A rough guide to...Aldershot Town

Cod Almighty | Article

by Tony Butcher

11 November 2021

Aldershot, it's a helluva town in a helluva mess again. Mr Tony Butcher sighs at the signs of rot in the home of army dreamers

Who are you?

What is the point of Aldershot?

It's a garrison town that exists to service the armed services. The football team is stuck in a time warp and stuck in a rut. The town is dying, the club dies regularly. It's football's, and life's, Escher drawing made bricks and mortar. Dante stayed at the local Travelodge when writing the first draft of the Inferno.

Welcome to Limboland. All roads lead to disappointment.

Medium time no see

Well, at one time you've got it and then you lose it and it's gone forever.

Fifth in both 2017 and 2018, losing in the play-off semi-final, then the play-off quarter final, the army dreamers reverted to their mean by collapsing completely back into the bowels of the Bananarama. In 2019 they fluked a reprieve from relegation as Gateshead were "administratively relegated" for financial irregularities. Ironic that, given Aldershot's record.

All I'm trying to do is help you understand that those two fifth places were merely blips on an otherwise uninterrupted downward trajectory, like The Name of the Rose.

How are you feeling?

Aldershot, the very definition of a pit of despair.

Played 14, scored 14, conceded 29, just seven points and only the undead of Dover below them. Above them? Any more pie? Par for the course is a 2-1 defeat, and they've just been slapped about by Hollywood. How do you think they are feeling?

Where are you from?

Let's start with their happy hours. The Shottermen's highest finish was 8th in Division Three, way back in 1974, but they were history boys in 1987, being the first team to be promoted via a play-off. They whacked Wolves 3-0 over two legs under Len Walker, their version of Sir Alan of Buckley.

The hamlet of Aldershott, formerly in Middle Earth, was part of the Hundred of Crondall lurking in the appendix of the Domesday Book. And it's been doom and gloom ever since.

It was a highwayman's hole up in the 18th century, where Dick Turpin and Spring-Heeled Jack kept their shape and kept it tight in the barren, lonely wastelands unsuitable for most forms of life before the army came calling.

Now, did you know their oldest fan was a Desert Rat, with khaki shorts and a khaki hat? Ghurkas! Go on son! The town's a Little Nepal with many saved from deportation in 2009 by Miss Joanna Lumley (Official National Treasure #23), a sort of Home Office dry run for Windrush. It means there are a lot of Nepalese takeaways along Station Road, their curry half-mile.

So what has Aldershot contributed to the gaiety of our nation? You didn't ask, but I need you to imagine you need to ask so I can justify the next paragraph.

Arthur English and Ian McKeown are the thin and thick ends of the wedge, but in 1961 Sam Leach, a barmy dreamer, attempted to introduce an exciting group of rock'n'roll ruffians to London agents by promoting a couple of shows in Aldershot. Eighteen people turned up to watch a beat combo called The Beatles. Don't worry, the boys had their own fun, drinking ale and playing football with bingo balls. Ruddy hooligans!

The football club's always been a mess. Aldershot FC had 60 less than glorious League years and finally imploded in 1992 after being wound up by the High Court three quarters of the way through the season. The long, slow death included a previous liquidation in the summer of 1990 where the club was "saved" when 19-year-old Spencer Trethewy, claiming to be a property developer, borrowed £200,000 to rescue the club, allowing them to start the next season.

Silly Spencer was a straw boy, was dismissed from the board in November and in 1994 he was convicted of fraud, receiving a two-year prison sentence. He's now called Spencer Day and manages next door neighbours, Farnborough. May, Day: do all fraudsters change their name to something rhyming with feet of clay?

Reborn as what they are now, Aldershot Town, they began life way on down in the depths of Isthmian League Division Three. As is the cliché, the phoenix rose from the ashes and they even got back into the League again in 2008. And then the feather floated back down to earth. Another financial implosion in 2013 and relegation back to the Bananarama followed.

And here we are now as their feather continues to flutter towards the gutter.

You must be so missing 2007-08?

Ah yes, the glory days, they'll pass you by in the wink of an eye. Waddock's wonderboys were promoted with 101 points, won the Conference League Cup (the what?) and reached the FA Trophy semi-final. Goals, wins, flair and flowing hair, golden balls and golden times with golden (Joel) Grant.

Pre-Match Fact File

They've lost every game at home this season, scabbed a draw against Wealdstone and have only beaten the walking dead of Dover and Southend. They even lost to Bowers & Pitsea, purveyors of wallpapers and soft furnishings to the gentry, in the FA Cup.

We can't paper over their cracks, they are appalling. And as funny as it may seem, some people get their kicks stomping on a dream. Who amongst us doesn't see that the tide will turn and the sun also rise as Hurst's Hobblers roll into town. That's football, that's life.

Last time
We can't paper over their cracks, they were appalling, a soulless concrete wall with very shallow foundations.

Ranting Richard Brodie and Direman Sam Hatton gave a masterclass in nitwittery as Town ambled to a 4-1 home win, and then there was the away game.

Oh what a night, early April 2016, what a very special time for Grimsby. We got a funny feeling when we saw Hoban in the gloom and Town were 2-0 down at half time. Omar replaced the Hobanator and Town went from blunderful to wonderful, winning 4-3.

Oh what a night, hypnotizing, mesmerising.

There's lies, damn lies and the goalscoring statistics for the Bananarama. And here lies a tale of woe: borrowed boy Corie Andrews has five goals, no-one else has more than one. Bury their Womble and the Aldermen are shot.

Ex-Town factor
Aldershot is a step too far down even for The Hollow Men of yesteryear. They've got none of our old dross – they've got enough of their own. The ex-factor is in reverse here, for in 2008 the existential thought experiment that is Joel Grant was sold to Crewe for £130,000.

Blimey, it's all getting a little too Kidderminstery now.

Rivalometer; 0.352
Apart from accidentally relegating us in 1988 when Marc E North missed a penalty and Havelock Hero Chris Grocock's feet got in a tizz, they haven't crossed our minds in any way. We know they exist, they know we exist and we co-exist in occasional tangents.