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A History of Aldershot Town FC

Aldershot Town FC
Aldershot Town FC

* Editor's note: This contribution has been written by TBB community member Sweet science. He is quite obviously a Manchester United supporter but his hometown club is Aldershot Town FC -- United's Carling Cup opponent on Tuesday night. He does a tremendous job in providing us a brief history of the League Two side.

A History of Aldershot Town

Aldershot Town FC formed in April 1992. But you have to go back further than that to get the real picture of this Football Club. Aldershot FC had been around since the 1920’s but after mounting debts touching £500,000 the club received a winding up order in the summer of 1990. A young businessman stepped in and paid £200,000 to save the club but then did not have the funds to keep the club running (he was arrested a few years later for fraud). We struggled on until early 1992, but on March 25th, five days after an away match to Cardiff city played in front of 6000 people, the club went into liquidation. This forced our resignation from the football league, the first time this had happened midway a season since Accrington Stanley folded in the 1962.

Out of the Ashes, Aldershot Town FC was born and fittingly our Club emblem is now a Phoenix. It was founded at a meeting that was attended by over 600 people who just a month beforehand had lost their football club. At a second meeting a board was elected and it was announced we had been accepted into the football pyramid once again. We were to play at our old home ground, The Recreation ground. We started out in the Isthmian league 3rd division, five division’s below the old 4th division (What is now league two, where we are now) where we had departed. Our first ever game was a 4-2 home win against Clapton and we went on to win the league by 18 points.

A second promotion followed the next season and manager Steve Wignall was snapped up by league club Colchester United, a testament to the progress the club had achieved in such a short space of time. Steve Wigley followed. No promotions were gained during his tenure (A win for Chertsey against Basingstoke edged us out on goal difference in his first season in charge) and after he left to become head of youth development at Nottingham forest, George Boyd was appointed early into the 97/98 season. Another promotion was gained that year which took us into the Isthmian premier division. We stayed there until 03, never finishing below 7th. Terry Brown was manager by then and was the man to take us back into the Conference, one division below the football league.

The Brown Years

Straight up, this bloke is a legend. Lets not forget, Aldershot town’s players were still part time. (Shocking that, I bet, considering the amount United’s players earn.) They would train, twice a week and would also hold down jobs during the day. This league had many full time clubs and it was not until July 2004 that the club converted and paid its players full time. Terry Brown played a huge part in securing our conference status, and if it wasn’t for him, I doubt I would have to write this now. He guided us to two play off places during his time. The first of which we made it to the Britannia stadium (where the final was held) and at 3-1 up in the shoot out, we had two penalties to secure our football league status. Unfortunately we took a leaf out of the English national team’s book (or John Terry’s) and bottled it and Shrewsbury Town went up. The following season, 04/05 saw us reach the playoff’s once again. This time Carlisle beat us in the semi final and went on to secure promotion. This was a special season for me. October 16th 2004 was the first game I watched as an Aldershot Town fan. A very exciting (pfffft) 0-0 with Accrington Stanley. My mates wondered why I ever went back…

The next two seasons were standard. Mid table finishes. Late on in the 06/07 season Terry Brown departed. His wife had Leukaemia and he needed to tend to her. I shall never forget his last match in charge, not for football reason’s (a 1-0 win against Weymouth) but for the fantastic atmosphere generated by the crowd. For the first 20 minutes of the match all we sang was "Terry Brown’s RedBlue Army" and this last bit was taken off of the match report on the club website.

With countdown time to the end of the match the crowd started singing in appreciation of Terry Brown and he duly obliged at the final whistle with an emotional lap of honour around the Rec before being embraced by everyone of his playing and management staff who stood in a line to salute the outgoing manager. Current Chairman John McGinty and former Chairman Karl Prentice also embraced the outgoing manager in truly emotional scenes unprecedented for a departing manager. When the majority of the crowd finally departed the boss went out again to return to the East Bank supporters who had remained in their places until the re-appearance of Terry Brown. He'll be a hard act to follow- that's for sure!

I was one of the eastbank number that stayed until he came out again. I was rewarded with a Handshake and a wink.

Gary Waddock

This was the man tasked to follow in Brown’s footsteps. And he did not disappoint. In his first year he took us from the Conference and took top spot with a massive 101 points, a record tally. (I also recall us winning the most games of all the teams in England out of the top 5 or 6 divisions I believe) We also won the conference league cup (then called the Setanta shield). The big news though, that after 16 years, Aldershot was back in the football league. The night we went up was a 1-1 draw away to Exeter city (they made it up through the playoffs that year), I drove there after passing my driving test only a couple of weeks beforehand. A trip had never been more worth it. Our heroic goalkeeper Nikki Bull sang songs to the crowd long after the final whistle had went. Fantastic memories.

Our first game back in the football league was a 1-0 win at Accrington Stanley. A few weeks later on the 30th of August, I saw the best goal I have ever seen from an Aldershot player. At 2-2 with Aldershot just having levelled the game, injury time was dying out. The ball was headed clear and from a full 30 yards out, just as the ball was bounced Scott Davies struck it perfectly and the ball arrowed into the corner of the net. I will go as far to say it is the second best goal scored against Bradford City (The best being a certain Ginger Maestro over 10 years ago). That just happened to be my 18th birthday.

A solid first season saw us finish 15th, a very respectable effort. The next season, we lost our manager Waddock to Wycombe Wanderers along with assistant Martin Kuhl who had been with us for 8 years. Kevin Dillon came in as manager and helped us to the playoffs by finishing in 6th. We succumbed to Rotherham United 3-0 on aggregate.

The following season (Last season) after the departure of many good players, mostly to Wycombe (damm Gary Waddock, stealing our players) we really struggled and this lead to Kevin Dillon departing by mutual consent. In came Dean Holdsworth who steered us away from trouble to a respectable 14th.

This season

One home win in the league. But a win at Upton Park against West Ham and two wins to League 1 opposition (Carlisle and Rochdale respectively) at home has led us to the biggest match in our history. A home draw against the might of Manchester United. Little Aldershot Town against the most supported club in the world. It could not get any bigger than that

I can’t wait!


Aldershot town’s official website is here.