Absence makes the team get weaker

Brian Parish returns from his jaunts in Canada to find that it is the same old Dagenham & Redbridge.

Having missed last weekends game against Plymouth (which you can read about when I actually get round to sending it over to TBIR), I am attending my first Daggers game in a few weeks. Since the last update (which was almost a month ago, and followed the defeat up at Northampton), we finally managed to register another win, thanks to a last gasp goal from Richard Rose against Crewe on October 1st. What made this more important was that we actually won the game after being a goal down. Ok, the lead for Crewe only lasted about 66 seconds, but it would have been easy to give this one up. Instead, the team finally got some luck and were able to get the win that we had needed.

Three days later, we played Southend United in a JPT game. Despite estimates of a crowd of less than a thousand, around 2300 were in the ground to see the division leaders (at the time) gain a 3-1 win. Southend played well on the night, particularly the centre back Bilel Mohsni. Obviously Southend didn’t think he was that great, as we saw him later chasing after the coach as they pulled away from Victoria Road. Continue reading

Calling the Shots

Faced with a choice of going to West Ham or going to Lewes, I chose the latter. However, all was not lost as Brian Parish took up the mantle to bring us all the happy news from a foregone conclusion, right?

Just over twenty years ago, Aldershot visited the Boleyn Ground for an FA Cup third round tie. Technically West Ham were actually the away team for the game, but at this time, teams could alter the venue of their game, and after discussion with the FA, the tie was switched to the Boleyn, which it was hoped would generate some much needed revenue for Aldershot. On the day, it clearly worked, as nearly 24,000 turned up and saw Aldershot belie their position in the fourth division (League 2 for anyone under the age of twenty) to gain a very creditable 0-0 draw. Ten days later (and on the eve of the outbreak of the first Gulf War, or Operation Desert Storm), West Ham woke up, and promptly walloped them 6-1.

I mention this because these are the only meetings between the two clubs (aside from a testimonial meeting in the mid sixties, which I am informed Aldershot won). Just over a year after the cup tie, Aldershot became the first football league club in nearly 30 years to go out of business during the season, but the new club, Aldershot Town was formed a month later. Accepted into the third division of the Isthmian League for the start of the 1992-93 season, the club enjoyed promotion in their first season, and it’s been upwards ever since. After winning the Isthmian Premier Division in 2003, they won the Conference title in 2008, and made it to the League 2 play offs in 2010, in which they narrowly lost out to Rotherham United in the semi-final. Presently managed by former Wimbledon and Bolton striker Dean Holdsworth, the club have not made a great start to the season, and are currently in 20th position in the division. After an opening day win at Bradford, they have failed to score in each of their last three games, but then this is a game against West Ham. And as all Hammers fans know, this could turn out to be a very long evening, and that’s not just because there has to be a winner tonight. Continue reading

Back in the League with a Bang!

SNV11519When Aldershot returned to the Football League in May 2008, storming through the Blue Square Premier with a record number of points it not only became the only football club in England that I had never seen play at home (as opposed to not have visited the stadium as Shrewsbury, Swansea and Colchester are still to be ticked off the list), BUT it was also the only Football League pitch that I had actually played on.

Back in day when I was a young promising winger with Maidstone United I played in a pre-season friendly at the Recreation Ground, when Aldershot were just about to start on their long journey back up the non-league Pyramid.  I was to go on to play games at Cambridge’s Abbey Stadium, Plough Lane in Wimbledon and the old Manor Ground in Oxford all of which are now either non-League grounds or non-existent.  In this particular game I played a blinder….in the warm up!  As soon as the game started the ball spent most of the time on the left hand side, so I started drifting in to find some action, only to leave the Aldershot maruding left bank to make a break, beat our offside trap and score the only goal of the game.  What made it worse was I was heckled for the first time in my career.  “Oi!  Number 7 you can’t beat my Grandma!”  On the contrary my good fellow I could quite easily hit her with a free kick from 30 yards!

So on a day when in normal circumstances I would have been travelling across Europe to watch my beloved country play I found myself in military Hampshire watching Aldershot take on Darlington.  Before October last year I had not missed an England away game for nearly 4 years.  I chose not to visit Moscow, wary of the trouble that would surround the game; Trinidad and Tobago due to the reasons why the game was held and our fixture against Andorra that was for no reason apart from the greed of the Andorran’s going to be played in the slum that is Barcelona.  As soon as the game was announced I made my intentions very clear and instead planned a weekend of fun for the little Fullers and some football for me.

After a morning at the hell that was Legoland with the crowds and the pouring rain I headed off with Lolly to Aldershot.  The ground is slap bang in the middle of the town centre and so parking was a doddle.  The reason why it was a doddle was because the town centre looked like it was used by the Royal Engineers based in the town for manouvres.  It had its own Shopping Trolley modern art, although I don’t think the pile that had been made outside the multi story car park were more down to the fact that it was the landing spot from the top floor.

We headed off to the stadium, and paid what I believe to be an outrageous price for Division Two football.  £28 for an adult and a child is in my opinion a rip off.  I have already this season seen a number of clubs in the lower leagues and this was by far the most expensive.  £10 for a 8 year old is not value for money when you compare it to other forms of entertainment.  To make matters worse the Chairman used the programme as a soap box to bemoan the fact that crowds were not flocking to the stadium since their promotion.  Well Mr McGinty, try lowering the prices that will encourage young families to come watch games here instead of getting on the fans backs.

The game itself was very similar to the Rotherham game from two weeks previous.  A cracking first half where Aldershot could have easily scored a dozen if it was not for some excellent goalkeeping, yet a defensive lapse in the last minute of the second half saw Darlington to pull the score back to 2-1.

The second half was quite dull.  Lolly found more enjoyment from watching the trains pass by the stand opposite, whilst I tried my best to dodge the revels being thrown at me from a couple of brats sitting a few rows behind us.  The rain continued to fall heavily and it was more of an opportunity when it stopped as to when we left.  Of course we chose the moment which could be referred to the eye of the storm, so as soon as we left the safety of the “Indigo Press Stand (North)” the rain started again, soaking us through.

Definitely better than an afternoon in Andorra or Legoland though.